Vs New York Giants ( L 17-14 )
Ariz. (AP) -- With the Super Bowl on the line, look who had the perfection thing
down Pat: Eli Manning and the road-conquering New York Giants.
And what a beauty
their 11th straight road victory was, a 17-14 Super Bowl win Sunday that shattered the New England Patriots' unblemished season.
In one of the
biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, Manning, New York's
unlikely Mr. Cool, hit Plaxico Burress on a 13-yard fade with 35 seconds left. It was the Giants' fourth consecutive postseason
away win and the first time the Patriots tasted defeat in more than a year.
about this team," Manning said. "The way we win games, and performed in the playoffs in the stretch. We had total confidence
in ourselves. The players believed in each other."
It was the most
bitter of losses, too, because 12-point favorite New England (18-1) was one play from winning
and getting the ultimate revenge for being penalized for illegally taping opponents' defensive signals in the season opener
against the New York Jets.
"I don't rank
them," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "It's disappointing."
The Giants had
the perfect answer for the suddenly imperfect Patriots: a big, bad defense and the improbable comeback led by Manning. Yes,
Eli Manning, who outplayed league MVP Tom Brady and furthered the family legacy one year after older brother Peyton led Indianapolis to the title.
"I talked to
Peyton and he said, `Go in there, have some fun, you can do it."'
It was how Eli
and the Giants did it.
After Brady found
Randy Moss for a 6-yard touchdown with 2:42 to go, New England's defense couldn't stop a
final, frantic 12-play, 83-yard drive. It featured Manning's unlikely sack-avoiding scramble and a spectacular leaping catch
by David Tyree, who had scored New York's first touchdown
on the opening drive of the fourth quarter.
"It's the greatest
feeling in professional sports," Burress said before bursting into tears.
"That's a position
you want to be in," said Manning, who followed Peyton's MVP performance last year with one of his own. "You can't write a
better script. There were so many big plays on that drive."
AP - Feb 3, 11:30
And now the 1972
Miami Dolphins can pop another bottle of champagne in celebration of a record still intact, the NFL's only perfect season.
"As for the 1972
Dolphins, I don't take joy in the fact the Patriots lost -- period," said Jim Mandich, the tight end on the 17-0 team. "But
I do relish and savor the fact that there has only been one unbeaten team in the history of the NFL, and it is the 1972 Miami
were done in not so much by the pressure of the first unbeaten season in 35 years as by the pressure of a smothering Giants
pass rush. Brady, winner of his first three Super Bowls, was sacked five times, hurried a dozen more and at one point wound
up on his knees, his hands on his hips following one of many poor throws in New England's
lowest scoring game of the season.
well," a dour Belichick said. "They made some plays. We made some plays. They just made a few more. We played as hard as we
could. We just couldn't make enough plays."
Hardly a familiar
position for the record-setting Patriots and their megastar quarterback. This time, it wasn't the Patriots but the Giants
making the game-winning rally. This time, the unflappable quarterback making the clutch play wasn't Brady but Manning, who
had been booed by Giants fans for most of his four seasons for a lack of emotion.
Oddly, it was
a loss to the Patriots that sparked New York's stunning
run to its third Super Bowl and sixth NFL title. New England won 38-35 in Week 17 to finish
the spotless regular season. But by playing hard in a meaningless game for them, the Giants (14-6) gained something of a swagger
and Manning found his footing.
confidence carried them through playoff victories at Tampa, Dallas
and Green Bay, and then past the mightiest opponent of all.
"Every team is
beatable, you never know," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "The right moment, the right time, every team is beatable."
Not that the
Patriots were very mighty this day. They even conceded with 1 second on the clock as Belichick ran across the field to shake
the hand of Coughlin, then headed to the locker room, ignoring the final kneeldown.
That it was Manning
taking that knee was stunning. He showed the maturity and brilliant precision late in the game usually associated with, well,
AP - Feb 3, 11:16
was seen in a luxury box jumping up and pumping both fists when Burress, who didn't practice all week because of injuries,
caught the winning score.
"We just hung
in there on offense, kept executing," said Burress, who wasn't far off on the 23-17 prediction he made a few days ago. "It
came down to one play and we made it."
The Giants became
the first NFC wild card team to win a Super Bowl; four AFC teams have done it. They also are the second wild-card champions
in three years, following the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2005 season.
"It's the way
we went about our work," Coughlin said of the 11-1 road record. "The road signified the coming together of a team. We rode
that emotion all the way through."
The upset also
could be viewed as a source of revenge not only for the Giants, but for the other NFL teams over Spygate back in September.
That cheating scandal made headlines again late in Super Bowl week, and could have placed an infinite cloud over New England's perfection.
Until the frantic
fourth quarter, the only scoring came on the game's first two drives.
The Giants did
almost exactly what they sought with the opening kickoff, using up nearly 10 minutes to go 63 yards. Almost exactly, but not
quite, because they settled for a 32-yard field goal after converting four third downs on the 16-play series. The 9:59 drive
was the longest in Super Bowl history.
