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From two Super Bowl wins to chaos: How the New York Giants collapsed

While the decline continues, the core of Giants’ Super Bowl teams has been dismantled with one tarnished exception.

The New England Patriots built a dynasty that might be the best the NFL has ever seen. But if they had an Achilles heel of any sort, it was the New York Giants. Thanks to the miracle of miracles, New York knocked off what could have been the greatest team of all time in Super Bowl 42. And four years later, with New York’s playoffs beginning in Week 16, the Giants again rode the arm of Eli Manning into an even more unexpected playoff run.

With a pair of 1,000-yard receivers, a thunder-and-lightning duo at running back, and a bend-but-don’t-break defense that made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks, New York tore through the best of the NFC and got back to the Super Bowl, where, once again, the Patriots were waiting.

And, well, you know the drill. With less than a minute to play, Ahmad Bradshaw accidentally crossed the goal line as the Patriots made no attempt to stop him. New England’s act of desperation failed as the Giants’ defense made sure Brady’s Hail Mary went unanswered.

New York sat atop the NFL for the second time in five seasons. Manning earned another Super Bowl MVP award, capping off his best season in the league. The offense was littered with playmakers, the defense knew when to turn it on, and Giants general manager Jerry Reese proved he knew how to put together a team.

Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin captured lightning in a bottle and delivered the Lombardi Trophy twice to the nation’s biggest market. With all eyes on them, they looked to begin a dynasty of their own.

But sometimes the bright lights of New York just make it easier to see when everything goes wrong. Then all we can ask is, “what happened?”