Tue 7 Feb 2012
It was not the stunning upset of the 18-0 juggernaut in 2007, but the New York Giants victory over the New England Patriots in Superbowl XLVI was almost as memorable. Once again, there were three quarters of sporadic, marginally interesting football followed by an electrifying fourth quarter which saw the Giants and their quarterback, Eli Manning, once again deny Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of the ultimate prize.
The game began on an odd (and, it turns out, ominous) note, with Brady dropping back into his own endzone and launching a bomb down the middle of the field to…no one. He was called for intentional grounding and, because the penalty occurred in the endzone, a safety was awarded to the Giants, who now led 2-0 (Pittsburgh Steelers fans and trivia buffs will note that the Steelers led Superbowl IX over the Minnesota Vikings at halftime by that score). Manning drove the Giants to a touchdown, passing to Victor Cruz for the score and, a short salsa dance later, the Giants led 9-0. The Patriots being the Patriots meant that this wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, however. Brady started a string of 16 straight completions as the Patriots scored 17 unanswered points to take a 17-9 lead in the third quarter.
The Giants continued to chip away, adding a pair of Lawrence Tynes field goals and the Pats only led 17-15 to start the fourth quarter. New York’s defense kept things hot for Brady, with Justin Tuck sacking him twice. Uncharacteristically, Brady uncorked an ill-timed pass down the middle of the field intended for his tight end, Rob Gronkowski, that was intercepted by Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn. Later, Wes Welker dropped a pass from Brady that would have set up the Pats at the New York 20 yard line and allowed them to burn up much of the clock. Instead, with 3:46 remaining, Manning and Giants had the ball deep in their own end at the 12-yard line. Manning went back to pass and threw a rainbow that nestled into the hands of Mario Manningham along the left sideline. The incredible throw and catch put the Giants in business at midfield. Manning continued to complete passes and eat up the clock until the Giants were at the New England 11, at which point the Patriots decided to let New York score so they could get the ball back with enough time for Brady to work a miracle. Try as he might to fall down at the one yard line, Ahmad Bradshaw fell over the goal line for a 21-17 lead. The two-point conversion failed and Brady took over at his own 14 with less than a minute to go. However, after completing a clutch fourth-and-16 play to Deion Branch, the Patriots ran out of miracles as Brady’s desperation heave fell incomplete in the endzone.
For the game, Manning completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and the touchdown to Cruz without turning the ball over. His steady performance earned him his second Superbowl MVP trophy and has ended the argument as to whether he deserves to be considered an “elite” quarterback. He joins Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady as the only players to be named Superbowl MVP multiple times.
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