My favorite moment of the 2011-12 NFL season happened in Week Three. Being a St. LouisRams fan, I didn't have much to like about this season, but this particular moment standsout. And it tells you everything you need to know about the Super Bowl rematch betweenAmerica's Team, the New York Giants, and the most hated group of evildoers on the planetnot currently on trial at The Hague: the New England Patriots.The Patriotswere playing the Buffalo Bills, a team that, at least early in the season, looked asthough it was about to make the jump to the big boys' table. The game was tied 24-24 witha little over 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter when this happened:TomBrady, under absolutely no pressure whatsoever, bounced a quick pass off Bills rookiedefensive tackle Marcell Dareus' head. It landed in the tender, loving, yet stillmasculine hands of that week's national hero, cornerback Drayton Florence. Florencecrossed the middle of the field, turned on the jets and headed toward the end zone. Butthere was still one person to get by. The guy who spiked the ball off Dareus' head whilestanding in a pocket so clear of defenders that he could have thrown his helmet into theair and spun around like Mary Tyler Moore before tossing the pass. Mr. ThomasEdward Patrick Brady-Bundchen himself.With the game on the line,Brady-Bundchen had just served up a pick with a side of Caesar salad and a loaded bakedpotato. He had to make the play. Only he didn't. Tom, close enough to have laid one of hisfreshly manicured fingers on Florence, (perhaps knocking him out of bounds and saving thetouchdown) slowed down. The QB all but shouted "Ole!" as he deftly steered clear ofFlorence and pulled his hands away in a dainty manner that can only be described as"small-girl-accidentally-picking-up-dog-turd."This play cost the Patriots thegame. They lost 34-31 and if Brady had made that tackle, or just forced Florence out ofbounds, there's a good chance New England's defense could have held the Bills to a fieldgoal or even gotten a turnover right back.All that became even more likelyafter noticing Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd trailing Florence on the interception return.Byrd would have unquestionably laid into the half-heartedly jogging Brady-Bundchen as hegirlishly pushed Florence toward the sideline. A hit that would have, undoubtedly, drawn apersonal foul penalty negating a touchdown if Florence is able to avoid Tom's playfultickle-slaps or, at worst, backed the Bills up 15 more yards from the spot of the foul.But Tom Edward Cullen Brady doesn't want to get hit by Byrd, or even take thechance of ruining his French tips trying to poke Florence out of bounds. For Tom, winningthe game simply is not worth it.Contrast all that to Eli Manning who wasbeaten senseless last week by the San Francisco 49ers defense and still put forth the bestquarterback performance of the day, by far. The bigger the pass, the more dire thesituation and the more likely Eli was to deliver and have to pick himself up off theground, spit out a mouthful of turf and pull his chinstrap out from between his teethafterward.Eli has turned into one of the best big-game quarterbacks of thisera. Earlier in the season, against the Patriots, Eli was so fantastic in the face ofpressure that when the game was over (a 24-20 Giants win where Manning tossed the winningTD with New England's Andre Carter right in his face) it seemed certain Tom Brady wouldimmediately order a paternity test on his and Gisele's baby to make sure Eli wasn't thereal dad.Eli has been playing with the house's money his whole life. The babyin a three-boy family, Eli has felt no pressure at all to perform. Older brother Peytonwas forced to live up to Dad's (former New Orleans Saints QB Archie Manning) legacy andcompete against his big brother Cooper. Just two years apart, Cooper and Peyton went tohigh school together, played on the same prep team and could probably pick out theindividual food components of their farts after the thousands they have most certainlyblasted into each others' faces.That's not to say Cooper and Peyton haven'teach farted into Eli's stoic, emotionless mug. I'm sure that Eli has tasted the hot,malodorous effluvium birthed in the mephitic bowels of his two elder siblings. I'm notquestioning that at all. If ever there has been a face that has been farted uponrepeatedly, it is EliManning's.But with those farts also came love, not competition. Eli is sixyears younger than Peyton and eight years younger than Cooper. By the time Eli was playingprep sports, and then college football, Peyton was already in the NFL and Cooper had beendiagnosed with a spinal condition and could never play again, so even the battle betweenhim and Peyton was over. The Manning kids could just root for each other.Nobody was happier to watch Eli beat Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII than Peyton. Eli isn'tas good as Peyton and nobody thinks so (not even Eli). Peyton's real competition is TomBrady, and watching Brady's chance at NFL history, a fourth Super Bowl Championship and aperfect 19-0 season go down the toilet at the hands of his little brother was probably toogood to be true.But a lot of things happened as a result of that game, a lotof wonderful things. See, earlier that season the New England Patriots were busted for cheating --specifically video taping the opposition's offensive and defensive signals and, maybe,recording a St. Louis Rams practice walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI.ThePatriots deny that last accusation and we'll never really know if it's true because RogerGoodell, like a faithful dog, destroyed the tapes so they've never been viewed publicly. Acongressional investigation (yes, the United States Congress) showed that by taping andanalyzing the opponent's calls alone, the Patriots were able to predict about 75% of theplays being called against them. Continue Reading ]More...[/url]