“We shocked the world but not ourselves.”
Yes, they did. The Giants shocked the world (or at least most of it; see my prediction in the previous post!). Linebacker Antonio Pierce said those words moments after the New Yorkers squashed perfection with an imperfect, yet good-enough 17-14 win over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots to win Super Bowl XLII. He talked about a team that found itself at the most unlikeliest of times, and completed a most improbable run with one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Forget that. Let’s just say it: This was the greatest upset in Super Bowl history.
Bigger even than Joe Namath’s I-told-you-so win over Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts in Supe III.
Plaxico Buress told you so, too. And like Joe, he was ridiculed when he said the Giants would win by holding the Pats to 17 points. It even made Tom Brady chuckle. “That’s all he gave us,” the QB/model said.
Turns out Plax was wrong. The Pats didn’t even get 17.
This was the greatest triumph ever for two reasons. Most important, these Pats had not been beaten. (The Colts were 13-1) They were being discussed as being one of the greatest NFL teams ever. If not the best ever. Brady? He was Joe Montana, Johnny U, John Elway and all the others rolled into one. And he dates Gisele. This team simply was not supposed to lose. And they did.
Reason No. 2: The Giants. They were a wild-card team. They were a wild-card team that was about to be run out of town on rails at midseason. (The Jets were 11-3) They were a team with a QB whose greatest asset was his last name. It was also his biggest burden. And their coach? A militaristic sourpuss. This team was simply not supposed to win.
But they did. And they did with one of the greatest defensive efforts in Super Bowl history. And this may be the reason why the Giants didn’t shock themselves. They led the NFL in sacks this season, and sacked Brady five times. They knocked him down numerous others. They went for that ankle and any other part they could grab.
They ran out of steam, allowing the Pats to drive down the field and take the lead with just over two minutes 45 seconds left. But as one of them said after the game: “We felt that if we held them to 14 points we should win.”
Added Michael Strahan: “We just did what we do.”
The play, of course, came with 1:15 left. It was third-and-5 and the Giants were on their 44. And Manning was sacked. Or so it seemed. And yet a QB known as neither nimble nor strong somehow extricated himself from the scrum and heaved the ball downfield.
Then it got good. Thirty-two yards down field wide receiver David Tyree caught the ball – with his head. Well, he used his hands but the ball had more helmet than hands. Moreover, he landed hard and held on. First down on the Pats 24 with 1:15 on the clock.
Four plays later, Burress, of all people, found himself wide open in the corner of the end zone and the Giants were in the lead.
I don’t remember much about the Jets’ win over the Colts. Oh, I remember the day vividly. I was 12 years old, and I watched the game from the hospital where my father was in his last days. For nearly four decades, that game stood alone as the greatest Super Bowl upset ever.
Not any more.
Reebok is on it: Check out this commercial HERE.