Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14: Biggest Upset in Football History

I have been a Giants fan my whole life. The Giants won their first Super Bowl, XXI, when I was the wee age of 10. It's hard to say if the Giants style of play (dominating, powerful defense, just enough offense) fit my personality, or my personality became molded to their style of play. Either way, we fit like a glove. My relationship with the Giants was cemented when the Giants won Super Bowl XXV in 1990 when I was 15 against the Bills 20-19, in the face of what most at the time said was an insurmountable task. The Giants were the aging team, and I remember clearly reading in Sports Illustrated that even after the Giants had suffocated the Bills high flying offense of the day, the Giants had won with smoke and mirrors, not respecting the tremendous feat that had been accomplished. The refusal to lay down and die, to just keep getting up and fighting for what you want and believe you can achieve, epitomizes to me why you never listen to someone when they tell you something can't be done, you take your best shot, and sometimes, you win. The win exemplified for me the best in sports, as they say, that's why you play the games.

By the time the Giants lost Super Bowl XXXV to the Ravens 34-7, I was living in California. My good friend John and I watched that game together, and like all sports fans did, we questioned if our presence together had somehow altered the karma enough to jinx Big Blue. Neither of us believe that crap, but it makes for a good joke together. Now though, the jinx is no more. We watched the Giants upset in dramatic fashion what most were just waiting out Super Bowl XLII to call the greatest team of all time. Perfection denied, the Patriots are 18-1. Statistically, the best offense in the history of the NFL. How did the Giants do it? The same way they always do, with a dominating powerful defense that says to any offense "go ahead, try and impose your will on us, we are going to smash you in face when you do" and just enough offense. With the toughest opponent in their history, the Giants once again prove there is no fate but what we make (quote from Terminator 2: Judgement Day). For the first time in my life, I can say I was a direct part of it in some way. I actually attended two games this year at Giants Stadium.

Giants 16, Eagles 3
Giants vs Eagles
My first game ever at Giants Stadium, and what a treat. Sure, I was high in the nose bleeds, but it was tremendous fun and it looks further away with the iPhone pic than with your eyes. The Giants sacked Donovan McNabb 245 times (no seriously, only 12) to utterly destroy the Eagles. If the Washington game the week earlier gave fans a taste for what the Defense was capable of, this was the first time during the season the D dominated. It wasn't even as close as the score suggest.

Patriots 38, Giants 35
Giants vs Eagles
Who could know in early September when I bought these tickets the fire it would ignite in the Giants. I was literally in the last row in the stadium, at the top of an isle. They were actually pretty good seats, I could get up and down whenever I wanted, and we were on about the 28 yard line. I nearly sold the tickets because the Patriots were 15-0 going into the game. I am so glad I didn't sell them. I was surrounded by Pats fans, and the Giants had them on the Patriots on the ropes the entire game and it was a delight to watch the Patriots fans completely silent and still, until the Pats finally took a 10 point lead and there wasn't enough time for Manning to get it all back. This was the best the Giants played all year, and I had a feeling it would be the spark they needed to take out Tampa. I also thought of all the teams in the playoffs, the Giants, the league leaders in sacks for 2007, were the only ones likely to beat the Patriots if they could get to Brady enough times. That was exactly how they won the Super Bowl, they just beat on Brady, disrupting the Offense, and it was glorious.