On Tuesday at noon Eastern, everybody in the country will be required to watch the David Tyree catch from the last time the Giants played the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I don't care if you're at work, taking an exam, really have to use the restroom or are a Patriots fan. You must watch it. Then, after that, nobody is allowed to mention the play until the fourth quarter of this year's Super Bowl. If any TV network shows the catch, the program director gets thrown into a jail cell where every Pro Bowl is shown on an endless loop.
Come on, who is with me?
When you factor in the stage, the stakes and the preposterous nature of the act itself, the Tyree catch may have been the most amazing play in American sports history. I don't want it shown so often in the next two weeks that it loses its awesomeness. And the bigger reason I don't want it shown is this:
We don't need it.
Giants-Patriots II doesn't need to be sold. It's bigger than that. Better than that. Super Bowl hype is always ridiculous -- heck, the very name of the event is hype -- but sometimes, you can understand the point. It fires you up for something other than chicken wings and beer on Super Bowl Sunday.
But if I hear absolutely nothing about this game for the next two weeks, I will keep thinking about it. We have Tom Brady trying to tie his boyhood idol, Joe Montana, with four Super Bowl wins. We have Eli Manning trying to win his second Super Bowl. We have the Giants' defensive front, led by Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul, trying to rattle the un-rattle-able Brady. We have Bill Belichick trying to stop Manning and his receiving troika: Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham. We have Brady throwing to his record-setting pair of tight ends.
Is there any way this won't be a great game?
The Patriots are the higher seed. They had the better regular season record. They were a three-point favorite on at least one gambling site Sunday night. As great as Manning has been lately, as a rule, the Patriots always have the best quarterback. But are they really the better team? Would you really take Brady's offense against that Giants defense, instead of Manning's offense against that Patriots defense?
The Giants beat the Patriots in Foxboro in early November. The Pats have not lost since, but look at who they beat: Jets in New York, Chiefs at home, Eagles in Philly, the Colts at home, the Redskins in D.C., the Broncos twice, the Dolphins at home, the Bills at home and the Ravens at home by a hair.
The only good team on that list is the Ravens. Just as importantly, look at the opposing quarterbacks in those games: Mark Sanchez, Tyler Palko, Vince Young (Michael Vick was hurt), Dan Orlovsky, Tim Tebow twice, Matt Moore, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco.
Now the Pats have to face Eli Manning.
That would scare the heck out of me if I were a Patriots fan. And yet ... well, when you have Belichick as your coach and Brady as your quarterback, it's like having Warren Buffett as your financial advisor. You might not understand exactly what is happening, but you figure it will all work out in the end.
Look at what happened Sunday. Flacco actually outplayed Brady. The Ravens had a plus-two turnover margin. And ... well, frankly, Baltimore had the game won. You know you are close when you shank a 32-yard field goal to force overtime and you got even closer than that. Receiver Lee Evans came about as close as a man can get to securing a winning touchdown pass before the ball was somehow knocked away. Then Billy Cundiff missed. It's like the Patriots won because the Patriots had to win. City of Baltimore, pour yourself a drink.
Of course, the Giants didn't exactly kick the 49ers' butts, either. Manning spent a good chunk of the game putting his jersey back over his pads after getting sacked, and if 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams had just been a decent punt catcher -- forget about punt returner -- San Francisco would probably be headed to the Super Bowl.
Both games were thrilling, and they give you the feeling that Giants-Pats will be the perfect ending to one of the best NFL postseasons ever. It has been unpredictable, filled with great performances (Manning, the Alex Smith-Drew Brees duel, Calvin Johnson), impossible-to-believe storylines (Tebow beating the Steelers on an 80-yard touchdown pass to start overtime, the Chargers keeping Norv Turner) and incredible finishes.
Now we get the Giants and Patriots, two Sundays from now. No, we don't need the David Tyree hype. We just need the game to start.