Eli Manning: Near Death Moment Helps QB Lead New York Giants to Superbowl XLVI

Zach CampbellCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2012

Eli Manning, barely hanging on, signals for a timeout.
Eli Manning, barely hanging on, signals for a timeout.

In the waning minutes of regulation in the NFC Championship game between the Giants and the 49ers, Eli Manning surfaced from a freshly made crater on the surface of Candlestick field.

Credit the power-bombing exploits of one Aldon Smith, rookie defensive end out of Missouri, for the cringe-worthy replay.  

But it was what Manning experienced as he plunged through the basal layers of our planet's surface that really matters. 

 It was then that Eli Manning would have his most significant moment as an NFL quarterback. Yes, I am saying that Eli Manning came face-to-face with God. 

What seemed like seconds to us and the tens of thousands at Candlestick must have stretched out like years to Manning. 

Perhaps there were cascading bright lights in a million different colors. Maybe he was greeted by God, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jim Morrison in a vast, windless desert.  Perhaps God closely resembles Ed Hochuli and delved into a 45-minute diatribe on quality gating systems and why Heaven's gates are in fact, pearly.  

Only Eli knows.  

As Eli stood after returning from his extra-dimensional journey, many of us wondered, not so subtly:

How the #$&^% is that guy still alive?!?

To say Eli looked bad is like saying that Billy Cundiff could probably botch a train wreck.  What was once a uniform now sat in glorious disarray on Eli's wobbly, confused visage.  It's a wonder that he still retained enough of his motor functions to signal for a timeout.

Upon making it back to the sideline to embrace a frantic Tom Coughlin, the two engaged in a conversation that I imagine went something like this:

Coughlin: Eli! My God! Are you OK??

Eli: Coach... I saw God.  He. Was. Glorious. 

Coughlin: You... you WHAT? Eli, get it together.  We need to finish out this drive.  Can you go?

Eli: I saw the Punic Wars, Charlemagne's coronation, Woodstock... (babbles on incomprehensibly).

Coughlin: (yells for the trainer) Eli, I'm pulling the plug, we're checking you for concus...

Eli: No, God said we would win! I'm staying in!

Coughlin: OK, ok, you can stay in.  Just manage the clock and get us in field-goal range.

Eli: Hey, Coach...

Coughlin: What, Eli?

Eli: My hair was nicer than his.

Whether by divine intervention or solid game management, Eli Manning was able to lead the G-men to an overtime victory over the the 49ers.

Let's be clear about one thing: Eli Manning is a tough guy.  You have to be to be able to quarterback in the NFC East where guys like Brian Orakpo, DeMarcus Ware and Ryan Kerrigan make a living off inflicting indescribable amounts of pain on opposing players.  

Aldon Smith is no different.  What he did to Eli was just down right bullish and I know I had a hard time watching Eli stumble around like a drunken vagrant as a direct result of Smith's eight-button combo.  

No doubt, Eli's near-death experience was the difference in that game, as close to the wire as it was.  A lesser man wouldn't have remained on the field and would have folded up like a cheap beach chair.  

Not Eli Manning. 

With a second wind that no doubt came from the flapping of angel's wings, Eli managed to stay poised and delivered several text book passes down field to a host of talented New York wide receivers.  

For the Giants and their fans, it's Superbowl XLVI.  For Eli Manning, it's providence. 

Same thing, really. 

Credit the 49ers for giving the Giants a run for their money, especially the 49ers defense who tormented Eli in the backfield all night long.  As disruptive as they were, however, it still was not enough to keep Eli Manning from leading the Giants to an overtime victory and a trip to Indianapolis

Patriots fans, take note.  It takes a lot more than a 290-pound defensive end executing a thunderous pile-drive to stop the force that is Eli Manning.  Be warned. 

The power of Eli compels you.