By virtue of the victories yesterday by the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, a rematch from Super Bowl XLII has now been set up for Super Bowl XLVI. The New York Giants and the New England Patriots will lock helmets and shoulder pads once again to determine who the best team in the NFL is. The Giants traveled to Foxboro back in Week 9 of the regular season and beat the Patriots 24-20 with a last minute touchdown pass from Eli Manning to TE Jake Ballard. That was the last game the Patriots lost heading into the Super Bowl in two weeks.
It’s not that loss that has everyone talking. Instead, it’s the Giants victory over the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in 2008 that’s on everyone’s mind, though it’s not a favorite topic of discussion in New England. Just ask the fans or some of the players who are still on the team that played back in 2008.
We all know what happened. Brady led a Patriots offense that was battered by the Giants’ pass rush down into the end zone for the go-ahead score, but left too much time on the clock. An Eli escape from the clutches of the defense, a dropped interception and a helmet catch doomed the Patriots and ended what would have been the first perfect 19-0 season in NFL history. I can’t believe I actually typed all that! I’ll have the let my therapist know I’m making some progress…
But seriously though, that game is a touchy subject in New England. I haven’t watched a replay of it, ever. Neither has Tom Brady, he said earlier today on WEEI Sports radio:
“I still can’t watch highlights from that game. I think that’s just the way it is. You get to the end and we had a great opportunity there and really squandered it, because we didn’t play our very best.”
Count Patriots owner Robert Kraft among those not being able to stomach the loss in 2008:
“I’ve never been able to watch it,” he said, echoing remarks made by quarterback Tom Brady earlier in the day. “I do remember the end of the game, a ball going through our cornerback’s hands [Asante Samuel] that if he had caught that ball and it hadn’t gone through his hands, we would have been able to take a knee and we would have won the game. And, you know, that Eli [Manning] doing a great job escaping from that pile of guys that we had on him, and whether the whistle blows and the great catch and all these things. In the end, there are a lot of little things. That was a great game, that was a great team, and we’re looking forward to having the privilege of going to Indianapolis.”
Does it end there? No way! ESPN Boston ran a poll earlier today asking Patriots fans if they should post a video containing highlights (ahem) of Super Bowl XLII, including the helmet catch, etc. The poll closed at 4 p.m. ET, and the fans would decide if it was to get posted or not. A whopping 71% of fans that voted said, “No thanks,” to the posting of the video of that fateful day. Unfortunately, we’ve only just begun two weeks of mentions of Super Bowl XLII, leading up to Super Bowl XLVI. Already, NFL Network is showing a replay of Super Bowl XLII tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET, and that almost assuredly will not be the first time it is replayed. I’m not going to watch it. That might set me back in my therapy.
Of course, the Patriots could help heal the wounds of the past with a win in two weeks. Sure, it won’t be a perfect season, but ask any Patriots fan and they’ll surely agree that a championship is much more important than a perfect season. It may be a few years late, but we’ll take it just the same. In fact, this one may be even sweeter considering the struggles this year on the defense. This team has had to fight and claw and shut out the negativity, and have not been the NFL darlings as in 2007/2008. 2001, anyone?