Super Bowl 2012: Where Does Giants vs. Patriots Rank Among All-Time Great Games?
The stage is set for Super Bowl XVLI, as the New England Patriots will play the New York Giants in Indianapolis in Super Bowl XVLI. Based on the high quality of the 2011 NFL playoffs, the media buildup will drive this game into as highly anticipated a spectacle as possible. Where will Super Bowl XVLI rank among the all-time greatest games in NFL history?
There has been so much intrigue already through the first three rounds of the playoffs. Watching the classic games where the San Francisco 49ers rallied to beat the New Orleans Saints, and Tim Tebow leading the Denver Broncos to an upset win against the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime.
The exits of rookie quarterbacks Andy Dalton and T.J. Yates were interesting. The Packers were upset, seeing their 15-1 regular season turn into a one-and-done affair in the playoffs. The Houston Texans comeback fell short against the Baltimore Ravens defense.
Then, in the AFC Championship Game, Lee Evans had the winning touchdown pass in his hands, but the ball is stripped away in the end zone. Billy Cundiff then misses a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
In the NFC Championship Game, the teams had to go to overtime before the New York Giants prevailed, winning 20-17 on a 31-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal. Victor Cruz and Vernon Davis had great games, and both teams struggled to convert on third downs.
Now, it is the New York Giants and the New England Patriots that have emerged as champions of their own conferences. On the surface, this game should boil down to Tom Brady versus Eli Manning and which set of receivers will be able to do the best job.
Where will this game rank among the greatest Super Bowls of all time? We start with a preview of the Patriots versus Giants rematch, and then rank the best 14 Super Bowl games in NFL history. It will be interesting to find out if Super Bowl XLVI is worthy enough to crack this list in the future.
Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
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This will be a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, as the New England Patriots look to extract a measure of revenge against the New York Giants for bringing their quest for a perfect season in 2007 to an end. The fact that this is second time around for these two teams will be played up constantly in the days leading up to the game, and for good reason.
Super Bowl XLII was a classic game, one of the best Super Bowls ever played.
These teams met in the 2011 regular season, back in Week 9, when the Giants traveled to New England and defeated the Patriots, 24-20. Tom Brady threw the ball for 342 yards that day, but the Patriots only managed to come up with two touchdowns and two field goals against the Giants bend-but-don't-break defense.
Each team had four scoring drives, so that tells you already that the teams are basically evenly matched.
This game will offer two strong offensive units against two struggling defensive units. Both defenses have played better down the stretch and in the playoffs, but you have to wonder about the amount of wear and tear they had to withstand during the year.
The Giants defense was ranked No. 27 while the Patriots were ranked No. 31. The Giants defense made 1,131 tackles (second most in NFL), while Patriots defense made 1,126 (fourth most). Having two of the bottom seven defenses in the league suggests this will be a shootout.
These defenses have secondaries that are challenged to say the least. They are both in the bottom four of the NFL, as the Patriots are No. 31 (293.9 yards per game) and the Giants are No. 29 (255.1 yards per game).
When you look at the passing offenses involved, you realize that passes will be flying all over Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Patriots passing attack is No. 2 (317.8 yards per game), while the Giants are No. 5 (295.9 yards per game). Tom Brady has 39 touchdown passes, while Eli Manning has 29.
This Super Bowl could set a record for first downs and yardage gained. The Patriots offense was No. 2 in the NFL with 399 first downs, while the Giants were No. 10 with 331.
The defenses however, were far too easy to convert on. The Giants defense was No. 26 with 338 first downs allowed, while the Patriots were even worse, giving up 370 first downs, ranked dead last in the NFL. The chain gang better get a good night of sleep, because they will be busy.
14) Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25
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Super Bowl XLV saw the Green Bay Packers make their historic run from the No. 6 seed, winning three straight games on the road to propel them to a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25. Aaron Rodgers was the MVP of the Super Bowl, and established himself as one of the clutch quarterbacks in the NFL with his great playoff run.
