Jon Somerset (@OrangeMan3142) expands on his “Hot Take” from the podcast and explains why he believes the 2007 season was the greatest season ever played!
That is quite a statement. Sure, it was memorable, but was it better than the 1999 season with the Rams bringing in a washed up QB, working at a grocery store and winning the Super Bowl? One yard short?! Yeah it was better then that.
Better than the dynasties of yesterday? The 90’s cowboys, the 80’s 49ers or the Steel Curtain? Yep, better then that too. What about Joe Namath and “The Guarantee”? Those are all high water marks in NFL history but when it comes to one season I think the 2007 season had it all. Let me refresh your memory.
Lets Break It Down
When everyone thinks about the 2007 season, the first thing that comes to mind is the 18-0 Patriots going to the Super Bowl as massive favorites. Then losing to Eli Manning, and a pass rush that would give God himself the jimmy-legs in the pocket. The David Tyree catch. Tom Brady throwing 50 TD passes and Randy Moss catching 23 of those for touchdowns, both NFL records.
You would remember Junior Seau putting off retirement to join a super team to get a ring. If you were me or my friends you would definitely remember the sense of dread that Sunday morning on the day of the Super Bowl. That feeling of sickening acceptance and preparing to live the rest of your life in a world where the New England Patriots had gone 19-0 and won the Super Bowl.
The perfect season and two more wins than the Miami Dolphins 17-0 campaign, essentially cementing that years Patriots as the greatest team in the history of the NFL. That’s what probably comes to your mind when you think about the 2007 season, but there was so much more you’ve forgotten.
When was the last time the Browns were actually a factor in the playoff race? Yep, 2007. The Browns under coach Romeo Crennel went 10-6 and just missed a wildcard in the AFC North. The duo of Derek Anderson and Kellen Winslow JR connected for 82 receptions, 1,106 yards and 5 TDs. Jamal Lewis ran for 1304 yards and 9 rushing TDs. Derek Anderson threw for 3,787 yards and 29 TDs.
The stay-puffed marshmallow man with a headset (Crennel) made the Browns a real contender for that one magical season, and they only missed playoffs via a tie breaker with the Tennessee Titans who also went 10-6.
The 2007 season was also the last hurrah for Brett Favre as QB of the Packers, his understudy Aaron Rodgers would take over in 2008 and go on to be immensely successful himself. Favre didn’t make the break easy on anyone, 356 completions for 4,155 yards, 28 TDs and 15 INTs showed that the old gunslinger still had it. He led the packers to a 13-3 record and secured a first round bye for the Packers.
Green Bay easily dispatched the Seahawks in the divisional round. Favre threw for 173 yards and 3 TDs while Ryan Grant rushed for 201 yards and 3 TDs as the Packers destroyed Seattle 42-20. This didn’t upset anyone though because it was 2007 and there weren’t any Seahawks fans yet. The win set up one of the most memorable NFC Championship games ever against the Giants in the literally frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
That season was also memorable for any Cowboys fans for several reasons, chief amongst them were the 13-3 record, the first round playoff bye and a complete season where Tony Romo didn’t get injured. Romo, who was known as “Tony Completion” in my home league, had 335 completions for 4,211 yards, 36 TDs and 19 INT that season.
Terrell Owens was in prime form that year and had 81 receptions for 1,355 yards and 15 TDs. Witten added 96 receptions for 1,145 yards and 7 TDs, while Marion “The Barbarian” Barber and Julius Jones combined for 1,563 rushing yards and 12 rushing TDs. DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis combined for 26.5 sacks between them.
Between a strong offense with a solid run game and TO to take the top off opposing defenses and with a crushing pass rush on defense the Cowboys looked ready for a playoff run for the first time since the end of the 90’s dynasty. The Giants would have something to say about that though.
This season was so jammed full of storylines it was ridiculous. I won’t even have time to get into how Phillip Rivers played the entire AFC Championship game with a torn ACL. His Chargers had gone 11-5 and beat the Titans and the Colts on their way to that AFC title game, with LaDanian Tomlinson putting up almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage.
Or how it was another season of greatness from Peyton Manning and his Colts who went 13-3 in the regular season. Manning had a pedestrian year for him with only 4,040 yards passing and 31 TDs. This was also Vince Young‘s one solid year of NFL production leading his Titans to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. The Redskins were also successful that season with a 9-7 record and a wildcard berth on the legs of Clinton Portis and his 1,262 rushing yards and 11 TDs.
