On this date in 2008, the New York Giants pulled off what is still widely considered the greatest upset in Super Bowl history when they ruined the New England Patriots’ attempt at a perfect season in Super Bowl XLII.
It’s a game still fresh in the minds of many, and it’s one that most can’t believe was played over a decade ago, but on February 3, 2008, the Giants marched into the University of Phoenix Stadium a 12.5-point underdog looking to shock the football world. And they did.
The Patriots had enjoyed a perfect season before the Super Bowl behind Tom Brady’s historic season. His 50 touchdown passes in the regular season were the most ever at the time and many thought the Giants had no chance.
The Giants opened up the scoring in the first quarter after Lawrence Tynes connected on a 32-yard field goal attempt, but the Patriots quickly gained the lead in the early minutes of the second quarter when Laurence Maroney scored a one-yard touchdown.
It became a defensive battle after that and the Giants were figuring out Brady’s calls at the line of scrimmage. This allowed defensive ends Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck to provide continuous pressure on Brady. The Giants wound up sacking Brady five times and knocked him down even more than that.
That score would remain 7-3 until the fourth quarter.
The final frame started with a huge 45-yard pass play from Eli Manning to Kevin Boss that gave the Giants momentum. Three minutes later, Manning and the Giants finally scored their first touchdown of the game as he found David Tyree from five-yards out. With the core, the Giants were up 10-7 with 11:10 to go.
Looking to keep their perfect season hopes alive, Brady constructed an efficient drive, completing eight of his 11 pass attempts on the drive which ended in a six-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss. The Giants faced a 14-10 deficit with 2:42 left to go.
Just when the Giants’ season appeared to be over, Manning and Tyree connected on a 32-yard pass on third down that would forever be ingrained in the minds of Giants fans.
Out of the shotgun, Manning immediately saw pressure from every direction on the snap. With three Patriots grabbing his jersey, Manning somehow broke free and threw up a pass to Tyree in the middle of the field.
One-on-one with safety Rodney Harrison, Tyree leaped for the catch and wound up pinning the ball to his helmet, giving the Giants a first down with 59 seconds left.
A fourth-down conversion by Brandon Jacobs earlier on the drive kept this alive for that miraculous play, but another that often goes overlooked in a third-down pass to rookie Steve Smith, who displayed excellent field awareness and walked the sideline for one last first down, which set up the magical moment.
“Manning lobs it. Burress alone. Touchdown, New York!”
That was Joe Buck’s infamous call on the 13-yard slant-and-go — a touchdown pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress that gave the Giants the lead and sent the entire University of Phoenix Stadium into a frenzy.
Brady and the Patriots were given a little time on a final series, but a sack and two passes defensed would put an end to perfection, giving the Giants one of the most unlikely victories of all-time.
Manning, who went 19-of-34 for 255 yards and two huge fourth quarter touchdowns was named the Super Bowl MVP.