In the Super Bowl, the Packers' season-long issues with injuries continued to rear its ugly head. The Packers lost nickelback Sam Shields and corner Charles Woodson on consecutive plays in the first half.
The Packers were already starting seven reserves in the Super Bowl due to injuries, and then two more would have to be inserted in the lineup for the second half. In addition, the Packers also lost Donald Driver in the first half, limiting their ability to stretch the field.
The Packers were up 21-3, and then a rather odd trio of eight-yard touchdowns were scored between the second and third quarters. The three touchdowns were a catch by Hines Ward, a run by Rashard Mendenhall and a catch by Greg Jennings.
The touchdowns weren't odd. It's just that all of them being scored from eight-yards out was unique. The Packers were benefited by a Nick Collins pick six in the first half, from 37 yards out.
The Steelers scored on the last possession of the first half, and on the first possession of the second half, to narrow the gap at 21-17. But the Packers went on to win the fourth quarter 10-8, and thus emerged with the victory 31-25. The Steelers did attempt a late rally, but the last three pass attempts from Roethlisberger were all incomplete, and the Packers had their win.
In the final analysis, the Steelers shot themselves in the foot by committing three turnovers to none for the Packers. The Steelers held the ball for seven more minutes, but Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions, while Aaron Rodgers and the Packers took perfect care of the ball.
13) Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21
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Super Bowl XVI was the first Super Bowl appearance for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals. It turned out to be the first Super Bowl championship for the 49ers franchise, as they won 26-21. The 49ers have won a total of five Super Bowls, but none since Super Bowl XXIX. In the victory over the Bengals, Joe Montana was voted the Super Bowl MVP.
The tone of the game was set early when the 49ers fumbled the opening kickoff. The Bengals drove down to the five-yard line, but came away with no points when Dwight Hicks intercepted a pass by Ken Anderson in the end zone. That play would come back to haunt the Bengals later on. The 49ers stormed out to a 20-0 lead by the end of the first half.
In the second half, the Bengals finally answered the bell and scored 21 points. It was not enough however, as the 49ers kicked two field goals in the fourth quarter to win the game 26-21.
What was odd about this contest was that the 49ers were out-gained by the Bengals, 356-275. It was the first time in NFL history that the team that gained the most yards and scored the most touchdowns (Bengals had three, 49ers had two), lost the game.
The Bengals had two receivers that gained 100 yards or more in the contest, as Cris Collinsworth caught five passes for 107 yards and tight end Dan Ross caught 11 passes for 104 yards.
But turnovers did the Bengals in, as they committed four on the day, while the 49ers had only one. Ken Anderson threw for 300 yards, compared to only 157 yards for Joe Montana, but two Anderson interceptions hurt the Bengals' chances to pull out the win.
12) Super Bowl X: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
The Pittsburgh Steelers had just won their first Super Bowl the year before (Super Bowl IX) and were looking to repeat as world champions. The Steelers had a formidable foe in the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had already appeared in two prior Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl VI and losing Super Bowl V.
The Steelers defeated the Cowboys 21-17, and the MVP was Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann, seen in the slide making his famous, acrobatic catch in the game. Swann was the first wide receiver to win the MVP award.
This Super Bowl featured Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach, two famous quarterbacks. The Steelers trailed at halftime 10-7. The Cowboys hung on to their slight lead, as the third quarter came and went without any scoring.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Steelers, as they wound up getting a safety from their special teams due to a blocked punt, two field goals and a touchdown pass of 64 yards from Bradshaw to Swann, that brought the Steelers lead to 21-10.
Staubach led the Cowboys on a comeback to cut the lead to 21-17 with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Percy Howard. Staubach led the Cowboys on a final drive to win, but safety Glen Edwards intercepted a pass in the end zone to secure the Steelers win. Swann wound up with only four receptions on the day, but those four catches went for a whopping 161 yards.
One of the odd statistics of this game was that both team fumbled the ball four times, but out of the eight total fumbles, none were recovered by the opposition. The difference was that Staubach threw three interceptions, while Bradshaw didn't throw any.