Many teams that were usually on the outside of the playoffs looking in were a part of the postseason in 2007.
The 2007 version of the New England Patriots was without a doubt the most talented version ever assembled. In the 2006 offseason they added Randy Moss and Junior Seau. It had been two seasons since their last Super Bowl title and they were hungry to win another. Brady and Moss both set single season TD records at their respective positions.
Besides that deadly one-two punch there were a host of other playmakers. Between the three-headed monster of Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk they combined for 1,484 rush yards and 9 rushing TDs. Wes Welker may not have had the big play ability of Moss but his 112 receptions for 1,175 yards and 8 TDs added to an already ridiculous offense.
The defense was anchored by Seau, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and a host of terrorizing pass rushers. Vince Wilfork, Jarvis Green and Rosevelt Colvin got after the quarterback while Rodney Harrison and Asante Samuel patrolled the secondary. This team wasn’t just good, they were scary good. They beat everyones brains in and only had close games a couple times during the regular season.
There were only six games that entire season they didn’t win by 13 or more points, and ony four that came down to single digits. They handled the Jaguars easily 31-20 in the divisional round and beat the Chargers 21-12 in the AFC Championship game. They would head to the Super Bowl with a record of 18-0 as a massive favorite.
The team that would eventually rise to challenge the Patriots in the Super Bowl was the New York Giants. They started the season as anything but a favorite to reach the final game. Micheal Strahan had retired in the offseason but decided to come back after divorcing his wife and being financially fleeced by her and her lawyer. Without that event Strahan has been quoted as saying he never would have come out of retirement and as a result this defense, the pass rush particularly, never would have been as good or would have gone as far as it did that season.
Eli Manning had only been in the league since 2004 and his regular season stats from ’07 were good but not jaw-dropping. He threw for 297 completions for 3,336 yards and 23 TDs with 20 INTs. That years Giants were a run and play defense team. They had four running backs combine for 2,076 yards and 12 rush TDs.
Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer were the passing threats along with the always colorful Jeremy Shockey. Those three combined for 2,404 yards receiving and 18 TDs. The real strength of this team was the equally colorful defense. Led by Micheal Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora the Giants pass rush scared the living shit out of the opposing quarterback. The three of them combined for 32 sacks and the team had 53 overall in the regular season.
The Giants would beat the Cowboys three times that year including in the divisional round of the playoffs, setting the stage for a showdown at Lambeau Field that would be legendary.
While the Patriots had a semi-difficult time defeating the Chargers in the AFC Championship game that Giants had a downright knife fight on their hands at Green Bay. At kickoff the temperature was -1*F with a wind chill of -23*F. Tom Coughlin’s face would be purple from the early stages of frostbite by halftime.
Micheal Strahan told his defense that pain was temporary but glory was forever. The biting cold made every hit feel like a car crash but the Giants wouldn’t go down without a fight. At halftime the Packers led 10-6, points were hard to come by with the swirling wind and below freezing temperatures. The Giants managed to pull ahead in the 3rd quarter and led 20-17 going into the 4th quarter.
Brett Favre led his team down the field in the final quarter and tied the game on a Mason Crosby field goal. The Giants were able to drive into the Packers red zone and with 4 seconds left in the game Lawrence Tynes had a chance to send the Giants to the Super Bowl, he missed the 36 yard chip-shot attempt and the game went into overtime.
Undeterred by the miss at the end of the 4th quarter the Giants drove the ball down and set up a 47 yard field goal in their first possession in overtime. This time Tynes didn’t miss and the Giants were on their way to the Super Bowl.
The Giants went into Super Bowl XLII as 12 point underdogs, the 7th highest point spread ever in the history of the Super Bowl. Literally no one gave them a shot at winning. I sure as hell didn’t. Having been a student at Keene State College in New Hampshire during the beginning of the “Pats Dynasty” I was really not looking forward to this game at all.
My hatred for the Patriots at this period in time was ridiculous. At my college, my friends and I were the only people who weren’t Pats fans, and Pats fans during this period of time were the worst. Total bandwagons, no real knowledge about their team, hell there was even one afternoon that the host of a BBQ we were at turned off the TV after the 1pm Pats game because, “football is over now, the Pats played”.
My friends and I were waking up that Super Bowl Sunday with a sense of dread, today the Patriots would become the greatest team in the history of the NFL. So we got hammered. My buddy Mike and I even forgot to eat, on Super Bowl Sunday, not one bite of food. We just drank and drank and drank some more. We were ready to erase this day from memory. The Giants woke up that Sunday not with a sense of dread but with a hunger for the opportunity to make history.
