On this day in 2008, the New York Giants stunned the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots and Giants met at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona in front of 71,101 fans. New England came into the game with an unblemished 18-0 record, and was attempting to become the second team to finish an undefeated season with a Super Bowl victory. The first was the Miami Dolphins, who went 17-0 in 1972 after besting the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
Led by quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Randy Moss, the Patriots averaged 36.8 points per game during the 2007 regular season. Brady threw an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes and was named NFL MVP. The Giants, on the other hand, had finished just 10-6 in the regular season and needed three straight playoff wins on the road to make the Super Bowl. Their toughest test came in the NFC Championship game, when they managed to escape with an overtime win over the Green Bay Packers in sub-zero temperatures. They entered Super Bowl XLII as 12-point underdogs.
Five weeks before the Super Bowl, the Patriots and Giants had faced off in the final game of the regular season, when New England was able to clinch its perfect 16-0 season with a close 38-35 win at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. But when the two teams met in the big game on February 3, the score would be much lower. At halftime, New England was holding on to a slim 7-3 lead. The Patriots were up again late in the fourth quarter, by a score of 14-10, but the Giants had possession, setting up a dramatic Super Bowl finish.
With just one minute, 15 seconds remaining and their Super Bowl hopes dwindling, Giants quarterback Eli Manning pulled away from several Patriots defensive players and threw the ball down the field. Little-used wide receiver David Tyree, who had scored his first touchdown of the season earlier in the game, out-jumped Patriots safety and four-time All-Pro Rodney Harrison to catch the ball, cradling it against his helmet with one hand as the two men fell to the ground. Four plays later, with only 35 seconds on the clock, Manning tossed the game-winning touchdown into the hands of Plaxico Burress. The Giants’ defense, which sacked Brady five times during the game, stopped New England on the next four plays to seal the win. Manning, the younger brother of superstar QB Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, took home Super Bowl MVP honors, matching his brother’s feat one year earlier in Super Bowl XLI.
The two teams would meet again in 2012 in Super Bowl XLVI, with the Giants dealing New England a 21-17 defeat in near-identical fashion, coming from behind in the game’s final minutes. Manning, who completed 30 of 40 passes in the game for 296 yards, with one touchdown pass and zero interceptions, was again named Super Bowl MVP.