INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Eli Manning is elite, for sure. A king of comebacks, too. And far, far more than Peyton’s little brother now.
Spot-on from beginning to end Sunday night, Eli Manning won his second NFL championship in a four-year span _ and second Super Bowl MVP award _ for coolly, calmly steering the New York Giants to a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots with a last-minute touchdown drive.
“We’ve had a bunch of them this year. We’ve had some fourth-quarter comebacks,” said Manning, 30 for 40 for 296 yards, with one touchdown pass and zero interceptions. “We’d been in those situations, and we knew that we had no more time left. We had to go down and score, and guys stepped up and made great plays.”
Led, as usual, by Manning himself.
He opened the game by becoming the first quarterback to complete his first nine attempts in a Super Bowl. And he finished the job by directing the nine-play, 88-yard TD drive that put New York ahead with 57 seconds left.
This late drive, so reminiscent of the way New York beat New England in the 2008 Super Bowl with Manning as MVP, started on the Giants‘ 12, with a little more than 3 1/2 minutes left and the Patriots ahead 17-15. It closed with running back Ahmad Bradshaw easing into the end zone from 6 yards out. The Patriots decided not to contest the run, trying to save some time on the clock for a final drive _ a risky and desperate decision by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
But New England couldn’t get the ball back in the end zone, with Tom Brady’s final heave from his 49 falling barely beyond the grasp of tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“We had this goal to finish, finish, finish,” Coughlin said, “and win the fourth quarter.”
That’s precisely when Manning takes over.
In the regular season, he threw an NFL-record 15 TD passes in the final period.
He also led six game-winning drives to bring New York back from fourth-quarter deficits.
“He’s become confident over time; kind of grew into it,” Manning’s father, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie, told The Associated Press after Sunday’s game. “I always felt like you have to experience those situations before you become confident. He’s certainly had his share.”
That’s true. Manning’s even done it before in the Super Bowl.
Four years ago, he took home his first MVP award after a scoring pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left allowed New York to upset Brady and New England, ruining the Patriots‘ bid for a perfect season. Back then, Manning got a boost from David Tyree’s Velcro-helmet grab on the go-ahead drive. This time, the key play was Mario Manningham’s 38-yard, over-the-shoulder catch between two defenders along the sideline, which held up after the Patriots challenged it.