The New York Giants deprived the New England Patriots of a perfect, 19-0 season by scoring a last-minute touchdown to win the Super Bowl on Sunday. The Patriots—favored to win by 12 points—would have been the first team in professional football to win 19 games in a season, and the only team in the modern era other than the 1972 Miami Dolphins to finish a year without a loss. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
“The Giants thumbed their nose at perfection,” said Sam Farmer in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). The Patriots were supposed to be unbeatable, and the conventional wisdom had it that the Giants—with a quarterback, Eli Manning, famously outshined by his superstar older brother, and a wide receiver plagued by a bum ankle—were in no condition to prove anybody wrong. It just goes to show that there’s a fine line between perfect and really, really good. “Problem is, 18-1 doesn't have the same ring to it—or any ring, for that matter.”
Maybe “the burden of chasing history finally took its toll” on the Patriots, said Mark Starr in a Newsweek blog. “Or maybe their luck simply ran out.” It’s possible they could have concentrated more on winning the game—instead of making history—if they had “lost that one game, to the Ravens back in early December, that the team clearly deserved to lose.” Now, at 18-1, the team’s “record-breaking accomplishments have been rendered relatively meaningless,” except as “a motivational tool” for next season.
The Patriots can forget about perfection, forever, said Gene Wojciechowski in ESPN.com. “You only get one chance at 19-0. One. To think the 2008 version of the Patriots is going to duplicate what these 2007 Patriots did” is plain silly. “Perfection has too many moving parts. Too much luck required.” The Patriots blew their one shot, and “they deserve exactly what they got Sunday evening: a Super Bowl loss that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”