INDIANAPOLIS -- Eli Manning admitted he wasn't supposed to try that throw. Rich Cimini has a detailed account of Manning's pinpoint 38-yard sideline throw to Mario Manningham that began the drive that would win Super Bowl XLVI for the New York Giants, and in it the Giants' quarterback is perfectly willing to admit it was a throw he never should have tried:
Just before the snap, the Patriots rotated into a two-deep look, with their two safeties dropping into deep "halves." Manning recognized it. Quarterbacks aren't supposed to throw deep sideline routes against a Cover 2 -- too risky -- but Manning looked to his right and didn't see anyone open.
Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks ran corner routes on the strong side, but they were well-covered. Manning did something the great quarterbacks do, using his eyes to freeze the safeties for a nanosecond. That opened the smallest of windows for him to throw to the back side, to throw to Manningham.
"It was Cover 2. Usually, that's not the matchup," Manning said, admitting that what he did went against the Quarterback Handbook.
But doesn't Manning himself go against the handbook? Hasn't that become the beauty of Manning? The gunslinging daredevil aspect of it all. His faith in himself and his receivers is so complete, honed during hours of weekly Friday film sessions -- the ones in which, the receivers say, he does all of the talking and they just listen -- that he brings no fear with him on game day. And that's why there's no quarterback in the league who tries -- and makes -- more dangerous throws than Manning does.
He's vintage Tiger Woods, bending an impossible five-iron around a tree. He's Greg Maddux living on the corners of the plate while dominating the National League with the Atlanta Braves. He's Brett Favre with better endings. Manning knew he wasn't supposed to throw that ball, but he had a pretty good idea he could hit that teeny, tiny spot, and that if he did Manningham could make the catch of his life. And as he was so often during the Giants' season-ending six-game winning streak, he was right.