The Drive, The Catch, The Making of a Giants Fan
The Drive: 83 yards in 2:39 against the undefeated New England Patriots.
The Catch: Third and five on their own 44 yard line with 1:15 remaining. Eli Manning rolls out of the pocket, breaking away from what looks like an inevitable Patriots sack. He glances at the scene in front of him and hurls a pass 32 yards down field to wide receiver David Tyree, who is under heavy coverage from Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. Tyree, who had only four successful completions the entire season, leaps in the air and traps the ball between his helmet and right arm as Harrison pulls him to the ground. Tyree maintains control of the ball for a completion. First down.
The Win: With 35 seconds left, Manning completes the drive with a 17-yard pass to wide receiver Plaxico Burress in the Patriots end zone, putting the Giants in the lead 17-14. The Giants defense, who had held the Patriots' record-setting offense to only two touchdowns to go along with five sacks and one fumble, did not allow the Patriots to gain a single yard on the ensuing drive, forcing a sack and three incomplete passes to cap their unlikely victory.
The Team: The Giants were not expected to do much in the 2007-2008 season. The team had not won a playoff game in seven years and entered the playoffs as the NFC Wild Card team with a 14-6 record.
They were a stark contrast to the literally perfect Patriots, competing in their fourth Super Bowl since 2001 and looking to join the 1972 Dolphins as the only teams to make it through an entire regular and post season without a loss. They were a record-setting team, packed with Pro Bowl selections and led by NFL MVP Tom Brady. It seemed like the Giants would be little match for this Goliath; the Boston Globe had already started pre-selling a book titled "19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots." Reebok had commissioned two separate television spots: the first featured members of the 1972 Dolphins ready to welcome the Patriots to "Perfectville." The other was more like what the Giants had in mind: the same Dolphins received a football with a note that read: "Gift from the New York Giants. Enjoy it for one more year. Regards, Eli."
The Fan: As a sports journalist, you are taught to not root for a team but rather to root for your story. The Giants are never short on stories: from the most recent Burress news to the Eli vs. Peyton debate, one never runs out of topics to write about with the Giants. As a geographic New Englander but a New York sports fan at heart, it was difficult to decide which team to root for in Super Bowl. But when Tyree made that catch and Burress completed the drive, I officially became a Giants fan because of the drama that their underdog story lent to the journalism world. Now entering the 2009 season after a disappointing first round exit last January, the Giants look to add another chapter to the history book, an exciting prospect for any journalist and die-hard sports fan.
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