Giants take page out of Pats playbook in winning title
Posted: Monday February 4, 2008 1:49AM; Updated: Wednesday February 6, 2008 3:14PM
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- That's the thing about perfection: It's so unforgiving. Just ask the previously unbeaten New England Patriots, who realized Sunday night that 18-1 just doesn't have quite the right ring to it.
When we all get to fully dissect this one -- the greatest upset in Super Bowl history for my money -- we'll find that the miracle that was the New York Giants' 2007 season really boiled down to one play made, and one play missed. The Giants made the play and shocked the world. The Patriots failed to break up the play and will forever mourn the one that got away.
That was the difference between New York or New England winning Super Bowl XLII on Sunday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium. New York receiver David Tyree's mind-boggling 32-yard catch on third-and-five with 59 seconds remaining -- a pass the heavily pressured Eli Manning had no business even being able to launch -- was the catalyst for the Giants' memorable 17-14 win. And it was the play that brought the Patriots' bid for perfection to an end in the most un-Patriot of ways.
"There were two or three guys who had him, and he breaks free and throws up a Hail Mary that the guy comes down with,'' said Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, of the Manning-to-Tyree completion, which came four plays before Plaxico Burress' game-winning 13-yard touchdown catch. "I mean, everybody thought [Manning] was going down. But he didn't.
"I think that play was kind of representative of them getting the breaks today. The kind of breaks we usually get.''
Harrison had the best possible view of Tyree's circus catch. He was the defender on the play, and try as he might to separate Tyree from the ball at the New England 24-yard line, he couldn't do so. As he was falling backwards to the turf, Tyree clutched the ball one-handed against his metallic-blue helmet, with much the same determination that the entire New York team clung to the dream that it could beat the mighty Patriots in this game.
"I just wasn't letting it go,'' said Tyree, whose five-yard touchdown reception with 11:05 remaining jump-started the Giants offense and gave New York a 10-7 fourth-quarter lead. "Somehow I knew we were going to get it done. We've been on a roll and with the surge we've had in the second half of the season, even the crazy way we won in Green Bay ... [in the NFC title game]. Those are things that honestly just don't make sense to the human mind.''
Agreed. Improbable doesn't begin to describe Manning's escape from the clutches of Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green and others on the pass to Tyree. It doesn't sum up just how desperate things looked for New York when Tom Brady found Randy Moss for the go-ahead six-yard touchdown pass with 2:42 remaining, giving the Patriots a 14-10 lead that looked to be right out of their history of making fourth-quarter magic in the Super Bowl.
For the second time in five weeks, it looked like the Giants would have to settle for close, but not quite against the vaunted Patriots. Then Manning and Tyree saved the day on third-and-five, and forced us all to remember that there are no certainties in the NFL. Even at 18-0.