Gethin Coolbaugh is the Regional Editor of SB Nation Boston, your home for everything Boston sports on the SB Nation network. Follow him @GethinCoolbaugh on Twitter.
It was supposed to be the game that earned the New England Patriots some redemption. Tom Brady would walk into The House That (Peyton) Manning Built, a.k.a. Lucas Oil Stadium, and prove once and for all that offense can trash defense on any given day. Brady would do his thing, the Patriots would win by a couple of scores, and revenge would finally be theirs.
There was just one problem. Eli Manning had something to prove, and prove it he did.
Manning's performance wasn't legendary by any means from a statistical standpoint, but he showed the world why he is a No. 1 overall pick. Furthermore, Manning finally ended the discussion once and for all -- he is clutch and, yes, he is elite.
Of course, the Patriots' loss has fans in Boston and New England distraught. Fans feel numb, disgusted, angry, hopeless. Pick your poison, really. That's to be expected when your team makes it this far and crashes so hard.
Yet there was more at stake than just a Super Bowl here. This win would have been the fourth Super Bowl for Bill Belichick and Brady, and it would have put the two in a category unlike any other. One win, and they would've been immortal.
Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Instead of ending the debate of their all-time status, they have created more questions. Sure, both Brady and Belichick are first-ballot Hall of Famers. But again, they had a chance to take that next step, one that so few have the opportunity to make.
They couldn't, and they may have blown their last chance. It's no secret that New England's dynasty is on the decline, and while it may not be officially over, it becomes tougher and tougher for New England to reach this level.
So this one hurts. It hurts badly. But the Giants deserved the way -- they earned it in every way. Congratulations to all of the New York Giants fans out there, and I hope you enjoy your parade. Please be respectful among your own fan base and especially to the fan bases of others. Sports are big in their own right, but humanity is even bigger.