2007 New England Patriots–New York Giants game

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New England Patriots at New York Giants
Giants Stadium aerial crop.jpg
Giants Stadium, the site of the game
1 2 3 4 Total
NE 3 13 7 15 38
NYG 7 14 7 7 35
Date 2007-12-29
Stadium Giants Stadium
Location East Rutherford, New Jersey
Referee Mike Carey
Attendance 79,110
Network NFL Network, NBC*, and CBS*
*Game was simulcast
Announcers Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth

On December 29, 2007, during the final week of the National Football League regular season, the New England Patriots American football team defeated the New York Giants, 38–35, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In what became a preview of Super Bowl XLII, the game was a close comeback win for the Patriots, giving them the first undefeated regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the only undefeated regular season since the league expanded to 16 games.

The game, notable for the events related to its television broadcast, was the second of three meetings between the teams in the 2007 season: they met in the last week of the preseason, and again in Super Bowl XLII, in which the Giants upset the Patriots 17–14.

Network television coverage[edit]

The game was scheduled to be shown exclusively on the NFL Network since the spring of 2007. While the NFL scheduling committee could foresee the appeal of a prime time matchup of regional rivals only as the Patriots moved closer to a perfect season did the full importance of this game came to be in the weeks before the game, the network increasingly promoted the game via television commercials[1] on other stations. It was clear the game was one of the most anticipated of the season, and could therefore serve as an important promotion for the NFL Network, which had tried unsuccessfully over the previous year to expand its viewership by becoming included as an "extended basic service" on the major American cable TV providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.[2]

Political pressure from the Northeast to make the game more widely viewable preceded the decision to simulcast the game on CBS and NBC. (NBC was the primary broadcast network for primetime games, while CBS normally holds the rights to air games in which the road team belongs to the AFC.) Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania senator who was the ranking minority member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Committee's head, wrote the league a letter threatening to reconsider the antitrust exemption currently enjoyed by the NFL under United States law.[3] Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts had pressured the league and cable companies to settle their dispute so "no die-hard Pats fans will be shut out from watching their team take aim at football history."[4]

In the end, 15.7 million viewers watched the game on CBS, 13.2 million on NBC, 4.5 million on the NFL Network, and 1.2 million on local stations in New York, Boston, and Manchester, New Hampshire.[5] The game was the most watched program on television since the 2007 Academy Awards[6] and the most watched regular season NFL game in more than 12 years.[6] It marked the first time that an NFL game was simulcasted on two or more networks on a national level since Super Bowl I, which aired on CBS and NBC, the respective homes of the NFL and the American Football League at the time.

Moreover, the NFL Network, which had devoted over 30 hours of programming in the week prior to the Patriots-Colts game in Week 9, devoted over 60 hours of programming to the game, consisting primarily of re-broadcasts of nine Patriots games from the 2007 season; they also had a special countdown clock for the game which appeared over 1,000 times in the week leading up to the game, and live coverage of Patriots press conferences that week. Moreover, NFLN aired a six-hour pregame show devoted to the game; no NFL game, including Super Bowls, had received more coverage.[7]

In Canada, TSN held the rights to the game, as it did for all NFL Network regular-season telecasts. After the NBC / CBS simulcast was announced, TSN's parent broadcast network CTV announced it too would carry the game, allowing CTV simultaneous substitution rights over U.S. stations broadcasting the game.[8] This meant that, in areas of eastern Canada receiving their "big three" network affiliates from Boston, the CTV signal was seen on four different basic-cable channels, in addition to TSN's broadcast (which only differed from CTV in terms of network identification and some commercials).

This controversy did not lead to the NFL offering the Thursday Night Football package to other networks, and so the games remained exclusively on NFL Network through 2013. However, the Thanksgiving night game, which was part of the package until 2011, was sold to NBC beginning in the 2012 season. On February 5, 2014, it was announced that CBS would air eight, early-season Thursday night games during the 2014 NFL season in simulcast with NFL Network, with the remainder airing on NFL Network exclusively.[9][10]

Game summary[edit]

at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

In their final regular season game, the 15–0 Patriots traveled to Giants Stadium, trying to win a record 16th game of the season. With the game scheduled to air on NFL Network, not available on some cable providers, the NFL arranged a three-way simulcast of the game with CBS and NBC, the first time an NFL game was broadcast on three networks, and the first national simulcast of any NFL game since Super Bowl I.[12] The New York and Boston television markets both had a fourth channel, a local TV station in each respective market covering the game. In the week leading up to the game, the NFL Network aired a record 65.5 hours of game-specific coverage, including a six-hour pregame special which matched the longest NFL pregame show, including for a Super Bowl, on a single network.[13]

On the second play of the game, the 10–5 Giants moved into the Patriots' red zone on a 52-yard completion from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress. Three plays later, the Giants took the lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jacobs. The Patriots responded with a pair of 14-yard completions to Randy Moss and Wes Welker; Welker's catch, his 102nd of the season, set a Patriots franchise record.[14] The Patriots then converted a fourth down, and on their next fourth down, Stephen Gostkowski made a 37-yard field goal. The Patriots would regain the ball at midfield following a Giants three-and-out. Completions to Donté Stallworth and Welker put the Patriots in the Giants' red zone, where Brady completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Moss, taking a 10–7 lead on the first play of the second quarter. The play broke one record and tied two others: the Patriots' 560th point of the season surpassed the 1998 Minnesota Vikings’s record of 556 points; the touchdown pass was Brady’s 49th, tying Peyton Manning’s 2004 record; and Moss recorded his 22nd touchdown catch of the season, tying Jerry Rice's 1987 record.

