It’s over on Sunday. The playoffs have been filled with storylines that even a Hollywood scriptwriter couldn’t have come up with. A possible all-New York Super Bowl, a chicken broth incident and the final game at Veteran’s Stadium were just some of the myriad stories that were hyped-up and fell flat. And the Super Bowl itself has enough storylines that even ESPN can’t give all of them the 24-hour coverage that they deserve.

It all began with the possibility of an all-New York Super Bowl. Everyone in New Jersey was out of his or her mind with joy, there was no way the Jets and the Giants could lose. They were from New York, even if they do play in New Jersey, and New York teams don’t lose in the playoffs. The Jets shut out the Colts on Saturday. The next day, the Giants played in San Francisco, and in one of the greatest collapses in playoff history, allowed the Niners to come back from a 24-point deficit.

Of course Giants fans blame the loss on the refs but, if you put yourself in a position where one call can decide the game, then you just have to accept the outcome, even if it does go against a New York team. The Giants lost because Jeremy Shockey dropped a touchdown pass, not because of the refs. If anyone lost the game, it was Shockey, not the refs.

The marquee match-up of the next round was the Titans and the Steelers. In one of the oddest pre-game stories, Joey Porter of the Steelers accused one of the Titans’ assistant coaches of pouring hot coffee on him after their regular season meeting. The coach denied Porter’s accusations, saying that it wasn’t coffee, but chicken broth. And it clearly showed on tape that he had in fact poured the broth on Porter. Sadly, nothing actually came of it, as Joey Porter going after the coach would have been the high point of the playoffs. He could have gone down in history with Terrell Owens and his Sharpie if he’d used Campbell’s Chunky Soup.

The game itself, however, topped the broth incident. It came down to a field goal in overtime, which the Titans’ kicker, Joe Nedney, made. The problem was that the Steelers had called a timeout before the snap, negating the play. Then the fireworks went off, sealing Nedney’s fate. After the premature celebration, there was no way he was going to make the field goal; even the announcers were predicting that he would miss.

He hooked the kick to the right.

Luckily for him, DeWayne Washington collided with him as he followed through, drawing a flag. Nedney was given a second chance. And Steeler fans were given a chance to whine about the refs. It wasn’t the refs’ fault that Washington ran into the kicker, it was Washington’s.

The story of the next round was the Eagles and their last game in the Vet. The Eagles were the team of destiny. They had gone 4-1 with their third-string quarterback to clinch home field advantage. The Bucs hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown against the Eagles in four games, and had been outscored 89-35 in those four losses. The Bucs couldn’t win in cold weather, with only one win – ever – in the cold. So, naturally, the Bucs won, and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

So on Sunday, their top ranked defense will face the Raiders, the team with the best offense. A team who traded their coach, John Gruden, to Tampa because they didn’t think he could take a team to the Super Bowl. They have two players who are prodigious trash talkers in Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson. They seem to have finally found an offense to go with their great defense.

The Raiders have an experienced team. They have Jerry Rice and Bill Romanowski who together have more Super Bowl rings than the entire Buccaneer team. They have veterans who know it is their last chance to win a championship.

This should be but a lackluster Super Bowl. Like the chicken broth incident, it won’t live up to the hype. The Super Bowls people remember are never the ones they anticipated beforehand. Everyone thought last years’ game between the Rams and Patriots would be a blow out, like in 1990, when the Giants edged the Bills, with the Bills playing the part of the Rams. It’s the games that don’t appear enticing that we remember. People still talk about Joe Namath’s famous guarantee in Super Bowl III, everyone thought the Colts would destroy the Jets, but when Namath made his prediction stick, it etched itself into our memory.

The preconceived idea that this should be a good game means that it won’t be. The Raiders will walk all over the Bucs. They have everything going for them, including a great offense that is built to exploit the Bucs’ zone defense. They have a solid defense that won’t let the Bucs’ improved, albeit still mediocre offense, run roughshod over them. They will win 34-14, easily covering the spread (Raiders -4) and relegating this game and all the hype surrounding it to the trash heap of our memories.

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