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Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning reminisce about 'greatest upset of all time'


Two-time Super Bowl champions Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning form one of the most beloved head coach-quarterback tandems in Giants history. Since their retirement, Coughlin and Manning continued their relationship off the field. Recently, they teamed up on the "Giants Huddle" podcast to reminisce about the road to Super Bowl XLII, as detailed in Coughlin's newly-published book, A Giant Win: Inside the New York Giants' Historic Upset over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

They started with the foundation for the 2007 season. Coughlin had recently hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but the season was off to a rocky start as the defense yielded more than 80 points by Week 2. The tide turned in Week 3 against Washington: "That set us on our way. The elation in our locker room – we (went on to win) six in a row," Coughlin said.

Then, with two games remaining in the regular season, Manning said the team was well aware of their unique position: They needed to capture one more win to advance to the postseason. The slate of remaining games – against Buffalo and New England – would be challenging to say the least, but New England's perfect record set up a must-win scenario for Week 16 in Orchard Park.

Nearly 15 year later, Manning and Coughlin each remember something distinct about that matchup.

"Buffalo was an interesting game," Manning said. "That was probably the worst weather game I've ever played in in my life. It was rain; it was sleet. It was cold. It was windy. I couldn't catch the shotgun snaps. I think in the second half I only threw two or three passes."

Down 14-0 in the second quarter, Ahmad Bradshaw hit an 80-yard run that launched a momentum-changing scoring drive.

"He's still going," Coughlin joked. "I can still see him. He had the wind in his back; he went fast."

The Giants came out on top and clinched a postseason appearance, but Coughlin was immediately faced with a dilemma: Should he rest his starters or go full-steam-ahead against a physically dominant Patriots team the ensuing week? Oddly enough, the decision was an easy one.

"Our game is the most competitive sport known to man,' Coughlin said. "We don't rest our players. We play to win."

Coughlin added: "I'm a historian, and here we are – the New York Giants, the flagship team of the NFL. The red, white and blue. It's never going to be said that we didn't put our best foot forward or we didn't try to win. So, when I came in the next day and I told the guys about it, they were great. The guys were ready to go. They made the same kind of commitment for the right reason. It was a Saturday game. We had our preparation. We were going to put our best foot forward. We were going to do the best job we can."

Coughlin spoke about the reaction from Hall of Fame Coach John Madden, who called Coughlin to convey the magnitude of his decision. "I hope they get it over there – what you just did for the NFL and for our reputation," Madden said in the voicemail.

Though the Giants fell to a Tom Brady-led offense in Week 17, they were given an opportunity to avenge the past on the biggest stage of all: the Super Bowl.

The Patriots attempted to do what no one had since the 1972 Miami Dolphins – finish undefeated. Unfortunately for them, the Giants were posed to derail the operation.

Super Bowl XLII is fondly remembered for the David Tyree helmet catch. The Giants trailed the Patriots in the fourth quarter, but Tyree managed to hang onto a deep ball and set up the game-winning touchdown. Coughlin walked Eli through the rollercoaster of emotions he felt leading up to the iconic third-and-five.

"Tyree came back; he ran a post. He's coming back to you, and he goes up with two hands and catches that ball," Coughlin said. "I say it all the time: It ticks me off when people start talking about being lucky and all that crap. It wasn't lucky – that was a great play."

When all was said and done, the Giants returned to New York victorious.

"To live it was unlike anything I've ever seen in my life," Coughlin said before referring to the game as "the greatest upset of all time."

In the face of the today's climate, Coughlin hopes his words resonate with the larger public. "This is a book of hope. It's a book of inspiration," he said.

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View iconic photos from the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory over the undefeated Patriots.


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