11) Super Bowl XXXIX: New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
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The New England Patriots were in the process of capturing their third Super Bowl championship in a four-year time span, and were able to outlast the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21. The MVP of this game was Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch.
The Eagles had only appeared once in the Super Bowl previously, back in Super Bowl XV, when they lost to Oakland 27-10. The Eagles were on the cusp of becoming a power in the NFL with the arrival of the new century.
The Eagles lost in the NFC Championship Game three straight years before finally breaking through in 2004 to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 27-10 to make their second Super Bowl appearance.
These teams kept the game close throughout, as they were tied at the end of the first quarter (0-0), first half (7-7) and third quarter (14-14). The Patriots won the decisive fourth quarter 10-7 to pick up their third Super Bowl championship in four years, taking the game 24-21.
Tom Brady threw touchdown passes to David Givens and Mike Vrabel. Donovan McNabb threw three touchdown passes in the game, but also threw three interceptions. His touchdowns went to L.J. Smith, Brian Westbrook and Greg Lewis. McNabb threw 51 passes for 324 yards, while Brady threw the ball only 33 times for 236 yards passing.
Highlights of the game included Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens catching nine passes for 122 yards, despite playing on a leg that had been fractured, and wasn't completely healed. Anyone who ever questioned Owens' toughness was quieted after that performance. Branch didn't score a touchdown, but came up 11 pass receptions for 133 yards. The Eagles were done in by their four turnovers, while the Patriots only had one turnover.
10) Super Bowl XXXII: Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
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Prior to Super Bowl XXXII, the Denver Broncos had been 0-4 in Super Bowl appearances. But the Broncos fortunes finally changed for the better on their fifth try. In Super Bowl XXXII, they were able to defeat the Green Bay Packers 31-24, and running back Terrell Davis was voted the MVP of the game.
Green Bay was the defending Super Bowl champions (beating New England 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI), and were a heavy favorite to repeat as Super Bowl champions, following their 13-3 record in the regular season. There was also a huge momentum ride for NFC teams, which had won a staggering 13 straight Super Bowls over their AFC opponents.
The Broncos entered the playoffs in 1997 as a Wild Card team. They edged Kansas City in the AFC Divisional Round 14-10 and then beat Pittsburgh 24-21 in the AFC Championship Game.
Meanwhile, the Packers had a relatively easy run in the playoffs, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 14 points in the NFC Divisional Round and then beat San Francisco by 13 points in the NFC Championship game.
As far as the game went, the Broncos were able to mount at least one touchdown drive in every quarter of the game. The Broncos had four rushing touchdowns, all from one-yard out. Three of them came from Terrell Davis, who had to sit out a portion of the game due to severe migraine headaches, and the other touchdown came from John Elway.
The Broncos rushed for more yards (179) than they had passing (123). For the Packers, Brett Favre threw for 255 yards and had three touchdown passes, two to Antonio Freeman and one to Mark Chmura. The Packers had three turnovers and the Broncos had two.
The star of the game was Terrell Davis, who despite the migraine headaches, rushed the ball 30 times for 157 yards and the three scores, in one of the most courageous Super Bowl efforts ever.
9) Super Bowl XXXVIII: New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
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New England had just captured their first Super Bowl trophy two years earlier, when they upset the St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI. Now they had an opportunity to make it two titles in three years if they could beat the Carolina Panthers, who were making their first Super Bowl appearance in the history of the franchise.
Tom Brady wound up becoming the MVP of the game, as he led the Patriots to a 32-29 victory.
The Panthers had won the NFC South division with a 11-5 record, but had only outscored their opponents by a total of 21 points for the entire season. The Patriots finished the year at 14-2, and had outscored their opponents by 111 points, so the Patriots came in as a seven-point favorite.
One of the most interesting facts of this Super Bowl was the way the scoring went down. Even though both teams combined for a big point total of 61 points, the game was scoreless with three minutes left in the first half. The Patriots finally broke the deadlock on a pass from Tom Brady to Deion Branch, and then the floodgates opened up.
When the dust settled, the Patriots had a 14-10 lead at the half.
