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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The little Giants that could

Published: February 8, 2008
Section: Sports

little_giants_movie.jpgAs I sat in the scantily attended Beer Garden in Shapiro Campus Center and watched Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at this year’s Super Bowl half time show, I thought to myself, isn’t this exactly what every football fan could want? Super Bowl XLII had it all: a close game, amazing storylines and two cities that have continually hated one another. Regardless of who the victor was, this was a heck of a game in the annals of sports history. The perfect season, or the perfect upset?

And it turned into both a gut wrenching defeat and a miracle victory for the teams who played, two feelings of which Boston is quite familiar. The heartbreaking loss could perhaps remind Boston fans of the ’86 World Series, or Aaron Boone, and Bucky Dent. Or the ’96 Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers. The list goes on.

But here they were the undeniable favorites. Almost always has the New York team or the opponent been the vaunted favorite. The ’86 Mets won 108 games and were supposed to win the Series, and the ’78 Yankees were defending World Champions and had obliterated the Sox by a 42-9 margin in order to even give Bucky Dent the chance to hit his famed home run. The ’03 Yankees won more games than the Sox and still possessed an almost voodoo like hold over the Red Sox when it came to postseason success. The Packers scored the most points and allowed the fewest in their dismantling of the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.

But losing as the favorites is an entirely different story in Boston sports history. That is why this one probably stings worse or as bad as many of the others. The Pats set records, and they played perhaps the most incredible 18 weeks of football that one will ever see. Even better than the ’72 Dolphins. But in the end, all it allots to is a hat that says they are the AFC Champions. Perhaps it was too good to be true to expect two Boston teams to pull it off in one year.

And on the other side of the ball, this year’s miracle Giants had the same kind of squad that has characterized these years of winning in Boston. At one point, Super Bowl XLII conjured up images of the Disney film, “Little Giants”, with the heavily favored team of all-stars facing the “lowly” rag-tag Giants squad. In the movie of course, the Giants best the Cowboys, a feat that these real “Little Giants” already did. Not only did these “Little Giants” beat the Cowboys and Pats, they beat the Packers too. In all, they arguably beat the three best teams in the National Football League and practically pulled it off twice at the hands of one of the greatest teams of all- time. Not once were they favored to win.

For Boston fans, their Cinderella season might have called to mind images of the improbable Patriots Super Bowl victory against the Rams in ’01, the miracle 3-0 comeback the Red Sox put together against the Yankees, or the 3-1 deficit they came back from to defeat the hungry Cleveland Indians just last year. But this time the upset came at the expense of the heavily favored Boston team.

Who knows, maybe this is the second installment in the “Curse of the Manning”. And who also would have guessed that Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress’ bold pre-game prediction that the Giants would win 23-17 would in fact yield LESS points for both teams? Burress was to the Patriots what Joe Namath was 39 years ago to the Colts: a loudmouth who proved true to his word, even scoring the game- winning touchdown. Like Super Bowl III, this was truly a game for the ages, in both the colossal collapse and the epic upset, no matter who you were rooting for.