Canucks 5, Stars 4 (4 OT) | Game 1, 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinals Roberto Luongo’s 72 saves fell one shy of Kelly Hrudey’s playoff record as his Canucks blew a two-goal lead before prevailing in the sixth-longest playoff game in NHL history. After Dallas scored twice in the third period to force overtime, Luongo had to weather a 39-second 5-on-3 power play in the second OT and dodged defeat when the Stars’ Stu Barnes hit the crossbar in the final minute. The game went on until Daniel Sedin set up identical twin brother Henrik in the slot for the winner 18:06 into the fourth extra frame.
GIANTS KEEP THE ‘72 DOLPHINS HAPPY AS THEY BEAT THE 18-0 PATRIOTS IN SUPERBOWL XLII:
2007 Playoffs: As the fifth seed the Giants road to the Super Bowl was away from Giants Stadium, and for them that was a good thing, as they had not lost on the road since Week 1, while they posted a 3-5 record at home on the way to a 10-6 record.
The Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers approached their Wild Card match up in different directions, as the Giants played the final week of the season to win, the Buccaneers played not to get hurt and rested many of their starters. In a battle of differing philosophies it appeared Coach Tom Coughlin’s decision to play hard the final week paid off, as the Bucs appeared out of sync, despite a Touchdown on the first possession.
The Bucs would not score again, until late in the fourth quarter as the Giants controlled the game and continued their road winning streak with a 24-14 win. The win set up a rematch with the Dallas Cowboys, at the site of the Week 1 loss. In the regular season the Cowboys had easily beaten the Giants twice, as the Giants defense seemed to have no answer for Tony Romo.
However, Romo found love since the Giants last played the Cowboys, and while the Giants were focused on football the Cowboys, almost laughing off the Giants as insignificant vacationed during their first round playoff bye, with Tony Romo taking a much publicized trip to Mexico with girlfriend Jessica Simpson.
From the start it was easy to tell that this game would be different for the Giants as their defense pressured Romo all day, as the game went into halftime tied 14-14, with Eli Manning connecting with Amani Toomer for two big touchdown passes; (a 52-yarder in the first quarter and a short four yard pass with seven seconds left in the first half).
In the second half the Giants defense got even tougher harassing and rushing Romo who had a disappointing game completing just 50% of his passes, while keeping Terrell Owens under control. The Giants battling defense would final get paid off, as Brandon Jacobs’ one yard Touchdown plunge gave them a 21-17 lead in the fourth quarter. From there it would be all defense as Romo attempted to lead a game winning Touchdown drive in the final minute, as R.W. McQuarters clinched victory for the Giants by stepping in front of Terry Glenn for an interception in the endzone.
The win sent the Giants to the NFC Championship Game where they faced the Green Bay Packers, and sub zero temperatures. However, it was not the Giants who looked cold on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field it was the Packers as the Giants defense continued to pressure and harass Quarterbacks as they hit Brett Favre all day.
The lone blemish against the Giants defense came in the second quarter as they allowed Favre to find Donald Driver on a 90-yard Touchdown Pass, which gave the Packers a 10-6 halftime lead. In the second half the Giants would take control as they took the lead on another Touchdown plunge from Brandon Jacobs. After the Packers retook the lead the Giants recovered behind rookie Running Back Ahmed Bradshaw who had a chunk of his helmet chip off on a scoring drive that game the Giants a 20-17 lead. The Giants defense continued to harass Favre in the fourth quarter as he was picked off by R.W. McQuarters.
However, McQuarters during the run back fumbled the ball giving the Packers the ball back which allowed them to tie game 20-20. The Giants would have two chances to win the game before the end of regulation, but Lawrence Tynes missed two field goal attempts. However, the Giants defense continued to shutdown Brett Favre who appeared to be badly affected by the cold, while Eli Manning remained cool under pressure in the third coldest game in NFL history. One Giant who looked worst for ware as they game went to overtime was Coach Tom Coughlin whose face looked to be going through the early stages of frost bite.
Overtime would not last long as Corey Webster picked off Favre to set up a third try for Tynes, who made the third time a charm as the Giants advanced to Super Bowl XLII with a dramatic 47-yard Field Goal that won the game 23-20.