That 3-0 lead
lasted for the rest of the quarter, but only because the Patriots were stopped at New
York's 1 as the period expired. On the next play, Laurence Maroney scored.
England's 12-play drive was aided by a 16-yard pass interference penalty on linebacker Antonio Pierce in the end
zone. It began with Maroney's 43-yard kickoff runback.
It was the fewest
possessions in the first quarter of a Super Bowl.
AP - Feb 3, 11:15
New York's first series of the second quarter looked dangerous after Amani Toomer's lunging
sideline catch for 38 yards. But rookie Steve Smith mishandled Manning's throw at the New England
10, Ellis Hobbs intercepted and returned it 23 yards.
Those are opportunities
teams can't waste against a strong opponent, let alone the Patriots. It was Manning's first interception of the postseason,
albeit entirely not his fault; the last was by Hobbs in the
The Giants survived
rookie Ahmad Bradshaw's fumble, which he recovered, on their next series, because their league-leading pass rush came alive
when the Patriots got the ball back. New York sacked Brady on successive plays, forcing a
punt, but the Giants' were hurt by an illegal batting of the ball penalty on Bradshaw after reaching the New
second sack, in the final seconds of the half, forced a fumble recovered by New
York teammate Osi Umenyiora. The Giants' celebrated defensive line controlled much of the half, holding
the most prolific offense in NFL history to a measly 81 yards and seven points. New England
had the ball only 10:33.
"We played them
five weeks ago and it was a three-point game," Brady said. "And they made enough changes and really eliminated what we did
But New York's mistakes left the Giants with just three points at halftime
-- and there are no moral victories in Super Bowls.
So the Giants
got a real one as the maturing Manning hung in to find Tyree for a 5-yard touchdown to cap an 80-yard drive for a 10-7 lead.
they are accustomed to, the Patriots responded with their own 80-yard march as Brady finally got some time. Moss, who caught
a record 23 of Brady's record 50 TD throws this year, scored with 2:42 to go when cornerback Corey Webster fell. The first
19-0 season was right there.
Eli and the Giants
snatched it away.
will seek their fourth Super Bowl title in seven years when they face off against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII on
Feb. 3. New England is making its sixth Super Bowl appearance in the last quarter-century,
marking the highest total by any NFL team over that span.
have won 18 games in 2007, tying the NFL’s all-time record for most overall victories in a season. New England joins
the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears as
the NFL’s only 18-game winners. The Patriots have become the first franchise in NFL history to have at least three seasons
of 17 or more overall wins, with this season’s squad joining the 2003 and 2004 Patriots, who both won 17 total games.
The San Francisco 49ers are the only other NFL team to have achieved the feat more than once.
FOR MOST PLAYOFF WINS IN A DECADE
have won 14 playoff games this decade, tying the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys for the most playoff victories
by any NFL team in either the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or 2000s. Pittsburgh and Dallas both won 14
playoff contests between 1970 and 1979, while New England has won 14 postseason games from 2000 to the present.
will play in their sixth Super Bowl, joining three other teams as six-time Super Bowl participants. New England is 3-2 in
its previous five Super Bowls.
and Giants will meet for the ninth time since their series was inaugurated in 1970. The Patriots claim a 5-3 edge in regular-season
play and have won four straight regular-season games against New York since 1996, including a victory in the 2007 regular-season
finale on Dec. 29. The series dates back to 1970, the year of the AFL-NFL merger and includes some memorable games despite
the relative infrequency of the matchups. In 1996, the Patriots stole a 23-22 win to clinch a playoff berth after trailing
22-3 in the fourth quarter. The first preseason game between the teams was the first NFL game played in Foxborough, as the
Patriots opened Schaefer Stadium with a 20-14 win. The clubs have been frequent preseason opponents recently, squaring off
in the preseason opener for three straight years from 2001-03 and in preseason finales for three straight seasons from 2005-07.
The teams faced each other in the 2007 preseason finale at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 30, with the Patriots claiming a 27-20
Super Bowl XLII
will mark the third time that the Patriots and Giants have met this season (at the third different venue). The teams met in
the final preseason game and in the final regular season game of the season and will now meet in their final playoff game.
The Patriots defeated the Giants 27-20 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. in the 2007 preseason finale on Aug. 30, and
also beat New York 38-35 at Giants Stadium in E. Rutherford, N.J. in the 2007 regular-season finale on Dec. 29.
In the decades
leading up to the founding of the American Football League in 1960, many football fans in New England
followed the Giants, a franchise founded in 1925. New Englandbased NFL outfits such as the Providence Steam Roller (1925-
31), the Boston Redskins (1932-36) and the Boston Yanks (1944-48) folded or moved away, leaving the Giants as the closest
NFL team to New England until the Patriots franchise inaugurated play in the 1960 season.
Aug. 15, 1971—
The Patriots defeated the Giants 20-14 in the opening preseason game at the old Foxboro Stadium.
