The Giants were not even supposed to be here this week, taking an unlikely playoff path through the behemoths of their conference and regarded, once they alighted on Super Bowl XLII, as little more than charming foils for the New England Patriots’s assault on immortality.
But with their defense battering the National Football League’s most valuable player, Tom Brady, and Giants quarterback Eli Manning playing more like Brady than Brady himself, the Giants, seemingly enlivened for the postseason by a 3-point loss to these same Patriots in the regular-season finale, crafted one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history, beating the Patriots, 17-14.
It was the first championship for the Giants since the 1991 Super Bowl. Back then, Bill Belichick was the Giants’ defensive coordinator. On Sunday, he was the coach who had led the Patriots to the brink of an historic perfect season, had survived a spying scandal that cost him money and his team a first-round draft pick, had weathered whispers in recent days that a previous title might be tainted, too, only to watch it all collapse under the weight of the Giants’ ferocious pass rush. For another year, the 1972 Miami Dolphins will stand alone with the only perfect season in N.F.L. history.