Defensive Super Bowl is just fine
Get used to it. Defense is a third of the game.
For the past eight days “football fans” have been complaining about the matchup for Super Bowl XXXV.
“It’s going to be a dud, and they should show it tape delayed.”
“It will be the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever.”
“There won’t enough points scored to make an office pool exciting.”
“Couldn’t the Ravens put linebacker Ray Lewis at quarterback to make the game more interesting?”
Few baseball fans like to watch a pitcher toss a one-hit shutout, and even fewer football followers enjoy watching a touchdown-less game. But that could very well happen this Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens tee it up with the New York Giants in one of the most unexpected title games on record.
Former South Tahoe High football coach Tim Jaureguito probably saw this game coming in early December. For the past decade, he has been quoted almost yearly saying, “Defense wins championships.”
So, if you’re a complete football fan, a Super Bowl featuring two of the league’s best defenses should be refreshing. In years past we’ve seen the superior offenses of the Rams and Broncos win Super Bowls, but now we get to see which defense can bring home a title.
And there’s no reason to believe that either offense will be able to dictate the pace of the game Sunday. These teams haven’t won many of their games with offense, so it’s safe to say that both coaches will be conservative in their game plans.
Then again, Ravens coach Brian Billick had quarterback Trent Dilfer throw out of his own end zone on third down against the Raiders in the AFC championship Jan. 15 in Oakland, resulting in a 96-yard touchdown pass to Shannon Sharpe.
The poise Dilfer showed on that play has never been evident in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. In the 1998 tournament’s second round, Dilfer was contending for the lead when his tee shot on the fourth hole hooked onto a cart path on the fifth hole. Dilfer immaturely reacted by slamming his driver to the ground, causing the club head to break and squirt through a sponsorship sign on the back of the tee where people were spectating. Luckily, no one was injured.
Fortunately for the Ravens, Dilfer likely won’t play a big role in the outcome.
He’s no Johnny U., and Billick won’t need to reminded. They’ll play it conservative by utilizing the expanding talents of rookie running back Jamal Lewis and possibly jolt the Giants with a special teams touchdown.
On the other hand, Giants quarterback Kerry Collins may figure heavily in the outcome. The Penn State grad won’t find the Ravens secondary as dicey as the Vikings was in the NFC title game when he passed for five touchdowns. He’ll make more mistakes than Dilfer because the Giants won’t be able to mount a rushing attack and will suffer from poorer field position.
What we don’t know about the Giants is how they will play away from the comfort of The Meadowlands. We already know that it doesn’t matter where the Ravens defense plays – it demoralizes offenses by taking away their tendencies and then finishes them off by taking their mistakes into the end zone.
The sports books should have fun with this one. Some of these propositions, in all likelihood, will be downright insensitive:
– Who will score more touchdowns, Ray Lewis or the entire Ravens offense?
– Who will throw more interceptions Trent Dilfer or Kerry Collins?
– Will there be an offensive touchdown?
– Who will gain more yardage with the ball, the Ravens offense or defense?
Before fans decide to spend late Sunday afternoon shopping or watching reruns of Green Acres, remember these two cities provided one of the most memorable title games in NFL history. Unitas’ Baltimore Colts came back to beat the Giants 23-17 in sudden-death overtime in that 1958 classic.
For the record, the lowest-scoring Super Bowl came in the seventh chapter when Don Shula’s Dolphins’ completed their perfect 17-0 season with a 14-7 victory over the late George Allen’s Washington Redskins.
Here’s one fan of defense that expects that record to be standing Sunday evening: Ravens 28, Giants 3.
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