MOONACHIE, N.J. - Michael Liberti was finally going to get that other tattoo Monday.
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 Sunday’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 Sunday night, Liberti and a couple hundred other suburban die-hard fans at Manny’s Restaurant & Lounge in Moonachie erupted in cheers, yelps, food-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.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also pleased.
“This was a great night for the Giants, and a great night for New York,” he said. “New York has come back many times in the past, and Big Blue proved tonight that you should never, ever, count us out.”
And it was not lost on the Giants fans that their team was the underdog this time around. “Sixteen and 0 doesn’t mean anything unless you win everything,” said Gary Corbett, 51, from Old Bridge. He then made another sage proclamation: “I need to get a beer. Want one?”
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.
Imagine how that felt for fans like those who were high-fiving profusely when the Giants won the opening coin flip.
“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. But when quarterback Eli Manning had bad moments — and there were a few before his late-game heroics — the crowd rang out in unison, “Aaaaargh,” and at one point, there was a disappointed cry of, “Oh, Eli!”
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.
After the game in Manhattan, cars of 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.
And 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? Seventeen, twenty 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.”
Meanwhile, thousands of fans took to the streets of Times Square, whooping and hollering. Chants of “Let’s go, Giants!” roared through the city streets.
Reggie B. Ford, a 43-year-old fan decked out from his jersey to his sneakers in Giants gear, said he was raised in Harlem but moved to Virginia 17 years ago and had returned to the city just to see the game.
“I’m ecstatic. I came up to revel in this because I knew were going to win,” he said.
Ford said he was confident the Giants’ would win, even though at times it looked like they might fall to the Patriots.
“I never gave up hope,” he said. “I knew we could do this.”
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