GLENDALE, Arizona (Reuters) - The New York Giants achieved one of the biggest upsets in NFL history with a 17-14 victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Quarterback Eli Manning engineered a 12-play, 83-yard drive for the game-winner, connecting with Plaxico Burress in the left corner of the end zone just 35 seconds from time and triggered wild celebration on the Giants’ sideline.
“This is the greatest feeling in professional sports,” said Burress. “For us to come out here and win a world championship tonight, nobody gave us a shot.
“We just hung in there all game and kept executing, never got down on ourselves. It came down to one play and we made it.”
New England was bidding for its fourth Super Bowl in the last seven years and to become the first team in 35 years to win the NFL championship without losing.
Quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to give them what appeared to be a winning 14-10 lead with 2:42 left.
Brady’s six-yard scoring pass to Randy Moss capped off a five-minute, 12-second drive with the rangy wide receiver wide open after cornerback Corey Webster fell down.
But Manning, whose brother Peyton led the Indianapolis Colts to the title last season, took just 2:07 to drive the Giants to their winning touchdown, though needed a sensational catch from David Tyree to keep it going.
The Giants were on third and five at their own 44 when Manning scrambled away from several Patriots and completed a 32-yard pass to an outstretched Tyree, who caught the ball on top of his helmet as he hit the ground at the Pats’ 24.
Burress scored the game winner four plays later.
“It was just a great catch by David Tyree,” said Manning.
“I found a way to get loose, and just really threw it up. He made an unbelievable catch and saved the game.”
Manning finished with 19 completions in 34 attempts for 255 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns and was named the most valuable player. Peyton was MVP of the Colts’ triumph a year ago.
“They made some plays there at the end and we didn’t,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “It’s disappointing.
New York began the game with the kind of ball-control they needed to upset the Patriots, taking 9:59 off the clock, the longest drive in a Super Bowl, when Lawrence Tynes kicked a 32-yard field goal to open the scoring.
The Patriots responded with a 12-play, 56-yard drive that ended when running back Laurence Maroney dived in for a one-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.
New England took its 7-3 lead into halftime and with a scoreless third quarter, the Giants grabbed a 10-7 lead early in the fourth quarter on a six-play, 80-yard drive touchdown drive, highlighted by a 45-yard pass to tight end David Boss and capped by Manning’s five-yard pass to Tyree.
Brady, twice Super Bowl MVP, completed 29 of 48 passes for 266 yards but was continuously harassed by the Giants’ defence.
“I probably need some time to reflect on the game and some time to reflect on the season.” said Brady. “It is extremely disappointing. This isn’t something any of us prepared for.”
The Patriots finished with an 18-1 record and failed to equal the accomplishment of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went 17-0 on the way to the title.
Editing by Ed Osmond and Greg Stutchbury