GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -The New York Giants won the Super Bowl five weeks ago when they did what almost everyone said they shouldn't do:
Play hard against New England in the meaningless final regular-season game that the Patriots needed to become the first team ever to finish 16-0.
The Giants lost 38-35 on that Saturday night, but they proved in the process they could play with a team that most folks thought was unbeatable.
Despite injuries to three starters - just what those who thought they should rest for the playoffs had feared - that game propelled them to road wins in Dallas and Green Bay, against the teams that finished with by far the best records in the NFC.
``When we lost that game to New England, we played against the best team in the league as well as anyone had played,'' said Michael Strahan, who finally won a Super Bowl ring in his 15th season. ``We felt that if we could play with them, we could play with anyone.''
ghlin called ``maybe the most amazing play ever made in a Super Bowl.''
It came on a third-and-five from the New York 44 with 1:15 left. Eli Manning seemed about to be swallowed by the Patriots' Jarvis Green. But he escaped, rolled to his right and heaved the ball 32 yards downfield, where it landed on the head of David Tyree, a special teams whiz who had four catches for 35 yards in the 16-game regular season.
Tyree, who earlier had caught a 5-yard touchdown pass, somehow pinned it to his head and came down with the ball along with two Patriots trying to knock it loose. That put the ball on the New England 24. Four plays later, Manning hit Plaxico Burress with a 13-yard pass with 35 seconds left for the winning TD.
Tom Brady sensed that Tyree's catch would set up a touchdown.
``After it happened, I got the offense together and told them we were going to go back on the field,'' conceded New England's MVP quarterback, who had put the Patriots ahead earlier with a 6-yard TD pass to Randy Moss. ``That's a lot of time to leave a team to come back.''
There was another reason the Giants won.
It's called defense and is the same reason they managed to make the playoffs after starting 0-2 and trailing Washington 17-3 in Week 3 before coming back with 21 second-half points. New York won that game after the Redskins had a first-and-goal at the Giants 1 in the final minute.
e 2 and New York had its first victory. The next week, the Giants got 12 sacks against the Eagles and were on their way.
They didn't have that many sacks Sunday, but they had constant pressure on Brady, who was sacked five times and looked battered in the second half as waves of Giants came after him.
Justin Tuck had two sacks, Strahan had one. But the one that clinched the game was by another of the unknown Giants - rookie tackle Jay Alford, who was nearly a goat in Green Bay when his snap on what might have been the winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes sailed high and left and led to a miss.
Tynes got another chance in overtime to win the game and converted, sending the Giants to the Super Bowl.
And Alford got another chance Sunday night, dropping Brady for a 10-yard loss with 10 seconds left on New England's final possession to all but seal the game.
Most of those plays came from the confidence the Giants got from the first New England game, when everyone seemed to be telling them to rest their starters.
``Every team is beatable, you never know,'' Coughlin said. ``The right moment, the right time, every team is beatable. You have to guard against so many different things. There is no taking anything away from them. We learned the first time we played them that we weren't a team they were just going to brush away. That helped us immeasurably tonight.''
For that they can thank Manning, Tyree and the defense.
And most of all Coughlin, who decided to play a game on Dec. 29 that he could have tanked.

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