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Published: Monday, 2/4/2008

Giant underdogs make fans happy; win over Boston team priceless

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MOONACHIE, N.J. - Michael Liberti was finally going to get that other tattoo today.

His right shoulder blade already has "Giants" on it, along with "XXI" and "XXV." Now, he gets to add "XLII" in honor of his team's victory in yesterday's Super Bowl.

"Everybody's been busting me about when I was going to get that one," said Liberti, 41, of Lodi. "I always said: During my lifetime. This is the sweetest one."

The Giants name suggests they're from New York, but like so many ex-New Yorkers, their mailing address is in the New Jersey suburbs.

And last night, Liberti and a couple hundred other suburban die-hard fans at Manny's Restaurant & Lounge in Moonachie erupted in cheers, yelps, foot-stomping, chants, finger-waving and hugs as their team - which surprised the football world by even making the Super Bowl - won it. Won a thrilling defensive struggle over the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.

People in the New York region are well aware that Boston-area teams have been on top of the sports world the last several years. They also know New York teams, well, they haven't been.

"This is revenge for 2004," said Ken Baum, referring to the American League Championship Series when the Boston Red Sox came from behind to knock off the mighty New York Yankees.

And it was not lost on the Giants fans that their team was the underdog this time around.

"Sixteen-and-oh doesn't mean anything unless you win everything," said Gary Corbett, 51, from Old Bridge, N.J.

The game was a defensive struggle capped by a thrilling finish, with the Patriots taking the lead, then the Giants taking it back for good in the last minute.

"A very typical Giants game," said Lou Jambor, a 49-year-old traffic manager from Moonachie. "They never put away the other team."

At Manny's, there was silence for a stretch in the second quarter. There were plenty of "Let's Go Giants" chants.

When quarterback Eli Manning had bad moments - and there were a few before his late-game heroics - the crowd rang out in unison, "Aaaaargh."

After the game, Jambor thought he was having a heart attack. He was probably kidding, though it was hard to tell.

And if he was, he said he didn't mind.

Meanwhile, in Manhattan, cars on 3rd Avenue started honking their horns. Pedestrians chanted, "Let's go Giants."

Palmer Buns, 22, was celebrating in a bar wearing a Giants jersey.

But the unexpected victory was too much to take in all at once.

"I think it will probably sink in tomorrow," he said.

Life-long New Yorker Raymond Jackson, 39, was one of several jubilant fans pouring out of the Amarachi bar in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn after the Giants' win.

"It's been a long time. This hasn't happened in what, 17, 20 years," he said. "This is what's up. This is one of our grand moments. This is for the fans. This is where all of our hard work, loyalty and dedication pay off."



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