When the New England Patriots travel to Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, they’ll be entering familiar territory.
And it’s not because they play the Arizona Cardinals very often.
The last time Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were in Glendale for the big game, they were shocked by the Giants 17-14 in what will go down as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
While New York came into that game with a 10-6 regular season record three straight road playoff wins, the Patriots were looking to complete the first undefeated NFL campaign since the 1972 Dolphins.
Maybe the Patriots were on edge or maybe Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was extremely well prepared. Maybe destiny was just on the Giants’ side. It certainly seemed that way after virtually unknown receiver David Tyree pulled down a game-saving catch in the final two minutes by trapping the ball against his helmet while somehow withstanding a hit from Rodney Harrison.
The Helmet Catch got the Giants a key first down on what would turn out to be the game-winning touchdown drive. Some Patriots fans might still be haunted by that moment that denied their team a perfect season, but New England won’t have to worry about being upset this time around.
That’s because the Patriots are favored by just one point against the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks this year. While Seattle comes in as the defending Super Bowl champions, New England’s season has been far from perfect.
A brutal 41-14 loss to the Chiefs back on September 29 had some pundits declaring the Patriots’ reign of brilliance atop the NFL to be over. Since then, New England has gone 12-2 including a 45-7 blasting of the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
Even though a formidable opponent faces the Pats in Super Bowl XLIX, they have to be kind of glad that it’s not the Giants on the other side of the field. The last time New England played a Super Bowl against a team other than New York, the year was 2005. That was also the last time the Patriots – despite all their regular season success – won the NFL championship.
So even though the Patriots are perennially atop the AFC East standings, a win this February 1 would be a long time coming for a franchise that had its heart broken by the Giants in 2007 and again in 2011.