The 1998 Vikings seemed like they were on a collision course with destiny as they rolled through the regular season and the playoffs before losing in overtime to Atlanta. Nine years later, much the same sensation surrounds the New England Patriots, who saw just the second perfect season in 70 years of the NFL blow up in Sunday's loss to the Giants.


That's about all that can be said about the Giants upset win over the heavily favored Patriots, who saw their perfect season go up in flames in the final minute of Super Bowl XLII Sunday.

For those who wanted to see perfection, history would have been made Sunday. As it turned out, history was still made, but just not the type of history originally envisioned. The Vikings had been the first 15-1 team not to make the Super Bowl back in 1998 and were later joined by a Steelers team that went 15-1 in the regular season, but ended up losing to the Patriots in the playoffs. But nobody was prepared to see the Patriots go all the way through the season only to lose in the Super Bowl.

It's pretty certain that there are a few members of the 1998 Vikings that can sympathize with what the Patriots are going through. When the great teams of all time are mentioned, having a great regular season just doesn't cut it. What is required is the closing burst – finishing strong to put your imprint on that season and on history. The Steelers did it every chance they got in 1970s. The 49ers did it in the 1980s. The Cowboys did it in the 1990s and, before Sunday, the Patriots had owned this decade.

With the title of "best team ever" looming, the Patriots missed out on history and now will likely be relegated to subordinate standing in what, for 18 games, had been a magical mystery tour. Like the Vikings of 1998, the Patriots by virtue of Sunday's loss, will be stuck with the title of greatest regular-season team ever, but, in the final analysis, a team that lost its final game had a season unfulfilled.

* In a bit of sad irony, the Patriots applied for the trademark to "19-0" and "19-0 The Perfect Season" in January.
* Irony Part II: The Boston Globe had a book ready to go that had sold thousands of pre-orders on touting the perfect season of the Patriots. It's unsure whether the newspaper will publish the book now that 19-0 became 18-1.
* The Redskins still have a coaching vacancy to deal with and Steve Spagnuolo's cache can only be going up with the Giants win Sunday. The other finalists are Jim Fassel, Ron Meeks and Steve Mariucci.

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