PHOENIX -- The New York Giants fell short of reaching Super Bowl LI this past season, but that turned out to be a good thing.
At least for the New England Patriots.
According to Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said his Super Bowl champions wouldn't have won the Lombardi Trophy at all if they had faced the Giants. At least that's what Kraft apparently admitted to Tisch in the days after the Patriots completed their remarkable 25-point comeback and overtime win against the Atlanta Falcons.
That revelation came when Tisch praised Ben McAdoo for a stellar rookie season as head coach, which included an 11-5 record and the Giants' return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season, a debut which Tisch said "exceeded" his own expectations.
"Looking back I could not have been happier," Tisch said during a break at the NFL Owners Meetings inside the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. "Would I like to have gone deeper in the playoffs? Of course. Would I have liked to end up Houston? Absolutely. Especially because Bob Kraft, after the Super Bowl, told me 'You would've beat us.' So that was a nice compliment."
And what was Tisch's reaction?
"When I heard that," he said, "I agreed with him."
History is on their side. The Giants pulled off stunning upsets of the Patriots in both Super Bowls XLII and XLVI -- the only two blemishes on the Patriots' seven Super Bowl trips in the last 16 seasons. And who knows? Maybe Tisch and Kraft will get a chance to find out if they were right, because the Patriots will almost certainly be favorites to return to the Super Bowl next season. And Tisch certainly sounded like he believes the Giants will be in contention to reach Super Bowl LII, too.
"I was thrilled with last season, and I know that going into this season -- sort of McAdoo's sophomore year -- I have very high expectations," Tisch said. "(But) this is all about the fans for me. I think the fans had a great time last season. So I'm sure with the additions this year, fans are going to be, I hope, very, very happy."