Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls - your New York Giants, champions of Super Bowl XLVI! It has been the most unlikely of journeys. The Giants were 7-7 only five games ago. No one can actually say why or how they were able to come together as they did. They had their backs against the wall and were in must win situations since Week 15. Today, they won their fourth Super Bowl. Emotions are high and accolades are certainly due to many individuals within the Giants franchise. However, without question, this was a team win, first and foremost, with a ticker tape parade to follow.
For the first time since Super Bowl XXI, an AFC team won the coin toss. New England opted to receive the ball to open the second-half. The New York Giants dominated the first half, holding the Patriots to a scoreless first-quarter. Read on.
Kevin Gilbride called a well balanced mix of ground and air to open up the game. The Giants converted the ball four times, ultimately ending their drive with a Steve Weatherford punt. That punt backed the patriots up to their own six-yard line. Two plays later, the G-Men had two points and the ball back. Giants 2, Patriots 0.
On second-and-10, Justin Tuck and the rest of the defensive line brought a blitz package that forced Tom Brady to throw the ball away, in order to avoid a sack and safety. It didn't do much good as the referees called him for intentional grounding. To clarify, when a quarterback is backed up in his own end zone, under pressure and throws the ball into an area where there is no receiver, the resulting intentional grounding penalty becomes a safety.
The Giants got the ball back and began a five minute-twenty-eight second drive resulting in seven. With New England keeping their shadows on Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and mario Manningham, Manning was pressed to switch things up a bit. Henry Hynoski, DJ Ware, Bear Pascoe were some of the recipients of Eli's passes to help drive them down the field. Ahmad Bradshaw had some success running the ball down field during that drive, adding twenty-eight rushing yards to his Super Bowl XLVI resume. Ultimately, it was Victor Cruz who wound up with the touchdown in the end zone, doing his very welcomed salsa dance. Giants 9, Patriots 0.
On the next drive, Tom Brady began to march his troops downfield, for the first time of the game. But the Giants defense was not about to make things easy. Brady ran his team down to the New York eleven-yard line. On a critical third-and-four, Brady faded back to pass, released the ball, only to have Jason Pierre-Paul bat it down and hold the patriots to a field goal attempt. Stephen Gostkowski nailed it through the uprights. Giants 9, Patriots 3.
In what was expected to be a high scoring game, both defenses held up and kept the other's offense from letting the game get away. Jason Pierre-Paul added another batted down pass to his Super Bowl stat sheet in the second-quarter. What has been an all too familiar theme this season, the Giants had a tremendously bad call throw their way. Brandon Jacobs had barreled his way through the Patriots defensive line for ten yards, converting the first down. Enter the questionable officiating. Kevin Boothe was called for a non-existent hold, negating Jacobs' run and forcing a third-and-long. The Giants were unable to convert, Weatherford punted the ball out of bounds at the Patriots' four-yard line.
The time-of-possession had been all Giants, up until that point. As good as Big Blue's defense has been this postseason, it was only a matter of time before Bill Belichik, the evil genius, made some adjustments to help get some more points on the board. The obvious thinking from the New England sideline, on declining to receive the ball first in the first quarter, despite wining the toss, was to score at the end of the half, get the ball back at the beginning of the third-quarter and score again.
In the last four-minutes of the second-quarter, Tom Brady began a fourteen-play drive that ended with a touchdown, from the most unlikely of Patriots players, Danny Woodhead. The drive spanned ninety-six yards and tied an NFL Super Bowl record. The Giants got the ball back with eight-seconds left of the clock. They took a knee to end the first half. Patriots 10, Giants 9.
Piggybacking on their last scoring drive, New England came out swinging in the third-quarter. Brady opened up the second-half with a twenty-one yard pass to Chad Ochocinco, who has had a very quiet year. Working on our safeties, Brady continued to air it out. Eight plays later, Brady found Aaron Hernandez in the end zone for a twelve-yard touchdown. Patriots 17, Giants 9.
Jerrel Jernigan handled the return and took it out for thirty-four yards, giving the Giants good starting position. Eli Manning started off on the thirty-five yard line. Gilbride continued to mix in the run, with Jacobs and Bradshaw having mild success. The Patriots' defense was ranked second-to-last in the regular season. But you wouldn't know it by the way they played today. Their defensive line kept pressure on Eli Manning while the secondary was able to limit the all-star receiving corps of the New York Giants. Manning was able to move his team down field on their opening drive of the third quarter. The Patriots, however, held the G-Men to a field goal. Patriots 17, Giants 12.
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew held the Patriots to a four-and-out on the next drive and began to work on cutting down the New England lead. The Giants, who had been playing mistake free football up until that point, began to regress into old form. On the second play of the drive, manning connected with Nicks for seventeen yards. Nicks fumbled the ball. Fortunately for them, Henry Hynoski recovered. The drive continued down to the Patriots' eleven-yard line. On first down, they handed the ball off to Bradshaw for two-yards. Bradhsaw got the snap again on second-down for no gain. On a third-and-eight, Rob Ninkovich broke through the line and put Eli Manning to the ground, forcing the Lawrence Tynes to come on the field. Tynes' golden leg put another New York three on the board. Patriots 17, Giants 15.
Bill Belichik was looking to increase the Patriots lead, as was Tom Brady. To the air they took on the next drive, looking to exploit the New York secondary and cause mismatches. The Patriot offense converted a few, made their way towards the middle of the field - only to be met with a storm of Giants defense. On a first-and-ten, at the New England forty-three, Jason Pierre-Paul chased down Tom Brady and knocked him to the turf. But not before Brady threw the ball downfield to Rob Gronkowski. JPP, forcing a bad decision, caused brady to throw the ball into the hands of Chase Blackburn, who has been having an incredible postseason. The Giants took over at their own eight-yard line.
The G-Men took over with just over fourteen-minutes left in the fourth quarter and began a time eating drive - to nowhere. Eli Manning, using the pass and the run, worked his way down to the New England forty-three yard line. One a third-and-ten, the officiating kicked in, or didn't rather. Manning threw to Manningham and would have converted, had the officials called the passing interference penalty that they should have. Alas, they didn't and the Giants were forced to give the ball back.
Brady came back swinging on the next drive, to no avail. The Pats ate up nine-and-a-half minutes on that drive. The Big Blue Wall was put up and the Patriots were forced to punt the ball.
With just under four-minutes, in typical Eli Manning fashion, the game wining drive was orchestrated. Mario Manningham was able to make some huge catches to bring this destiny bound team within scoring range. On a confused, "do I run into the end zone or don't I" play, Ahmad Bradshaw fell backwards into the end zone to record the game winning touchdown on the board. The G-Men went for a two-point conversion but failed. Giants 21, Patriots 17.
It seemed as if the Bradshaw touchdown was a mistake. Tom Brady was left with fifty-seven seconds to work with - more than enough time for him to take the lead back. The Giants' defensive line brought the pressure and kept Brady off of his rhythm. However, he was still able to convert and get to mid-field. The game came down to the very last second, in where Brady threw a Hail mary into the end zone, almost connecting with Rob Gronkowski - almost.
There was mistakes, on both sides of the ball and field. There were many highlights to match. A game that I predicted to be a run away for the Giants, turned into another nail biter that left all of America on the edge of its seat.
The Big Blue defense scored the first points of the game and they were responsible for stopping the last points. They did so in high fashion. It was another fairy tale season. Once again, the New York Giants organization taught us that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Eli proved that he is, indeed, elite. Tom Coughlin proved that he is one of the best coaches in NFL history. The 2011 New York Giants proved that they were absolutely, unequivocally, all in! Congratulations to the New York Giants and all of it's fans.