Neither the New England Patriots nor the New York Giants technically had anything to gain from their regular season finale on Dec. 29, 2007.

But that didn’t stop both teams from going full throttle.

The Patriots, who had already clinched the AFC’s top seed, were eyeing a perfect 16-0 campaign, while the Giants, locked into the NFC’s No. 5 seed, were seeking to stand in the way of history. The result was a hard-fought battle at Giants Stadium in which both teams leaned on their starters, essentially throwing caution to the wind and, in New England’s case, ultimately going against the original plan.

Former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel recently revealed on NBC Sports Boston’s Patriots Talk Podcast with Tom Curran that he took practice reps in the week leading up to the Week 17 showdown and expected to play a significant amount as New England looked toward the playoffs. Tom Brady had other ideas.

“We get into the game and it starts going back-and-forth early, and all of a sudden Brady comes over to the sideline, I think at one point in the first quarter, and is like, ‘I’m not coming out of this (expletive) game,’ ” Cassel recalled. ” … And everybody to a man, though, from Randy (Moss) to (Wes) Welker to everybody that was on that offensive unit, was like, ‘Hell no, I’m not coming out of this game.’

“It was just one of the most incredible games to watch because the intensity and the atmosphere was that of a playoff game, for sure. These teams weren’t playing to up their seed, they weren’t playing to get into the playoffs, they weren’t playing for anything, other than the fact that they both were playing with pride for history and also for not to let history happen. It was one of the coolest games I’ve ever been a part of and it was a remarkable game, and I just remember when Brady took the knee at the end of the game and the electricity that went off for our team and just the excitement of it all — going 16-0 and feeling like we accomplished something pretty amazing, because 16-0 in the regular season. But it’s interesting, because then we went right back and it was back to work because we knew that the job wasn’t finished.”

The Patriots won the game 38-35, with Brady setting the single-season touchdown pass record and Moss breaking the single-season touchdown reception record. It capped the first (and only) 16-0 regular season in NFL history. The G-Man gave their undefeated foes all they could handle, though, testing New England’s resilience on a day when Bill Belichick’s squad could’ve just coasted into the postseason.

“These guys didn’t blink at all,” Cassel, who spent four seasons with the Patriots, told Curran. “They knew that they were in a dogfight. We knew that we could score. We had been doing it all season long, we had the weapons and it just was a matter of time before we put more points on the board. And it just was one of those things where at the end of the day it was like, ‘Get us a stop and we’ll go score.’ And that was kind of the feeling. Not one person was there panicking or overreacting, going, ‘C’mon, we’ve gotta do this.’ No, it wasn’t that. That group played with so much confidence.”

The Patriots won the battle, but the Giants eventually won the war. New York defeated New England 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII, ruining what would have been a perfect 19-0 championship season for the Pats.

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