When Eli Manning completed a 38-yard pass to Mario Manningham on the Giants’ final drive and New York down by two, it cemented a notion in the public’s consciousness that was originally introduced earlier this season, when the quarterback with the royal pedigree had the temerity to include himself among the NFL’s elite.
People generally think of Eli as Peyton’s kid brother, Archie’s goofball son, and the kind of guy that, no matter how old he might be, you’ll always be tempted to give him a wedgie. But after the Giants’ 21-17 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, he’s about as money as anybody who has ever played this game.
The pass to Manningham along the sidelines, which turned out to be this year’s improbable David Tyree moment, wasn’t the only pass Eli completed. He finished 30 for 40 for 296 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. But it was highly symbolic. It was the key play in a pressure drive against Tom Brady’s team that enabled Eli to join the “Two Ring Club.” And it should force the New York media to put the knives away, at least for a time.
SB XLVI (Giants 21, Patriots 17)
Eli Manning now has two Super Bowl MVP trophies, the same number as Brady. He still trails the ring contest, 3-2, to the Patriots’ QB. But Brady will be 35 next season, and opportunities are hard to come by. Eli is 31, and is just coming into his own as a leader and a legend.
One of the enduring images of Eli Manning that will stick out during this title run is the one in which he is close to being torn to pieces by a herd of carnivorous 49ers in the NFC Championship, which happened often. Instead of becoming weak-kneed and gun-shy, Eli stood up in the pocket during that onslaught and made play after play, scoffing at the possibility of bodily harm.
That performance as a brawler might have enhanced his reputation even more than this Super Bowl victory. When he came into this game with the Patriots, the solemn respect that is always paid to Brady was drowned out by an unexpected downpour of Eli praise.
And the kudos continued to amass Sunday, although the circumstances were a bit different. Manning didn’t face the same degree of harassment he experienced in San Francisco. And for all the hype over the Giants’ front four, Brady wasn’t assaulted much, either, at least until the very end. Both Eli and Tom got rid of the ball quickly, and when they couldn’t, their offensive lines did a commendable job of protection for most of the contest.
Eli worked a miracle in the final minutes of a Super Bowl. Brady failed to — although again, he did about as much as he could.
It was strangely fitting, too, that Eli’s heroics took place in Lucas Oil Stadium, the house that his brother Peyton built. Peyton has always been depicted as the master, and Eli as the apprentice. Peyton was always the shoo-in Hall of Famer, while Eli was the good quarterback who threw too many head-scratching interceptions and was often bailed out by his defense and running game.
CSN: Tom Brady personally has done enough to be 5-0 in Super Bowls and has never been surrounded by Hall of Fame teammates as the others in the “greatest ever” conversation were.
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See the best moments before, during and after the Giants' win in Super Bowl XLVI.
Video: Super Bowl XLVI from NBC Sports
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