In the final regular-season game, the Giants gave the Patriots a fierce effort, only to lose 38-35. But they took it as a positive and put together a breathtaking string of playoff victories -- all on the road -- at Tampa Bay, Dallas and frigid Lambeau Field (minus-23 wind chill).
For the longest time in Arizona, the Patriots seemed destined to finish their season 19-0. When Giants cornerback Corey Webster fell down, Randy Moss caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady and New England led 14-10 with 2:42 left to play.
Starting on their 17-yard line, the Giants ran seven plays, progressing to their 44 when quarterback Eli Manning and Tyree made what NFL Films' Steve Sabol called, "The greatest play the Super Bowl has ever produced."
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride made the call: 62 Max Y Sale Union, max protection.
Manning, spinning desperately, managed to elude three Patriots pass-rushers and lofted a jump ball in the direction of Tyree, who reached up and pinned the ball to his helmet with one hand. In retrospect, it is difficult to understand how Patriots safety Rodney Harrison did not dislodge the ball.
"It's slow motion for you as an athlete," Tyree said. "I'm just thinking, 'I've got to reel this thing.' I had no idea the ball was on my helmet. I had no idea where exactly it was. I just knew I had it."
The play was good -- oh, so good -- for 32 yards. Four plays later, Manning feathered a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress. Just like the Steelers' winning Super Bowl play the following year, there were 35 seconds left on the clock. The Giants went on to win 17-14.
"It goes beyond adrenaline," Tyree explained. "If there was an emotional term I tried to use after the Super Bowl, it was awe. To play an instrumental part in one of the biggest games in Super Bowl history, it was really overwhelming.
"After the Super Bowl, I said, 'If I never play another down, I will be satisfied with my career.'"
Thirty days after the turn of the millennium, the Tennessee Titans fell 3 feet short of executing that clutch championship drive.
Kurt Warner's 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce had just given the St. Louis Rams a 23-16 lead with 1:54 to play. A holding call on the ensuing kickoff pushed the Titans back to their 12-yard line.
Over his headset, Rams head coach Dick Vermeil told offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who was sitting up in the press box, to prepare for overtime.
"I told him to put his thoughts together, because our defense was hurting," Vermeil said. "They'd been on the field a long time and Tennessee's offensive line was a lot bigger than our defensive front. We were getting worn down."
Vermeil, still excitable at the age of 77, was sitting in ESPN's digital center a month ago, reliving the game of his life.
Sure enough, with quarterback Steve McNair operating out of the shotgun, the Titans moved down the field. There was time for one more play, when McNair dropped back from the Rams' 10-yard line with six seconds left.
"McNair scrambles a little bit -- I think we pushed him right -- and he throws it back to the left," Vermeil remembered. "But when the ball goes in the air, the offensive linemen all stand up. From where I'm standing on the sideline, I can't see the end of the play. So I swivel back to the side judge and I'm watching for the sign."