It looked as though they lost control of the game, fully at the mercy of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but the New York Football Giants were able to regain the momentum and the lead, going on to top the Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI. Both quarterbacks brought their “A” game, but once again Eli Manning was able to orchestrate a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, something that has become a habit of his this season.
Brady didn’t lie when he said he’d play better than in the AFC Championship two weeks ago, but unfortunately for the New England Patriots it simply wasn’t good enough. The G-Men came out strong from the start, picking up a safety off an intentional grounding penalty on the Pats’ first offensive play. They capitalized, scoring a touchdown just over five minutes later on an Eli Manning pass to Victor Cruz.
The Patriots cut it to three with a Stephen Gostowski 29-yard field goal early in the second quarter. There were a few uneventful series that followed, and then came the classic Tom Brady just-before-halftime drive, which was capped off with a four-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead to take a 10-9 lead with eight seconds left on the clock. It looked as though the momentum had shifted, and that continued with an Aaron Hernandez touchdown early in the third quarter.
The Pats were playing tougher defense, hitting receivers harder and making quick reactions, rushing the passer and slowing down the offense, but it didn’t last. From that point forward, it was all Giants. Two Lawrence Tynes field goals cut it to 17-15. Neither team saw success for most of the fourth quarter, but the Giants had one last chance with 3:46 left in the game. Three minutes later, Ahmad Bradshaw took it in for a score, giving Big Blue a 21-17 lead. That score didn’t change, forever engrained in NFL history.
Eli Manning, Super Bowl MVP for the second time in four years, was 30 of 40, passing for 296 yards and a touchdown. His top target was Hakeem Nicks, who grabbed ten receptions for 109 yards. Mario Manningham came up with a big catch on the game-winning drive, one of five catches for 73 yards. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 17 times for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Tom Brady may have failed at a chance to solidify himself as the greatest quarterback of all time, continuing a playoff slump that dates back to his first Super Bowl loss against the Giants in 2008. This season was dedicated to Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft’s wife Maya, the player’s wearing MHK patches on their jerseys for all 19 games. Brady was 27 of 41, passing for 276 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Aaron Hernandez picked up the slack for an injured Rob Gronkowski, leading the Pats with eight receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. Wes Welker added another seven grabs for 60 yards.
Four years have passed since Super Bowl XLII. Some players have been traded. Some have retired. Some not resigned. The coaching staffs each have minor differences. Age has effected certain players on both teams over the past few years. But the results are unchanged, a New York Giants victory is once again the verdict. Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, and the Mara family again on the pedestal for the Lombardi Trophy presentation. What a season it was.
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