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The Giants had trouble putting up points Sunday despite getting into New England’s territory on every drive except a kneeldown at the end of the first half.

But Manning kept at it, using eight receivers, led by Hakeem Nicks’ 10 catches for 109 yards.

“We just tried to be patient,” said Manningham, who finished with five receptions for 73 yards. “Got to be patient with this game. We knew big plays (were) going to come. We just had to take advantage of them.”

Manning now is one of only five players in NFL history with multiple Super Bowl MVP awards. He joined the guy he got the better of in the big game yet again, Brady, along with Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr and Joe Montana (the only player with three). And Manning did it in the House that Peyton Built, the stadium where his Big Bro _ a four-time regular-season MVP but owner of only one Super Bowl title _ plays for the Indianapolis Colts.

“It just feels good to win a Super Bowl. Doesn’t matter where you are,” said Manning, 10 for 14 for 118 yards in Sunday’s fourth quarter.

As he spoke, he clutched the silver Vince Lombardi Trophy.

“Certainly, Eli has had a very good season,” acknowledged Brady, 27 of 41 for 276 yards, with two TDs and one interception. He completed 16 consecutive passes in one stretch, breaking Joe Montana’s Super Bowl record of 13. “He made some great throws there in the fourth quarter.”

The biggest turnaround of all this season for Manning was the way he brought the Giants back from a 1-5 slump that left them 7-7 and in serious danger of missing the playoffs. But from there, he took them on a season-closing, six-game winning streak.

He finished the postseason with nine TDs and only one interception, solid as could be the whole way.

“I never doubt Eli,” Giants safety Kenny Phillips said. “I don’t think anyone on this team doubts Eli.”

There were, however, some doubters outside the organization, those who wondered aloud what Manning was thinking back in August, before the season got going, when he was honest when asked in an interview whether he considered himself an “elite” quarterback a la Brady.

Manning said simply that he belonged “in that class.” But it all became quite a big deal in New York _ shocking, right? _ and he was questioned and criticized for the way he seemed to be portraying himself.

Hard to imagine anyone arguing now.