Super Bowl XLVI: Was New York Giants-New England Patriots Rematch Best Ever?

Craig HortonCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2012

Mario Manningham had the biggest catch in Super Bowl XLVI.
Mario Manningham had the biggest catch in Super Bowl XLVI.Rob Carr/Getty Images

For the third time in five seasons, we have seen the winning touchdown scored in the final minute of the Super Bowl.

Four years ago, we saw Eli Manning's epic 12 play, 83-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left. That was the difference in a 17-14 Super Bowl victory against the previously unbeaten New England Patriots.

The next year, Ben Roethlisberger led an 8 play, 78-yard drive that ended with an incredible 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. The Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 to claim a record sixth Super Bowl title.

This year, we got to see another winning drive by Eli Manning. This time it was a 9 play, 88-yard drive that took 2:49. Ahmad Bradshaw scored the winning touchdown with 57 seconds left.

The drive's biggest play was the first play. From his own 12, Manning threw a perfect 38-yard pass that Mario Manningham caught—and got both feet down—before going out of bounds.

The catch was reviewed and upheld. The Giants were in business at the 50, and only needed a field goal to win.

The Giants may have been content to play for a field goal, but the Patriots had other plans. With New York at their 6-yard line, on second-and-goal, the Patriots called their second timeout.

The next play, Ahmad Bradshaw ran up the middle untouched for a touchdown. The touchdown wasn't nearly as dramatic as other final minute Super Bowl winning touchdowns have been in recent years.

In fact—it may have been unintentional. Bradshaw appeared to be trying to stop, but his momentum carried him across the goal line. It also appears that the Patriots "let" him score.

New England was able to get to mid-field before a Hail Mary pass on the final play fell incomplete in the end zone.

The Giants were 21-17 winners, and have now beaten New England—considered by many the best team over the last decade—twice in the Super Bowl.

Because the winning touchdown lacked the drama of previous Super Bowl winning touchdowns, this game may not be considered the best ever.

However, we will probably rank it near the top for a long time.