INDIANAPOLIS – Wow, what can one say? From teetering towards the NFL outhouse to elevating to the NFL pinnacle, that’s the amazing story the New York Giants implemented in closing out the 2011-12 NFL season with a rousing 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
In a season that has seen offenses run wild at times, both the Giants and Patriots defenses came to play and produce some old fashioned smash-mouth action. In a relatively low scoring Super Bowl it came down to two of the better quarterbacks in the NFL – the Giants’ Eli Manning and the Patriots’ Tom Brady.
In the end Manning did everything asked of him in the final minutes, which has become par for the course with this underrated quarterback. In fact, he has led the Giants to seven fourth quarter comebacks this season alone. Even better, Manning, an eight-year veteran, took a struggling 7-7 team and helped turn that team into a 13-7 Super Bowl champion.
Manning has beaten the Patriots in two thrilling Super Bowls and now has two Super Bowl MVP awards, the same number as Brady – winning this one in older brother Peyton’s house no less.
“His performance, coming down the stretch was outstanding,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “He is the guy who has done it for us all year. He is the guy who put us in position.”
Said Manning: “It was tough out there on both teams. Offensively, it was tough getting into the end zone, tough to score touchdowns. It took great toughness and great faith by our guys just believing, and some big-time plays by a number of guys.
“I’m just excited for my teammates, Coach Coughlin, the fans and the Giants organization. This is not about one person. This is about a team coming together. We had some adversity this year, but we never got discouraged, because we knew if we could get on a run anything could happen.”
What happened in Lucas Oil Stadium was a repeat of Super Bowl XLII. Once again Manning, just as he did four years ago when the Giants ruined New England’s perfect season, he guided his team 88 yards to the decisive touchdown, which the Patriots didn’t contest as Ahmad Bradshaw ran 6 yards with 57 seconds left.
Brady, who completed 16 straight passes over the second and third quarters, breaking Joe Montana’s Super bowl record of 13, had the look of a man who could get his team over the hump. But a couple of dropped passes led to a last second desperation pass that fell to the turf as the last second ticked off the clock.
Manning started the game with nine straight completions, a Super Bowl record. He finished 30 for 40 for 296 yards and one touchdown, while Brady was 27 for 41 for 276 yards with two TDs and one interception.
Manning set an NFL record with 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He showed that brilliance in the clutch on the winning drive, completing five passes, starting with a sensational 38-yard sideline catch by Mario Manningham.
This was the fifth trip to a Super Bowl for Brady and Coach Bill Belichick, tying the record. And it looked like a successful one when they stormed back from a 9-0 deficit and led 17-9 in the third quarter.
“What I was concerned with was these guys making their own history,” Coughlin said, clutching the Vince Lombardi Trophy. “This is such a wonderful thing, these guys carving their own history.” Coughlin got his own piece of the record book as the oldest coach, at 65, to win a Super Bowl.
It was the Giants’ fourth Super Bowl championship, more than any franchise except Pittsburgh with six and San Francisco and Dallas with five, and they became the first team to finish the regular season 9-7 and win the title.