The 2007 New York Giants will go down as one of the most remembered and beloved teams in New York sports history. Eight specific free agents helped pave the way.
The New York Giants jaw-dropping streak of winning 11 games away from Giants Stadium, which culminated with their 17-14 victory over the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl 42, is legendary and will go down as one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.
This team also has the distinction of becoming the first team in NFL history to defeat three teams in the playoffs that at 13 wins in the regular season or more.
The team was filled with homegrown veterans and young players who were drafted by Ernie Accorsi and Jerry Reese, who was in his first year as general manager.
But there was also a collection of key free agents that the Giants acquired over the years that paid a big dividend in 2007 and helped the Giants knock off the Patriots.
Here’s a look back the free agents that helped the Giants defeat perfection.
1. Plaxico Burress (2005)
With Eli Manning entering his second year in the league and the first one as a full-time starter, the Giants needed to get him a game breaker at wide receiver. Enter Plaxico Burress who the Giants signed in 2005.
He immediately became Manning’s go-to guy catching 76 receptions for 1,214 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season with Big Blue.
His biggest contribution came in 2007 when he caught a career-high 12 touchdowns. Then of course in Super Bowl 42 he caught the game-winning touchdown.
2. Antonio Pierce (2005)
Just like Burress, Pierce joined the Giants in 2005 and immediately became their best linebacker and one of the leaders on the team. In his first season with the Giants, he recorded 99 tackles and the season after he had a career-high 138 tackles and made the Pro Bowl.
But the play Giants fans remember most about Pierce was in the 2007 NFC Championship game where he single-handedly stopped a Packers screen pass in the second quarter while being blocked by a lineman. The Giants were trailing 7-6 at this point in the game and if Piece doesn’t make that tackle, the Packers may have scored a touchdown which could have changed the outcome of the game.
3. Shaun O’Hara (2004)
Following a disastrous 2003 season where the Giants went 4-12, Ernie Accorsi made it a priority to rebuild the offensive line. His first move in rebuilding the offensive line was to sign Shaun O’Hara.
O’Hara would go onto make three Pro Bowls with the Giants and by the time 2007 came around, he was one of the reasons why the Giants had the best offensive line in football.
4. Kareem McKenzie (2005)
McKenzie was solid as a rock at right tackle for the Giants. In his first three seasons with Big Blue, he missed only three games. He along with O’Hara, Chris Snee, David Diehl, and Rich Seubert, help restore the Giants powerful ground game.
Not only was McKenzie an important part of the Giants winning Super Bowl 42, but he also helped them win Super Bowl 46 four years later in what would be the final game of his career.
5. Sam Madison (2006)
The Giants were in need of a veteran cornerback so the Giants signed Madison to a four-year contract in 2006. His responsibility was to cover an opposing team’s best receiver and be a mentor to Corey Webster.
His first year with the Giants was up and down but he rebounded in 2007 with a career-high in tackles with 67 and had four interceptions. His wisdom and knowledge are one of the reasons the Giants were able to shut down the Patriots high powered offense.
6. R.W. Mcquarters (2006)
The Giants signed McQuarters to help out in the secondary and to return punts. He had two interceptions in his first year with the Giants but made a much bigger impact in the 2007 playoffs.
He intercepted a pass in each of the Giants first three playoff games including intercepting Tony Romo in the end zone of the Divisional round in the final seconds to seal the Giants 21-17 victory over the Cowboys.
7. Kawika Mitchell (2007)
Mitchell signed a one year deal with the Giants in the spring of 2007. He made the most of his one season with Big Blue finishing third on the team in tackles with 76 and he scored the only defensive touchdown of his career.
In the Super Bowl, he recorded eight tackles and sacked Tom Brady once.
8. Fred Robbins (2004)
To help bolster the front four, the Giants signed Robbins to a six-year contract in 2004. He was a consistent force in the middle and only missed three games in his six seasons with the Giants.
In 2007 he had one of the best seasons of his career when he recorded 5 ½ sacks and was a key part of the Giants front four dominating the Patriots offensive line in the Super Bowl.
The Giants current general manager Dave Gettleman is a disciple and close friend of Accorsi and has already begun the rebuilding the Giants offensive line by signing free agent Nate Solder. He also signed veteran and former Pro Bowl running back Jonathan Stewart.
He hopes that these two acquisitions along with others he’ll make will help make the Giants champions again.