Greatest Super Bowl of All Time: Super Bowl XLII
#1 Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
New York Giants – 17
New England Patriots – 14
University of Phoenix Stadium
February 3, 2008
MVP: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Key Play: With 1:15 left in the fourth quarter Eli Manning escapes a Patriots sack and completes a miraculous pass to David Tyree setting up the winning score several plays later
Perfection was the theme to Super Bowl XLII. The AFC champion New England Patriots were the first team in NFL history to finish the regular season 16-0. Many experts considered the Pats the greatest team in NFL history even before the Super Bowl kicked off. They set the record for most points scored and most touchdowns in a season. They entered the game against the Giants favored by twelve points. They would leave having taken part in the greatest Super Bowl of all-time, just not in the context anyone imagined.
The Giants opened the game with the longest drive in Super Bowl history, a 16-play, 77-yard march down the field that stalled at the Patriots 14-yard line and ended in a Lawrence Tynes 32-yard field goal. The Patriots responded though by returning the ensuing kickoff 43 yards. New York almost halted the high powered New England offense. However, on 3rd and 10 from the Giants 17 yard line Tom Brady lofted a pass to tight end Benjamin Watson that resulted in a pass interference call on linebacker Antonio Pierce.
Two plays later, the first of the second quarter, Lawrence Maroney ran the ball into the end zone giving the Pats a 7-3 lead. New York tried to respond as they drove down to New England’s 19 yard line, aided by a perfect Eli Manning pass to Amani Toomer down the sideline for a 38-yard gain. However, Manning’s pass to Steve Smith bounced off the receivers arms and into the hands of Ellis Hobbs for Manning’s first interception of the postseason.
The ten total points by both teams at the half was a stark contrast to the 73 points the teams put up in the week 17 meeting, a 38-35 victory by the Pats. The third quarter went scoreless, but the fourth was arguably the greatest ever.
Manning started the fourth by completing a 45-yard pass to tight end Kevin Boss. It was the key play in a 7-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Manning threading a perfect pass to David Tyree that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead with 11:05 left to play. Following back-to-back punts by both teams the Pats started a drive from their own 20 with 7:54 left in the game. Tom Brady led the Pats methodically down the field. On 3rd and 10, Brady hit Randy Moss for a 6-yard touchdown pass. New England was in “perfect” position to finish the perfect season.
Manning and the “G-Men” started the next drive of the game from their own 17-yard line with 2:39 remaining. A one yard yard run by Brandon Jacobs on fourth down kept the drive going. Pats corner Asante Samuel had a chance to ice a Patriots victory but he let an interception slip through his hands. The very next play has been considered by many as the greatest play in Super Bowl history. On 3rd and 5 from New York’s 44-yard line the Patriots pass rush broke through the Giants line. Manning side-stepped Adalius Thomas. Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour each seemed to have Manning pinned for a sack but the QB somehow managed to elude the two defenders. He set himself and fired a pass down the field. The football found Tyree and the receiver used one hand to pin the ball against his helmet despite having Rodney Harrison draped all over him. The drive wasn’t over though as a few plays later on 3rd and 11, Manning hit Smith for twelve yards and a first down. On the very next play Manning found Plaxico Burress all alone in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Burress ran the most famous “slant-and-go” route in history and shook Hobbs.
The Patriots had 35 seconds left to attempt a comeback but did not manage to gain a yard on their drive. A sack by Jay Alford on second down was followed by two deep in-completions to Moss. The Patriots had the perfect regular season but the Giants had the perfect postseason, capped off with the perfect hoisting of the Vince Lombardi trophy.