Prior to the 2007 season, if you had told me that Eli Manning would out-duel Tom Brady in two of the next five Super Bowls, I would have questioned your psychological state. Manning was an unreliable gunslinger living in the shadow of his older brother. Brady was the golden boy, a 30-year-old quarterback who already had three Super Bowl victories and seemed well on his way to at least a few more.
Fast forward to February 6, 2012. Brady, now 34, just completed his 12th season and is still stuck on three Super Bowls. Eli, after two game-clinching Super Bowl drives against the Patriots, has seemingly surpassed Brady as the NFL’s reigning Mr. Clutch.
Some are saying the Giants flat-out beat the Patriots while others argue that New England self-imploded.
It simply comes down to this: The Patriots had a 17-9 second-half lead and weren’t able to seal the deal. I don’t know if that means they lost or the Giants won, but I do know that if Tom Brady truly is in Joe Montana’s league, he should have been able to finish off the victory.
Brady got off to a disastrous start after taking a safety on the Patriots' first offensive play when the quarterback, who was standing in his own end zone, bombed an errant pass with no Patriots receiver in sight, resulting in an intentional grounding call.
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Brady should not take all the blame on this play because it’s possible that there was a miscommunication between him and wide receiver Deion Branch who it seemed like Brady thought was going to continue running downfield. This was also kind of a controversial play because an intentional grounding safety is rarely called when the quarterback is throwing the ball deep downfield.
The Giants were able to take a 9-0 lead after scoring a touchdown, and it seemed like New York might run away with a victory.
However, as he has done time and time again, Brady led the Patriots on three scoring drives, including two 75-plus-yard touchdown drives in which Brady threw a Super Bowl-record 16 straight completions.
Momentum was on the Patriots' side. They were in the midst of a 17-0 run and seemed in prime position to win their fourth Super Bowl in 11 years. Brady would tie his childhood idol Joe Montana with four Super Bowl victories and arguably be considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
Patriots’ fans had no doubt at this point that their star quarterback would bring home another Super Bowl victory for the franchise. Tom Brady was clutch personified, and giving him an eight-point Super Bowl lead is a deadly proposition.
We all know how it ended. The Patriots were unable to score another point, and the Giants went on a 12-0 run, including an 86-yard, game-winning touchdown drive to secure the franchise's fourth Super Bowl victory.
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Brady and the Patriots offense had three second-half drives following an early third-quarter touchdown, in which the team was unable to point any points on the board. That’s not including their final possession which was desperation time so I won’t include it.
The offense just couldn’t execute when they needed to most. Brady threw an interception, which many believed wasn’t a big deal because the Giants were unable to score on their subsequent drive. However, this was a huge play because it took away a possession from the Patriots in a game where every scoring opportunity was precious.
The defense, which has been ridiculed all season long, played as well as anyone could have imagined. They prevented big plays and kept the team in the game.
Tom Brady needed to lead his team down the field for a score, and he was unsuccessful. You can’t expect the defense to stop the Giants' high-powered offense possession after possession. Eventually Eli Manning and his talented receivers were going to break loose, and they ultimately did.