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Sports Then and Now

The Biggest Super Bowl Upset of All Time

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Jeremy Biberdorf
The catch by David Tyree was the most amazing play from the biggest Super Bowl upset since Super Bowl III.

The catch by David Tyree was the most amazing play from the biggest Super Bowl upset since Super Bowl III.

This statement is contentious. There are certainly a few contenders for the biggest underdog triumph in the several dozen Super Bowls I have had occasion to see. I wasn’t around for all of them, but I have watched almost all of them at this point, on Youtube and from the private collections of friends. Super Bowl XLII has been thoroughly documented, but seeing it live, and several times thereafter, I can attest to the fact that it is the most incredible upset I have seen in a Super Bowl. It’s one of the craziest games, period, any sport. Here’s why.

The thing about Super Bowl XLII is that it is infuriating to watch. Stretches and entire quarters just draaaag ooooon. It’s Giants v. Patriots, and, if you haven’t seen it for yourself, everybody thought that Patriots would cream the Giants. After all, they won every other game, and were expected to come out on top of this one by 12 points, according to the Super Bowl Odds. The two teams had played each other one other time in the same season, back when the Patriots won 38-35. That was a brutal game in its own right, and you really see the Super Bowl players remembering that, wanting to come out on top.

The Giants spend 9 minutes and 59 seconds on their first possession. That’s a Super Bowl Record in its own right. It’s messy, but not unprofessional. The teams are so equally matched in their play, but the Giants just keep advancing, 2 steps forward 1 step back. Finally, they are only able to get a field goal. Utter torture. But they’re on the board at the end of the first quarter. The Patriots respond with a slap to the face, a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter’s first play.

What is the Greatest Upset in Super Bowl History?

  • Super Bowl XLII - Giants over Patriots (51%, 19 Votes)
  • Super Bowl III - Jets over Colts (22%, 8 Votes)
  • Super Bowl XXXVI - Patriots over Rams (19%, 7 Votes)
  • A Different Super Bowl (8%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 37

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At this point, things start to stagnate for a long time. There are no more points in the second quarter. Lots of flopping around. The third quarter is similarly scoreless, with lots of gladiatorial action, but no lead change. In the 4th quarter, the walls start to break down and the lead changes three times! This is another record for Super Bowls. Randy Moss made a famous touchdown to get the lead back, with less than 3:00 on the clock. But then Eli Manning and the Giants made their ultimate comeback press, sealing the lead in the final seconds of the game.

Few expected Eli Manning to be holding the trophy at the end of Super Bowl XLII.

Few expected Eli Manning to be holding the trophy at the end of Super Bowl XLII.

This is a low-scoring game: 10-14 nothing like the teams’ earlier meeting that same season. The level of gameplay, especially on the part of both teams’ defenses and on MVP Manning’s performance. But even Manning, playing at the top of his game, threw an interception. The game, in the end, is fascinating and frustrating simply because no one really threw it away. It could have gone to either team, with either deserving victory. Since this is a recent Super Bowl, if you are an American, you were likely one of the record-breaking 97.5 million people watching. If you weren’t watching that day, find some time to view a recording. Even knowing the outcome, it is some of the best sports viewing you’ll come across.



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