It was Feb. 3, 2008, and the professional-sports world was witness to an all-time great moment. A moment that may never be seen again. The location was University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, AZ. The event was Super Bowl XLII.
The New England Patriots were 18-0, tied for the most wins in a single NFL season. They were going for history: a 19-0 season and their fourth world championship in seven seasons. Multiple records were broken during their historic regular season, including:
- Most touchdown passes in a season: T. Brady- 50
- Most receiving touchdowns in a season- R. Moss- 23
- Most total points scored in a season- 589
- Most total touchdowns in a season- 75
- Most wins in a single season- 18
Super Bowl XLII was supposed to be their crowning achievement, their coronation. A four-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss gave them a 14-10 lead with 2:46 to go.
Two minutes and 46 seconds from history: the first ever 19-0 season in the history of the National Football League. Two minutes and 46 seconds from Brady winning his record-tying third SB MVP trophy and the pouring of the mold for his bust in Canton.
Unfortunately for them, the New York Giants had other ideas, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NFL history. Eli Manning engineered his own game-winning drive, highlighted by an escape of four defenders from a sure sack on third down, then launching a pass to David Tyree, who caught the ball with one hand against his helmet, with Rodney Harrison almost knocking it away.
In the game, Tom Brady was pressured and hit more than any time during the whole season (sacked only 21 times in the regular season); he was sacked five times and knocked down even more.
Despite his touchdown catch, Moss only had four catches total. After the confetti had fallen, the Patriots now enter 2008 with a renewed focus and determined to pick up the pieces.
The biggest concern for the Patriots was on defense, especially at linebacker, as all four starters are over the age of 30. Drafting Jerod Mayo with the 10th overall pick will move Adalius Thomas back to his natural, outside position.
Losing Asante Samuel in the secondary was a much bigger concern, so free agents Jason Webster and Fernando Bryant were also signed. It will be interesting to see how they adapt to Belichick's multiple coverage schemes.
The Patriots have the easiest schedule in the NFL, with an opponents' 2007 winning percentage of .387. Many have them finishing 13-3, and I would tend to agree; however, going 16-0 is NOT out of the realm of possibility, although they do have a tough West Coast swing against Seattle and Oakland late in the season.
Do they get back to the Super Bowl? That question can only be answered in January and February, but know this; they will be back with a vengeance.