On Feb. 3, 2008, the New York Giants won perhaps the greatest Super Bowl of all time, beating the heavily favored – and previously unbeaten – New England Patriots, 17-14. But if not for a Week 17 matchup in the regular season, who knows if the Giants would have pulled off the upset. New York played New England tight that night in East Rutherford before ultimately losing, 38-35.
By the time Super Bowl XLII rolled around, the Giants wanted revenge. They also knew they could hang with the Pats, who, despite almost losing in Week 17, were 12-point favorites over the G-Men.
“I would say it was a little bit of both,” former Giants receiver Steve Smith said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They were flying so high that year. They had the stats and everything. When we competed that well that game (in Week 17), that definitely just made us feel like we can beat anybody. We just wanted to go into that game and compete at a high level again – and we did.”
Smith caught five passes for 50 yards in Super Bowl XLII.
“I just felt the energy,” he said. “I felt me and Ahmad Bradshaw were just fighting against Rodney Harrison and just battling for yards. I just felt the energy just go up. I can still feel it right now. It feels so good because that definitely sparked me and the receivers and the offense.”
The Giants led 10-7 late in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady led a 12-play scoring drive, finding Randy Moss for a 6-yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots up 14-10.
“They’re a resilient team,” Smith said. “Tom and Bill, they have the X’s and O’s, and they’re confident in their game. I definitely felt we were getting pressure, and I felt like it was a grind-it-out game. It was a hard-fought game. With the defense playing so good, I always felt like we were in the game.”
In the end, Eli Manning matched Brady with a 12-yard drive of his own, finding Plaxico Burress for the game-winning 13-yard touchdown with less than a minute to play. The rest is history.
Looking ahead to Super Bowl LI, Smith, 31, has some advice for the Falcons.
“I would say spread them out,” he said. “Get the quick passes, get the quick game going. Defensively, I would say get hands on their receivers. I remember our DBs were getting hands on them, disrupting the timing of their routes, things like that. That gives you time for your D-Line to make some plays. You might be one-on-one sometimes, but plays can be made like that. Atlanta, hopefully they can do something like that.”