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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Bill Belichick’s ‘Make ’em go to Mario Manningham’ was the right call

A lot has been made of the Super Bowl 46 NFL Films audio this week and how Bill Belichick told his defense to make Mario Manningham beat them prior to the Giants’ game-winning drive. The fact that Manningham made the play of the day adds a touch of irony to the situation, but what other choice did Belichick have? In reality, the strategy he was trying to implement was a no-brainer.

When you’re playing a team with as many receiving weapons as New York, you try to take away the best options. The best options for the Giants are obviously Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. With Manningham’s history of drops and erratic play, Belichick’s was wise to preach what he did.

“This is still a Cruz-and-Nicks game,” Belichick was heard saying. “I know we’re right on them. It’s tight, but those are still the guys. Make them go to Manningham, make them go to (Bear) Pascoe. Let’s make sure we get Cruz and Nicks.”

Our reaction: duh. Eli Manning made a perfect throw and Manningham made an even better catch. It happens. The bottom line is the call was the right one. New England had to make Eli beat them with his less-reliable options. For most of the game, it worked. On the final drive, they paid for it. The fact that Manning and Manningham turned the game around with one play has everything to do with execution and nothing to do with the coverage.

*Editor’s note: A previous version of this posted stated that Belichick made a snarky remark about Gisele after his round at Pebble Beach on Thursday. As it turns out, I didn’t read the story carefully enough. The quote we included earlier in this post was fabricated by ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski for humor.

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