Super Bowl XLVI: Things You May Have Missed
It was 2008 all over again. The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in an eerily similar fashion they did in Super Bowl XLII.
Once again, the game was thrilling in the fourth quarter as Eli Manning led a late touchdown drive with a minute to go in the game, and the tenacious pass rush of the Giants thwarted Tom Brady's late-game heroics as he drove down the field in the waning seconds to try to steal a title from Manning.
Here are the key moments of America's biggest game.
Manning and Coughlin definitively prove they belong with the best
While the talk this week will center on the idea that Eli is now the better Manning brother (he's not), his play on the game's biggest stage proves he belongs in the conversation with the best quarterbacks in the game.
During the pre-season, Manning made headlines when asked on a radio broadcast if he belonged with Tom Brady and the elite class, to which he answered "yes." Some laughed him off, but now there is no question of his status after earning his second Super Bowl title (and as many Super Bowl MVP awards) after conducting a great 88-yard touchdown drive. Well done, Eli.
And his coach deserves some love, too. Tom Coughlin won his second ring and endured another tough seasons of talk regarding whether or not he deserves to still be coaching. His record during his tenure with the Giants is similar to Bill Parcells' record with New York. What a night. Both of them will end up in Canton one day.
Giants pass rush dominates again
The key to the Giants' victories in the two preceding matches was their ability to rush, hit and rattle Tom Brady. In the third round, this fact remained the same. Brady was under attack all night by Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora as they sacked Brady twice and made him feel the turf eight times. On the first play of the game, Tuck hurried Brady and forced him into an intentional grounding, which resulted in a safety.
JPP deflected a potential touchdown at the line of scrimmage in the first quarter off a Tom Brady pass that turned a possible seven points into three.
Luck be New York's lady
Throughout the year, the Giants have been lucky with fumbles, rarely losing any the last few weeks. Once again, it happened. The Giants dropped two fumbles that could have turned the tide of the whole game. But the Giants fell on top of the loose balls and held onto possession after each fumble.
There was only one turnover all game, and it was a deep pass from Brady and caught by linebacker Chase Blackburn. The safety was ostensibly a turnover as well, as the Patriots lost a possession and two points. Not only did the whole team play great, the balls bounded their way.
Another big game, another big catch
But this time, the catch was not from a league washout (sorry, David Tyree). During the Giants' last drive, Manning found Mario Manningham on the sideline, blanketed in double coverage, for a 38-yard pass that would be the longest play from scrimmage of the game. Manningham caught a brilliant over-the-shoulder grab with two Patriot defensive backs nearby. Manningham expertly tapped both feet in bounds and completed the catch to keep the New York drive going and going.
Brady's guys failed him at the end. Wes Welker -- as sure-handed a receiver anyone can find -- dropped a big gain and potential touchdown. During the last drive of the game, Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez dropped two passes that eventually forced the Patriots to convert a difficult fourth-and-16. It happened, but two plays with completions would have shrunk the field position for a miracle drive. Alas, the game ended on a Hail Mary that fell on the turf in the end zone.
Brady and Belichick fall again
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have already cemented their place in the annals of NFL history as leading the dynasty of the 2000s. Had they won Sunday, they could have been considered as the greatest coach-quarterback combination the league has ever seen. But now, questions are arising about their current ability, whether they have slipped.
Since the videotaping scandal -- you know, that little old thing called Spygate -- the Patriots are 0-for-2 in Super Bowls and four playoff wins in five seasons. It will be interesting to see how the franchise recovers after falling to the Giants again.
Now that the Super Bowl is over, there will not be any football played until August. It's okay. If we band together, we'll all deal with this together. Free agency and the draft come around in March and April. Only a short month off this great sport, with the final image of Eli hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in his brother's home city, until it comes back.