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Giants Shock Patriots In Super Bowl XLII – So Much For Accepting A Dynasty

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Acceptance. The art of coming to the realization that the past is unchangeable. In rare cases, this also applies to the future. For about three months, it applied to the New England Patriots.

They were going to win every game ahead of them, something that hadn't been accomplished since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and there was certainly nothing we the fans could do about it. More pressing, there was nothing any modern NFL team could do about it. Acceptance.

It was written in the stars. It was written between the lines in just about every Super Bowl XLII report filed by journalists. The New York Giants were a subplot, a nice story, that sadly had to end on February 3, 2008.

I accepted all of this. In fact, so much time was invested in accepting a Patriots dynasty, I had evolved beyond just looking forward to it. I was actually disappointed when the Patriots' 19-0 season didn't occur.

The moments that prevented it are frozen in memory. Eli Manning's improbable escape. David Tyree's did-that-just-happen reception. Plaxico Burress' basket catch in the end zone 59½ minutes into the game. Tom Brady's last-ditch 4th-and-20 effort. The scoreboard reading New York 17, New England 14, putting a nonzero value in the Patriots' loss column for the first time in 378 days.

The immortal 19-0 season won't happen. And yet, like Professor Henry Higgins, I've grown accustomed to the idea. Accustomed to the accomplishment. Accustomed to the moment.

Since it didn't materialize, another period of acceptance should be in order. The NFL champion is not an impressive 19-0 or even 18-1, but a head-scratching 14-6. The team that earlier in the season lost by 24 points at home to the Minnesota Vikings boxed the NFL's then-best team on the nose to steal the shiny trophy.

Except for sports fans who, as children, wallowed in the last quartile of being picked in dodgeball, a dynasty requires months of acceptance, but parity requires minutes of realization, followed by a lifetime of awe.

In short, that was a goddamn amazing Super Bowl.

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  • http://donaldgibson.blogspot.com/ Donald Gibson

    It felt like watching Buster Douglas knock Mike Tyson on his back. I loved it.

  • CallmeMaddy

    Nice article.

    I, however, am so happy they didn’t win. I still think the superbowl loss is their punishment for Spygate (They now think that they cheated in the 2002 superbowl as well, meaning they should have not beaten the Steelers in the AFC championship game. The Steelers should have won that Superbowl too. Ok, I’m a bit bias, but still.)

    Did you notice which dynasty was voted the best in the Fox Sports Poll?

    Yeah, the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Now, granted, it was probably because all the crazy, obsessive Pittsburgh fans voted, but still.

  • alessandro

    Spare me the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s – please. The Patriots won. Gosh, imagine if we do that for every team in every sport in history: This team shoulda won that game in 1946, my team coulda won that game in 1974 and the Steelers woulda won in 2002 if not for…blah,blah,blah. Revisionism stinks.

    The Pats went on 4th and 13 and didn’t sack Manning when they had him late in the game. Then Manning semi-lazily lobbed the ball and it magically landed on a helmet laced with crazy glue.

    Yes, I am somewhat bitter that the Giants cheated me out of some history. They played very well but this one is tough one to swallow – imagine Patriots fans!

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    I guess that depends on what’s more important to witness: the greatest team or the greatest upset.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    The Giants only lost to the Pats by three points in Week 17. This was not the greatest upset.

  • Cap

    Personally, I think the greatest upset was more important to witness. Don’t get me wrong, the Patriots played brilliantly, but the Giant’s defense was all over them. If it wasn’t for the defense, the Giants never stood a chance. The offense forgot to show up, except for the last 59 seconds of the game. As for officiating, I think the game was fairly well called. I know there were one or two instances that might could have gone differently, but I don’t think there were any blatant attempts to try and alter the outcome of the game. Overall though, excellent game.

  • http://www.vassargroup.com Rick Vassar

    I’m a Redskins fan originally from New England. I found myself rooting against the Pats, which means I was rooting for the Giants. I felt a little cheap afterwards

    As a football fan, I think we all can agree it was a great game. The first three quarters were a little slow, but in the fourth, the score was close and the thing played itself out.

    When Manning broke out of the swarm and threw to Tyree who caught it off his head…as a sports fan, those are the moments you live to see…

  • http://www.runningbowline.com Chris Bancells

    Let’s give the Giants some credit here. Yes, they were crazy underdogs, but they were coming off three road playoff wins in a row. I don’t care who it is, that’s a team coming in hot. Plus, has there ever been two brothers to win the Superbowl in successive years? Poor Eli, though, as my wife pointed out late last night–born second, got the ring second.

  • zingzing

    “The team that earlier in the season lost by 24 points at home to the Minnesota Vikings…”

    hey–the vikes were on a hot streak and their defense was known all year for scoring. and the giants were at home, where they lost 5 games this year. that wasn’t some huge upset, it was just a couple of different elements coming together at the right time.

    in light of the superbowl, i suppose it does seem like a bigger upset. but then again, if the superbowl was a couple of different elements coming together at the right time for a giants win, what was?

  • alessandro

    Wasn’t the greatest upset. Underdogs yes, but it wasn’t the Jets over the Colts. Or even, ironically, like the Pats over the Rams.

