NFL At 100: Giants win title, deny Patriots perfect season
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NFL At 100: Giants win title, deny Patriots perfect season

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It was supposedly the culmination of the perfect 2007 season for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and a fourth Super Bowl title since 2002.

Few gave the New York Giants much of a chance in the NFL championship game on Feb. 3, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona, except the Men in Black who walked off their charter flight in Phoenix.

Yeah, the Giants deplaned dressed in black as if going to a funeral. But it wasn't for them. They knew better. They nearly beat the Patriots going all out in what for them was a meaningless final game of the regular season, and it gave them confidence.

Postseason wins over Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay as a wild-card team fueled their belief. Then the Super Bowl game wasn't what anyone expected. The Giants' defense hounded Brady and shut down the league's historically dangerous offense. Eli Manning and company made just enough plays, even the unbelievable ones.

For the first time in 42 Super Bowls, there were three fourth-quarter lead changes. Manning to David Tyree put New York ahead 10-7. Brady to Randy Moss with 2:42 left gave New England a 14-10 lead. Manning then led New York on a winning 83-yard drive highlighted by Tyree's miraculous "Helmet Catch" for 32 yards on a play Manning escaped pressure. It ended with Plaxico Burress catching a decisive 13-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone with 35 seconds remaining for a 21-17 win.

The teams will meet again Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in what many thought would be another Manning-Brady showdown. That scenario ended two games into the season when coach Pat Shurmur benched his two-time Super Bowl MVP for rookie Daniel Jones, the sixth pick overall in the draft. Brady, age 42, will be there calling things for the Pats, who enter the game perfect, of course.

Here's a look at how that denial of perfection affected each team in subsequent seasons:

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