Dec. 21, 1996—
The Patriots rallied from a 22-3 fourth-quarter deficit to clinch a first-round playoff bye with a 23-22 win at Giants Stadium.
Aug. 10, 2001—
New England began its first Super Bowl championship season with a 14-0 preseason shutout
of the defending NFC champion Giants.
Dec. 29, 2007—
The Patriots defeat the Giants by a thrilling 38-35 score to cap off a 16-0 regular season.
Bowl highlights super rivalry: Beantown vs. Big Apple
Paul Pierce spotted
a few pals seated courtside at Madison Square
Garden and wanted to make nice. So on his way to the foul line, the Boston
Celtics star stopped by to slap hands and say hey to Plaxico Burress, R.W. McQuarters and some other New York Giants.
A minute later,
Pierce went ballistic. His trash talking with Quentin Richardson of the Knicks escalated, and both of them were ejected.
"With the Super
Bowl, with New York Yankees-Red Sox, that's just the way New York-Boston sports are," Pierce said. "For some reason when we
play the Knicks, it's a heated game."
Oh, for the record:
Pierce hopes the New England Patriots beat his buddies Sunday.
Be it on the
field, court, diamond or ice, that's how it is between Beantown and the Big Apple.
Goes beyond Babe
Ruth, Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner, too. Way past Spygate or when Bruins rabblerouser Mike Milbury climbed into the stands
and banged a Rangers fan with his own shoe.
Think of Boston
Pops vs. Metropolitan Opera. "Boston Legal" vs. "Law & Order." Boston cream pie vs. New York cheesecake. New England clam
chowder vs. Manhattan clam chowder.
Culture or colleges,
politicians or players, bring it on.
It's a long-running
rivalry -- say, Boston Marathon vs. New York City Marathon -- that dates to the original Patriots and settlers. Maybe Paul
Revere vs. Henry Hudson, right up to Mitt Romney vs. Rudy Giuliani.
Now, the biggest
game in America. Super Bowl, super rivalry.
"In every sport,
doesn't matter what it is -- could be checkers or chess -- they want to beat the heck out of each other," New York Islanders
captain Bill Guerin said.
Guerin, by the
way, is from Wilbraham, Mass. "Of course, I'm pulling for the Pats," he said.
played at Boston a few days ago and lost. Among the fans watching at the TD Banknorth Garden was Paul Redmond, wearing a Patriots
To Redmond, it's
"I think of classic
good vs. evil, right vs. wrong," he said. "Any stereotype you could use when you pit two people or groups against each other."
Leave it to a
Steinbrenner to be a bit more blunt.
"Let's face it,
I don't like 'em, any more than they like us," New York Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said, referring to
the Red Sox.
"Of course, I'd
like to see the Giants win because it's New York against Boston," he said. "But at the same time, I love Bill Belichick. I
just think he's a genius. I hate to see the Patriots not get their just due because they've been dominant. Moreso than the
Red Sox. Obviously moreso than the Red Sox. Boston's doing pretty well right now."
an assistant with the New York Jets and Giants, will be trying to coach the Patriots to their fourth NFL championship in seven
New York Mayor
Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, got his start in the Hub. Born in the suburb of Medford in 1942, he got his MBA from Harvard.
"I can tell you
that when I lived in the Boston metropolitan area, they did not have a football team. So nobody can accuse me of having been
a Patriot fan. I am a New York fan," he said.
was in graduate school, Fenway Park was home to the Boston Patriots of the old American Football League. At the same time,
Yankee Stadium housed the Giants.
the Giants moved farther into the Northeast, shuttling into the Yale Bowl for a couple of seasons while Yankee Stadium was
renovated. Many fans in Connecticut still consider the state Giants territory; in fact, the Patriots almost moved to Hartford
in the late 1990s.
The most intense
matchups between Boston and New York came in other sports.
In 1972, Bobby
Orr's goal helped the Bruins beat the New York Rangers for their most recent Stanley Cup title. Around the same time, John
Havlicek, Dave Cowens and the Celtics were dueling Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and the Knicks for Eastern Conference crowns.
The Celtics and
Knicks haven't met in the postseason since 1990. This season, Boston owns the NBA's best record and the Knicks have one of
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"To really call
it a rivalry is not the right statement because I believe rivals are made in the playoffs and championship games," Pierce
Sox rivalry might be the most charged in sports, heightened by what's happened in October.
New York beat
Boston in Game 7 of the 2003 American League championship series. The next year, the Red Sox became the only team in baseball
history to rally from a 3-0 deficit in the postseason.
After all those
years of watching the Yankees win, the Red Sox and their fans can gloat with a pair of World Series titles in four seasons.
Their success carries over into other sports.
"Right now the
competition between the Red Sox and Yankees kind of parlays into the Rangers and Bruins," Boston defenseman Aaron Ward said.
"It's always fun to beat New York. And when I was in New York, it was always fun to beat Boston."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated