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Football > NFL > DVD > 2008 > New York Giants at New England Patriots
2008 Super Bowl XLII / Super Bowl 42 NFL Football
New York Giants at New England Patriots DVD

2008 Super Bowl XLII / Super Bowl 42 NFL football DVD
recap / play by play / box score / NFL 2008 football DVD list

2008 Super Bowl XLII DVD / Super Bowl 42 DVD NFL Football
New York Giants at New England Patriots DVD

GLENDALE, Ariz. - While all the talk leading up to Super Bowl XLII centered on perfection, on how the New England Patriots were one of the best teams ever, we forgot to acknowledge one simple fact: The New York Giants were playing better at this time of the year than their opponents.

We should've realized what was happening in the postseason. We do now. The Giants have their Lombardi Trophy after a 17-14 win over the Patriots. Here are 10 things we learned from arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever.

1. Eli is the Man

Giants quarterback Eli Manning finalized his stunning postseason run -- as well as the Super Bowl MVP award -- with that game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes. He also gave the Giants a play that will probably turn up on every Super Bowl highlight film for decades to come. When Manning spun out of what seemed to be a sure sack with 59 seconds left and delivered a 32-yard strike to David Tyree, he showed the kind of heart that every team covets from its leader. It's fair to say that was one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history.

"I was watching Eli after Randy Moss caught that touchdown pass [to give New England a 14-10 lead with 2:42 remaining in the game}," said Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who watched his younger brother from a stadium suite on Sunday. "There wasn't any panic in his eyes. His mindset was, 'Hey, we have got 2:45 left and we have some timeouts. We'll have the ball last and we'll make it happen.' "

2. Plaxico the Prophet

It looks like Plaxico Burress now has his own place alongside Joe Namath in the New York sports scene. He had only two catches Sunday but his second one turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. You have to give the guy credit: He had the confidence to say what the Giants privately believed. And you have to also applaud him for continuing to stay focused when the ball wasn't coming his way.

What you can question, however, is why New England opted to single-cover the 6-foot-5 Burress with 5-9 cornerback Ellis Hobbs on Burress' game-winning, 13-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds left.

"They were basically double-teaming me all night," Burress said. "We were just waiting for that one time where we could get him over there in single coverage. I gave him a slant fake, he bit on it and Eli put it up there for me to come down with it."

3. The Giants had the right idea

New York definitely got off to the kind of start it needed. By controlling the football for 19 minutes, 27 seconds in the first half, the Giants kept New England's prolific offense on the sidelines while gaining plenty of confidence. The first quarter was especially critical; the Giants held the ball for nearly 10 minutes while converting a Super Bowl-record four third-down opportunities on that first drive. That possession was enough to make the Giants see that this game wouldn't overwhelm them.

"We hit them in the mouth time and time again," Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer said. "They realized real early that we weren't backing down from them."

Added Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss: "I think their intensity from the beginning snap to the end of the game was really higher than ours. We just couldn't meet that intensity."

4. The ball wasn't bouncing New England's way

This game would've been much different early on if New England's defense had been able to hold onto the football. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled in the second quarter, but wrangled the ball away from Patriots linebacker Pierre Woods to maintain possession at the Giants' 30-yard line. The Patriots also couldn't recover a fumble that another Patriots linebacker, Adalius Thomas, forced after sacking Manning later in the quarter. Finally, Patriots cornerback Randall Gay dropped what looked like a sure interception of an errant Manning pass intended for Steve Smith.

Sure, Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs intercepted Manning early in that period, but New England thrives on converting turnovers into points. It simply couldn't come up with enough of them.

5. Sour on Seymour

The Giants didn't have anything positive to say about Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour after their Super Bowl win. Apparently, Seymour told some New York offensive players that they "should be ready to go home" before their last drive. That comment irritated Toomer and it still bothered Giants running back Brandon Jacobs in the locker room.

"I'll give you a quote on Seymour," Jacobs said. "You can write that he's a soft [expletive]. He said we should get ready to go home. Well, now he's on the team that went 18-1."

6. Where's Randy?

The Giants clearly learned a thing or two about defending the Patriots offense after losing a regular-season game to New England. One essential key was to contain Moss, especially if you want to limit the big plays. In that first meeting, Moss produced six receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns. On Sunday, he continued to be the same nonfactor he was throughout the postseason. Aside from scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left, he finished with only five receptions for 62 yards.

"We had a game plan and we just didn't execute it," Moss said. "We don't point fingers around here. We just didn't play well as a unit."

7. Brilliance and bone-headedness

New England coach Bill Belichick obviously doesn't need spying tactics to see everything. His decision to challenge a punt play on the Patriots' opening drive of the second half -- he alleged that Giants reserve linebacker Chase Blackburn didn't reach the sideline in time to avoid a penalty for 12 men on the field -- allowed the Patriots to maintain possession at a critical point in the game.

Unfortunately for New England, the Giants defense wasn't going to cave in the face of that momentum. They managed to force the Patriots into another fourth-down situation that ended with another interesting choice by Belichick (he went for it on fourth-and-13 from the Giants' 31-yard line instead of attempting a 48-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski). Note to Belichick: Those three points could've helped your team in the end.

8. The Justin Tuck factor

The Giants third-best defensive end looked like a future Hall of Famer in this game. In the first half alone, Tuck led the team with six tackles, sacked Tom Brady twice and forced a fumble on the second takedown. Before Tuck started taking over, the Giants seemed to be feeling their way through the early moments of the game. After that moment, it was apparent that the Patriots would have protection problems throughout the contest.

"We just tried to keep him off his timing," Tuck said. "That's what you have to do against a quarterback that good."

9. Tom Brady is human

You have to admit it was strange to see the Patriots' Pro Bowl quarterback harassed as much as he was in this game. He was hit on more than half of his first 17 pass attempts in the first half alone -- the Giants sacked him three times and knocked him down six other times -- and Brady actually looked rattled at times. He couldn't stand in the pocket long enough to throw deep to Moss, and he even seemed confused at times. The bottom line: Brady faced his toughest challenge of the season at the worst possible time (he was sacked five times).

Said Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: "We never put a number on it, but we said all week that we had to hit [Brady] whether he completed a pass or not. But that guy also is a warrior. When he was leading them down the field [for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left], he wasn't thinking about the hits he took earlier in that game."

10. Kevin Faulk's hurting hamstring

The impact of Faulk's left hamstring injury -- he limped off the field after the Patriots' first possession of the second half -- can't be underestimated. Faulk had been the best player on the Patriots offense during their AFC Championship Game win over San Diego two weeks ago, and he was just starting to give the Giants fits with his receptions out of the backfield on Sunday. Without him at full strength, the Giants lost one of Brady's favorite third-down options. And as talented as Laurence Maroney is, he's not as clutch in those situations as Faulk can be.

"Kevin Faulk is as dangerous on third down as [Patriots wide receiver} Wes Welker is," Giants safety Gibril Wilson said. "They lost a lot when he wasn't out there."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The New England Patriots don't deserve perfection. They deserve exactly what they got Sunday evening: a Super Bowl loss that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

You only get one chance at 19-0. One. To think the 2008 version of the Patriots is going to duplicate what these 2007 Patriots did is sillier than that GoDaddy ad with Danica Patrick.

Perfection has too many moving parts. Too much luck required. No, this was it for them.

The Patriots' season is history, but not historic. They didn't choke, but they definitely suffered from a lack of oxygen. Pinching the air tube shut was a New York Giants team with just enough nerve, just enough composure to leave this Jiffy Pop-looking stadium with a 17-14 win and the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Anybody who tells you this was the greatest Super Bowl upset of all time has it wrong. But it was the greatest missed opportunity in NFL history.

"We conquered the regular season," said Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel. "We conquered the playoffs. What does it mean if you don't win the Super Bowl? It doesn't mean anything."

Eighteen-and-one means something. It means exactly what New England defensive end Richard Seymour said it does: "That you didn't win the Super Bowl. You don't get no trophy for second."

The Patriots won't be forgotten like most Super Bowl losers. They'll be remembered as the team that couldn't handle its own expectations, to say nothing of the Giants' pass rush.

"They were inviting us to their parties after the game," said Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer. "They showed us no respect."

If that's true, then the Patriots are dumber than ever thought possible. It's bad enough they couldn't block, couldn't run, couldn't throw, couldn't catch, couldn't tackle and couldn't even try a 49-yard field goal when it counted. But to treat the Giants as though their defeat was a foregone conclusion was football suicide.

I thought the Patriots were going to win. The Patriots thought they were going to win. Now they just hope Archie and Olivia Manning don't plan to have any more sons. Last year, it was Peyton who ended their season. This year, it was Eli. Both became Super Bowl MVPs.

David Cutcliffe, Eli's coach at Ole Miss, called this one earlier in the week. Said he had "no doubt" the Giants were going to win. What he also said -- but asked that it not be printed before the game -- is that he had talked to Eli a day or two earlier.

"You know what I liked best?" Cutcliffe said. "He sounded hungry."

"He thinks they're going to win?" I said.

"Absolutely," Cutcliffe said.

Manning made the plays that the formerly amazing Tom Brady had made all season for the Patriots. Brady wasn't awful (29-of-48 for 266 yards and one touchdown), but he wasn't Tom Terrific. More like Tom OK. Tom Pretty Decent.

Perfection demands more than OK. It demands moments of brilliance.