As a result of a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after the touchdown (Moss was flagged for dancing with Ben Watson in the endzone), the Patriots kicked off from the 15-yard line. Giants wide receiver Domenik Hixon received it from the Giants' 26-yard line and proceeded to run for a 74-yard touchdown return, retaking the lead for the Giants. Starting from their own 33-yard line, the Patriots moved into Giants territory on a 13-yard Maroney rush and 8-yard Faulk reception. Brady's 8 passing yards on the play gave him 4,557 for the season, breaking Drew Bledsoe's 1994 franchise record of 4,555 yards.[14] After the drive stalled, Gostkowski recorded his second field goal for the game, reducing the Giants' lead to 14–13. Following a Giants punt, the Patriots mounted a drive that resulted in Gostkowski’s third field goal of the night, from 37 yards, after a 3rd down end zone pass to Moss ricocheted off of linebacker Gerris Wilkinson’s helmet. With 1:54 remaining the half and the Giants trailing 16–14, Manning completed five of his first seven passes to move from the Giants' 15-yard line to the Patriots' 3-yard line. On second down with 18 seconds remaining, Manning threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this time to Boss, to take a 21–16 lead at the half.

After the Patriots began the second half with a three-and-out, the Giants increased their lead to 12 points on a 19-yard touchdown catch by Burress from Manning. Facing their largest deficit of the season, the Patriots drove to the Giants' 16-yard line with several Brady completions. A pass interference call against the Giants’ Wilkinson gave the Patriots the ball at the Giants' 1-yard line. Brady's end zone pass to linebacker Mike Vrabel was no good, and an illegal formation penalty moved the Patriots back 5 yards. Laurence Maroney then scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to cut the Giants' lead to 28–23. Three consecutive drives resulted in punts, and the Patriots gained possession of the ball with less than 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Tom Brady on the sideline with teammates Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney, after throwing for his record-breaking 50th passing touchdown of the season. Behind him are Patriots punter Chris Hanson (left) and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

On the second play of the drive, Brady attempted a deep pass to Moss, which was underthrown and dropped. On the next play, Brady attempted another deep pass to Moss, who caught this one for 65 yards, setting two more NFL records: Moss set the record for most touchdown receptions in a season (23) and Brady set one for touchdown passes (50).[14] The touchdown, Brady’s last of the game, also brought Brady's touchdown-to-interception margin to +42; Peyton Manning held the previous record, +39 during the 2004–05 season.[15] Additionally, this gave Brady a 6.25:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the year, a new single season NFL record (Brady himself would shatter this record again three seasons later). The Patriots converted the subsequent two-point attempt, their only two-point attempt of the season, on a Maroney rush to take a 31–28 lead with 11:15 remaining. On the Giants' ensuing drive, Hobbs intercepted a Manning pass intended for Burress at the Patriots' 48-yard line. After driving to the red zone, a 5-yard catch by Moss marked his 1,493rd reception yard for the season, breaking Stanley Morgan's 1986 franchise record of 1,491 yards. On the subsequent play, Maroney scored his second touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run; Gostkowski converted his last PAT of the season to give the Patriots a 38–28 lead. Gostkowski finished the season a perfect 74-for-74 on PATs, eclipsing St. Louis Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins' 1999 record of 64-for-64.[16]

With 4:36 left in the game, the Giants drove the ball to the Patriots' 4-yard line, and two plays later, Manning completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Burress, Manning’s fourth for the game. But when the Giants tried an onside kick, Vrabel recovered the ball, allowing the Patriots to kneel three times to end the game, 38–35.

The Patriots' joined the 14–0 1972 Miami Dolphins, 11–0 1942 Chicago Bears, and 13–0 1934 Chicago Bears as the fourth team to record an undefeated season, also setting a record for most regular season wins in a single season.[14] The victory was the Patriots’ 19th consecutive regular season victory, breaking their own record set during the 2003–2004 season. Finally, the Patriots finished the season with a +315 point differential, breaking the 1942 Bears' record of +292, making 37–17 the average score of a Patriots game during the regular season.[14]

Scoring summary[edit]

