Being a Mets and Giants fan, I don't concern myself with the New England sports scene. I was too young to remember Mookie Wilson's grounder roll through Bill Buckner's legs, effectively ripping the hearts out of Red Sox nation and placing a dark cloud of despair over an area stretching from Rhode Island to Maine. Living in New York and being friends with numerous avid Yankee fans I've been an outside observer to the ferocious New York-Boston rivalry, but have never had the opportunity to participate first hand.
Fast forward to last Sunday as the Giants lead by a cast of improbable heroes including a QB who was a draft bust as recently as week 15, a cornerback left for dead on the bench mid-season and a WR braving the -4 degree temps with a busted ankle, knee and pinky took down mighty Brett Favre in Lambeau in an overtime thriller for the ages. As journeyman Lawrence Tynes joined the history books becoming the first kicker to successfully make a 40+ yard field goal at Lambeau in the postseason, (it was a 47 yard FG to be exact) I lay on my living room floor hands raised to the heavens when it dawned on me: very fittingly, it was up to New York to derail the perfect season once again.
We have been there before. It was week 17 and the Giants had been given the thankless task of stopping New England's quest for the first ever 16-0 season. All week the questions loomed: Would the Giants play their starters in what was a meaningless game a week before the wild card round of the playoffs? If the starters began the game how long would they play? Would head coach Tom Coughlin be willing to risk injury to deny Tom Brady and Bill Belichick the NFL's first look at true 16 game regular season perfection?
Three road playoff wins and a Superbowl berth later and the Giants' on-field performance speaks louder than words. Tom Coughlin did in fact play his starters for the entire game and while New England achieved perfection that fateful night in East Rutherford, NJ, the Giants valiant effort and spirited play gave them the added confidence needed to get by the best the NFC has to offer and move onward to Arizona.
On February 3rd, the Giants and Patriots meet one more time in Superbowl XLII and I am prepared to say that a New York win on Sunday would dwarf any of the sports-related heartbreak the Empire State has ever inflicted on the greater New England area in the past. Forget Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone, no sports team has ever had more to lose in one game then the 2007-08 New England Patriots.
The Giants enter the Superbowl as 14 point underdogs, picked to lose by everyone expect their fans and hopefully family members. The Patriots on the other hand arrive in Arizona 18-0, one win away from attaining absolute perfection and establishing themselves as the single best sports team of all-time. A Patriots loss in a game that has been all but handed to them by every "expert," talking head and fan in the football community would go down as perhaps the greatest upset in the Superbowl era.
Although the Patriots stands at destiny's door, on hallowed ground never before touched by any NFL team, they also remain one loss away from going down in infamy and becoming a punchline for all eternity. In the end, New England's season will not be judged by 18-0, but rather by either 19-0 or 18-1. If the New York Giants are the ones handing them that 1 in the loss column, the ghost of Babe Ruth can finally take a breather.