- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Giants were not scheduled to arrive on the Super Bowl scene til Monday afternoon. The Eli Manning hype -- or would that be anticipated hype? -- was already grating on one San Francisco 49ers fan. Patrick from California thinks analysts are missing the point when they praise Manning and criticize the 49ers' Alex Smith for their roles in the NFC Championship Game. "Their stats were virtually identical," Patrick wrote, "but with the win, Eli is the hero? Give me a break. ... Yes, Smith probably had more plays there to make, but the [fawning] over Manning has got way out of control, especially on ESPN."
NFC Championship Game
Mike Sando: It's going to be a rough week for 49ers fans, knowing how close San Francisco came to reaching the Super Bowl. We've done the Smith-Manning breakdown and concluded both players struggled against rugged defenses and amid difficult weather conditions. Manning has earned the benefit of the doubt by winning big games while carrying his team's offense to a larger degree, a subject NFC East blogger Dan Graziano and I discussed here Monday.
"I just think they were asked to do two different things this year," Graziano said. "Alex Smith was not asked to throw for 300-400 yards a game. The 49ers had a running game, had a great defense. The Giants for most of the year did not have those things, so Eli Manning was the guy who had to air it out to win the Giants' games. They played the same position, but they did two different jobs. In terms of the hype Eli is getting, he is in the Super Bowl, and it's his second one in five years. And he is one of the main reasons the Giants are here."
Smith's performance during the divisional-round victory against New Orleans proved he could do more than just manage the offense. He wasn't as good against the Giants. Manning also struggled in the NFC title game, but he was facing a much tougher defense. Manning also showed he could throw with better command in those rainy, windy conditions. Smith seemed tentative. The 49ers had plenty of chances to win this game.
They had two clear chances to pick off Manning and cut off the hype. Sorry, Patrick. It's going to be a rough week for you.