While winning a championship in any sport is the ultimate goal, each title does not carry equal weight. Some championships mean more than others for a variety of different reasons.
When it comes to ranking the New York Giants' four Super Bowl wins by importance, the difficulty lies in the fact that each victory has a special story. None of the wins were ho-hum like the Dallas Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl XXX, their third in four years, or the San Francisco 49ers' 55-10 drubbing of the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.
While all of the Giants' triumphs in "The Big Game" are special they still cannot be considered equal. The following slides rank the Giants' championships based on how significant each one is to the franchise and it's fans. Many factors contribute to this value including but certainly not limited to the competitiveness and drama of the game itself.
The Giants latest championship brings up the rear on this list for a couple of reasons.
One of the biggest keys to judging the importance of any title is how much the fans and organization yearn for it. Big Blue nation certainly hadn't missed the sweet taste of success for long since they were champions a mere four years earlier in 2008.
In addition, while the Giants late season success and playoff run in 2011 and early 2012 was incredible they were not overwhelming underdogs in the Super Bowl. Most sportsbooks had the Patriots as 2.5 point favorites. This pales in comparison to getting seven points to the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV or a whopping 12 points to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The game itself was exciting with the Giants overcoming an eight-point third quarter deficit with a go ahead touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Again though they were topped by their previous two Super Bowl wins, which both proved to be more dramatic.
The Giants' second Super Bowl win came under similar circumstances to their fourth with one significant difference.
New York had won it all four years earlier in 1987 so the novelty of being champions certainly hadn't worn off. Also, the Giants were underdogs in the game, as mentioned in the previous slide, but the thought of them winning wasn't inconceivable. Like the 2011 team though, their run to Super Sunday was improbable, from losing starting quarterback Phil Simms in Week 15 of the regular season to defeating the 49ers on the road in the NFC Championship Game, which ended San Francisco's bid for a third title in a row.
The reason that this game jumps Super Bowl XLVI is that it was arguably the most dramatic, high-quality game in Super Bowl history. Played in front of a nation entrenched in the Persian Gulf war, the two teams representing opposite ends of New York state exchanged four leads and committed zero turnovers over 60 minutes of play. The Bills high-powered offensive attack that had put up 95 points in their two AFC playoff games was slowed down by an interesting Giants philosophy. It centered around controlling the ball on offense while on defense allowing Buffalo to run the ball at will in order to keep them from throwing. When they did try to air it out, Big Blue was sure to pound the Bills finesse receivers into submission.
The game concluded with a frantic Bills 61-yard drive in under two minutes that set up a Scott Norwood 47-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the game. The kick sailed wide right and the Giants preserved a one-point victory. A great game with a classic finish.
There are so many reasons this game is special. For starters, it was the Giants first championship in 17 years. It extinguished the brutal playoff losses to the Minnesota Vikings in 1997, the 49ers in 2002 and the Carolina Panthers in 2005. It also erased the only Super Bowl loss for the franchise, a 34-7 drubbing to the Baltimore Ravens in 2001.
The rise to the top of the NFL in 2007-08 came unexpectedly since Big Blue started the regular season 0-2 and looked to be on the verge of not making the playoffs at all when they trailed the Bills 14-0 early in their Week 16 matchup. They came back to win that game, clinching a postseason spot. A competitive 38-35 loss the following week to the undefeated Patriots gave the Giants the confidence they needed heading into the postseason. They went on to win three straight road games in the NFC playoffs, the final two against the top two seeds in the conference.
In the Super Bowl, the Giants met New England once again, a team that was trying to complete the first 19-0 season in NFL history. No one gave them a shot despite their strong showing against Tom Brady and company five weeks before.
The game saw three fourth quarter lead changes and the best catch in Super Bowl history by David Tyree. A Plaxico Burress touchdown catch with under a minute left in the game ultimately gave the franchise their most improbable championship, Super Bowl or otherwise.
Despite all of this, it is still only the second most important victory the Giants have had on Super Sunday.
The first one is always the most important especially when it is 20 years in the making.
Sure the Giants were heavy favorites to defeat the Broncos and it wasn't all that surprising that they got to Pasadena, the site for the Super Bowl that year, since they went 14-2 in the regular season.
The game wasn't very engrossing either, despite a 10-9 Denver lead at halftime. The Giants pulled away with 24 unanswered points to start the second half, which put the game on ice early in the fourth quarter.
Despite the lack of drama, this win officially ended a miserable era for Big Blue. Following their last championship in 1956, the Giants endured five losses in the NFL Championship game over six seasons, spanning the late 1950's and early 1960's. The franchise would yearn for these losses when they followed up their string of second place finishes by not making the playoffs at all from 1964 through 1980.
The Giants finally found the postseason again in 1981 and back-to-back years in 1984 and 1985 but were always a step behind teams like the Chicago Bears and 49ers.
The 1986 season was a return to a glory for one the NFL's flagship franchises. It may not have been unexpected or overly dramatic but it was a long time coming and extremely satisfying for the team and fans alike.