The 5 Most Super Plays of Eli Manning's Career

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2014

The 5 Most Super Plays of Eli Manning's Career

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    USA TODAY Sports

    If you look at the game of football simply by the numbers, Eli Manning is just another guy.

    He is not even the second-best quarterback in his family. He has to take a back seat to big brother Peyton and his father, Archie.

    However, when it comes to winning championships, little brother Eli is first in his family. He has led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl triumphs, both upsets over Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

    There aren't too many who can claim they have gotten the best of Belichick and Brady, but that's just what Eli has done.

    While he doesn't have the regular-season numbers to compare with the all-time greats of the game, Eli has made three Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowl MVP awards.

    What he lacks in consistency he has made up in huge moments that will live on for decades.

The Legend of Manning to Tyree

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    The Giants had one of the most difficult assignments in the last 20 years when they faced the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII following the 2007 regular season.

    The Patriots were attempting to become the NFL's first undefeated and untied champion since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. When they scored with 2:42 remaining to take a 14-10 lead, it appeared they would meet their goal.

    But Eli Manning was not about to give in and let the Patriots celebrate. With 1:15 remaining and the Giants facing a 3rd-and-5 from their own 44, he called a play called "76 Union Y Sail." The play required excellent blocking from the Giants offensive line, but Manning was immediately under pressure (video above) from New England's Richard Seymour, Adalius Thomas and Jarvis Green.

    Somehow, Manning escaped and drifted further back in the pocket. He launched what appeared to be a desperation pass. As the ball began its descent, it was clear that little-used wide receiver David Tyree had a chance to catch the ball.

    Tyree leaped and trapped the ball against his helmet at the New England 24-yard line. Patriot defensive back Rodney Harrison was able to knock Tyree's left hand off the ball and bring him down, but the receiver maintained possession.

    That play gave the Giants momentum and the impetus to go ahead and win the game.

Manning Hits Burress with Super Bowl-Winning TD Pass

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    The Giants were set up to ruin the Patriots' undefeated season after Tyree made his catch. But Manning still had to seal the deal and lead the Giants into the end zone if they were going to win Super Bowl XLII.

    They did just that with 35 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Manning saw that wide receiver Plaxico Burress had one-on-one coverage from overmatched Ellis Hobbs on the left side of the formation. Both the quarterback and receiver knew that they had a huge advantage and could take the lead on his play. As soon as Manning received the snap, he looked in Burress' direction (video above).

    The big receiver easily got open and all Manning had to do was deliver the ball. The pressure of trying to win the Super Bowl might have made other quarterbacks crumble, but Manning delivered a perfect pass and Burress caught the 13-yard TD pass.

    That play gave the Giants a 17-14 victory, and Manning's ability to execute under pressure made him the architect of the win.

Manning to Manningham Leads Giants to Another SB Triumph vs. Pats

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    Stop if you heard this before.

    The underdog Giants met the favored New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.

    Four years after their perfect season was ruined by the Giants, the two teams met again for the NFL championship. 

    Late in the fourth quarter, the Patriots held a 17-15 lead. When the Giants took over at their own 12-yard line with 3:46 remaining, it was almost certainly a do-or-die possession. On first down, Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin decided to take a shot downfield.

    Manning faded back in the pocket and received solid protection from his line. He was looking for wide receiver Mario Manningham, who was bracketed by the Patriots' secondary as he ran up the sidelines. Nevertheless, Manning decided he was going to try to beat the double coverage.

    He threw a perfect pass (video above) to Manningham that the receiver caught and managed to keep in bounds. It was nearly as miraculous as Manning's pass to Tyree four years earlier.

    That play keyed the Giants' Super Bowl-winning TD drive that culminated when running back Ahmad Bradshaw scored the decisive points in the game.

    However, that winning touchdown almost certainly never would have happened if Manning-to-Mannigham had not been such a rousing success.

Manning-to-Cruz for 99 Yards

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    The Giants were in their drive to make the playoffs as the 2011 season hit the homestretch.

    The Giants and the Jets squared off in Week 16, and the Jets took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. The Giants were backed up to their own one-yard line on a 3rd-and-10 play. Instead of taking the conservative and safe way out by calling a running play and punting, the Giants went for it (video above).

    Manning faded back seven yards into the end zone and hit Cruz with a pass at the first-down marker. Cruz caught the ball in stride as Manning put it in a perfect position. Instead of closing in on Cruz, the Jets were never able to catch the speedy wideout and he went 99 yards for a touchdown.

    The play tied a record—longest scoring pass—that will never be broken. It spurred the Giants on to a 29-14 victory.

Manning Pass to Cruz Clinches NFC East Crown

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    The Giants faced the Cowboys in Week 17 of the 2011 season with a chance to win the NFC East title and thereby claim a spot in the NFC playoffs.

    The Giants dominated the early going and had a 21-0 halftime lead, but the Cowboys took the momentum when they scored once in the third period and early in the fourth to climb within seven, 21-14.

    However, Manning was not going to let the Cowboys get any closer. He hit Cruz with a 44-yard pass (above) on the ensuing drive, and that set up a Lawrence Tynes field goal that basically clinched the game and the playoff berth.

    It was another sensational play, keyed by Manning's guts and Cruz's athletic ability.