New England fails in bid to be first team to go 19-0

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New York Giants receiver David Tyree makes a spectacular catch as New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison attempts to knock it out and James Sanders looks on late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII last night in Glendale, Ariz. Tyree’s catch was a key play in the game-winning drive.

The words came out of the mouth of musician Tom Petty during the halftime show last night in Arizona, but it could easily have been the New York Giants singing.

“Hey, I will stand my ground and I won’t back down.”

They didn’t, and they defied the odds in the process. The Giants, 12.5-point underdogs, stunned the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 before 70,000-plus spectators — and countless millions more watching on TV — by scoring a dramatic touchdown with 35 seconds remaining and garnering the NFL championship in what irrefutably goes down as one of the most remarkable upsets in Super Bowl history.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said an emotional Plaxico Burress, who caught Eli Manning’s 13-yard touchdown pass to cap the Giants’ winning drive. “Nobody gave us a shot.”

Well, Burress gave the Giants a shot, unabashedly predicting a victory for his squad amid the pre-game hype. Mostly, Burress drew scoffs and snickers for what he said — even from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who joked about what he and his teammates considered outlandish comments from the veteran receiver.

But The Brady Bunch wasn’t joking about Burress after the game. They were crying in their beer. They were shaking their heads in disbelief.

With 2:42 left in the game, Brady found Randy Moss in the end zone to lift the Pats to a 14-10 lead. And after what they accomplished earlier in the season — 18 consecutive victories in 18 games — there was little reason to suspect they would cough up the lead.

But the Giants, winners of 11 consecutive games on the road, never, in the words of Petty, backed down. Manning, whose quarterbacking performances in the past couple seasons were questioned by many, was exceptional last night — particularly in the game-winning drive — and was chosen Super Bowl MVP.

“You want to have the ball left in your hands with a chance to win the game,” Manning said. “You just want to have the chance to win it.”

He got help from his teammates, including receiver David Tyree, who scored one of the Giants’ two touchdowns and turned in an acrobatic catch to set up Burress’ TD. And the Giants’ defensive line humiliated New England’s offensive line, hurrying Brady all night.

And the Pats’ chance to establish themselves as football royalty was nullified.

by the numbers

  • The win for Giants quarterback Eli makes it back to back wins for the Manning brothers after Peyton won with Indianapolis last year.

  • The loss was just the fourth in 19 post-season games for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

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