Sportmeister Derek: Ryan, today we finish up our countdown, and with Super Bowl 44 on the cusp, let’s look at our top pick for best Super Bowl.
Sportmeister Ryan: Derek, you sound like an Oscar nominee, nevertheless, our No. 1 is Super Bowl XLII between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.
SD: Let’s start with Week 17 of the 2007 NFL season. In a game that had no playoff implications, the 15-0 New England Patriots and the 10-5 New York Giants met in Giants Stadium.
SR: In what has become custom for many teams, fans of both were expecting them to rest their starters, but to everyone’s surprise, the two teams played a thrilling game, risking injuries on both sides, as we saw the New England Patriots become the first 16-0 team since 1972, winning 38-35. It definitely gave some momentum to both teams heading into the playoffs.
SD: New York would have to go on the road in their playoff games, starting with the NFC Wild Card, where they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-14. That followed with a road game against the Dallas Cowboys.
SR: Dallas had already beaten New York twice this season, so many were expecting the trifecta to be pulled off by Dallas.
SD: In what would become a recurring theme for the Giants, they defeated Dallas in the NFC Divisional Round 21-17. On the other side, the New England Patriots handily took down the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-20.
SR: The Patriots game saw Tom Brady go 26-of-28 (92.9%), breaking the record for best completion percentage, set by former New York Giants QB Phil Simms.
SD: In the NFC Conference Championship, New York traveled to the frozen tundra of Green Bay, and in a game worthy of its own recognition, Eli Manning and Co. got the best of Brett Favre in his final game as a Packer, winning 23-20 in overtime.
SR: The Patriots didn’t play their best in the AFC Championship Game, but they did what was necessary in a 21-12 win, becoming the first team to go 18-0, and heading into the Super Bowl, they had a legitimate shot at becoming the second undefeated team in NFL history.
SD: New England had one of the best offenses around, led by Tom Brady’s NFL-record 50 touchdown passes, 23 of those to newly acquired WR Randy Moss .
SR: After the Week 17 showdown, many expected New England to win again. Even Las Vegas set the line at 14 points. Clearly, all the attention was on New England.
SD: New York received the ball to start Super Bowl XLII, and ran the longest drive in Super Bowl history, a 16-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a Lawrence Tynes 32-yard field goal to put New York up 3-0.
SR: That long drive set the tone, as New England was only able to get one drive off, making the two drives the fewest in Super Bowl history. At the same time, with the number of commercials and such in the Super Bowl, it’s hard to keep the flow of a game going.
SD: New England would take the lead in the second quarter, 7-3, on a one yard Laurence Maroney run.
SR: For the Patriots, who were so offensive-minded, the low-scoring affair had to be in their mind. New York was getting a ton of pressure, led by Justin Tuck, who had two sacks and a forced fumble in the first half alone.
SD: That pressure New York brought, completely wrecked an offense used to scoring at will. The third quarter ended without a score, bringing the Patriots 15 minutes to history, leading 7-3.
SR: New England took a few fourth-quarter chances, even catching New York with too many men on the field at one point. They didn’t convert, but it was easy to see the Patriots were doing whatever they could to put the game out of reach.
SD: New York would start the fourth quarter on their own 20, and a seven-play, 80-yard drive culminated in a five-yard touchdown pass from Manning to David Tyree, putting the Giants up 10-7 with 11:05 to go in the game.
SR: Tyree, who we will mention later, couldn’t catch a ball in practice, but came up big when necessary. Some players just shine with the spotlight on.
SD: A couple defensive stops from both teams kept the score the same until New England took over with under eight minutes to play. Using that fourth-quarter magic New England is best for, Tom Brady marched them down the field, eating up 5:12 over the 80-yard drive, which ended, how else, from Brady to Moss.
SR: New England had a few games during the season that required those last-minute heroics, and this was another one of those moments. New England is up 14-10, with 2:39 to go before 19-0.
SD: Eli Manning would march the Giants to a third-and-five from the New York 44 with 1:15 remaining, and history happened.
SR: Before we get there, New England had a chance to end the game when the second down pass was just missed being intercepted by Asante Samuel.
SD: Nevertheless, New York had the ball, and Manning took the snap, sitting in the pocket, when Jarvis Green, among other Patriots, collapsed on Manning, but couldn’t sack him. Manning was able to spin out, right himself, and fire a 32-yard pass that was caught by Tyree, who put the ball against his head to keep control of it.
SR: That play was magic for a number of reasons. Manning getting out of the pressure and getting the throw off. Tyree with the catch, while being manhandled by Rodney Harrison. At that exact moment, New York had the entire momentum.
SD: Four plays later, and it was Manning to Plaxico Burress from 13 yards out, giving New York the 17-14 lead with 35 seconds left.
SR: Running a four-wide set, Burress went on a slant-and-go, getting Ellis Hobbs, who single covered Burress, to bite, leaving him wide open.
SD: New England would have enough time to take a shot, but another sack, this one by Jay Alford, and a few incompletions ended the greatest Super Bowl in history.
SR: New York pulled off the perfect upset, using every bit of luck, magic, and skill to win, once again sealing the 1972 Dolphins perfect season.