Down two with 3:46 left in the most anticipated game of the NFL season, New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning walked into the huddle with another opportunity to drive his team down the field to score the game-winning touchdown against the New England Patriots. With the ball their own 12 yard line, the Giants had to travel 88 yards for the go-ahead score. On the first play of the Giants’ final drive, Manning dropped back to pass and connected on a 38-yard strike to wide receiver Mario Manningham. Eight plays later running back Ahmad Bradshaw fell backward into the end zone, giving the Giants a 21-17 lead with 57 seconds remaining. After a failed Hail Mary attempt by Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady that fell at the feet of tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Giants earned their second Super Bowl title in five seasons. Manningham’s catch is now compared to David Tyree’s catch in Super Bowl XLII that also helped the Giants beat the Patriots back in 2008. The catch is one of many ways the Giants’ run in 2011-12 resembled their run during the 2007-08 season.
In the 2007-08 Super Bowl campaign, the Giants faced off against a team striving for perfection during Week 17 of the regular season. The Patriots entered the game with a 15-0 record and needed one more victory to secure the perfect regular season. The Giants fought until the end and at one point held a 12-point lead. Despite the effort, the Patriots battled back and won the game 38-35.
This season, the Giants again faced off against a team chasing perfection in Week 13. The Green Bay Packers had an 11-0 record heading into the game against New York. The game went back and forth until the Giants finally tied it with 58 seconds left in the game. However, Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers drove Green Bay down the field to set up a game-winning field. Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby nailed the 31-yard field goal and the Packers won the game 38-35. It is at this point that the Packers and the other 30 teams in the NFL should have said “Uh oh.”
Also during the 2007-08 postseason, the Dallas Cowboys, Packers and Patriots all stood in the Giants’ way of a Super Bowl championship. The Giants defeated Dallas in the divisional round of the playoffs. They then went on to beat the Packers in overtime in the NFC Championship game, thanks to an ill-advised pass by Brett Favre. Finally in one of the greatest upsets in NFL history, the Giants took down the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.
This season, the Giants had to win their last game of the season to get into the playoffs. Once again New York had to fend off the Cowboys to continue its road to the Super Bowl. The Giants rose to the occasion and defeated the Cowboys to secure the #4 seed in the playoffs. After dominating the Atlanta Falcons, the Giants faced off against a familiar foe in a familiar location. New York once again had to travel to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to advance to the next round of the playoffs. New York held one of the most high-powered offenses in the league to just 20 points and sent the defending Super Bowl champions home to watch the rest of the playoffs with a 37-20 victory. After disposing of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, the Giants played the Patriots in a rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl. New York again scored a go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute remaining, which didn’t give the Patriots enough time to score.
Furthermore, the Giants advanced to the Super Bowl twice because of the leg of Lawrence Tynes. In 2008, Tynes missed a field goal that could have ended the game in regulation for New York. Instead, the game went into overtime where the Packers won the toss and elected to receive the ball. However, Giants’ cornerback Corey Webster picked off Favre’s last pass as a Packer and set up Tynes for a 47-yard field goal, which he nailed to send the Giants to the Super Bowl.
This season, the Giants needed another overtime victory to advance to the Super Bowl. In a defensive struggle the Giants again capitalized on a mistake by the opposing team. Punt returner Kyle Williams fumbled and the Giants recovered. A few plays later, Tynes trotted onto the field to attempt a 31-yard field goal. Tynes kicked the ball through the uprights and gave the Giants a berth in the Super Bowl for the second time in his career.
The Giants also made fewer mistakes than their opponents throughout both postseasons. During the 2008 postseason, the Giants turned the ball over twice while their opponents combined for seven turnovers. This postseason, New York had one turnover while its opponents again compiled seven turnovers.
Finally, during the post-game celebration, Manning stood on top of the platform waiting to receive two trophies just like he did in 2008. He hoisted not only the Lombardi Trophy but also his second Super Bowl MVP trophy.
The Giants entered the postseason with confidence not backed by a stellar regular season. The Giants snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. They didn’t secure a berth until their last game of the season, but none of that matters. The Giants went back to their 2007-08 season roots. They played mistake-free football on offense and forced timely turnovers on defense. As a result, history did repeat itself and NFL players, analysts and fans should have seen it coming back in Week 13.