New York needs the Super Bowl trophy.
Not just for the winter swagger-power over archrival Boston. Not because it's been 17 years since the New York Giants have won a Super Bowl (and 39 years for the Jets). But the 17-14 victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots comes at a time when layoffs are racking the city, when the economic prospects for the Big Apple are changing for the worse.
On Monday morning, all over New York, people were buoyed by the victory. "Everyone's got their adrenaline flowing, and that's New York's preferred state of existence," says Doug Muzzio, a New York political analyst and Giants season ticket holder since 1961. "The team is like the city: We are hardworking; you can't stop us.... Sometimes we may not be the best, but when push comes to shove, we'll do the shoving."
The game itself was full of hard shoves on both sides of the line. The Patriots sacked the Giants' young quarterback, Eli Manning, three times. But in the Giants' crucial last drive down the field, Manning shook off what looked like a sure sack to lob the football 32 yards into the hands of receiver David Tyree. And with 35 seconds left, he lofted the game-winning touchdown pass to receiver Plaxico Burress.
Yet it was the Giants' front line that won the game, dropping the Patriots' superstar quarterback, Tom Brady, five times. It also held the Pats to 45 yards rushing, 229 yards passing, and 14 points.
"That was our lowest score of the year, and that got us beat," Brady said afterward. "They are very good on defense," he added. "They have some great pressure schemes, obviously some great pass rushers."
Former Miami Dolphins football coach Don Shula says the game illustrates how hard it is to go undefeated. His team in 1972 remains the only undefeated pro football team to win the Super Bowl. "It shows it's a tremendous accomplishment," he said in a postgame press conference.
Mayor Bloomberg viewed the win as a way to unite the city. "It's nice to know that everyone in New York is together," he said, adding that a Giants win also means he wins a "friendly wager" from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. On its way to New York will be New England clam chowder, Boston cream pies, Parker House rolls, and 20 pizzas from Sal's, among other goodies.
"We'll get some food from Boston, and it will go to people who don't have enough to eat," said Mr. Bloomberg.
The Giants winning a Super Bowl has not always met with official joy. In 1987, when the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos, Mayor Ed Koch decreed that they could not have a victory parade in New York because the team played in New Jersey.
Bloomberg, who has been seen recently wearing a Giants jacket, has no such qualms, and the parade is to be held Tuesday.
Some New Yorkers felt a Super Bowl win helped them cope with an otherwise dismal sports season. "We've had the steroids scandal, the Mets' collapse at the end of the year, the Yankees not doing very well, and the Knicks aren't worth watching," says Anthony Luis, an attorney and Upper East Side resident.
Bob Meder, another East Sider who works in the insurance industry, says it will help the psyche of the city. "Not only are there layoffs, but bonuses are not good this year either," he says.
Last Thursday, for example, the Westminster Kennel Club, 11 days before the dogs were to arrive at Madison Square Garden, brought in a "Giant" schnauzer named Chelsea and a "Boston" terrier named Veronica for a photo op, with football gear from both teams. Photographers yelled for the dogs to go "nose to nose."
At the same time the dogs were posing, the International Federation of Competitive Eating was hosting a "fried pork rind" eating contest at Hawaii Tropic Zone to determine how many "footballs" could be consumed. "We are trying to promote our half-time eating contest, which will be on Spike TV," said Richard Shea, president of the organization.
Even the mayor couldn't resist the opportunity to use the Super Bowl for promotional purposes. Last Thursday, he went to an Upper East Side bar, which features a big NY Giants helmet in its window. The bar happens to be named Brady's. While the TV cameras recorded it, Bloomberg temporarily renamed it "Manning's."
"[The city] came to us," said Dan Brady, the owner and a Giants fan. "But I think it will be good for business."