One Giant of a Super Bowl
After every great game, you always hear that it “came down to…”, but Sunday’s Super Bowl didn’t come down to any one thing. It didn’t come down to Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski’s ankle, the Giants’ defensive line or any one play. It came down to a collection of all of these factors, and many more. When you add everything up, the New York Giants are Super Bowl champions for the second time in five years.
Despite being down 17-9 as late as the third quarter, it never seemed that the Giants were out of the game. They jumped out to a 9-0 lead when Justin Tuck forced Tom Brady to intentionally ground the ball for a safety and Victor Cruz caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Manning. The Patriots came storming back with Brady touchdowns to Danny Woodhead for four yards right before halftime and to Aaron Hernandez for 12 yards in the third quarter. Lawrence Tynes kept the Giants in the game with field goals of 38 and 33 yards.
Finally, with 57 seconds left in the game, Bill Belichick gambled. The Patriots defense let Ahmad Bradshaw run the ball in from six yards out, hoping to give Brady enough time to lead one more scoring drive. Bradshaw tried to stop himself in time (hoping to run more time off of the clock) but fell into the end zone. Given 57 seconds to work with, Brady was unable to get the Patriots past midfield. A last second Hail Mary attempt fell just in front of Gronkowski and sealed it for New York.
With a 7-7 record in mid-December, the season (and perhaps the career of New York coach Tom Coughlin) seemed to be rapidly coming to a close. However, the Giants were able to bring it all together at the perfect time and win six straight elimination games.
On Sunday, the Giants got to Brady when they needed to, causing two sacks, a safety and an interception. A case could even have been made to give the MVP award to the entire defensive line of the Giants. In the end, the MVP went to Manning as he completed 75 percent of his passes for 296 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. All-pro tight end Gronkowski looked far from 100 percent out there as he was rarely able to get separation. Wes Welker dropped a huge pass that would’ve put the Patriots in the red zone with under four minutes to go. The Giants’ offense never lost momentum as they drove into Patriot territory on every drive except for a kneel-down to end of the first half. Mario Manningham made a huge catch for 38 yards along the left sideline to get the game-winning drive started. Hakeem Nicks hauled in 10 catches for 109 yards. The Giants running game was consistent all night with 114 yards on 28 attempts.
When all of these things are put together, we are left with a deserving champion. The Patriots are a great football team, but in Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants were decidedly better. The Giants won this battle, but with likely future Hall of Fame coaches and quarterbacks on both sides, this rivalry seems to be far from over. In the mean time, we leave the New York Giants celebrating in the heart of Indianapolis, champions.