17. Super Bowl XLVI, 2012: New York Giants 21—New England 17
In a rematch of their epic contest in 2008, the Giants once again found away to dominate late and upset the dynastic Patriots. In an intriguing, back and forth struggle, the teams traded leads and momentum all the way until Eli Manning’s epic 88-yard touchdown drive proved decisive with just under a minute remaining.
Competitiveness: 9 out of 10. One of relatively few Super Bowls to remain undecided until the very last play – a New England Hail Mary that landed just outside the outstretched arms of star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Similar to their 2008 matchup, this was a defensive chess match and a showcase for the big game poise of the day’s MVP, Eli Manning.
Star Power: 8 out of 10. Brady, Belichick and Gronk for the Pats. Eli for the Giants.
Controversy/Intrigue: 8 out of 10.The Patriots employed the unusual but correct strategy of letting the Giants score intentionally with under a minute left, giving them one final opportunity with the ball. This was the lone Super Bowl appearance for Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez who caught 8 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown and is now serving a life sentence for homicide.
Aftermath: 8 out of 10. The Giants exacerbated the only real hole in the Brady/Belichick legacy with a second close win in the Super Bowl. Had the Patriots won either of the two contests, their claim as the greatest team in league history might well be beyond reasonable dispute.
Aggregate Score: 33 out of 40.
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