Which Super Bowl was better, 42, involving the New York Giants and New England Patriots, or 51, the most recent involving overtime.
Super Bowl 51 was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest games in NFL history. The New England Patriots overcame a 25 point third quarter deficit, led by a superhuman Tom Brady (who threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns) to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
This game has already received plaudits as the greatest Super Bowl in NFL history, but a case can be made for Super Bowl 42, when the New York Giants defeated the 18-0 New England Patriots, 17-14, in one of the greatest sporting upsets of all time.
This article will explore the circumstances and happenings of each Super Bowl in comparison to the other, and ultimately will voice an opinion as to which Super Bowl was better (and perhaps, which Super Bowl was the greatest of All-Time: 42 or 51?
Going into Super Bowl 42, the hype surrounding the New England Patriots was astronomical. After a record-setting regular season, in which quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Randy Moss set records for most touchdowns in a single season, the Patriots roared into the big game with an 18-0 record. After two strong playoff performances, New England had a chance to be the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to go undefeated over the course of an entire season. Additionally, their record would have been 19-0, better than Miami’s mark of 17-0.
The Giants were simply the underdogs, expected to roll over and be a footnote in history. After an 0-2 start, the Giants finished the season at 10-6 to make the playoffs. In Week 17, they hosted the Patriots, and attempted to end their perfect season, but fell just short, losing 38-35. The slim defeat, however, gave them confidence that they could potentially give the Pats a game if the two teams met again.
In the postseason, the Giants won three straight on the road, upending NFC South champions Tampa Bay, NFC East champions and top seed Dallas, and NFC North champions Green Bay, making an improbable run to the Super Bowl.
Going into Super Bowl 51, the focus on New England was redemption: After Roger Goodell’s ruthless persecution of the team following the Deflategate scandal saw Brady suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, the Patriots were motivated to exact the ultimate revenge on the league by winning the Super Bowl, and forcing Goodell to hand the trophy to them. At 14-2, the Pats held the best record in the NFL, and won both of their home playoff games against Houston and Pittsburgh with relative comfort.
The Falcons, meanwhile, boasted the best offense in the NFL, scoring a league high 540 points. Led by League MVP and Offensive Player of the Year Matt Ryan, and superstar wideout Julio Jones, they came into the game as 3 and a half point underdogs. However, many thought that Atlanta would not be able to rush four vs. Brady, and that their defense would not be able to hold up against such a legendary quarterback.
In terms of the buildup and circumstances of the game, there is no debate — Super Bowl 42 wins handily. The hype surrounding the Patriots potential 19-0 season far exceeded the Deflategate redemption. And while the Falcons were generally perceived as a more exciting opponent compared to a Wild Card Giants team, the Patriots quest for perfection made Super Bowl 42 one of the most hyped up games ever.