He stopped on the sidelines, speechless and awe-struck. Then Eli Manning proceeded to rush onto the field among a mob of jubilant Giants, celebrating yet another triumph over Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Elite Eli? I’d say so.

In a game that featured record-setting completion streaks, a safety, dropped passes by sure-handed receivers, and compelling third down plays, Eli Manning — who won Super Bowl MVP honors — one-upped three-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady as the Giants (13-7) knocked off the Patriots.

Eli was in the zone early on, leading the Giants to a 9-0 lead (AP).

The game started out well for the Giants, with Eli completing a record nine passes in a row to start a Super Bowl. After a punt (caused by bad running plays), Tom Brady did something he normally never does: an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone gave New York a 2-0 lead, and from there it only got worse. On the next Giants possession, Eli methodically dissected New England’s faltering secondary, with the drive resulting in a Victor Cruz touchdown catch. He then did his signature salsa dance, and the Patriots’ season seemed lost.

But with Tom Brady as your quarterback, when is the game ever over? After a Stephen Gostkowski field goal (forced by a Jason Pierre-Paul knockdown) cut the lead to 9-3, Brady led the Patriots (15-4) down the field on a 96-yard touchdown drive, one that included long plays to tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Finally, on third down and only eight seconds left on the clock, Brady found Danny Woodhead, THE Danny Woodhead, in the back of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown. 10-9 Patriots going into the half.

Brady ponders yet another Super Bowl loss to "Peyton's Little Brother".

Since the Patriots deferred to start the game, they received the opening kickoff of the second half, and then went on a 78-yard touchdown drive, one that ended in another catch by Aaron Hernandez. Brady, seemingly unstoppable at this point (16 straight completions – a Super Bowl record) had his team up by 8, 17-9. Even with a performance that resembled Super Bowl XLII more than his three rings, Brady still finished with 276 yards and 2 touchdowns, though that did come at the expense of an interception and 27-41 passing performance.

Eli would not stop persevering, however. For a quarterback who made 7 second-half comebacks, it just was meant to be that a Super Bowl title meant another fourth quarter gem. Eli finished 30-40, excellent numbers, and added 296 yards and 1 touchdown. A 103.8 rating was important: he played like the X-Factor I said he needed to be.

The Giants marched down twice later in the third quarter, only to be stopped inside the red zone both times by the tenacious Patriots defense. It was a dogfight in the trenches, and by the time the whistle blew to mark the end of quarter number three, it was still the Patriots on top, 17-15. One more quarter, one team that much closer to greatness.

The game went back-and-fourth throughout much of the fourth quarter, with neither team accomplishing much on offense, until second down came around for the Pats with only 5 minutes left on the clock. Brady fired consecutive balls deep down the field, only to see them go right through the hands of two of his most trusted targets, former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch and the NFL’s leading receiver, Wes Welker. It seemed as though the Patriots dream of a fourth Super Bowl title had turned into a nightmare.

Bradshaw falls into the end zone, which ended up being the game-winner.

After a punt, Eli and the Giants seemed primed to take advantage of the Patriots’ missed opportunities. Two deep plays (38 and 14 respectively) to Mario Manningham and a crucial first down completion to Hakeem Nicks put the Giants on the Patriots 32 with two minutes still left to play. Two Ahmad Bradshaw runs and a short completion to Nicks put the Giants on the Pats 10 with 70 seconds to play. It seemed as though the Giants were going to run the clock out, as the Pats only had 1 timeout, and then kick a field goal, but then something ridiculous happened: Bradshaw, who was having a fantastic game, barreled through a gaping hole, tried to hold his momentum at the one, but was unable to stay out of the end zone. Even though he put New York up 21-17 (missed 2-point conversion), he had given the Patriots something even better: a minute to win the game.

But it simply wasn’t to be. Another drop by Deion Branch, missed throws by Tom Brady, a Justin Tuck sack, and completions that simply weren’t long enough set up the Patriots in this unenvious situation: five seconds to play, 51 yards to go. Brady took the snap, took a couple steps back, roamed the pocket, and the heaved the ball down the field. The ball, not in a tight spiral but rolling end-over-end, seemed to be in the air for a minute. When it finally came down, it hit off the hands of a couple Giants players before finally coming near a Patriots player. Rob Gronkowski laid out for the ball, but his fingertips seemingly shortened as he reached for the pigskin. The ball hit the ground, the crowd went wild, the Giants celebrated. The Giants were Super Bowl XLII champions.

Even for a heartbroken Patriots team, the simple greatness displayed by Eli and Brady late in the game was something special, a near repeat of 2007 when Eli led his team down the field to win the game late. Even though a fan can focus on the negatives of Brady’s second Super Bowl loss to the Giants, one that leaves him 6-6 in his last twelve playoff games, the attention of anyone who watched the game should be the sheer determination and passion the Giants displayed in winning. Players such as Manning, Bradshaw, Pierre-Paul, and Tuck played the games of their lives. Even down by 2 with a three minutes left, this team never gave up.

With this win, Eli has finally put to rest any doubters he might still have. Even if you hate the guy, you have to admit: he’s a top-tier quarterback and most likely first-ballot Hall of Famer. It’s tough to deny two Super Bowl rings, but seeing as those came over Tom Brady, he deserves a straight ticket into the Hall. He finished off one of the best seasons ever by a quarterback with this game, and surely won some people over as far as the Peyton – Eli debate goes.

Moral of the story? He’s a Giant among men. And the New York Giants are headed to Disney World.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: NFL

Author:Manav Khandelwal

I am the founder of Khandyman Sports, and follow all Philadelphia pro sports teams religiously. I also write for the Hoop76, covering the Sixers for ESPN, and am a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News.

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  1. April 23, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    You’re the one with the brains here. I’m watching for your posts.

  2. April 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    Free info like this is an apple from the tree of knldgewoe. Sinful?

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