Super Bowl XLII: Once again the Giants stood in the way of history for the New England Patriots, who were attempting to join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only team to have a Perfect Season. For the 10-6 Giants it was as if they were just at the coronation for the team labeled by ESPN “The Greatest Football Team of All-Time.”
The Patriots had even trademarked the phrase 19-0. It was going to be cakewalk for the Patriots who entered the game as 12-point favorites. As for the Giants it had been a great run, Tom Coughlin had won over the team and his critics, Eli Manning had proven he was a good leader, and was not a bust, and Michael Strahan, who was playing in his final game had one more chance to win an elusive Super Bowl ring.
Much like the early days of September expectations were low for the Giants, as fans merely wanted a good showing, truly not expecting a win. However, the Giants had a secret in the Week 17 meeting they were able to find weaknesses in the Patriots stellar offense and entered the game with a quiet confidence as they arrived in Glendale, AZ wearing black as a funeral for the Patriots perfection.
The pressure was far from the Giants sideline, as they were playing with the house’s money. Getting the ball first the Giants took a page out of their Super Bowl XXV victory as they kept the Patriots offense off the field, holding the ball for the game’s first ten minutes. However, the Giants would only manage a 32-yard Field Goal by Lawrence Tynes.
The Pats would not take long to answer back scoring a Touchdown on their first possession as Laurence Maroney scored from one yard out on the first play of the second quarter. That would be the last points scored for the next two quarters as the Giants defense kept the team in the game by keeping the Patriots under wraps, by pressuring MVP Tom Brady like he had not been pressured all season.
The pressure came from all directions as Justin Tuck seemed to be on Brady’s back every play. In the fourth quarter the Giants offense began to find a grove as Eli Manning connected on a 45-yard pass to Rookie Tight End Kevin Boss, who established himself as a go to receiver during the playoff run, while playing for an injured Jeremy Shockey.
A few plays later Manning connected with David Tyree to give the Giants a 10-7 lead. As the playoffs continued to be filled with unsung heroes for the Giants, as it was the first Touchdown scored by Tyree all season. The Giants defense would continue their harassment of Tom Brady, but the Pats MVP who had won the Super Bowl three times, continued his dazzling fourth quarter career giving the Patriots 14-10 lead with 2:42 left in the game. The game and the season would rest in Eli Manning’s hand, as his brother Peyton Super Bowl XLI’s MVP watched, from the stands, it would be Eli’s time to prove all his critics wrong. The drive started slow for the Giants as Manning’s first two passes landed incomplete.
Needing a big play to keep the drive alive hit Amani Toomer to set up a fourth down and one play, which would be converted by Brandon Jacobs. After a five yard scramble and another incomplete pass the Giants faced another key third down at their own 44-yard line. The Patriots defense would bring the pressure and appeared to have Manning sacked, but Eli escaped and found David Tyree for a 32-yard pass into Patriots territory.
The escape from Eli Manning was amazing, but the catch itself was even more spectacular as Tyree battling All-Pro Rodney Harrison pinned the ball to the back of his helmet to make the competition. It was reviewed by the officials, and ruled a catch, as suddenly it seemed something special was in the air. However, time was short and the Giants still needed 24 yards to win the game. After misfires on the next two plays it was another third down pass this time to Rookie Steve Smith that kept the drive alive. The next play would bring pay dirt as Manning found Plaxico Burress who was playing injured in the end zone for a Touchdown that gave the Giants a 17-14 lead with 39 seconds remaining. With Brady needing to heave the ball down the field the Giants defense continued to apply the pressure throwing the NFL MVP who set a single season record for touchdown passes for a ten yard loss, as another Rookie Jay Alford broke up the middle.
With 19 seconds left the Pats now were stuck deep in their own territory as two prayers landed safely on the ground securing the Giants improbable Super Bowl win. For his clutch drive Eli Manning was named the Super Bowl MVP. Three days later the Giants returned to New York as they were given the ticker tape parade the city had refused to give them for their two other championships, while returning to the Meadowlands later that day to celebrate with their loyal fans in New Jersey, while somewhere in Miami the 1972 Dolphins popped champagne celebrating that they remained the only perfect team in NFL history.