Four years ago, the Giants were the charming underdogs who took the New England Patriotsâ€™ perfect season and made it imperfect. They did it again Sunday night.
Just as they did four years ago, the Giants prevailed in the final minute against the Patriots,Â beating New England, 21-17Â and giving the franchise its fourth Super Bowl championship â€” one more than the Patriots â€” and its second in four years over this generationâ€™s greatest coach-quarterback combination,Â Bill BelichickÂ andÂ Tom Brady, The New York Times reports.
“The greatest feeling in professional sports is to win the Super Bowl,” said New York’s Tom Coughlin, who at 65 became the oldest National Football League coach to win a Super Bowl. “What a wonderful experience it was to see the team come together like they did.”
â€śI thought four years ago was exciting,â€ť the team co-owner Steve Tisch said. â€śThat was a dress rehearsal.â€ť
For the Patriots, a second loss to their fierce New York rivals was unpalatable.
“You don’t feel good after you lose this game,” said New England head coach Bill Belichick. “It was wild out there. Hey, it’s the Super Bowl.
“I can’t fault the effort of any of our players. They played as hard as they could … We could have played a tiny bit better. It was obviously a very competitive football game.”
According to Reuters, both teams scored two touchdowns in a game characterized by bruising defense and unrelenting tension. Each team made mistakes and there were jangled nerves all around but in the end it was the Giants who kept their cool when it mattered most.
Manning, who has emerged from the shadows of his older brother Peyton, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, to win a second Super Bowl ring, was named most valuable player after completing 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards.
Manning not only has stamped himself as the elite quarterback he claimed to be when the season began â€“ in the same class as Brady â€“ he’s beaten the Patriots in two thrilling Super Bowls.
The Giants (13-7), who stood 7-7 in mid-December, now own the football world, and Manning owns two Super Bowl MVP awards, the same number as TomÂ Brady.
“It’s been a wild game, a wild season,” Manning said, according to The Huff Post. “This isn’t about one person. It’s about one team, a team coming together.”
The Giants controlled most of the first half, looking sharper and more focused than the gaffe-laden Patriots did.
They opened the scoring by forcing Brady, packed into his end zone with Justin Tuck giving chase, into throwing the ball so far away that he was called for intentional grounding, worth a safety and the gameâ€™s first 2 points.
Trailing by 2 points with 3 minutes 46 seconds remaining, the Giants started the winning drive. Manning lofted a perfect pass down the left sideline to Mario Manningham, who kept his feet inbounds by inches with two defenders on his back.
The pass went for 38 yards, a pointed answer to the yearlong question of whether Eli was an elite player.
With a minute remaining, running back Ahmad Bradshaw rushed through a wide-open hole â€” the Patriots were instructed to let him score â€” and tried to fall down. That would have limited the Patriotsâ€™ time to mount a comeback of their own.
But his momentum carried him into the end zone, the 6-yard touchdown run giving the Giants a 4-point lead with 57 seconds left. The Giants barely celebrated because they knew that meant Brady had nearly a minute and one timeout to score a touchdown.
The Giants co-owner John Mara said he held his breath.
â€śYou know what, I felt pretty good about our team the whole time,â€ť Coughlin said of the season. â€śI knew there was stuff going on on the outside. You lose a game in New York and youâ€™re fired. Burned at the stake.â€ť
“You have to give the Giants credit, they are a very good football team,” said Brady. “They put a lot of pressure on us, we just came up a little bit short.
“Every guy in the locker room wishes he could have done a little bit more and maybe the outcome would have been a little bit different.”