The first half started in a very strange fashion, the Giants took their opening possession and drove 63 yards in 9 minutes and 59 seconds to the Patriots 14 yard line where they settled for a field goal. The Pats took over and spent the rest of the opening quarter driving into New York territory. Lawrence Maroney would eventually plow through the line for a 1 yard TD as the opening play of the 2nd quarter. The first half would end with the Patriots record setting offense having scored only once and the score still at 7-3 Pats.
The third quarter went on much as the first two had, the defenses on both squads were stepping up and the sacks and 3 and outs piled up. It was somewhere near the end of the 3rd quarter that me and my buddies in our drunken stupor realized the Patriots offense that had scored 30 and 40 points so many times this season had only one score. The fourth and final quarter began with the score still deadlocked at 7-3 Patriots on top.
On the Giants first drive in the 4th quarter tight end Kevin Boss caught a 45 yard pass into Patriots territory. Three rushes by Bradshaw and a 17 yard grab by Steve Smith put the Giants in the red zone. Manning completed a 5 yard pass to little known wide receiver David Tyree for a Giants touchdown. They took a 10-7 lead. Both teams then went 3 and out.
With 7:54 left to play Brady started to drive the Patriots down the field. With the kind of precision we had seen all season the Patriots methodically made their way into the Giants red zone. With 2:42 left in the game Brady hit Randy Moss for a 6 yard touchdown and the Patriots took a 14-10 lead. The ensuing kickoff pinned the Giants at their own 17 yard line with 2:39 left to make something happen.
A field goal would do them no good, they needed a touchdown or the game was over. Amani Toomer was the early hero, making two receptions for 20 yards. The Patriots managed to stop the Giants 3 times and with 4th and 1 Brandon Jacobs snuck through the line for a crucial drive-saving first down. Two plays later Manning threw a dangerous pass to David Tyree that was nearly intercepted by Assante Samuels near the sideline.
This brought up a 3rd and 5 from New Yorks own 44 yard line and 1:15 remaining in the game. Manning dropped back to pass and was swamped by Patriots defenders, to most people it looked like he had been corralled and was going to be sacked. Somehow he squirted out of the grasp of both Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour and dodged Adalius Thomas.
Manning rolled out of the pocket and launched what looked like a prayer downfield. In one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history the unheralded David Tyree jumped over Patriots safety Rodney Harrison and secured the ball to his facemask as he fell back towards earth. He somehow held on throughout the process of the catch and the 32 yard grab kept the drive alive.
Three plays later, with time growing sickeningly short, Manning found a wide open Steve Smith for a 12 yard gain to the Patriots 13 yard line. With less than a minute left in the game a group of blacked out idiots were huddling on my buddy Mikes couch literally offering God anything for this thing to happen. We got down on our hands and knees and made outlandish promises.
The very next play Plaxico Buress broke free of Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs and sprinted towards the back of the endzone. Manning threw the ball up and I remember it floating through the air and seeing who it was meant for, I saw the number on the wide receivers uniform and yelled “HE’S GOT BURRESS!!!”.
In the split second this play happened my brain realized that it was Plaxico who was open, and he wouldn’t screw it up. And he didn’t. Burress caught the touchdown pass and we went absolutely crazy, screaming and hugging each other in a drunken man pile on the floor of my buddies attic. There were 35 seconds left in the game and the Patriots needed a field goal, completely doable. This thing wasn’t over yet.
New England took over at their own 26 yard line with 29 seconds left and all 3 timeouts. First down brought an errant pass by Brady that went incomplete. Second down brought almost as much joy as the Plaxico touchdown. Giants DT Jay Alford exploded through the middle of the offensive line and sacked Brady for a 10 yard loss.
It was now 3rd and 20 and Brady was clearly flustered. His next pass, a deep bomb to Moss, was defended well by Giants corner Corey Webster and fell incomplete. Now it was 4th and 20 and Brady fired up a prayer which was batted down by Giants safety Gibril Wilson. It was over, the impossible had happened. We were damned near in tears as we hugged each other and thanked the football gods.
At the absolute last possible second, after a season filled with the pain of watching these Patriots crush team after team on their way to making history, the football gods had intervened on the behalf of literally everyone except Pats fans. It was a thing of beauty. It was a hell of a ride. It was the greatest season in NFL history.
Be sure to read more from idpguys.org and listen to him on the podcast!
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