The second half was a duplication of the first half. The third quarter was also scoreless, and then there was a point explosion in the fourth quarter, as the two teams combined for 37 points. There could have been even more points scored in the fourth, but the Panthers tried for two-point-conversions twice, and both attempts failed.
New England succeeded on their only two-point try, and the Patriots' ability to convert might have been the difference in the game.
In total, Tom Brady passed for 354 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. His counterpart, Jake Delhomme, passed for 323 yards, three touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Patriots offense put up almost 100 more yards of offense on the day, 481 to 387. Each team committed just one turnover.
The Panthers tied the game at 29 with only 1:01 left in regulation on a Delhomme touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl, but John Kasay botched the kickoff by kicking the ball out of bounds. With great field position at the 40-yard line, Brady quickly drove the Patriots down for a 41-yard game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri to give the Patriots their second Super Bowl trophy.
8) Super Bowl XIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
The Pittsburgh Steelers had already won two Super Bowls and came back in the 1978 season to try to claim their third Super Bowl crown. Three years earlier, the Steelers met the Cowboys in Super Bowl X, and Pittsburgh won that game 21-17.
In Super Bowl XIII, the Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 to up their record to 3-0 in Super Bowl games. Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was voted MVP of the game.
The game was tight in the first half, as Pittsburgh opened the scoring to go up 7-0, only to see Dallas score the next 14 points to take the lead. Pittsburgh returned the favor by scoring 14 straight points, to take a 21-14 lead at halftime.
The Steelers had three touchdown passes from Terry Bradshaw, while the Cowboys had one touchdown pass from Roger Staubach and a fumble return from Mike Hegman.
Third quarter scoring was limited to a Cowboys field goal, cutting the Pittsburgh lead to 21-17. The Steelers then scored two touchdowns to open up a big 35-17 lead, only to see the Cowboys mount a furious comeback with two straight touchdowns passes from Staubach, (helped by an onside kick recovery) to make it 35-31.
The Cowboys tried for one more onside kick, but Pittsburgh recovered it, and they were able to kill the clock to hang on for the win.
7) Super Bowl XXIII: San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16
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Coming into Super Bowl XXIII, the San Francisco 49ers were 2-0 in Super Bowl games. Super Bowl XXIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XVI, which the 49ers won 26-21. Seven years later, the 49ers had the itch again, and defeated Cincinnati 20-16. 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice was the MVP of the game.
In the first half, both teams traded field goals to go into the half tied at three. They traded field goals again in the third quarter. Stanford Jennings returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, to put the Bengals up 13-6 entering the fourth quarter. Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice with a touchdown pass to tie the game at 13.
This Super Bowl was one game when the statistics don't tell the whole story. The Bengals were winning late in the fourth quarter 16-13, but the 49ers had been dominating the majority of the game, putting up 200 more yards of offense than the Bengals did.
It was time for Joe Montana to further establish his legend with a clutch drive. Montana led the 49ers on a 92-yard drive, capped off by a 10-yard pass to John Taylor that proved to be the winning score, with only 34 seconds left in regulation.
The 49ers wound up with 452 yards of offense, while the Bengals had just 229 yards of offense. The 49ers had two turnovers while the Bengals had just one. Joe Montana had 341 yards of net passing, while Boomer Esiason had only 123 yards of net passing. Jerry Rice was in his prime, catching 11 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, which is why he earned the MVP trophy.
6) Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
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Super Bowl XLIII offered viewers a 50-point shootout, with some precision passing between Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers won their sixth Super Bowl trophy in the 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, who were making their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes was the MVP.
The game was basically a snooze-fest for the first three quarters, as the Steelers cruised to a 20-7 lead.
But the fourth quarter was packed with excitement.
Kurt Warner capped off two drives with touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald, sandwiched around a safety, as the Cardinals to score 16 unanswered points and take an improbable 23-20 lead with just 2:37 left in regulation. What was impressive about the Cardinals comeback is that they did it against the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL.
The Steelers didn't settle for a tie in regulation, they opted instead to play for the win. Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a drive that culminated in a six-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with just 35 seconds left in the game. Holmes caught nine passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, which is why he won the MVP award.
