INDIANAPOLIS -- Giants-Patriots went down to the wire again. And Eli Manning got the best of Tom Brady again.
What it means: After being 7-7 at one point and staring at the possibility of a third straight year out of the postseason, the New York Giants won six straight games to become world champions. And Manning won it in the fashion that he has done most of this magical season -- with a fourth-quarter comeback. After saying he is an elite quarterback in Brady's class, Manning completed his greatest season by beating Brady twice.
The Catch II: Trailing 17-15 with 3:46 left, Manning hit Mario Manningham, who made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch for 38 yards while keeping both feet in as he tight-roped the left sideline for a 38-yard gain between two Patriots defenders.
That catch was the biggest play on a drive that saw Ahmad Bradshaw run 6 yards for a touchdown with 57 seconds remaining. Bradshaw hesitated to run all the way in with the option to kill more time but he fell into the end zone to put the Giants up 21-17.
The Giants survived a final desperation drive by Brady after his Hail Mary heave was knocked down in the end zone with no time remaining.
A Chaser: Brady hurt the Giants for most of the second and third quarters with short intermediate throws. But at the start of the fourth, Brady avoided a sack and launched a 35-yard pass for Rob Gronkowski that was intercepted by linebacker Chase Blackburn, who basically won a jump ball at the Giants’ 8-yard-line.
Hot start: Manning opened the Super Bowl on fire. In fact, no quarterback in Super Bowl history has ever started faster.
Manning completed his first nine attempts. That’s the most completions to start a Super Bowl ever. On his ninth completion, he hit Victor Cruz on a two-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants a 9-0 lead.
Hotter Brady: But Brady ended the half on fire. He finished the half completing 11 straight passes, 10 on the last drive, which was capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead with eight seconds remaining. Brady engineered a precision 14-play, 96-yard drive in less than four minutes to give the Patriots a 10-9 lead entering the break.
Brady stayed hot after the long Madonna halftime show, completing five more passes, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hernandez to push the Pats up 17-9. Brady broke Joe Montana’s Super Bowl record for most consecutive completions.
Safety dance: Justin Tuck started where he left off in Super Bowl XLII by pressuring Brady into a safety on the Patriots’ first offensive play of the game.
On a first-and-10 at the New England 6, Brady threw a ball deep down the middle of the field from his end zone with Tuck on him. With no receiver in the vicinity, the Patriots were flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone (an infraction that resulted in a safety) giving the Giants a 2-0 lead with 8:52 left in the first quarter.
Key penalty: With the Giants up 9-3, Brandon Jacobs ran for 10 yards on a third-and-1 at the Patriots’ 46 but Kevin Boothe was called for holding with 4:18 left. The Giants’ drive stalled and Brady got the ball back to score the go-ahead touchdown at the end of the half.
Giant injury: Tight end Travis Beckum suffered a torn right ACL in the first half. The rehab could take the tight end into the start of the regular season.
In the fourth quarter, Jake Ballard injured his left knee, leaving the Giants with tight end in Bear Pascoe and fullback Henry Hynoski.
What’s next: The parade. As Chris Canty told fans, the Giants parade is up next. Then it’s on to the scouting combine for the Giants to take a glimpse at who they might draft.