In professional sports, perfection is an elusive goal. Lives are dedicated to its pursuit, billions of dollars are spent and yet it still remains just out of reach. How disheartening it must be to have that dream right there, about to come true, only to have it snatched away at the last second. The pursuit of perfection, an underdog winning it all, and it takes place on professional sports biggest stage. That’s why Super Bowl XLII is, for me, one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played.
On February 3rd, 2008, the juggernaut that was the New England Patriots met the New York Giants in Glendale, Arizona in pursuit of something that had only been done once in the NFL: a perfect season. The Patriots stood at 18-0 and were just one game away from playing the greatest season of football ever. But it was not to be. After taking a 7-3 halftime lead and playing a scoreless 3rd quarter the Patriots were barely holding on by four points, and the Giants were showing signs of life.
New York’s first drive of the fourth quarter ended 80 yards later with a pass from Eli Manning to David Tyree (remember that name) for a touchdown. It was 10-7 and the Patriots were starting to feel that dream slip just a little. But never count the Patriots out. After a few three and outs by both teams the Patriots got the ball back with 7:54 to play, drove 80 yards and with a pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss the Patriots go ahead 14-10.
Then, with 2:42 left, there was “the drive.” It had all the drama you could want. Passing, running, fourth down conversions, near interceptions and just missed sacks. And, of course, “the catch.” Remember David Tyree? It was a 32 yard, one handed grab; he made the catch by pinning the ball against his helmet and coming down with possession. The greatest play in Super Bowl history. Without it the Patriots are perfect and the Giants are a footnote.
Three plays later the Giants are in the end zone with a pass to Plaxico Burress leaving the Patriots with 29 seconds and a 3 point deficit. It was over. I was sitting on the edge of my seat on that drive, and in my opinion none have been better. Who says you need perfection to be a champion?