5 Things New York Giants Should Have Learned from Last Super Bowl vs Patriots
Though they were underdogs and underwent an excruciating playoff series in which they won all their games on the road, the Giants were able to pull off the upset and win their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXV in 1990, ruining what was, before then, the Patriots' perfect season.
Four years later, the Giants and the Patriots are set to do battle once more in the biggest game of the year, this time in Indianapolis.
With that, let's go back to that memorable game and look at the five things we learned from it.
Eli Manning Is a Franchise Quarterback
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I remember back in the 2007-2008 season, many Giants fans that I knew believed that Eli Manning was not the answer at quarterback and that he could never be a franchise quarterback for this team.
After all, in the previous season, he struggled heavily in the second half and only completed 57.7 percent of his passes. Even Giants co-owner Jim Mara was unsure of how good of a quarterback Eli could be.
The only thing we evaluate is 'Can we win with this guy?' That's the one thing. When we talk about any player at the end of the season, the No.1 question is 'Will he help us win?' And to take it one step further, 'Can we win a championship with this guy?'
- Jim Mara, after losing to the Cowboys in Week 8 of the 2007 regular season
Manning proved that in Super Bowl 42, when he threw 19-of-34 and 255 yards, including going 9-of-14 and 152 yards in the fourth quarter. In fact, this game was probably the first real showing of how effective of a passer Eli can be in the fourth quarter, as he has shown throughout this season.
Adding more to his amazing ability to pass in the fourth quarter, he threw not one, but two go-ahead touchdowns, the first time a quarterback had ever done that in the Super Bowl.
Wes Welker Is a Catching Machine
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In 2006, he showed glimpses of his ability with then-Dolphins backup Joey Harrington.
However, it wasn't until he was with the Patriots that he really showed the football world what he's capable of.
During the 2007 regular season, Welker had 112 receptions, 1,175 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Welker accomplished this despite the fact that Brady had Randy Moss to throw to.
In the Super Bowl, he was the MVP of this team, with 11 receptions (tied for most-ever in a Super Bowl) for 103 yards.
To this day, Welker continues to show how significant he is to the Patriots and the passing game. With the exception of 2010, Welker has had more than 100 receptions and has gone over 1,000 receiving yards each year with the team.
There's no doubt in my mind that he'll be Brady's favorite target when February 5 comes.
Justin Tuck Is a a Valuable Defensive End
Would you believe that back in 2007, Justin Tuck was listed as a backup to Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora?
However, in what was then the biggest game of his life, Tuck proved his worth.
Throughout the game, Tuck was able to consistently pressure Tom Brady.
He had two sacks and even forced a fumble.
With his performance and the retirement of Michael Strahan, Tuck was resigned to a five-year contract and became the starting defensive end for the team.
Since then, he has continued to prove that he's a valuable commodity to the defense. This year, while he hasn't done as well statistically, he did have an interception in a win against the Patriots earlier in the regular season, and he had 1.5 sacks in the NFC Championship game against the 49ers this past Sunday.
David Tyree Is a Hero to Giants Fans Everywhere
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Statistically speaking, David Tyree wasn't that great of a receiver.
In fact, up until the 2007 season, Tyree, a sixth-round pick in the 2003 NFL draft, was little more than a special teams player (which did earn him a spot in the 2005 Pro Bowl).
He never had more than 19 catches in a single season as a receiver, and during the 2007 season, he had just four receptions for 35 yards and no touchdowns.
However, Giants fans everywhere will remember this play.
With 1:15 left in the fourth quarter, the Giants were in a 3rd-and-5 situation on their 44-yard line. Eli Manning eluded a sack and threw a 32-yard pass to Tyree. Tyree then caught the ball using both his hands but had it swiped by Rodney Harrison.
Despite that, he secured possession of the football by pressing the football into his helmet (now known to many simply as "the helmet catch") and was brought down at the Patriots' 24-yard line. This catch helped set up for the game-winning touchdown thrown to Plaxico Burress.
Had Tyree not caught this ball, the outcome of this game could have been a whole lot different.
Even in 2007, the Giants Were "Road Warriors"
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For all this talk about the New York Giants being "Road Warriors," a lot of people seem to forget that they were like this even back in 2007.
During the 2007 regular season, even though they were 10-6, the Giants were 7-1 on the road (the lone loss was against the Cowboys in Week 1).
Then, of course, they did what many thought was impossible (or at the very least, improbable): Beat two of their division rivals in the Wild Card and divisional games (including the Cowboys, whom they lost to both times in the regular season), and then beat Brett Favre and the Packers at Lambeau Field, where temperatures were in the negatives and snow covered the field.
To me, the way the Giants performed this year doesn't completely surprise me. Granted, they've beaten three tough teams this year who on paper are probably better than those back in the 2007 playoffs, particularly Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
However, at the same time, it also shows how capable of a team the Giants can be when traveling on the road.