This game had many excellent storylines during the two-week lead up to the event. Among those were the rematch of the teams that met in Super Bowl XLII (where the Giants prevailed) and the injury to Patriots star Rob Gronkowski.
The game was projected to be close and did not disappoint fans of either team, as the Giants prevailed and won their fourth championship.
Here's a video recap of the final game of the 2011 NFL season.
1-10-NE 6(9:00) (Run formation) T.Brady pass incomplete deep middle [J.Tuck]. PENALTY on NE-T.Brady, Intentional Grounding, 6 yards, enforced in End Zone, SAFETY.
The Patriots' first offensive play of Super Bowl XLVI was among the worst in their Super Bowl pantheon.
A Steve Weatherford punt had set the Patriots up at their own 6-yard line. With his back to the end line, Brady looked to go deep with his first throw.
After late pressure by Justin Tuck forced Brady to get rid of the ball from his own end zone, he was called for intentional grounding (and a safety) when the ball landed near midfield away from any possible receiver. Thus, the Giants took the first lead of the game.
2-2-NE 2(3:29) E.Manning pass short middle to V.Cruz for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
After the Giants received the ball back on the safety punt, Eli Manning continued his perfect passing start by driving the Giants down the field. Manning then completed his ninth consecutive pass to help put the Giants on top, 9-0.
Victor Cruz, who had a breakout season after being benched early in the year by Tom Coughlin, caught the ball in heavy traffic. It was Cruz's second catch on the night and likely the most memorable of his young career to this point.
The touchdown drive was kept alive by another New England mistake. A fumble recovery was negated by the Patriots having 12 men on the field, which was inexcusable for a Super Bowl team that is usually so well-coached.
3-6-NYG 35(12:14) (Shotgun) E.Manning pass deep middle to H.Nicks to NE 47 for 18 yards (A.Molden).
With the Giants struggling to move the ball quickly, Eli Manning faced 3rd-and-6 from his own 35. As the pocket started to collapse after he'd been given a lot of time, Manning threw deep for Hakeem Nicks.
Nicks caught the ball and advanced to the New England 47 for an 18-yard gain that kept the drive alive and put the Giants on the Patriots' side of the field as Manning continued to manhandle the Patriots secondary.
While the drive did not result in points, it did take time away from the Patriots, which is always an important consideration when facing Tom Brady and his offensive playmakers.
1-10-NE 15(3:01) T.Brady pass short right to R.Gronkowski to NE 35 for 20 yards (K.Phillips).
Coming into the game, there were a ton of questions about Patriots all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship against Baltimore.
On this play, with New England driving out of its own end zone after a mammoth punt by Steve Weatherford, Gronkowski seemed to put all the worries to rest with a big 20-yard completion to move New England to its own 35.
Gronkowski had shown no ill effects to this point in the game, although he did look a little tender during warmups. Still, he made this beautiful catch in traffic to gash the New York defense.
3-3-NYG 4(:15) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass short left to D.Woodhead for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
After driving 98 yards (counting a false start on the first play of the drive), Tom Brady capped off the 14-play drive with a four-yard completion to running back Danny Woodhead in the end zone.
The play was masterful by Brady, who noted rusher Jason Pierre-Paul dropping into coverage instead of rushing him and then saw Woodhead break free momentarily in the end zone.
The Giants gave Brady too much time to find a receiver and seemed to be having some trouble on the drive getting consistent pressure on Brady. The score helped bring the Patriots back and gave them a 10-9 lead heading into halftime.
2-2-NYG 12(11:25) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass short left to A.Hernandez for 12 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Tom Brady and the Patriots came out to open the second half and seemed to be very well-adjusted and rested. After Madonna's interesting halftime show, the iconic 21st century quarterback drove his team 79 yards in eight plays.
Brady capped the scoring effort with a 12-yard pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez. One of the team's best and most consistent players, Hernandez had been overshadowed this year by Rob Gronkowski.
With Gronkowski hurt, however, Hernandez was expected to play a bigger role in the Super Bowl. He didn't disappoint as he gashed the defense for this score, which helped put the Patriots up 17-9 early in the third quarter.