Manning had his moment on a third-and-5 from the Giants' 44 with 75 seconds left and New York trailing by four. He somehow muscled his way out of a sure sack and found wide receiver David Tyree for a 32-yard gain. Four plays later, he laid the ball in Plaxico Burress' hands for the winning touchdown. Burress wasn't open by more than, oh, 5 yards.

"The fact is when we needed to make plays, we were unable to do it," said New England linebacker Junior Seau.

The fact is the Patriots were out-everythinged by the Giants. Brady, the human grass stain, was sacked five times. And when he wasn't sacked, he was knocked to the ground. He spent more time on the turf than fertilizer.

Brady said his injured ankle wasn't a problem. He's right. The problem was that the New England offensive line had a meltdown on the worst possible night. Tom Petty could have pass protected better.

Asked whether this was the most times he'd been popped in a game this season, Brady tried to scramble away from the question. "I don't know," he said. "I've got to wait and see the film. I think we all could have done things better."

In other words, yes, he'd never been hit more. But Brady was right about the Patriots' collective failure. They had a list of screwups as long as the playlist on his oversized wristband.

Brady wasn't sharp. There were overthrows, underthrows, and just plain, inexplicable misses. Randy Moss was open on a slant-and-out in the end zone and Brady threw wide. He found Moss for the TD -- and a brief lead -- but the NFL's MVP clearly was affected by the Giants' defensive scheme and pass rush.

Meanwhile, New England running back Laurence Maroney had a grand total of 36 yards. He had 11 at halftime. In short, the league's most prolific offense of all time played as though it had its cleats tied together.

The defense held the Giants to those 17 points, 18 fewer than the last time the teams played. But when perfection was on the line, the Patriots couldn't do what the 1972 Miami Dolphins had done decades earlier: do enough to win.

With 2:39 remaining in the game, Manning drove the Giants from his own 17-yard line to the Patriots end zone. It was only fitting that Burress, the guy who had guaranteed a New York win, caught the TD pass.

Give Manning and Burress and the rest of the Giants their props. The Patriots certainly did. But you can't ignore the obvious: The New England defense -- coach Bill Belichick's defense -- dropped would-be interceptions and couldn't hold on to would-be fumble recoveries. The Pats gave up a 16-play, nearly 10-minute drive to open the game.

As for Belichick, I'm still waiting to hear a logical reason why a fourth-and-13 attempt at the Giants' 31 makes more sense than a 49-yard field goal attempt. But that's what Belichick decided to do with 6:49 left in the third quarter and the Patriots ahead 7-3.

Brady's pass fell incomplete, so we'll never know whether Stephen Gostkowski could have made the 49-yarder. But this much is sure: Those three points would have been nice to have later in the game.

"We had an opportunity and we let it slip away," Seymour said. "We had an opportunity to be special."

Opportunity lost. And perfection with it.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Giants' thrilling win over the New England Patriots was the most-watched Super Bowl ever, with 97.5 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research said Monday.

The game eclipsed the previous Super Bowl record of 94.08 million, set when Dallas defeated Pittsburgh in 1996. Only one other show in American broadcast history was watched by more people, the "M-A-S-H" finale in 1983, which drew 106 million viewers.

Sunday's game had almost all the ingredients Fox could have hoped for: a tight contest with an exciting finish involving a team that was attempting to make history as the NFL's first unbeaten team since 1972.

But the Giants ended New England's bid for perfection, 17-14. Throughout the game, the teams were never separated by more than a touchdown.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was to appear on David Letterman's "Late Show" on Monday, also won bragging rights over his brother: Last year's win by Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts was seen by 93.2 million people, now the third most popular Super Bowl.

Fox, a division of News Corp., charged $2.7 million for 30 seconds of advertising time on the game.

An eye-popping 81 percent of all TV sets on in the Boston area Sunday were tuned in to the game. In New York, the audience share was 67 percent.

The audience peaked between 9:30 and 10 p.m. ET -- the fourth quarter -- with 105.7 million people watching, Nielsen said.

There were signs even before gametime that Fox could be headed for a record. The opportunity for a team to make history with football's first 19-0 record was a powerful draw. The Giants and Patriots also had a tight contest in late December that drew strong ratings. The Giants' underdog run had also captivated the nation's largest media market, making up for the only potential weakness in the event as a drawing card: the lack of geographical diversity in the competing teams.

There were past Super Bowl games with higher ratings, topped by the 1982 game between San Francisco and Cincinnati (49.1 rating, 73 share). That indicates that a larger percentage of homes with televisions were watching the game. But since the American population has increased, along with the number of people with TVs, the actual number of people watching this year was higher.

The Giants-Patriots game's actual rating (43.3 rating, 65 share) was the highest for any Super Bowl since 1997. That means 43 percent of the nation's TV sets were tuned in to the game, and 65 percent of the TV sets that were turned on were watching football.

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