The Cardinals outgained the Steelers 407 to 292, but the Cardinals committed two turnovers to just one for the Steelers. Of the two turnovers, the most costly was the interception return of 100 yards for a touchdown by the Steelers James Harrison, which became the longest scoring play in Super Bowl history.
5) Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
From a pure football standpoint, Super Bowl III doesn't rank in my top 10, or anywhere close to the top 10. But from the standpoint of pure significance and what that specific game meant to the history of the NFL, it is one of the most important games played in the history of the league.
The New York Jets upset the Baltimore Colts 16-7 and Joe Namath, the Jets quarterback, earned the MVP honors in the game.
Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed that the Jets would win the game. Many people thought that Namath was just full of hot air, but the Jets team rallied around their quarterback and outplayed the Colts.
From a yardage perspective, the Colts hung with the Jets, as the final totals showed that the Jets only held a slight advantage, 337 yards to 324 for the Colts. The biggest issue was turnovers, as the Colts quarterback tandem of Earl Morrall and Johnny Unitas combined to throw four interceptions in the game. Morrall threw three picks, while Unitas threw one.
Matt Snell rushed 30 times for 121 yards and scored a touchdown. The Jets were able to prove to the rest of the football world that the AFC could play with the NFL's best and that they belonged in the same league.
4) Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16
Super Bowl XXXIV will always be remembered for the valiant stretch of Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson on the final play of regulation, trying to reach for the goal line and being denied by St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones, which secured the Rams first Super Bowl franchise win 23-16. Rams quarterback Kurt Warner won the MVP award of the game.
This game offered fans the St. Louis Rams offense, otherwise known as the "Greatest Show on Turf." The Rams offered an offense filled with stars, from quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk and wide receivers Torry Holt and Issac Bruce.
In the game, the Rams opened up by moving the ball up and down the field on the Titans. They wound up with three drives that got them into the red zone, but each time they had to settle for a field goal, leading the Rams to a 9-0 lead at halftime.
The problem is when you allow a team to hang in the game, and you don't put them away, you are asking for trouble.
The Rams continued their success in the second half, when Warner threw a touchdown pass to Holt that increased the lead to 16-0. Tennessee's offense finally woke up as Eddie George scored on a touchdown run in the third quarter, and then George scored again on a run in the fourth quarter, that cut the lead to 16-13. It was a game again.
The Titans weren't done there, as Al Del Greco kicked a 43-yard field goal to tie the game at 16.
Following the kickoff, the Rams scored on the first play of the drive when Warner hit Issac Bruce on a 73-yard pass play to give the Rams a 23-16 lead with about 2:00 left in regulation. Steve McNair then led the Titans on a long drive with the hopes of tying it up one more time and forcing overtime.
On the final play of regulation, he hit Kevin Dyson on a slant pattern, and as you can see from the picture, Dyson came up one-yard short of tying it up. The clock ran out, and the Rams had their first Super Bowl trophy.
Kurt Warner completed 24 passes for 414 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, easily winning the MVP trophy.
3) Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
The New England Patriots had been 0-2 in their prior Super Bowls, and when the Patriots were going to be facing the St. Louis Rams, otherwise known as the Greatest Show on Turf, with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Issac Bruce, most experts figured it was a foregone conclusion that they would be 0-3 when it was all said and done.
The Patriots upset the Rams 20-17 on Adam Viniateri's field goal. Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl MVP.
The Rams were 14-point favorites to win this game. The Patriots upset the Rams with a physical brand of defense that took the Rams out of their game. The strategy worked as the Patriots came out to a 14-3 lead at halftime, thanks to a Ty Law pick-six and a Tom Brady touchdown pass to David Patten.
In the third quarter, the Patriots extended the lead to 17-3 with a field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Finally, the Rams woke up from their slumber in the fourth quarter as Kurt Warner rushed for a touchdown and then threw a touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl to tie the game at 17 with just 1:30 left in the game.
