This is a weekly feature we are going to put out every Friday. We are going to look back at something big in sport a game, a series, a tournament, a moment something of importance. We will take you through the event, the history, why it was important and what happened next. As usual any questions, or anything you think we should take a step back in time for Comment, Tweet or Email us.
Date – 3rd February 2008
Location – University of Pheonix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
We are deep in the 4th Quarter. It’s the Superbowl. Tom Brady and his New England Patriots lead Eli Manning and his New York Giants. They are on the verge of going 19-0 something no team has ever done before. The lead has changed twice already this quarter and sits at 14-10. There is a 1:15 remaining on the clock, a frustrated Eli drops back in the pocket under huge pressure. Three Patriots defenders rush him and Eli somehow breaks free and launches the ball downfield. David Tyree is battling All-Pro Safety, Rodney Harrison. Tyree grabs the ball with one hand, holding it against his helmet and falls to the ground maintaining control of the ball. The Giants pick up 32 yards to keep the drive and the game alive. Why was this so important? Well, we have to go forward to go back.
The regular season for The Giants and The Patriots could not have been further apart. The Giants started slowly, giving up 70 points in their first two games. They were also the winners for the first ever NFL game played outside North America beating the Dolphins 12-10 at Wembley Stadium. This was the last of a six straight win streak before their bye week. After the bye week, things were far from consistent. Only once did they win two games back to back in weeks 13 and 14 against the Bears and the Eagles. The Giants snuck in as a wildcard after finishing the season 10-6.
The Patriots were on their way to making history. No team had ever won every game on an NFL season since it had switched to 16 games. Belichick’s men did and only two teams were within a touchdown of them at the end of the game. One was the Colts and the other the Giants. Maybe the perfect system could only be beaten by QB’s who’s surname is Manning? But this machine was rolling and it looked like nothing could stop them from going 19-0. Jacksonville and San Diego never really stood a chance and Brady’s offensive unit brushed them aside.
The make-up of both teams couldn’t be further apart. Brady had Randy Moss, one of the most naturally talented Wide Receivers that has ever played in the NFL. He had gone under a huge change in New England, he showed just how good he could be. The Offensive unit of the Giants was decent, but on the other side of the ball, they were stacked. Their defensive line containing future Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck has been filling the nightmares of Quarterbacks all season. So this Superbowl looked set to be a battle.
When both teams arrived in Pheonix, the Patriots are heavily favoured. Most of the media outlets thought the train was gonna keep running all the way to history. People were excited, this was the greatest show on turf. Except this wasn’t. The incredible Patriots offence gave up 5 sacks and a fumble with the Giants only managed 5 first downs in the middle quarters of the game. At the end of the third quarter, the Patriots were ahead with a 7-3 lead.
Seemingly, at the start of the 4th quarter, both squads realised that they were playing in the Superbowl. The Giants offence started rocking and a David Tyree gave the Giants the lead with a 5-yard touchdown pass. With 2:42 left on the clock Tom Brady found his main receiver Randy Moss who crossed the line for a 5-yard touchdown. Time was not on the side of the Giants and Manning was clearly looking frustrated. The drive next drive started with two receptions for a total of 20 yards, Brandon Jacobs kept things alive running for a first down on 4th and 1. On 2nd and 5, Manning tried to find Tyree but misdirected the past almost straight into the arms of Asante Samuel, but the Patriots corner couldn’t hold the ball. Then the play to Tyree happened, the greatest play in Superbowl history.
So, what happened next? Three plays later, on 3rd and 11 Eli Manning found his man and stepped out of bounds at the New England 13. The very next play Manning found Plaxico Burress in the Endzone to give the Giants a 17-14 lead with 35 seconds left, though the Patriots still had all three timeouts. The Giants held on, ending their Patriots chance at the perfect season. Something that they would never come close to getting again. The next time both sides would be in the Superbowl would be 4 years later. This time the Giants took the early lead, with Tom Brady being penalised for intentional grounding. The Patriots would get the lead back, but another Eli Manning 4th Quarter comeback gave the Giants the win. though the Giants wouldn’t make it back to the Superbowl again. New England would be back 3 times 49, 51 and 52 coming out victorious in 49 and 51.
After both Superbowl victories, the Giants were never the same team. Their defence got older and wasn’t a force. Strahan retired after this game and was never really replaced. Even with Odel Beckham Jr. in recent seasons, they haven’t quite kicked on. Eli Manning, unlike his brother, has regressed as he got older and isn’t the quarterback he was. The Patriots went through a slight lull but have since become one of the best teams in the NFL again. The breaking of the perfect season wasn’t too much of a setback for the Patriots, but this game will always be a regret for the organisation.
Do you remember this? Do you think we will see a perfect season in the NFL? Email, Comment or Tweet us @unlikelydan