Super Bowl XLII (42)
New York Giants:
New England Patriots:
Half Time Show
Headliner: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
University of Phoenix Stadium
Date: August 21, 1970
New York Giants
Super Bowl XLII, the 42nd annual edition of the Super Bowl in American football, will determine the champion of the National Football League (NFL) following the 2007 regular season. The game is scheduled to be played on February 3, 2008, 6:30 PM EST (23:30 UTC) at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This will be the second time that the Phoenix area will host a Super Bowl game; Super Bowl XXX in January 1996 was played in Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium, on the campus of Arizona State University.
The game will be contested by the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New York Giants and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots. With a win, New England would become the first NFL team to complete a perfect season undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the first one since the league expanded to a 16-game regular season in 1978. This game will also be a rematch of the teams' regular season-ending game on December 29, 2007, which the Patriots won, 38-35, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
New England opened the bye week as 14-point favorites, but has since dipped to 12-point favorites two weeks before the Super Bowl
Host selection process The league contemplated the idea of holding Super Bowl XLII in either New York City or Washington, D.C. as a symbol of the recovery from the September 11, 2001 attacks. However, New York City was not even considered as a finalist, because the proposed renovations to Giants Stadium were still being disputed among its stadium representatives, and the city and the New York Jets at the time still had not finalized a plan to build the new West Side Stadium; ultimately, that deal fell through. When NFL owners awarded Super Bowl XLII to Glendale during their October 2003 meeting in Chicago, Illinois, they rejected Washington because they preferred a warmer and drier climate.
This will be the first time a Super Bowl is played on a retractable natural-grass field surface, as the University of Phoenix Stadium removable surface is unique for American sports venues.
This will also be the second Super Bowl played in a retractable-roof stadium (designed by Peter Eisenman and HOK Sport). During the regular season, the home team decides 90 minutes before kickoff if the roof would be open or closed, and an open roof must remain open unless weather conditions get worse. However, as a neutral site, the NFL controls the option to open or close without any restrictions. The first time this was employed was in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium; the roof was open for pregame and halftime shows and closed during the game.
During a February 6, 2007 ceremony with Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, the NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee unveiled the slogan "Who Wants It More?" along with its mascot "Spike the Super Ball" (an anthropomorphized football with sunglasses and sneakers) and a large "Super Bowl XLII Countdown Clock" at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Super Bowl XLII logo was also unveiled, featuring the shape of the state of Arizona in red. The two horizontal white stripes in the middle represent the vertical lines on the University of Phoenix Stadium. The turquoise Roman Numerals represent the Native American culture of Arizona. The red star represents the AFC and the blue star represents the NFC.
New England Patriots
The Patriots, competing in their fourth Super Bowl since the 2001 season, were already billed as one of the greatest teams in NFL history. They compiled a perfect 16-0 record (the first team to go undefeated since the NFL expanded the regular season to 16 games in 1978), and set NFL records with 589 points scored (an average of 36.8 points per game), and a net differential of +315 points (they gave up 274 points, fourth best in the league).
The team was once again led by quarterback Tom Brady who won his first NFL MVP award, throwing for a career high 4,806 yards and an NFL record 50 touchdowns (22 more than his previous best season), and just eight interceptions. His passer rating of 117.2 was the second-highest season rating in NFL history. One often-cited reason for Brady's improved numbers was the acquisition of receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The Patriots acquired Moss, a nine-year veteran, from the Oakland Raiders for a fourth-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft after Moss had, statistically, the worst year of his career (42 receptions for 553 yards and 3 touchdowns). With the Patriots, though, Moss caught 98 receptions for 1,493 yards and an NFL record 23 touchdowns, and was selected a first-team All Pro. The Patriots also gave the Miami Dolphins second- and seventh-round picks for Welker; Welker tied for the league lead in receptions and was named a second-team All Pro. Welker and Moss both earned votes for Offensive Player of the Year. Other major contributors to the Patriots' passing game included Donté Stallworth, who added 697 yards and 3 touchdowns, and tight end Benjamin Watson, whose 36 receptions totaled 389 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Running back Laurence Maroney was the Patriots' top rusher, with 835 yards and six touchdowns, while Sammy Morris added 385 yards and Kevin Faulk had 265. (Morris ended up on injured reserve midway through the season, and thus could not play in the Super Bowl.) Faulk was also a reliable receiver out of the back field, catching 47 passes for 383 yards. The Patriots also a had a superb offensive line that featured three Pro Bowl selections: guard Logan Mankins, tackle Matt Light, and center Dan Koppen.
New England's defensive line was led by nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who, over the course of the 2007 season, was selected to his first Pro Bowl as well as fined four times for unnecessary roughness. The Patriots also had a superb set of veteran linebackers who shared a combined total of 16 Pro Bowl selections. Outside linebacker Mike Vrabel had his best NFL season yet, leading the team with a career high 12.5 sacks and earning the first Pro Bowl selection of his career. Adalius Thomas, an offseason pickup from the Baltimore Ravens, recorded six sacks. Junior Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowler, returned for his 18th season and a chance at his first Super Bowl ring, while Tedy Bruschi contributed 92 tackles. New England's secondary featured Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, who led the team with 6 interceptions.
