In a stunning upset that turned a dream season to a nightmare for the New England Patriots – the New York Giants pulled off the upset on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, topping the 12-point favorite Pats 17-14. It wasn’t the game that most of America was expecting, but it was the perfect type of game that the Giants needed to play to win. In that, they held the Pats to season-low 14 points, made Tom Brady’s night a living hell with pressure all over the place, and never got behind by more than four points all day.
The win will make for some interesting talk for fans around the league – are the Pats “still” the best team ever? This loss puts them at 18-1, a mark that tops them with the 1986 Chicago Bears, but considering the Bears won the Super Bowl that season (over the Pats no less), and with the 1984 Niners, another team that won the whole thing. Both those teams will get a lot more kudos. As for the legacy of Brady, he could have been just the second QB ever to win four Super Bowls, but instead was left to answer questions about the pressure the Giants brought all night as he was never able to get things going.
On to the Giants. Eli Manning joins big brother Peyton as MVP, as he put together a HUGE drive in the final two minutes that covered 12 plays and 83 yards and ended with a lobbing TD pass to Plaxico Burress that put them up 17-14 with :35 seconds left. Then the Giants defense closed the door, getting a clinching sack on Brady and watching a few balls hit the turf to seal the deal and walk away with the trophy.
The win also cements Tom Coughlin as what he has been from the word go – a pretty good NFL head coach. Before the season even started, Coughlin and possibly Browns coach Romeo Crennel were both on the hot seat. That seat got to the boiling point for Coughlin when the G-Men started 0-2. Then though, out of nowhwere, the Giants won 6 straight, then wrapped up going 4-4 the rest of the way.
The one thing about the Giants though was there way they won on the road. They won their last 11 games on the road (they techinally were the road team in the SB), and even topped NFC studs Dallas and Green Bay to reach the big game. They hung in with the Pats in the final game of the regular season, losing just 38-35. They took what they did wrong in that game and came out Sunday with a game plan that was just good enough to get the job done.
The defense held the Pats to a season low 274 yards on offense, 21 first downs, 45 yards rushing, and forced Brady into 19 incomplete passes. The Pats had grabbed the lead at 14-10 with 2:42 left on a Brady to Randy Moss TD pass, but from there, Mannng entered into rare company with a drive that will forver put him on the map. The big play came after he escaped pressure and hit David Tryee on a frantic pass that put the ball on the 24-yard line of the Pats. The 32-yard catch was the big play on the drive that ended with Burress making the TD catch to clinch the game.
There will be a lot of “what ifs” for the Pats and their fans as they talk about this loss. This was a team that was built and was poised to go 19-0, but instead, fell one game short. For the Giants, call them party crashers, or just plain party poopers – but make no mistake about it, the one thing you can call them is – Champions.