(Photo from New York Newsday)
New England Patriots 14
They were 18-0. They were "unbeatable." They had the best offense in NFL history. They had a golden-boy quarterback who didn't make mistakes, dated actresses and models, and always brought his team through in the clutch. They had a defense that was one of the best in the league.
The 1983 49'ers and the 1985 Bears finished the postseason 18-1. They are considered two of the greatest success stories in NFL history.
The 2007 Patriots finished 18-1. They will be considered one of the biggest failures in NFL history.
If that 1 loss had come against the Ravens, or the Eagles, or the hapless Jets, it would not have hurt so bad.
If they had lost that first game where they were caught cheating, it would not have hurt so bad.
But because they got all the way to the very last game of the season--or, dare I say, the only game of the season--their statistices, their winning streak, all of their accomplishments don't.......mean.......squat.
What will be remembered, what will be celebrated, what will be read about in books and seen on countless Super Bowl history videos in the future was how this unstoppable juggernaut known as the New England Patriots were--not beaten, but humiliated--by a New York Giants team that, according to some, didn't even belong there. They were mediocre at best, they had a coach that always choked in the big one, and a quarterback that made too many mistakes. They were up against a team that had a genius for a coach, a perfect quarterback, and an offense that could score from ten yards behind its own goal line.
And in the end--nah, I ain't gonna use the "David vs. Goliath" cliche'. This was more like one of David's sheep vs. Goliath. In a really ironic sense, the world should have seen this coming. After all, a few years ago, a scrappy team with a solid defense shut down one of the greatest offensive teams in NFL history--a team with a quarterback that could throw strikes with his eyes closed, receivers that were fast as horses--to win their first Super Bowl...over the St. Louis Rams. Funny how things come around, eh?
Oh, just one more thing: Everybody was questioning Plaxico Buress' prediction that the Patriots would only score 17 points. They said he was crazy. Yet, how many points did the winning team score? And what number does Plaxico Buress wear on his jersey?