Five weeks later, David Tyree made one of the greatest catches of all-time before Eli Manning’s game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, ending the Patriots’ bid for the perfect season in one of football’s biggest upsets.
The next time the teams met was during the 2011 season, a Week 9 affair in Foxborough. After a scoreless first half, the Giants took a 10-0 lead in the third and then led 17-13 with 3:03 left in the fourth. Tom Brady’s touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 1:36 left put New England ahead by three. Manning followed with an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive culminating with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ballard with 15 seconds left to give the Giants a 24-20 win.
That was another dress rehearsal of sorts for their second Super Bowl meeting, where Manning again spearheaded a late, fourth-quarter drive to win the game, with Ahmad Bradshaw’s 6-yard score putting the Giants ahead for good, even though he tried to stop himself from scoring to kill time but fell into the end zone.
When a player signs a contract before free agency, it is sometimes said that he “leaves money on the table” by taking less than he might have otherwise received. It might be time to start re-thinking that type of narrative, with Patriots running back Dion Lewis the latest example. Lewis inked a two-year deal on Oct. 8 that some viewed as team-friendly, but how team-friendly is it now that Lewis is out for the year with a torn left ACL? These types of situations will vary from player to player based on what is most important to him, but given the physical nature of the game and high injury rate, it’s often hard for me to criticize a player for cashing in early and “leaving money on the table” because his next snap could be his last.
4. One area Bill Belichick has stressed to players this week is the Giants’ ability to score “bonus points,” which are those that come on defense (four touchdowns this year) or special teams (100-yard kickoff return; safety on blocked punt). That has traditionally been an area of strength for the Patriots, but it hasn’t shown up this year. Their only “bonus points” came as a result of a safety against the Dolphins on Oct. 29 when quarterback Ryan Tannehill wasn’t ready for Mike Pouncey’s snap to gift wrap two points to New England.