Doug's Diggings: Something was missing Sunday - the Packers!
Last Sunday my wife and I traveled to my son's house in Eden Prairie to watch the Super Bowl on television. Like most Packer fans, my heart wasn't really into the "big game" -- that's (Big Game), by the way, what businesses have to call it. If businesses use the words "Super Bowl" in their advertising they will get a nasty message from the National Football League. That's why you see businesses referring to it as "the Big Game."
In our newspaper, County Market had an ad touting "Big Game Savings." Heaven forbid if the ad said "Super Bowl Savings." Same thing with ads from Aldi's (Start The Big Game With Low Prices); Family Fresh (Touchdown Savings). Another ad promoted the "Game Day Check List;" another the "Watch the Big Game on our Big Screen TVs."
There was a time a few years back, when the NFL's long arm would not have infiltrated small communities and the term "Super Bowl" was widely used in various business promotions. But today, the NFL is a legal machine -- protecting its trademarks like mom protects her baby.
But I digress -- back to Super Bowl Sunday.
Before we left for my son's home, I donned a Packer polo shirt. In my mind, the Packers should have been playing in the game, so I figured I would show a degree of support (shallow as it was). I had a hard time getting excited about the Patriots and Giants. Obviously for the East Coast and the mega-media outlets, it was an ideal matchup. Somebody else said, however, nobody west of Pittsburgh really cares about this game.
Well, obviously somebody west of Pittsburgh cared -- the television ratings were still off the charts. On Monday there were conflicting reports, however, according to early returns, the event may not be the most watched program in TV history, ending the football franchise's two-year streak.
According to the early stats, 47.8 percent of TV homes in the so-called "overnight markets" watched the game Sunday night. That's just shy of the 47.9 percent last year's game clocked -- the one in which the Green Bay Packers topped the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25. When the dust settled on that game, it became the most watched program in television history.
However, NBC announced on Monday that the game was seen by a record 111.3 million viewers, topping last year's 111 million for Super Bowl XLV on Fox. The viewership peaked at a 117.7 million viewers late in the final quarter of the 21-17 game, according to data released by The Nielsen Company.
We settled in to watch Sunday's game, but our plan was to leave at half time and watch the end of the game at home. The game itself, however, proved to be quite entertaining and we stayed until the very end. It's one of the few Super Bowls where the final result was literally up in the air on the final play of the game.
The most brilliant play of the game came when Patriot coach Bill Belichick allowed the Giants to score a touchdown late in the game so his team could get the ball back with 57 seconds on the clock and one timeout. If he had played it straight up, the Giants would have kicked a winning field goal with virtually no time left. The Giant runner Ahmad Bradshaw even tried to stop himself from scoring so the Giants could run more time off the clock.
As the New York Times report noted: The Patriots' defenders, trained their whole lives to try to push and claw and fight to bring down the ball carrier, stood up and opened a double-wide hole for Bradshaw to reach the end zone. Bradshaw, trained his whole life to sprint into the end zone whenever he could, pulled up just short of the goal line and tried to fall down. Even the players and coaches on the Giants' sideline, who had spent their whole lives cheering when their team scored, did not know what to do when Bradshaw failed to slam on his brakes in time and fell, almost dejectedly, into the end zone for a touchdown.
For Belichick the strategy didn't work, but it was his only real chance at winning the game.
So the game ended at about 9 p.m. and we packed up and drove home, still feeling that somehow the Packers should have been part of the excitement. When a team goes 15-1 and has two potential playoff games at home -- well, that should be a Super Bowl recipe!
It was a year ago when we watched the Packers win the "big game" at my son's house. The feeling after that game was much more exciting than the feeling after watching the Giants win. In my own twisted world, however, I wanted the Giants to win because I like to believe that the NFC is better than the AFC. To that degree - mission accomplished!