In what is one of the most famous and distinguished sporting events in the world, the National Football League’s (NFL) Super Bowl is one filled with incredible entertainment, storylines, and, most importantly, elite football.
The Super Bowl is where history is created and legacies are carved – and there will be 106 players at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona who will be vying for the game’s biggest prize on February 12 for Super Bowl LVII. With that in mind, read on as we take a look at arguably the biggest upset in the game’s esteemed history when the New England Patriots and New York Giants met at Super Bowl XLII in February 2008.
Attempting to become the first team in history to go an entire season undefeated, the Patriots were the heavy favourites in the Super Bowl betting odds when they took on the Giants in Super Bowl XLII at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. The Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady had set a record that season with 50 touchdown passes to coincide with a 6.25 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio – which was in large part thanks to his lethal combination with Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss.
The 6’4, 210-pound West Virginia product had already established himself as one of the greatest receivers in football history during his time with the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders – however – once he joined an offence that was equipped with a quarterback of Brady’s calibre – he went from a Hall of Famer to on the Mount Rushmore for his position. Similarly to Brady, Moss too broke a single-season record with 23 touchdown receptions in 07/08, one more than four-time Super Bowl champion Jerry Rice who had 22 in 1987.
The Patriots would ultimately finish the 2007/08 regular season with a flawless 16-0 record, before defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers in their two playoff fixtures en route to the big dance.
That’s a stark contrast from the Giants, who entered the playoffs as a wildcard team with a 10-6 record in the NFC East. However, with a prime Eli Manning at quarterback and a head coach who had reached the AFC Championship with the Jaguars on two previous occasions – the Giants were considered potential dark horses by those in the know. After reputable wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers – all of which were away from home – the Giants entered Super Bowl week playing with house money.
They were expected to lose, while their opponents were looking to etch themselves in the history books as the greatest team to ever grace the gridiron. That showed on game day, as the high-powered offense that were the Patriots struggled to score points. The Giants’ D-line were putting considerable pressure on Brady from the outset, cutting down on his time and forcing poor decisions from the regular season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) recipient.
New York’s defensive end Michael Strahan in particular wreaked havoc, regularly finding gaps in the Patriots’ offensive line seemingly every snap. As a result of the Giants’ exceptional defense and the Pats’ lack of cohesion with ball in hand, a low-scoring affair ensued with Bill Belichick’s men holding on to a slim 14-10 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
What transpired over the next two minutes and 42 seconds is one of the most dramatic finishes to a football game you’re likely to see – let alone on its biggest stage. Down by four, in their own half and facing 3rd and five, Manning barely evaded New England’s pass rush, before launching a 32-yard pass whilst going backwards to his receiver David Tyree. It appeared as though Tyree was going to drop the ball mid-air, before wedging the pigskin between his hands and his helmet to secure the first down and put his team less than 25 yards out from the endzone.
Manning and company would secure the decisive score courtesy of a 20-yard touchdown to Plaxico Burress with 39 seconds remaining. The Giants would go on to win 17-14 – and by doing so – not only did they upset the NFL odds – they caused what most believe to be the greatest upset in a Super Bowl since its inception in 1967.