Super Bowl XLVI

“It’s déjà vu all over again.” That famous quote by the Yankees’ Yogi Berra could not be more appropriate, even if it regards a different sport and a different era.
Almost mirroring the events of Super Bowl XLII, the New York Giants beat the favored New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. On the coattails of a terrific fourth quarter drive by quarterback Eli Manning, a defining catch reminiscent of David Tyree’s, and a game-sealing sack, the Giants pulled out the upset.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was looking to cement himself into an even higher echelon of great quarterbacks, but instead Manning made his way to Hall of Fame consideration. The Giants stand alone at the top of the NFL, defeating the Patriots with a final score of 21–17.

It seemed like the Patriots had the Giants’ number during the first three quarters. After a good start in the first half by the Giants, their respected defensive line could not stop the short, quick passing plan of Patriots’ offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and head coach Bill Belichick. It essentially negated the dominant Giants’ pass rush, allowing the Patriots a touchdown at the end of the first half.

In that half, the Giants scored on a questionable safety call via intentional grounding in the end zone by Brady and on a Manning pass to wide receiver Victor Cruz. Regardless, the Patriots appeared to have the edge.

The third quarter was similar to the first half. An aggressive, quick passing game by New England helped the Patriots score their second touchdown, and sloppy play by New York, including two fumbles, pointed to a Giants collapse.

However, in the fourth quarter, the Giants snapped out of it, and Manning did his best Brady impression. Brady, who has seven career fourth-quarter comebacks in the postseason, is considered one of the greatest clutch quarterbacks ever to play the game. Manning may now be considered in that conversation.

At the 3:46 mark in the fourth quarter, the Giants’ final drive began with the score sitting 17–15, advantage Patriots. A 38-yard pass from Manning down the sideline in double coverage was cradled in by wide receiver Mario Manningham, as he barely kept his feet in bounds.

After eight plays of pin-point passing by Manning and physical play from the offensive line and wide receivers, running back Ahmad Bradshaw ran up the middle, turned around, and sat hindquarter-first into the end zone. The Patriots allowed the Giants a touchdown, in hopes of preventing them from running down the clock, thereby preventing a Patriots’ final drive.

That last drive ended poorly for New England. A sack by Pro-Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck crushed any remaining momentum for the Patriots. One last heave by Brady ended with the ball hitting the grass of the end zone, as the outstretched arms of the Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski extended about a foot short of winning.

Manning is now the 11th multi-Super Bowl winning quarterback. This win secures him the elite status that was so heavily questioned by the media earlier this season. It puts him ahead of his brother Peyton, who has received more praise as a quarterback throughout both of their careers.

Brady is already in the realm of greatness. However, a victory in Super Bowl XLVI would have tied him with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana with four Super Bowl titles. Now people are left questioning if “Spygate,” where Belichick was accused of spying on opposing coaches’ play-calling, was the reason for his three Super Bowl victories. Since “Spygate,” Brady is 0–2 on the biggest stage.

The fact of the matter is that Brady and Manning both played unbelievable games. But it was Manning’s supporting cast that put the Giants over the top. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin runs a tight ship in New York, and it showed in Indianapolis.

Super Bowl XLVI is over, with the Giants reigning supreme — twice in four years. It could not have been put better than Giants’ running back Brandon Jacobs: “We decapitated them.” Call it what you want, but the Giants are the Super Bowl champions once again.