  • 1st Quarter
  • 2nd Quarter
    • NE – Randy Moss 4-yard pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski kick), 14:55. Patriots 10–7. Drive: 8 plays, 50 yards, 3:41.
    • NYG – Domenik Hixon 74-yard kick return (Lawrence Tynes kick), 14:44. Giants 14–10.
    • NE – Stephen Gostkowski 45-yard field goal, 9:59. Giants 14–13. Drive: 8 plays, 39 yards, 4:45.
    • NE – Stephen Gostkowski, 37-yard field goal, 1:59. Patriots 16–14. Drive: 11 plays, 61 yards, 5:41.
    • NYG – Kevin Boss 3-yard pass from Eli Manning (Lawrence Tynes kick), 0:13. Giants 21–16. Drive: 8 plays, 85 yards, 1:46.
  • 3rd Quarter
    • NYG – Plaxico Burress 19-yard pass from Eli Manning (Lawrence Tynes kick), 9:12. Giants 28–16. Drive: 7 plays, 60 yards, 4:10.
    • NE – Laurence Maroney 6-yard run (Stephen Gostkowski kick), 4:00. Giants 28–23. Drive: 8 plays, 73 yards, 5:12.
  • 4th Quarter
    • NE – Randy Moss 65-yard pass from Tom Brady (Laurence Maroney run), 11:06. Patriots 31–28. Drive: 3 plays, 65 yards, 0:23.
    • NE – Laurence Maroney 5-yard run (Stephen Gostkowski kick), 4:36. Patriots 38–28. Drive: 9 plays, 52 yards, 5:17.
    • NYG – Plaxico Burress 3-yard pass from Eli Manning (Lawrence Tynes kick), 1:04. Patriots 38–35. Drive: 11 plays, 68 yards, 3:32.

Starting lineups[edit]

New England Position Position N.Y. Giants
OFFENSE
Jabar Gaffney WR Plaxico Burress
Matt Light LT David Diehl
Logan Mankins LG Rich Seubert
Dan Koppen C Shaun O'Hara
Russ Hochstein RG Chris Snee
Ryan O'Callaghan RT Kareem McKenzie
Benjamin Watson TE Kevin Boss
Randy Moss WR Amani Toomer
Tom Brady QB Eli Manning
Laurence Maroney RB Brandon Jacobs
Wesley Britt TE FB Madison Hedgecock
DEFENSE
Ty Warren LE Michael Strahan
Vince Wilfork NT LDT Barry Cofield
Richard Seymour RE RDT Fred Robbins
Mike Vrabel LOLB RE Osi Umenyiora
Junior Seau ILB LOLB Reggie Torbor
Tedy Bruschi ILB MLB Antonio Pierce
Adalius Thomas ROLB Kawika Mitchell
Asante Samuel LCB Aaron Ross
Ellis Hobbs RCB Sam Madison
Rodney Harrison SS James Butler
James Sanders FS Gibril Wilson

Playoff impact[edit]

Despite the intense media coverage the game was given, from the standpoint of the playoffs, the actual outcome of the game was irrelevant. The Patriots, who had already secured the number one seed in the AFC, had nothing to win or lose and had no control over the seeding of the other teams. The Giants, already locked into the number five seed in the NFC, were guaranteed to play Tampa Bay in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

The game's impact was summarized by Scott Graham on NFL Films' subsequent hour-long replay of the contest ("Perfect Ending", an episode of NFL Films Game Of The Week): "Never had a meaningless game carried more meaning."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Joe's Diner Ep. 16". NFL Network. YouTube. 2007-12-27. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  2. ^ Weiner, Evan (2007-12-06). "NFL Network Can't Beat Cable Industry". The New York Sun. Archived from the original on 9 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  3. ^ Saunders, Dusty (2008-01-02). "COMMENTARY : Antitrust threat prompted NFL’s reversal". Rocky Mountain News. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Archived from the original on 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  4. ^ "Patriots-Giants Game To Be Simulcast On NBC & CBS". Associated Press. KXAN-TV. 2007-12-27. Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  5. ^ "Patriots draw big TV numbers in finishing perfect regular season". Associated Press. International Herald Tribune. 2008-01-02. Archived from the original on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  6. ^ a b "Patriots-Giants most-watched show of current TV season". Patriots.com. 2007-12-30. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  7. ^ "All roads lead to Patriots-Giants on NFL Network and NFL.com". NFL.com. 2007-12-26. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  8. ^ Ratings Alert – Perfect Patriots Win Saturday Night for CTV/TSN, CTV press release, December 31, 2007
  9. ^ "CBS to broadcast eight Thursday night football games in 2014". CBS Sports. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "CBS to broadcast NFL games on Thursday in 2014". USA Today. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "Pats-Giants to be first three-network simulcast game in NFL history". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  12. ^ "Patriots' historic game to be available to all of America, after all". Associated Press. NFL.com. 2007-12-26. Archived from the original on 27 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  13. ^ "All Roads Lead to Patriots-Giants on NFL Network and NFL.com". NFL Network. NFL.com. 2007-12-26. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  14. ^ a b c d e "Patriots at Giants: Game Notes". Patriots.com. 2007-12-29. Retrieved 2007-12-30. 
  15. ^ Reiss, Mike (2008-01-01). "Extra points". Boston.com Reiss' Pieces. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  16. ^ "NFL Record and Fact Book: Individual Records: Points After Touchdown". NFL.com. 2007-12-29. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-30.