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NFL: A History of the NFL Championship at Glendale

The NFL Championship returns to Glendale for a third time in 2023 and this Sunday's clash will be without one ingredient from the previous two - the New England Patriots.

This article was originally published on 2/7/2023.

The Patriots lost to the New York Giants in a dramatic clash when they met at what is now called State Farm Stadium in 2008.

But Bill Belechick's men had cause to celebrate when they overcame the Seattle Seahawks in sensational circumstances seven years later.

Here's a look at the history of the NFL Championship at Glendale and how those two epic contests were won and lost.

2008: Giants refuse to back down in face of undefeated Patriots

Two-and-a-half years after its grand opening, the stadium looked resplendent on February 3rd, 2008 when the Patriots and Giants faced off in front of 71,101 spectators and a TV audience approaching 100 million.

Local celebrity Jordan Sparks sang the National Anthem while Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers provided the halftime entertainment, their renditions of "I Won't Back Down" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" foreshadowing what the Giants had in store for the Patriots following the interval.

New England were trying to accomplish something only the 1972 Miami Dolphins had done before - an undefeated season.

The game is also remembered for David Tyree's stunning "Helmet Catch" in the final two minutes to set up the Giants' game-winning touchdown.

Defenses dominated for the first three quarters with the Patriots only up 7-3 going into the fourth, but Giants QB Eli Manning then got hot with a 45-yard completion to tight end Kevin Boss before he rounded out New York's seven-play, 80-yard drive with a short touchdown toss to Tyree.

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Tom Brady then drove New England downfield before he hit Rady Moss from six yards out to retake the lead with 2:42 left on the clock.

What happened next will remain legendary in New York sporting circles and is still arguably one of the greatest plays in NFL Championship history.

On a third-and-5 from the Giants' 44 with 75 seconds remaining, Manning somehow avoided being sacked by all four Patriots pass rushers long enough to sling a hopeful throw downfield.

Tyree and Patriots' safety Rodney Harrison went up for a jump-ball with the Giants wide receiver somehow coming up with the catch over his head, securing possession against his helmet as he and the defender tumbled to the ground.

Six plays and 19 seconds later, Manning found Plaxico Burress in the end zone to put the Giants ahead.

The Patriots had 35 seconds to engineer one final drive, but the Giants' defense held firm to win 17-14 (Yes +425 - Will the NFL Championship be decided by exactly 3 points) and deny them their dream of a perfect season.

2015: Seahawks sunk by 'Beast Mode' blunder

Patriots fans returned to Phoenix seven years later for what they hoped would be their fourth Lombardi Trophy and an end to a 10-year championship hiatus.

Over 70,000 Patriots and Seahawks followers heard Idina Menzel belt out the National Anthem while Katy Perry was joined by Lenny Kravitz, hip hop icon Missy Elliot and the Arizona State marching band for the halftime show.

This battle between the two conferences' No. 1 seeds will always be remembered for the most opportunistic interception in NFL history - and arguably the dumbest play call on the game's greatest stage.

Seattle, the reigning champions, came into the game as 1.5 point favorites, but both teams were full of quality on both sides of the ball and had ended the regular season with identical 12-4 records.

Many had questioned if the Patriots could stop the league's fourth-best rusher that season, Marshawn 'Beast Mode' Lynch. But, as it turned out, the Seahawks couldn't stop Brady.

He completed an NFL Championship-record 37 passes for 328 yards with four touchdown passes and two interceptions to earn the game's MVP honors for a third time.

Even so, the game was decided during an extraordinary fourth-quarter sequence when Seattle marched down the field to the Patriots' five-yard line with 26 seconds left on the clock (-110 Over 80.5 Total Yards of Longest Drive).

Down by four points, Lynch took Wilson's handoff and advanced the Seahawks to the 1, giving Seattle a wealth of options to choose from to punch in the potentially winning score from a second-and-goal situation.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was in possession of a timeout and had the season's most reliable short-yardage rusher at his disposal, yet he elected to pass.

The tension inside the stadium when Russell Wilson dropped back was palpable and in the few seconds that followed, backup Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler wrote his name into the history books.

In front of an enthralled worldwide audience of over 120 million, Butler eluded the wide receiver screen Seattle had set up and, as he read Wilson's intentions, jumped the inside slant route Ricardo Lockette was running.

He stepped in front of the Seahawks' receiver just in time to make the interception that spelled doom for the Legion of Boom.

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