The stage was set. The New England Patriots made it through an entire regular season unblemished and were continuing their streak through the playoffs. By the looks of things, they were going to create history and become the first team to go 19-0, matching the 1972 Miami Dolphins 17-0 season. However, they found themselves facing a Giant problem.
The New York Giants barely made it into the playoffs, earning the fifth-seed wild card spot in the NFC. In their last game of the regular season, they had a chance to keep the Patriots from entering the playoffs perfectly. Going into the fourth quarter, the Giants watched their lead dashed as the Patriots scored three touchdowns.
As Super Bowl XLII entered the fourth quarter, it was the Giants turn to turn the tables on the Patriots, as Eli Manning showed signs of his older brother Peyton, leading his team down the field in the last minutes to take the coveted title and burst the bubble of perfection.
With the majority of its students being loyal Philadelphia fans, Eastern found its fans split. While some could not get past the fact that the Giants are one of the Eagles biggest rivals or desired to witness a perfect season, others were tired of seeing the Patriots win and felt they went into the game overconfident.
“I wasn’t rooting for the Giants per se, but only because it was against the Patriots,” sophomore Hope Ludwig said. “It could have been anyone else. The Patriots needed to be defeated.”
“I hate Tom Brady,” senior Jonathan Price said. “I think he’s arrogant. I just thought it was the greatest irony that they were the perfect team, but they couldn’t win in the game that mattered.”
For Patriots fans, the loss, which was Brady’s first loss in the Super Bowl, hurt even more since they had come so close to perfection.
“They deserved the perfect season,” junior Anne Dietrich said. “They worked so hard and to have it come down to one game, come on.”
“I wanted to see the perfect season,” senior Mike Skinner said. “I wanted to tell my grandkids some day that I saw a team win every game in a season.”
While history may not have been made the way most expected, the Patriots did become the first team to ever reach a record of 18-0, and the Giants victory could be considered one of the greatest upsets in football history.
In the least, Giant David Tyree’s 32-yard reception on third and five was one of the best and biggest plays ever. With Manning narrowly escaping a potential game-ending sack and heaving up a prayer, Tyree out-jumped the dangerous Rodney Harrison and caught the ball by pinning it to his helmet with one hand.
“I’m a huge Giants fan,” junior Tyler Bull said. “I was so excited; I lost my voice. I have a lucky jersey and with one minute left, I switched into it.”
Coincidence or not, the perfect season came down to the last minute of football’s biggest game, and, despite the hype and pressure the Patriots created, remained elusive.