Tom Brady seized the national spotlight by leading the Patriots on a game-winning drive, that was capped off by a by Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yard field goal with seven seconds left to defeat the Rams 20-17.
The Rams outgained the Patriots 427 to 267, but committed three turnovers to none for the Patriots. Tom Brady won the MVP award based on completing 16 passes for just 145 yards. Brady had one touchdown pass and no interceptions. This was the start of the Patriots run for three Super Bowls in four years.
2) Super Bowl XLII: New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
The New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, knocking off the New England Patriots and ruining their chance at a perfect season, with a stunning 17-14 win in Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots had run the table with a perfect 16-0 season, and won their first two playoff games.
Eli Manning and the Giants played a great game. The MVP trophy went to Eli Manning, who completed 19 passes for 247 net yards and two touchdowns. To illustrate how lopsided this game appeared to be on paper, check out this statistic. The Patriots outscored their opponents in the 2007 season by an insane 315 points.
The New York Giants? They outscored their opponents in 2007 by only 22 points. But you can throw stats out the window, because they still have to play the game.
In the Super Bowl, the Giants put their physical defense to work. This Super Bowl version of the Giants appeared to employ the same philosophy that worked against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Hold the ball for long time-consuming drives, play tough defense and give yourself a chance to win at the end.
The Giants were able to limit the Patriots offense to just seven points in the first half, and went into halftime trailing 7-3. The explosive Patriots offense only gained 81 yards in the first half. The third quarter came and went without any points. New York finally rallied in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass to David Tyree to take a 10-7 lead.
But the Patriots battled back, and Brady threw a touchdown to Randy Moss to give the Patriots the lead again at 14-10.
The stage was now set for the Giants to make their epic drive behind Eli Manning. Despite a heavy pass rush, Manning found a way to lob a long pass to David Tyree, that he jumped up and trapped against his helmet, for a key 32-yard gain. Manning did his best Fran Tarkenton impersonation on the play.
That play led to Manning hitting Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone to give the Giants an improbable 17-14 victory. The Patriots perfect season now was anything but perfect.
1) Super Bowl XXV: New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
I realize that lists like these are very subjective in nature, as you have affinity for a specific Super Bowl game due to who your favorite team is, or that a certain game left a very lasting impression on you. For what it is worth, here is a video of NFL Network's ranking of the Top 10 Super Bowls in history.
I also agree with the NFL Network's choice for No. 1 Super Bowl, so that will be the same here. Not only that, but it is the only Super Bowl game in the presentation that I attended in person.
The Giants had the toughest playoff road due to losing starting quarterback Phil Simms late in the regular season due to injury. Untested backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler would need to lead the Giants offense.
The Giants edged the San Francisco 49ers 15-13 on the road to advance to the Super Bowl, while the Bills had just annihilated the Oakland Raiders 51-3 to win their first AFC Championship Game.
The Bills offense led the NFL in scoring in 1990 with 428 points. The Giants were determined to keep the Bills fast-strike-offense, led by Jim Kelly and the guy running the no huddle K-Gun offense, on the sidelines. The Giants ate up gobs of time on the clock, but the Bills still found a way to go into halftime clinging to a 12-10 lead.
In the third quarter, the Giants scored on another long drive, this time on a one-yard touchdown run by Otis Anderson. The Bills answered back on a 31-yard touchdown run by Thurman Thomas. The lead continued to switch hands as the Giants went on another scoring drive, settling for a 21-yard field goal by Matt Bahr to give the Giants a one-point lead 20-19.
There was just enough time on the clock for the Bills to attempt one last drive. Jim Kelly directed the Bills on a drive that brought the ball down to the Giants 30-yard line, giving kicker Scott Norwood a chance to win the game. Norwood's kick sailed wide right.
Just like that, the Bills Super Bowl dreams were crushed. That was the start of four consecutive Super Bowl losses for the Bills team.
The Patriots executed their game plan to perfection. The Giants held the ball for over 40 minutes, and the Bills defense was understandably gassed in the fourth quarter. Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick was credited for coming up with the game plan that limited the Bills offense.