The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
The 2007 New England Patriots were a juggernaut. They had gone 16-0 in the regular season and re-written the record books in the process, setting the NFL’s high-water marks for points scored (589), highest point differential (plus-315), passing touchdowns (50, Tom Brady) and receiving touchdowns (23, Randy Moss). After winning their two playoff games, New England was a win away from being anointed the best team in NFL history—and on the precipice of capturing its fourth title in seven years. Only the the Giants, a team that had gone 10-6 during the regular season and lost to the Patriots, 38-35, in the regular-season finale, stood in the way of immortality for the Patriots.
But Giants coach Tom Coughlin, the former Boston College head coach who used to share a coaching locker room with Patriots coach Bill Belichick in their days as Giants assistants, had other plans.
Thanks to the unyielding pass rush devised by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and the ball control attack orchestrated by offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and quarterback Eli Manning—New York held the ball for a Super Bowl-record 16 plays and 9:59 on the opening series—the Giants ruined New England’s perfect season with a 17-14 victory in Super Bowl XLII.
After the Patriots took a 14-10 lead with 2:42 left to play, New York had one drive to win the game, which almost ended when a Manning pass slipped through the fingers of New England cornerback Asante Samuel. On the next play, Manning eluded several sack attempts and connected on a 32-yard pass to David Tyree, who somehow maintained possession despite pinning the ball against his helmet and having safety Rodney Harrison draped all over him. With 35 seconds left, Manning found Plaxico Burress four a 13-yard touchdown to take the lead for good.
While other upsets may have had bigger point spreads (the Patriots were favored by 12 points), the Coughlin-engineered upset is viewed as the biggest since the Jets upset the Colts in Super Bowl III.
— Greg Bedard