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article imageNew England Patriots Make History, Cap a Perfect 16-0 Season with Win Over Giants

By David Silverberg     Dec 30, 2007 in Sports
For the first time since 1972, a team in the National Football League has finished the season with a perfect record. Tonight, the New England Patriots narrowly defeated the New York Giants to finish the season at 16-0.
Digital Journal -- If you saw it, you saw a new chapter being written in the NFL record book: The New England Patriots made history by finishing with a 16-0 season after beating the New York Giants in a tense high-scoring game. The only other NFL that enjoyed a perfect season record were the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who finished 12-0.
It wasn't just a monumental game for the Patriots. Players took advantage of the final game in the season to etch their own names in the annals of NFL glory: Quarterback Tom Brady threw his 50th touchdown pass of the season to break Peyton Manning's record. And all-star receiver Randy Moss hauled down his 23rd touchdown pass of the season to break the record Jerry Rice set in 1987.
Coming into their final game of the season, the Patriots had every reason to be optimistic: undoubtedly the best team of the league, the Pats had been crushing almost every opponent they faced. Their narrowest margin of victory was three points against the Jaguars. Only one team had scored first against them in any game. Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the entire offensive line were having a banner year.
The test against the Giants proved to be trickier than the Pats anticipated. Brady and company scrambled to recover from a shaky 7-3 Giants lead in the first quarter, and their defence sputtered in the second -- a Domenik Hixon 74-yard kickoff TD and a Kevin Boss TD reception from QB Eli Manning gave the Giants a 21-16 lead at halftime.
The entire world watching the game (and that's not an exaggeration) must have been thinking: Could the Giants play spoiler?
The Pats must've got an earful from Coach Bill Belichek in the locker room, because they looked like the Pats team of 15-0 fame when they stormed the field in the second half: New England put together a solid drive to score a TD in the third, and then tacked on two more to give them a narrow lead deep in the fourth quarter.
The last five minutes of the game were tense, as the Giants fought to claw back from a sudden 10-point deficit. Manning worked well in a fast-paced no-huddle offence, although he soaked up a lot of time by delaying several snaps.
After a Plexico Burress TD made things more interesting, the Giants' onside kick was a poor excuse for a special teams play. The Pats got the ball back with one minute to go, took their sweet time calling plays and got ready to dish out their quotes at the frenzied press conferences.
Brady finished the game with two TDs and 356 passing yards. The Pats got 27 first downs compared to the Giants' 19.
For any sports fan, the Pats victory was a seminal moment worth savouring. Sure, the Pats are too good in a Boston Red Sox kind of way but watching Brady put together a methodical drive down field is a thing of beauty. And it's not just offence giving the Pats a perfect season; today's game showed why the Pats D-line is one of the best in the league -- pressuring Manning and getting in his face was a good reason why the Giants were held to just 14 points in the second half.
For the Pats player, though, the historical season could be an albatross hanging around their throat. Now, there is immense pressure to exceed expectations in the post-season. After all, going 16-0 in the season means you have to keep plowing through teams in the playoffs. It would be disastrous if the Pats got so preoccupied with NFL records that they forget to save their energy and NFL intelligence for the games that really matter.
It will be fascinating to watch how the Pats footnote their memorable 2007 season. Like any champion, they likely won't settle for anything less than a Super Bowl win.
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