September 2007. Opening night for the NFL season. The defending champion Colts were hosting the New Orleans Saints for the annual Thursday night opener. During the course of pregame on NFL Network, the broadcast crew were asked for their Super Bowl predictions.
But no matter who was asked, absolutely NO one would have the New York Giants on that list. Heck, even having them make the playoffs seemed like a pipe dream. And why not?
Sure, the Giants were coming off back to back playoff years but that also meant back to back playoff embarrassment. The leading rusher in team history Tiki Barber retired and went into broadcasting, and almost immediately bashed his former coach and quarterback.
He claimed coach Tom Coughlin's style forced him into retirement despite the fact that Barber had his best seasons under Coughlin and was a Pro Bowler every season. But his criticisms of Coughlin were soft compared to that of his quarterback, Eli Manning.
Questioning Manning's leadership abilities, Barber said that Manning's attempts were often "comical."
The Giants had pretty much bet the farm on Eli Manning, giving up multiple draft picks and their own draft pick of Philip Rivers to get him. Then, in 2006, Manning won the Super Bowl...big brother Peyton Manning that is.
After an 0-2 start in which the defense allowed a league high 80 points to the Cowboys and then the Packers, many would agree with Barber's views. Add on top a 17-3 halftime deficit in Washington the following week, and the Giants looked as good as dead. Then something happened...
The Giants defense stepped up in the second half, shutting out the Redskins and stopping them four straight times on the goal line to preserve a 24-17 Giants comeback win. But that was just the beginning.
Against the rival Eagles, who put up 56 points the week before against Detroit (yeah, not exactly a huge accomplishment I know), the Giants defense sacked quarterback Donovan McNabb a league tying 12 times in a 16-3 win.
The Giants winning streak reached six games. However, the Giants had started 6-2 the past two years as well and collapsed in the second half of the season. It seemed no matter what the Giants accomplished, people still were not impressed.
But while the Giants may have struggled at home, they starred on the road. After an opening night loss on the road in Dallas, big blue would not lose another game away from home.
That would be good news since with the fifth seed, they would not be able to host a game at home in the playoffs.
Facing Barber's twin brother Ronde in the first round in Tampa Bay, the Giants sealed their first playoff victory since the 2000 NFC Championship Game with a 24-14 win. It was then that New York Giants 2007 Revenge Tour kicked into high gear.
Debuting in Dallas in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Giants brought their us against the world attitude that many attribute to their road success. The Cowboys were the first seed in the NFC, and no first seeded team had ever lost at home in the divisional round.
Until Jan. 13. Behind Manning's passing and the defense's dominance, the Giants defeated the Cowboys 21-17. But people still weren't impressed.
With the Patriots now at 18-0 after winning the AFC Championship earlier in the day, it seemed that the only point to the NFC Championship was to decide who would lose to the Patriots for them to set the record.
As was the case when the Giants took to the field in Green Bay in the third coldest game in NFL history. The Giants outgained the Packers in every statistical category but due to two missed field goals by Lawrence Tynes, they were headed to overtime.
After two misses, they were headed to overtime, where the Packers didn't even bother to freeze (no pun intended) Tynes for his third game winning attempt. While he missed chip shots in regulation, overtime was his time as he nailed it.
So here it was, the Giants against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Ironically, this was the matchup that gave the Patriots the first 16-0 season in league history in the last regular season game. But the postseason is when it counts.
Many had the Giants as two touchdown underdogs. The Patriots had already planned a parade for their inevitable Super Bowl win. They had planned to trademark the term 19-0. All odds were against the New York Giants. But that's just the way they like it.
Perhaps that's why the G-men were unable to repeat. Going into last season they were once again seen as underdogs and a poor man's champion. They responded to that doubt by winning two more games than they did in the previous season and getting home field advantage.
Once that happened, the Giants were then the favorites to at least reach the Super Bowl again. But their disappointment last season does not take away from their Super Bowl. accomplishment
The 2007 season for the New York Giants was not just a Cinderella story, but an inspirational one. Dubbed "Eli the Terrible" after the Minnesota game, Manning could have let the press and the jeers get to him. Instead, he stepped up his game and won an improbably Super Bowl MVP.
That goes to show you that no matter what odds are against you and what anyone tells you, you have the ability to achieve greatness yourself.