It was not the greatest UPSET of all-time. That distinction will probably always belong to Super Bowl III when the Jets beat the Colts who were favored by 18. But it was the second greatest upset of all-time, and it was a better game than SB III. (I wasn't alive in 1969 but I have seen it.)
Some will say that it would've been a better game if it had been higher scoring but I disagree. I think the way the Giants put pressure on Brady the whole game and made him look so uncomfortable in the pocket made for a better game than if it had turned into a shootout. There's something about shutting down a legend that is more satisfying than merely outscoring him.
It was certainly the greatest FINISH in Super Bowl history, especially considering what was at stake for the Patriots. It was only the second time in Super Bowl history that we have seen a quarterback march his team down the field for one last drive to win the game (the other being Joe Montana vs. the Bengals in XXIII). Unlike Montana's drive, this was a drive that looked dead from the start. Nobody expected Manning to pull it off. It had one defining play that was not only one of the most amazing plays in Super Bowl history, but one of the most amazing plays ever in the history of sports. It was a career-defining drive for Manning and a dynasty-ending drive (probably) for the Patriots.
It was great because of what was at stake. The Patriots had more to lose than probably any other team that has ever played in a Super Bowl and they knew it. Many of them said that this was the most important game of their lives despite this being their fourth Super Bowl in seven years. A win would have given them a place among the greatest teams in the history of sports, but now they will always be the first team mentioned when the word "choke" comes up.
And finally, it was great because of the uniqueness of the whole thing. It was undoubtedly the only time we will see two brothers win Super Bowl MVPs in back to back years. I thought I would get tired of seeing shots of Peyton throughout the game, but I did not.
So I stand by my statement that this was the greatest Super Bowl ever. Here are my top 10:
- Super Bowl XLII - Giants 17, Patriots 14
- Super Bowl XXXII - Broncos 31, Packers 24 - After reaching the Super Bowl three times and failing, John Elway finally gets his ring.
- Super Bowl III - Jets 16, Colts 7 - 18 point underdogs, Joe Namath's guarantee, the impact that it had on the game is still felt today.
- Super Bowl XXIII - 49ers 20, Bengals 16 - Montana drives the 49ers down the field and caps it off with a game-winning TD pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left.
- Super Bowl XXV - Giants 20, Bills 19 - Norwood wide right!
- Super Bowl XXXIV - Rams 23, Titans 16 - McNair almost pulled an Eli, but the Rams prevailed, finishing off one of the greatest cinderella seasons ever.
- Super Bowl XX - Bears 46, Patriots 10 - The '85 Bears were fun to watch, and a blowout was fitting.
- Super Bowl XXXVI - Patriots 20, Rams 17 - The third biggest upset of all-time, and the second Super Bowl to end on a game-winning field goal.
- Super Bowl XXII - Redskins 42, Broncos 10 - Doug Williams throws a record five TD passes in the greatest quarter in Super Bowl history.
- Super Bowl XXXVIII - Patriots 32, Panthers 29 - Viniateri at the buzzer again.