1-10-NE 17(6:37) B.Green-Ellis right end to NE 19 for 2 yards (C.Blackburn). NYG-J.Pierre-Paul was injured during the play.
On the Patriots' first play of the drive, Chase Blackburn put a punishing hit on New England's BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The hit wasn't the story of the play, however.
Jason Pierre-Paul, one of the key cogs in the Giants defensive front, was injured on the back end of the play and had to limp off the field.
Pierre-Paul returned soon after, however.
3-8-NE 19(6:12) (Shotgun) T.Brady sacked at NE 15 for -4 yards (J.Tuck).
After struggling to get consistent pressure on Tom Brady for most of the game, Justin Tuck and the Giants defense finally managed to get to him on a key third down deep in Patriot territory.
With Brady moving in the pocket as it disintegrated, Tuck bowled over him as he went down on the ball.
The sack forced the Patriots to punt and helped gain a small bit of momentum back from the hard-charging New England offense.
1-10-NE 43(14:31) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Brady pass deep left intended for R.Gronkowski INTERCEPTED by C.Blackburn [J.Pierre-Paul] at NYG 8. C.Blackburn to NYG 8 for no gain (R.Gronkowski).
Tom Brady stepped out of a sack at the beginning of this play, scrambled out to the right flat and waited to find an open receiver.
Rob Gronkowski was deep down field with a tight end (Chase Blackburn) in coverage. With a good matchup, Brady loaded up and threw a bomb toward Gronkowski. In the final analysis, Brady had stared down his tight end and had made his intentions obvious.
In a fierce fight downfield, Gronkowski lost the position battle with Blackburn, who stepped in front of the ball and created the game's first turnover. Gronkowski was able to end the play immediately at the New York 8-yard line.
1-10-NYG 12(3:46) (Shotgun) E.Manning pass deep left to M.Manningham pushed ob at 50 for 38 yards (P.Chung). New England challenged the pass completion ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #1.)
Needing a big play to get their offense on track and move deep down the field, Eli Manning dialed up some sideline magic with wide receiver Mario Manningham, who'd been lost in all of the Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz talk this season.
Manningham reeled in a deep Manning bomb at the 50, tapping both feet and holding onto the ball as he was hit by Patrick Chung.
Bill Belichick, hoping to reverse the call since the play was so close to the sideline, challenged the call, but the officials ruled that Manningham had maintained possession while keeping his feet just barely in bounds. The play jump started the Giants, who quickly moved into field goal range as the clock began to wind toward zero.
2-6-NE 6(1:04) (Run formation) T.Ugoh reported in as eligible. A.Bradshaw up the middle for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
As the Giants tried to run out the clock on the Patriots, they had driven down to the Patriots' 6-yard line. The Giants handed off to Ahmad Bradshaw. That's when the game's ultimate strategist dialed up an interesting move.
Defense is supposed to prevent scoring, but on this occasion, Bill Belichick knew that he needed time to get the ball back into the hands of his star quarterback.
The Patriots defense didn't touch the surprised and sprinting Bradshaw, who sprinted to the goal line and tried to suddenly stop at the one-inch line. Unfortunately, his momentum carried him into the end zone and gave the Giants a 21-17 lead with just under a minute to play.
4-16-NE 14(:39) (Shotgun) T.Brady pass deep left to D.Branch pushed ob at NE 33 for 19 yards (C.Webster).
With the Patriots out of timeouts and down by four, Tom Brady had missed on the first three tries on the game's final drive.
On 4th-and-16, with Brady needing to get a huge chunk of yardage just to keep the game going, he loaded up and found veteran Deion Branch for a 19-yard gain that kept the drive going and set up a few final gasps for the vaunted Patriots offense.
Unfortunately, it would all be for naught, as the Patriots failed to get the necessary touchdown. The Giants and Eli Manning repeated the magic of Super Bowl XLII and beat the Patriots with a fourth-quarter comeback.
With five seconds left, Tom Brady took one last snap from midfield and heaved it as far as he could, side-stepping the rush in the process.
The ball sailed into the middle of the far end zone and landed amongst several players from both teams. It was batted around, and Rob Gronkowski made a last-ditch attempt to reel it in before it hit the turf, but it was not to be.
The Giants claimed victory as the ball rolled out of the end zone in front of the signaling officials.