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Greatest Super Bowls: No. 5, Super Bowl XLII

January 31st, 2011 by Aaron Schatz Creator, FootballOutsiders.com

Each weekday until Super Bowl Sunday, Hulu and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz are counting down the 10 best Super Bowl games in history with the help of NFL Films. Check our Spotlight page every day to see the latest pick. Today’s selection: the 2007 season’s showdown between the Giants and Patriots.

Many people consider Super Bowl III to be the greatest upset in Super Bowl history, but that’s largely because fans at the time didn’t understand that the AFL had caught up to the NFL in quality. This game truly was the greatest upset, considering how each team had played up to that point. The Patriots were 18-0 and aiming for the second perfect season in NFL history. Giants were a 10-6 wild card team that won its first three playoff games by just three points apiece.

So why doesn’t Super Bowl XLII rank higher on our list? Because it was extremely boring until the fourth quarter, with only ten points scored and a healthy dose of three-and-outs by both offenses. But oh, that fourth quarter. The Giants took the lead early in the quarter, and it looked like a historic upset was in the making. Then Tom Brady finally drove the Patriots down the field, and he threw a touchdown pass to Randy Moss with 2:45 left to put the Pats ahead 14-10. The Hall of Fame quarterback had thrown the game-winning touchdown; the defense just had to defend the Giants on one drive, and the Patriots would finish with a perfect season. But the Giants made impossible play after impossible play to get down the field, highlighted by little-used receiver David Tyree leaping and catching a pass against his helmet, maybe the greatest catch in NFL history. Eli Manning hit Plaxico Burress with 39 seconds left in the game, and New England’s dream of a perfect season was gone. Final score: Giants 17, Patriots 14.

Follow Aaron Schatz on Twitter @FO_ASchatz.

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