Fans of the New York Giants are pretty lucky.
We have inherited a long and rich history that includes some of the best players, biggest games, and greatest wins in league history. Giants’ fans have their share of heartbreak as well — the “Wilderness Years” or losing Super Bowl 35 stand out. But, the Giants have avoided the ignominy of being “The Best To Never” win.
Well, SB Nation released a list of the six best teams to never win a Super Bowl. And while the Giants don’t make an appearance on that list they are responsible for creating a full third of that list.
The 2007 New England Patriots
The bellwether for all “greatest team to never win it” arguments. New England was a juggernaut in ‘07 thanks to a record-setting offense that paired prime Tom Brady up with prime Randy Moss in an epic, months-long game of fetch. On the other side of the ball, head coach Bill Belichick mixed heady veterans like Junior Seau, Tedy Bruschi, and Rodney Harrison with young homegrown talent like Vince Wilfork and Asante Samuel to build a team that outscored opponents by an average score of 37-17 during the regular season.
Not many teams made it close against the Pats that year — but the Giants were an exception. New York played New England tough in a Week 17 defeat that proved they could hang with a team on the precipice of history. On that fateful Sunday, the Giants (and David Tyree’s helmet) proved much more, turning 19-0 into 18-1 and gifting Mercury Morris another decade-plus of relevancy.
We, of course, touched on this game Wednesday morning when we asked where you were for the miraculous connection between Eli Manning and David Tyree. Well, this is the flip side of that coin.
There really isn’t any argument that the 2007 Patriots weren’t an amazing team. Josh McDaniels brought the college spread offense to the NFL, unleashing a nightmare-inducing combination of Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker who teamed up for a ridiculous 220 receptions, 2,668 yards, and 31 touchdowns. Combined with a classically “Belichick” defense, they were one of the greatest teams of all time.
The Giants narrowly lost to them in a “meaningless” week 17 game, but learned that they were the more physical team, that they could give the “Perfect Team” all they could handle. That turned out to be the difference in February when the more explosive team lost, but the tougher team won.
Of course that was a Giants’ tradition, dating back to when Bill Belichick was on the other side of the equation.
1990 Buffalo Bills
Western New York was the home of a budding dynasty, the NFL’s House of Romanov, before the Giants gave way to a revolution that prevented Jim Kelly’s team from ever being the league’s ruling class. The Bills famously lost four straight Super Bowls, but the best team to fall short in that span was the first one — a star-studded 13-win unit. Four Hall of Famers — Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, and wide receivers Andre Reed and James Lofton — made up the league’s most devastating offense. A defense led by prime Bruce Smith (in the middle of a 19-sack season), Cornelius Bennett, Darryl Talley, and Shane Conlan held opponents to seven points or fewer five times.
One of those times came in the AFC title game, where Buffalo thwomped the Raiders in a 51-3 dismantling that made the Bills a 6.5-point favorite in Super Bowl XXV. But hanging 41 first-half points on the Raiders was one thing — gaining traction against Bill Belichick’s New York defense was another. The Giants held Kelly’s offense to just 17 points, and when Scott Norwood’s game-winning 47-yard field goal slid wide right of the upright with four seconds to play, it set the tone for four years of Sisyphean struggles in Buffalo.
Thirty years later, it sometimes gets forgotten that the Jim Kelly Bills had one of the most feared offenses in the NFL — especially when the biggest game of the year was decided by an errant field goal attempt.
But the “K-Gun” offense was unique for the time and in NFL history. That was the NFL’s first full-time “No Huddle” offense and featuring QB Jim Kelly, WRs Andre Reed and James Lofton, RB Thurmon Thomas, and TE Keith McKeller, they wore teams out. Kelly finished the season as league’s highest-rated quarterback and DE Bruce Smith lead the league with 19 sacks and was chosen as the Defensive Player of The Year. They were undoubtedly a great team.
But they ran into a Big Blue buzz saw in the form of the Giants’ defense. Bill Belichick’s squad was second in the league in yards allowed (274.5 yards per game) and first in points allowed (13.2 points per game). The Giants had three Pro Bowlers on that defense, but Belichick’s game plan was exceptional — and has been included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In the end, the Giants did enough to win, and the game is remembered not for the quality of the Bills’ squad, but a last-second field goal attempt that sailed wide right.