Boomer Esiason on D&C: ‘The Giants should be favored’
|01.23.12 at 11:51 am ET|
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s thrilling conference championship games and preview the Super Bowl.
‘I think the Giants should be favored,’ Esiason said. ‘They went into New England and they beat them straight up, in a building that’s very hard to win in. As a matter of fact, I think it ended some sort of streak for the Patriots. And when I watched the Giants over the last 4-5 weeks, there hasn’t been a team that’s played better football than them both offensively with their three unbelievable wide receivers, especially Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, and then of course Eli [Manning]’s performance.
“But more importantly, their defense has been unbelievable. Their defensive line has been tremendous and I think this is going to be what I would hope is going to be a great football game.’
Esiason noted that Sunday’s games were not decided by the quarterbacks or the big stars but lesser-known guys and special teams, which goes to show just how close the matchups were.
Said Esiason: ‘It’s amazing, guys. Last week we spoke about matchups and I thought Joe Flacco had a much easier matchup this week than he did last week, and I thought that Tom Brady had the much tougher matchup this week than he had last week. And it kind of played itself out yesterday. Both of these games it was special teams that it came down to — a wide left for Billy Cundiff, a fumble and a muff yesterday for the 49ers in big spots. They were epic battles, they were great football games, they had the twists and turns of what you like to see and what you hope to see every time good teams get together like this.
“I will say what Brady said after the game on the stage to Jim Nantz that he did not play well, and it was evident to everybody. Yesterday was a weird day for him. There’s a couple of guys that were wide open that he missed, [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez come to mind. I haven’t looked at the film so I don’t know if he missed anybody else, if he was accelerated in his decision-making or whatever it is.
“But it is nice to be able to sit here this morning and say that the Patriots defense played their ass off and if it wasn’t for a little-known guy, I think his name is Sterling Moore, a rookie, who knocks the ball out of Lee Evans‘ hand for a split-second there, I think all of us, all of us, who were watching that game were thinking, Jeez, the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl. He did his best Ty Law impression were you come up with a big play in a big moment and the Patriots defense rides high and rides off into the sunset going to the Super Bowl. It’s amazing.’
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On the Patriots’ questionable play-calling late in the game: ‘The killer interception to me was the second one because they didn’t have to go for the jugular right there. They were very, very aggressive at that moment. And when it works you’re like, man, what a great call that is! But when it doesn’t work and [Bernard] Pollard makes an unbelievable play to knock it back to his teammate for the interception, then you say maybe that wasn’t the wisest move of all.’
On Brady’s performance not living up to expectations: ‘This is truly one of the great players of his era, and will go down as one of the great players in the history of the game. When a player like that steps onto the football field he expects to have a great game every time he steps onto the field. So, when his game is off a little bit, I could see it in his face and I could hear it is his voice how disappointed he was in his performance. Which leads me to the next statement that, you’ve got to watch out if you’re the New York Giants because I have a feeling he’s going to want to have a great game in the Super Bowl.’
On Bill Belichick vs. Tom Coughlin: ‘You talk about five Super Bowl appearances by Bill Belichick, that for itself stands alone. I thought coach Belichick after the game yesterday was exceptional. That’s the Belichick we know off the camera, he’s funny, he’s engaging and things of that nature. When he’s talking about football and secrets and all that over stuff he goes into his stealth mode. But coach Belichick’s coaching record stands on its own.’
On BenJarvus Green-Ellis‘s big game: ‘[The Ravens defense] played a lot of 42 defense, 4-2-5 defense, meaning that there was a lot of nickel defense. That’s why they were having success in the first half running the ball with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. My understanding is that Tom has the choice of throwing it or running it in a lot of these situations. That’s the no-huddle offense. You’re trusting the guy on the field to make the calls for you. So if, in fact, that is the case, he played unselfishly and allowed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to run it. And I thought Ben really ran exceptionally well yesterday, especially a couple of times where he hesitated and found the hole and got through it real quickly. So, I would say that the mindset for the Baltimore Ravens going into this game was to stop the pass and then react to the run. It’s usually the other way around.’