  • REMF

    “I guess that depends on what’s more important to witness: the greatest team or the greatest upset.”
    – Matthew T. Sussman

    I agree with El Bicho and alessandro, this was definitely NOT “the greatest upset.” The Jets over the Colts in SB III was far bigger, considering how NOBODY gave them a chance to win.

    One Colt player (can’t remember who) even said afterwards, “If we played them 50 more times, we’d win the next 50 in-a-row.”

  • REMF

    Here’s from the Chicago Tribune:

    “Members of the 1968 New York Jets cling to their monumental Super Bowl triumph. That Joe Namath-led team entered Super Bowl III as 17- to 19-point underdogs as they represented the disrespected American Football League against the powerful Baltimore Colts of the more established NFL.

    Last week, the Patriots were installed as 12- to 14-point favorites over the Giants.

    “People said that there would be no contest between us and the Baltimore Colts back then,” former Jets defensive back and kick returner Earl Christy said from his home in Tampa. “In the case of the Patriots and the Giants…they played at the end of the regular season and people could see that the Giants played them tough and only lost by three points.

    “But the way the Baltimore Colts were so dominant over almost every team in 1968…and we had never played them…people thought they were going to kill us.

    “I still think our win was a bigger upset than what the Giants did Sunday. We still hold that edge.”

    The Jets outmuscled the Colts 16-7 on Jan. 12, 1969, at the Orange Bowl. The significance of that triumph was that it facilitated the merger between the AFL and NFL.

    “If we had lost that game, they probably wouldn’t have even had a merger,” Christy said. “It was a tremendously heavy burden on all of us at that time to try to change the whole complexion of pro football.”

    The Jets, who finished the 1968 season 11-3, received the Rodney Dangerfield treatment leading up to Super Bowl III.

    “The wives from the Jets and Colts were scheduled to play a volleyball game earlier that week, and people wrote that even the Colts’ wives were favored to win that competition,” Christy said. “It was very embarrassing. Nobody gave us any respect.”

    The Colts, coached by Don Shula, entered the game 15-1, having lost only to Cleveland.

    But the Jets of coach Weeb Ewbank took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Matt Snell. Jim Turner tacked on three field goals to more than offset the fourth-quarter touchdown reception by the Colts’ Jerry Hill.”

  • alessandro

    The Colts would probably have won the next 50 but they lost the main one.

    While it is impossible to tell, what’s a greater possibility – the Pats come back and are still favorites next year or the Giants revert and go 7-9, 8-8 or 9-7?

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    The Patriots still play in a pretty weak division — five or six easy wins there.

    The Giants might go 3-3 in the deep NFC East next year, so an 8-8 season isn’t much of a dropoff from this year’s 10-6.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Also, re: biggest upset, it depends on how you’re looking it. The Jets had more to gain in terms of respect for the entire AFC, but the Patriots had more to lose. I have no quarrel with either perception.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “The Giants might go 3-3 in the deep NFC East next year, so an 8-8 season isn’t much of a dropoff from this year’s 10-6.”

    As a major Giants fan, who has watched virtually everyone underestimate this team, who has witnessed one of the greatest mid to late season runs culminating in a super bowl win against an 18-0 team, I am actually pretty happy that once again people are underestimating the Giants.

    GO GIANTS!!!!

  • Bennett

    Nice take Matt. It was a very predictable upset, and I wasn’t surprised, just disappointed.

    Not that I’m not happy for Eli and Company (good point calling by Plaxico, and Eli can tell everyone to fuck off already) but I feel that the TEAM, the Patriot’s players, had worked and played so very hard over the course of the season that in some sense, they deserved to win the game.

    But when they hadn’t built a two score lead going into the 4th quarter… I kinda saw the writing on the wall. We all had a glimpse of that writing when Brady was sacked in the first series, eh?

    What so many fans forget is that on any given day, any team can beat any other team.

    It’s why the game rocks.

  • alessandro

    About the 8-8: Plus there isn’t much to differentiate teams in the NFC.

    I’m sure the weight of possibly going 19-0 probably got to them mentally. Think about it (and not to take anything away from the Giants) but that was a Pats team that seemed “out of it.” I don’t think it’s only because the Giants had a great game plan.

    That’s just my lame observation.

  • Bennett

    seemed “out of it.

    Where was the offensive line I’d come to know and love?

    Where was the five seconds to find a receiver?

    Damn. It coulda been.

    “probably got to them mentally”

    As it does to us all, but we mortals really can’t imagine where their heads were at in the days (weeks) leading up to this ONE game.

    Personal Immortality is an intimidating concept to brood over.

    It was a season to remember.

  • RP

    I’m a long time Giants fan, going to games since Yankee Stadium days. I am still in shock. This was much much bigger than even their first Superbowl win. Watched the game last night (yet again) and yelled to my wife at the end: “honey they DID win!” (yet again). I think she will be leaving me soon. Kudos to the Patriots, except for the coach showed a lot of class afterwards. Their shock must be equally as mindnumbing.
    I still can’t believe it…….