If you’ve followed the New York Giants for any length of time—whether casually or as a die-hard—you’ve learned one thing; they never make it easy.
Throughout history, the Giants are known for playing grind-them-out nail-biters that leave a fan a few days older than when the game began. But that’s part of the love-affair many have with this team. It’s one of the main reasons fans follow them so closely year in and year out. Whether they finish at 4-12 and 14-2, they’re good for at least 10 close games that get your adrenalin pumping like a 17-year-old on prom night.
Because of that ability to battle and keep things close, the annals of time have been kind to Big Blue. After all, they are one of most decorated franchises in NFL history, staking claim to seven NFL Championships, three Super Bowl Championships, 10 Conference Championships and 15 division titles.
You could easily pick a year out of a hat and make an argument that it was the greatest Giants team of all time. And if you felt the need to be a bit pickier about it, selecting any year from 1986 through 1990, with the exception of 1987, would do the trick.
But one year does stand out above all the rest; one year that reminded life-long Giants fans why they became a fan in the first place.
That’s why the 2007 New York Giants hold such a special place in the hearts of every Big Blue fan. From the very beginning, they made every week count and every play matter. It’s a rare combination that very few fans get to experience over their lifetime. And it was those imperfections that ultimately made that team perfect.
After starting the season 0-2 and trailing the Washington Redskins at halftime in week three, New York seemed doomed to land in the gutter. But a strong second-half performance and a fourth quarter goal-line stand would prove to be a turning point for Big Blue. While it meant little more than a win at the time, those 30 minutes of football would shape the way the rest of the season turned out.
It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t pretty, but the Giants battled their way to a 10-6 record and wildcard berth in the NFC playoffs. And after two consecutive one-and-done’s in the NFL’s second season, fans were hoping for little more than a single victory.
What they got, however, was more than anyone could have ever imagined.
In the first round of the NFC playoffs, they came face-to-face with the very foe that had burned them so many times before…albeit on different teams. And after the first half of football, it looked like Jeff Garcia and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were going to do it again. But as they had in week three against the Washington Redskins, the Giants rebounded and pulled a stunning upset that had many of their fans dreaming big.
Next up were the Dallas Cowboys—a team that had already defeated them twice in the regular season.
Things started off well in Texas as New York saw Amani Toomer give them an early 7-0 lead. But the Cowboys came crawling back and eventually took the lead in the third quarter. For the second consecutive week, the Giants were starring elimination in the face. But for the second consecutive week, they scratched and clawed their way to an upset victory.
As satisfying as ending Dallas’ season was, people were beginning to look ahead and were beginning to wonder: “Can they do it?”
The NFC Championship game brought sub-zero temperatures and a frost-bite on Tom Coughlin’s face the likes of which few men have ever seen. It also brought a fantastic matchup that pitted the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers against what many were beginning to term the “Cinderella” team.
Not-so-surprisingly, the Giants eventually found themselves trailing, but flustered they were not. Being on the road and forced to comeback from behind had become the norm for this team. They had developed a comfort in doing so and once again repeated history.
After several gut-wrenching field goal misses and an uncharacteristic Favre error, Lawrence Tynes earned his paycheck and kicked New York into an improbable Super Bowl matchup with the 18-0 New England Patriots.
In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, much was made of said Patriots. After all, they were chasing destiny. And cheating allegations aside, they were on the cusp of history, and a record that may never again be approached.
Rather than getting caught up in all of the drama, the Giants and their fans remained somewhat quiet, basking in the glow of what had turned into a fantastic season. A season that, with one more win, could arguably go down as the greatest season in New York sports history.
When game-time arrived, emotions could not have been higher. Patriots’ fans were starring perfection in the face, while the Giants and their fans were looking for the most legendary upset in the history of football. Either way, greatness would be achieved.
For nearly four full quarters, The Giants and Patriots battled back and forth laying absolutely everything on the line, giving it everything they had. But when the Patriots scored a late touchdown giving them a 14-10 lead, things looked somber for New York. It looked as if their dream of the impossible upset would come up just a little bit short.
But as Amani Toomer said before the game, “resiliency defines this team.”
Over the next 2:42, Eli Manning & Co. would make history of their own and the Patriots pursuit of perfection would soon become a footnote.
The amazing comeback, from the near game-ending interceptions to the improbable E-to-Tyree, summed up everything that was the 2007 New York Giants. They were not flawless and they were not pretty, but they got the job done.
In the end, the 2007 New York Giants were the most imperfect perfect team the world has ever come to know. And their story will forever be remembered as one of the greatest in sports.