First-quarter thoughts

Patriots QB Tom Brady reacts after being called for intentional grounding in the first quarter. (Todd Rosenberg/NFL)

In building their 9-0 lead over the New England Patriots during the first quarter of Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants benefited from two key plays. The first came from their defense and the second was a mistake from the Patriots.

The Giants registered a safety on their first defensive play of the game when Tom Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone. It looked like Justin Tuck moved inside on the play. Tuck is not a typical tackle, where I believe he was playing in that situation.

A safety is a very hard thing for a team to overcome because it also sets you back a series of downs.

The Giants scored on the ensuing drive when Eli Manning found Victor Cruz on a slant route over the middle. That play almost didn’t happen as just two snaps earlier Cruz lost a fumble. However, the Patriots had 12 men on the field, which negated the turnover.

I think the Patriots were confused as to who was supposed to come off and who was supposed to come on and it looked like defensive back Antwaun Molden came off the field and then, all of a sudden, had to come back on.

The other thing I was a little bit surprised about during the first quarter was that the Patriots used the huddle maybe 50 percent of the time. I expected them to go no-huddle and spread the defense out. They did spread everybody out, but also had some plays with a huddle. It was an excellent drive for New England that ended in a second-quarter field goal, very important points because they had to get something going or face being behind by nine-plus points.

I think it’s the kind of game everybody expected it would be: two passing teams, two very good quarterbacks.

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