The worst defeat in sports history occurred on Feb. 3, 2008.
Nothing could be as disappointing as winning 16 regular-season games, two playoff games and then losing the Super Bowl.
If the Patriots had won Super Bowl XLII, they would have had a perfect season and they would have eclipsed the 1972 Miami Dolphins' 17-0 record.
No team has ever won its first 18 games. It's worth repeating. There is only one thing that is worse than losing the Super Bowl, and that is losing it after winning 18 games without a loss.
Many believe that this Sunday, the Patriots can vindicate the franchise by beating the Giants. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let's get one thing out of the way: The Patriots must beat the Giants, but that would be the case even if the Giants weren't the opponent.
The Patriots must win to prevent a two-game Super Bowl streak against the Giants and Eli Manning. The Patriots must win because they are playing in the Super Bowl.
But a win Sunday cannot erase 2008. The Patriots, if they win, will not beat a Giants team that went 18-0. They will be playing a team that has won its last five games.
The only way the Patriots can even the score with the Giants is to beat a Giants team in a Super Bowl after the Giants were 16-0 in during the season and then won two playoff games.
Unless that ever happens, even if they lose this Sunday, the Giants will still have it over the Patriots.
A win Sunday would give Brady four Super Bowl titles, tying him for first all-time with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. It would also be Belichick's fourth against the loss to the Giants.
There have been many "tough" defeats in sports. Some Super Bowl winners trailed by as many as 10 points. On Jan. 12, 1969, the highly favored Baltimore Colts lost to the New York Jets. It was as agonizing as it gets to watch an ineffective Earl Morrall and an injured Johnny Unitas go up against the Jets defense.
The New York Yankees won the first three games of the 2004 ALCS and lost to the Boston Red Sox. The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers led the New York Giants by 13-and-a-half games and watched the World Series.
None of those defeats compare to the 2008 Super Bowl. It can never be erased.
New England must win, but New England can never avenge 2008.