In the most-watched Super Bowl ever, Eli Manning and his underdog Giants bested the previously undefeated New England Patriots. Before a single snap was taken, the Patriots were widely hailed as the perfect team. But it was the Giants’ inspired upset that produced a near-perfect football game, one of the best ever.
Communities from East to South, from T to W, all shared the common experience of watching the team that was supposed to win fall. Screams resonated from townhouse windows as the final second ticked off the clock.
Even some Eagles fans, normally at odds with all things New York, delighted in the Patriots’ demise. And yes, Jets fans jumped on the bandwagon as well to root for their stadium-mate rivals.
Eli Manning, once the five-interceptions-in-one-game goat of the Giants, transformed into a different animal during the playoffs. The goofy, boyish grin and mop of hair were the same, but the poise and the toughness were new and wonderful things to behold for Giants fans and Patriots haters everywhere. Not even Manning himself probably believed it when he miraculously escaped a gang of Patriots tacklers to complete a pass to David Tyree.
The Giants, too, changed, from an 0-2 team with a coach on the hot seat and a lackluster defense, into an unstoppable blitzing machine, especially on the road, where they won 10 in a row. The greatest credit probably goes to the defensive line, which dominated the league’s best offensive line to get to the league’s best quarterback for five sacks and many more hits.
Tom Brady, in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, was a confident, record-breaking quarterback on the brink of making history, the leader of one of the greatest offenses ever seen in the NFL. He laughed off the now-infamous Plaxico Burress prediction of 23-17 in favor of the Giants. After the game, a humbled and battered Brady announced he was skipping out on a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, as did fellow record-breaker Randy Moss.
For fans, things like Brady ditching the Pro Bowl, only made a good night even better. Brady, once unbeatable, now has not only lost the biggest game of the year (the only one that really matters), he’s also bowing out of a trip to Hawaii to nurse his wounds.
The win was sweeter because the Patriots went undeated all season. Yeah, they were great, but the only thing that’s going to last in people’s memories is the one loss in their record-breaking season. The 2007 Patriots will go down in history as the best team that never won the Super Bowl.
There’s not a whole lot fans in this area can agree on. But this week, Jets, Giants and (some) Eagles fans alike can join together and agree that watching the Patriots’ spectacular fall from the highest of heights made for one of the best Super Bowls ever.
From early in the season, when they had the audacity to spy on the Jets of all teams, the Patriots were the most vile of vile enemies. For New York sports fans, and maybe a few Philadelphia fans, seeing them crumble in front of the largest audience in Super Bowl history was sweet, sweet justice.
The Patriots are good, but history will forever show that they’re not perfect.
On behalf of most sports fans: thank you, New York Giants.