The Patriots' success was not without controversy. The Patriots were accused of videotaping opponents' defensive signals in the first week of the season against the New York Jets in what was dubbed "Spygate". The episode cost head coach Bill Belichick $500,000, while the team was docked $250,000 and their first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. Also, some opponents accused the Patriots of running up the score when the game was clearly in hand.
New York Giants
Unlike New England, New York didn't begin the season with many high expectations. Ever since Eli Manning, the younger brother of Super Bowl XLI MVP Peyton Manning, was selected with the first pick in the 2004 NFL draft he had struggled to find consistency. In his three seasons as a starter he had completed less then 54% of his passes with a career passer rating of 73.4. While generally regarded as a solid quarterback, he had been unable to achieve the same level of success as of fellow 2004 draftees Phillip Rivers (for whom he was traded) and Ben Roethlisberger. By the 2007 season, many sports writers were starting to question whether or not Eli would ever live up to the expectations of someone selected with the first overall pick in a draft.
The criticism of Manning intensified as the Giants lost the first two games of the regular season, but then they recovered with 6 consecutive wins and and finished the year with a 10-6 record, despite the loss of some key offensive players to injury, such as running back Derrick Ward (the team's second leading rusher) and four-time pro bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey. Then Manning silenced some of his critics by leading the Giants to three playoff wins on the road without throwing a single interception. Their three playoff wins gave them an NFL record of 10 consecutive wins on the road
Manning finished the 2007 season with 3,336 yards and 23 touchdowns, with 20 interceptions. His top target was Plaxico Burress, who caught 70 passes for 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns. Receiver Amani Toomer, the Giants all-time leading receiver and one of the few players remaining from their last Championship appearance in Super Bowl XXXV, was also a reliable target with 59 receptions for 760 yards. The Giants ground game was led by running back Brandon Jacobs. At 6' 4" and 264 pounds, Jacobs was one of the largest starting halfbacks in the NFL, but he still had enough speed to play the position exceptionally well, finishing the season with 1,009 yards and an average of five yards per carry, while also catching 23 passes despite starting only 9 games.
The Giants defense had an outstanding defensive line, led by defensive ends Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, and Justin Tuck. Umenyiora was the Giants only pro bowl selection, leading the defense with 13 sacks and five forced fumbles. Strahan, another veteran of the Giants last Super Bowl season in 2000, finished his 15th NFL season with nine sacks, giving him a career total of 141.5 and breaking the franchise record held by Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, while Tuck added 10 sacks and 48 solo tackles. Cornerback Sam Madison and safety Gibril Wilson led the secondary with four interceptions each, along with defensive back R. W. McQuarters. Although McQuarters had not intercepted any passes during the season, he had been exceptionally effective in the playoffs, recording an interception in all three of their post-season games.
The Patriots continued to set NFL records on their road to the Super Bowl. First, Brady set the NFL record for completion percentage (92.9%) with 26 of 28 completions for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns in their 31-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round, while safety Rodney Harrison tied an NFL record by recording an interception in his fourth consecutive postseason game. One week later, the Patriots defeated the San Diego Chargers 21-12. Although Brady threw three interceptions in the game, the Patriots defense forced 2 turnovers and limited San Diego to four field goals, while Maroney rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown for the second game in a row.
Meanwhile, the Giants became the third NFL team ever to advance to the Super Bowl by winning three playoff games on the road. After beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-14, the Giants upset the #1 seeded Dallas Cowboys 21-17 when McQuarters intercepted a pass from Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the end zone as time expired in the game. Then they advanced to the Super Bowl with a 23-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in overtime, with an interception by Corey Webster that set up Lawrence Tynes' game winning field goal.
Super Bowl pre-game notes
New England was heavily favored to win the game and become the first NFL team to go through a 16-game season and postseason undefeated.
However, many people still thought the Giants had a good shot at a win. New York had already pulled off some upsets in order to make it to the Super Bowl, and their record of 10 consecutive road wins included five teams favored to beat them.
The Patriots and Giants had played against each other in the last week of the regular season. Because of the Patriots quest for an undefeated season, this game was one of the most heavily watched games in league history, and was the first game ever to be shown on three different networks (NFL network, CBS, and NBC). As they were favored to do, the Patriots had won the game to cement their undefeated regular season, but it was a close and competative game. New England barely managed to win, 38-35, by overcoming a 12 point deficit in the fourth quarter, the largest deficit they had faced all season. "There is nothing but positives," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after the game. "I told the players in playing this game everything would be positives, there would be no negatives and that is how I feel. I don't know any better way to be prepared for the playoffs than to go against a team that was 15-0."
For the third consecutive year, the arrival dates for the teams were staggered, with the Patriots arriving on Sunday, January 27 (corresponding to the traditional day that teams arrive for the game with the two-week break) and the Giants waiting to come in until Monday, January 28. A report filed by ESPN's Rachel Nichols suggested that the Giants stayed to practice more of their game plan in their home facility before arriving at the Super Bowl. However, it is interesting to note that the last two teams to wait an extra day to emerge in the Super Bowl city or area have won the game: the Indianapolis Colts before Super Bowl XLI and the Pittsburgh Steelers before Super Bowl XL.