FOXBORO, Mass. — With the New England Patriots set to visit the New York Giants on Sunday, two of the darkest days in recent Patriots history naturally have been topics of conversation this week at Gillette Stadium.
Those would be Feb. 3, 2008, and Feb. 5, 2012 — the dates the Giants stunned the Patriots on football’s biggest stage, prolonging a New England Super Bowl drought that finally came to an end last season.
The Giants were underdogs in both games and significant ones in Super Bowl XLII, which still in considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Though those teams certainly were talented — particularly on the defensive line — quarterback Eli Manning acknowledged Wednesday that the unexpected victories did require a bit of luck.
“We just happened to catch them on the right day,” Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, said on a conference call. “We played some close games. Our defense has played outstanding against them in the games, so we had opportunities to get the ball back with just enough time to go get a score, and we’ve been able to make some plays in that situation. They’ve all been tight games, could have gone either way, and we just found a way to pull them out.”
Manning echoed Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, however, in saying the results of games played four and eight years ago will have little, if anything, to do with how Sunday’s matchup transpires.
“I’m not sure,” Manning said. “It just seems like even the game four years ago, (there are) a lot of new faces on both sides — on our side, on their side. Some different schemes going on. And so, we’ve just got to know in those games, we’ve got to play smart. On offense, don’t make it easy for their offense. They’re good enough already. Hopefully our defense can play outstanding again, and we can make enough plays to win the game.”
The Patriots have not beaten the Giants since Dec. 29, 2007, when they won 38-35 at Giants Stadium to cap their perfect season.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning