A Regional Rivalry Continues Sunday in the Desert

Among the many different story angles in Super Bowl XLII between the Giants and Patriots is the regional rivalry that exists between the teams.

The Boston-New York sports rivalry is as lively and diverse as one can get.

When discussing the regional competition, the elephant in the room is the Red Sox and Yankees, but many other rivalries – Patriots and Jets, Celtics and Knicks, Bruins and Rangers – have brewed for years. I wanted to find out the playoff records between the cities and did a quick research project on NHL.com, MLB.com, NBA.com, and NFL.com. Here are the results:


In 1928 and 1983, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, respectively, defeated the Boston Bruins in a playoff round. A Boston and New York franchise have met only twice in Stanley Cup championship history. The cities break even on this one as the Bruins and Rangers have each won a Stanley Cup against each other.

Playoffs: B 0 NY 2
Stanley Cup: B 1 NY


It is not as lengthy as fans would think, as most of the great battles between the cities have taken place during the regular season. In the 1910s, the Red Sox won a World Series against the Giants and Dodgers. In 1978, the Sox and Yankees met for a playoff tiebreaker, which New Yorkers now warmly and Bostoners bitterly know as the “Bucky “F*****G” Dent Game.” The city of Boston experienced another horrifying moment in Red Sox history eight years later when Buckner let a groundball roll between his legs against the Mets. The Mets would win the World Series one game later. It wasn’t until 1999 that the Sox and Yankees finally met in the postseason (a sign of the apocalypse at the time), with the Yanks victorious in the series. The Sox and Yanks traded series wins in two more legendary ALCS in 2003 and 2004.

Playoffs (excluding the 1978 tiebreaker): B 3 NY 3
World Series: B 2 NY 1
Overall Playoffs: B 4 NY 6
Overall League Championships: B 4 NY 4


Of the four major sports leagues, the NBA has been the setting for the most Boston and New York playoff series. Ironically, it is the only of the four major sports leagues in which the cities have never met in the league’s championship round.

The New York Knickerbockers dominated in the 1950s, winning all four conference semifinals and one conference final. The Boston Celtics turned the tables on the rivalry in the 1960s, winning a conference semifinal in 1967 and conference final in 1969. The Knicks won two more conference finals in 1972-73, before Boston won their next three playoff matchups, in 1974, 1984, and 1988. The Knicks won again in 1990, before the tri-state area New Jersey Nets beat Boston in 2002 and 2003.

Playoffs: B 5 NY 10
NBA Finals: N/A
Overall Playoffs: B 9 NY 16
Overall League Championships: B 4 NY 4


There has been only one time in NFL history that teams from Boston and New York have faced off in the playoffs. In 1985, the New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets in the wild card round. Perhaps Sunday will be the time where the Giants even the regional rivalry.

Playoffs: B 1 NY 0
Super Bowl: N/A
Overall Playoffs: B 10 NY 16
Overall League Championships: B 4 NY 4
Overall Playoff Series: B 14 NY 20

So there you have it. In a rivalry that has spanned nearly the entire 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, New York teams have won 20 of 34 playoff series against Boston teams in the NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL. The cities have each won four league championship series against each other. Whatever happens this Sunday between the Patriots and Giants will split that tie. Which side are you on?

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