He ought to know. He’s a player in the NFL who knows its history.
He’s another Manning, maybe you’ve heard of—Peyton—and that was his summary of Super Bowl XLII last Sunday night in Glendale, Arizona:
“One of the greatest games of all time.”
In the game, his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, engineered one of the most memorable late-game-winning drives in Super Bowl history for a 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium. That drive included what many are calling the greatest play in Super Bowl history.
The game seemed to have it all—the stars everyone in America recognizes…the role players who became stars…surprising plays…game-swings…drama…and a boffo ending.
The memorable story lines abounded...
A team has never done what the Giants did. Although the Super Bowl is a neutral site, Sunday was New York’s 11th win in a row this season away from home. The Giants set the NFL season record with 10 consecutive road wins (including in London, England in October). The streak included playoff victories in Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay before landing in Arizona.
That kind of mettle served them well in the fourth quarter Sunday. Trailing 14-10 with 2:39 left and on their 17-yard line, Manning constructed a drive that convinced brother Peyton to categorize the game as “one of the greatest.”
At third-and-five at the Giants’ 44, Manning eluded a swarm of Patriots that had its hands all over him and fired a 32-yard pass to David Tyree, who somehow clutched the ball with both hands on top of his helmet as Rodney Harrison fought to take it away. First down on New England’s 24-yard line.
Two plays later, with 39 seconds left in the game, Manning lofted a 13-yard pass to Plaxico Burress fading to the left of the end zone for the winning score and the Giants’ first Super Bowl title since the 1990 season.
That was the third—and final—lead change of the quarter, the most in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl history. The Giants became only the second team (San Francisco, XXIII) to win a Super Bowl after trailing in the final minute of the game. And Eli Manning joined Joe Montana (SB XXIII) as the only quarterbacks in Super Bowl history to throw two fourth-quarter TD passes in a winning effort.
After giving up 80 points in their first two games, both losses, the Giants had become only the third team to win a Super Bowl after starting 0-2, and only the fifth wild card team to win the game.
Giants 12-year veteran Amani Toomer summed it up this way: “We are a tough team in a tough city,” he said after the game. “That’s what we represent.”
The Mannings made history. While becoming the 19th set of brothers to reach the Super Bowl, they became the first siblings to quarterback teams in consecutive Super Bowls, win the game, and be awarded its most valuable player trophy. Eli followed Peyton, who led Indianapolis to the Super Bowl XLI title and won the MVP.
“I never thought about them even playing college ball, much less pro football, much less winning Super Bowls or MVPs,” says their father, ARCHIE MANNING, who himself played 13 years in the NFL and is the New Orleans Saints’ career passing yardage leader. “It wasn’t in the plan. We tried to raise kids just like other parents raised their kids. I can’t explain it.”
60 TONS OF SALUTE
In New York City, it’s called the “Canyon of Heroes,” the section of lower Broadway and the Financial District that is the epicenter of the city’s ticker-tape parades that have saluted everyone from Charles Lindbergh to John Glenn. On Tuesday, it kicked off a New York-New Jersey Super Bowl salute to the Giants.
Approximately one million New Yorkers lined the route as a snowstorm of shredded paper estimated at 60 tons rained down from Manhattan’s skyscrapers onto the champs as they motored on red, white and blue floats up Broadway to City Hall to receive the keys to New York City from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer also attended.
“I’ve been to Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve in Times Square and Carnivale in Rio, and this beats them all,” said Giants fan Lori Pletenik.
Then it was on to a stage at the 50-yard line at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey where roughly 35,000 fans, including former New Jersey Governor Richard J. Codey, saluted the Giants in their home stadium. Summarizing the salute to his team in Manhattan and the Meadowlands, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin described the day perfectly:
“This is the greatest pep rally I’ve ever attended.”