|The Giants vs The Patriots|
The New York Giants held their nerve in a tense Super Bowl contest to defeat the New England Patriots 21-17, owing to a dramatic last-gasp touchdown in Indianapolis.
Eli Manning, who upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII four years ago, displayed his nerves of steel in the heat of battle, once again claiming the Most Valuable Player accolade.
Manning triggered Ahmad Bradshaw’s six-yard run and with 57 seconds still on the clock, Tom Brady failed in his response, falling desperately short.
Mario Manningham played a crucial role for the Giants, producing a magical catch on the first play of their final drive. Receiving Manning’s missile, thrown from his own 12-yard line, Manningham displayed glorious athleticism, almost defying gravity to produce a catch that will go down in Super Bowl history.
Having dragged his Giants back from losing situations six times this season prior to the Super Bowl, Manning once again inspired his troops in the moments when it mattered.
Despite taking an early 9-0 lead, the Giants fell under a long period of Patriot pressure, lead by Tom Brady.
|Manningham in action|
However, eight plays down-the-line, Bradshaw claimed a touchdown in the most bizarre of circumstances. He was allowed to cross the line unchallenged by the Patriot defence in order to allow Brady one last chance of success.
The running back who totalled 72 rushing yards from 17 attempts was unable to prevent himself from crossing the line as momentum carried him over.
Had Bradshaw fallen short of the end zone, Giants’ kicker Lawrence Tynes would have been presented with a field goal opportunity to win the game as the clock ran down.
Tom Brady was gifted one last chance and having dispatched 16 passes in a row, a Super Bowl record, his final attempt on the last play saw his Hail Mary pass batted to safety by a much relieved Giants defence.
Brady had reason to feel cheated, as the man who was playing his fifth Super Bowl completed 27 of 41 passes, covering 276 yards, claiming two touchdowns.
It was a recovery of fine fashion, having conceded a safety with his first possession during the birth of the contest.
His shaky start presented Victor Cruz with the chance to snag Manning’s neatly presented 2-yard pass and send the Giants on their way to victory.
New England responded through kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who sailed the ball through the uprights from 29 yards after a well worked drive was halted by the Giants defence.
|A disappointed Brady|
Following Danny Woodhead’s catch in the end zone, there was no preventing Brady’s 14-play drive, masterminding a magnificent 96-yard march from the Patriots, equalling the Super Bowl record for longest drive.
The third quarter saw the Patriots assert domination, with another structured drive culminating in Brady’s short pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez, who shrugged off a last-ditch Deon Grant to take a commanding 17-9 lead.
The New England defence, notorious for conceding yards but not points, soaked up the backlash with some colossal hits, but failed to prevent a 38-yard Tynes field goal, adding three to the Giants’ total.
When the Patriots failed to recover a fumble by Giants’ wide receiver Hakeem Nick, Tynes successfully completed another field goal from 33-yards, closing the gap to two points at 17-15, leaving all to play for.
Known for his dependability, the pressure of the occasion seemed to grip Brady at the start of the fourth quarter, when, having dodged two tackles, his long pass was intercepted by Chase Blackburn.
Bradshaw’s fumble almost handed possession back to the Patriots immediately, but a Chris Snee recovery had Indianapolis wandering whether the luck was with the Giants.
In the knowledge that the Giants had exhausted two of their three timeouts, the Patriots played to run down the clock.
Manning had other ideas.
The quarterback, slated for placing himself in the same class as Brady earlier this season, defied his critics, orchestrating another dream climax for the Giants, crowning them Super Bowl XLVI winners.
Completing 30 of his 40 throws for 296 yards, Manning was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for the second time, a feat only bettered by Joe Montana, but paid tribute to the New England team spirit.
“We had a great, tough bunch of guys who never quit and had faith in each other. I’m proud of these guys sticking together.”
A fantastic finale to the playoffs highlighted once again, that no team is too big for the Giants.
Written by Dom Wallace