Super Bowl 2012 Highlights: Breaking Down Giants vs. Patriots Best Moments

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterFebruary 5, 2012

Super Bowl 2012 Highlights: Breaking Down Giants vs. Patriots Best Moments

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    Super Bowl XLVI has come to an end. Once again, the New York Giants have beaten the New England Patriots, beating them by the final of 21-17.

    There were a lot of memorable moments throughout the course of the day, and we won't be forgetting any of them any time soon.

    To make sure of that, we've put together a slideshow of the best moments from today's Super Bowl as they happened. This journey will take us from pregame ceremonies to the game and all the way through the postgame. 

    And away we go...

Pregame: Steve Gleason Profiled in Pregame Feature

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    There's an awful lot of nonsense packed into Super Bowl pregame shows every year. You can be forgiven if you choose to tune it out altogether or go and watch the Puppy Bowl instead.

    However, NBC's feature on Steve Gleason is the exception to the rule. It was remarkable.

    If you're unfamiliar with Gleason's story, he was a small-time role player who spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. He retired in 2008.

    In 2011, it was revealed that Gleason had been fighting a battle with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Since being diagnosed, he's fought tooth and nail to raise awareness for the disease.

    At this point, Gleason can barely walk and he can barely talk, but he's hanging in there. If NBC's feature on him made one thing clear, it's that Gleason is in no hurry to leave this earth.

Pregame: Rob Gronkowski Appears

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    The big question leading up to the Super Bowl concerning the Patriots was whether or not tight end Rob Gronkowski would be too hurt to play.

    If there were any real doubts, Gronk erased them as soon as he took the field in uniform to warm up. 

    As you can see, however, Gronk's ankle was wrapped up like a mummy. He may have been ready to play, but he was not going to be 100 percent.

Kelly Clarkson Sings the National Anthem

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    The pressure was on Kelly Clarkson to best Christina Aguilera's rendition of the national anthem at last year's Super Bowl.

    She succeeded. Hers wasn't the greatest national anthem in Super Bowl history, but it was pretty solid. The drummers and the choir were a nice touch.

    And no, she didn't flub any lines. Not that I noticed anyway.

Giants Open the Scoring with Questionable Safety

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    If you had the first scoring play of Super Bowl XLVI being an intentional grounding safety, you should go buy a lottery ticket, my friend.

    The Patriots started their first drive on their own 6-yard line, and it lasted exactly one play. Tom Brady took the snap and dropped back into the end zone to pass. When the rush came, he let it fly deep down the field.

    No Patriots player was in the area. That's intentional grounding. Intentional grounding in the end zone is a safety.

    So just like that, it was 2-0 Giants.

Victor Cruz Scores, Salsa Dances

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    New England's safety was bad. What happened on New York's next possession was even worse for the Pats.

    After taking the free kick, the G-Men drove right down the field, making it inside the red zone with ease. It looked for a moment that the Patriots had scored a key turnover, but it was called off because they had 12 men on the field.

    A couple plays later, Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz in the end zone. He juggled the ball initially, but he managed to hang on for the touchdown.

    Then he salsa'd, as he is prone to do.

    The extra point made it 9-0 Giants.

Giants Tight End Travis Beckum Tears His ACL

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    With the Giants up 9-3 in the second quarter, the game's first major injury occurred.

    Giants tight end Travis Beckum was jammed by a Patriots defender and was seen clutching his knee after he hit the deck. He had to be helped off the field.

    A short while later, it was reported that Beckum had torn his ACL. ESPN's Mark Clayton says he's out until October at the earliest.

Patriots Drive the Length of the Field, Get Exclamation Point from Little Guy

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    The Patriots finally managed to get into the end zone just before the end of the half, and boy, did they earn it.

    The Patriots started inside their own 5-yard line with just about four minutes to go in the half, and they proceeded to drive down the length of the field in a 14-play drive that just wouldn't die.

    In the end, it was capped by a 4-yard pass from Tom Brady to Danny Woodhead. The drive ended with a mere 11 seconds on the clock.

    The extra point put the Patriots up 10-9.

Madonna's Epicly Weird Entrance

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    As soon as Madonna was tabbed to perform the Super Bowl halftime show, pigskin fans across the globe knew they were in for something, um, unique.

    Madonna did not disappoint. She entered the field on a golden throne being pulled by manslaves, conjuring up images from a key scene in 300.

    Well, she is the Queen of Pop, right? A Queen of Pop has to have a golden throne, right?


World Peace

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    If you're a fan of Madonna, her halftime performance was the best in Super Bowl history.

    If you're not a fan of Madonna, her halftime performance was the worst in Super Bowl history.

    The one thing we can all agree on is that it at least looked pretty cool and that the Metta World Peace shoutout at the end was pretty awesome.

    It wasn't actually meant as a shoutout to the Lakers forward, of course, but that's how people took it. Moments after "World Peace" showed up on the field, Ron Artest and #WorldPeace were trending on Twitter.

Brady to Hernandez Stretches New England's Lead

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    The Patriots started the second half the same way they ended the first half: by driving the length of the field and punching it in for a touchdown.

    This time, it was Tom Brady finding Aaron Hernandez for the score. He was wide open on the play, and he was home free as soon as he caught the ball.

    All told, it was an eight-play, 79-yard drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass.

    The extra point made it 17-9 Patriots.

Tom Brady Goes Down Hard

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    It took until the third quarter for the Giants to record their first sack of the game. Justin Tuck was the one who got it, and Tom Brady was shaken up on the play.

    Brady took his time walking back to the sideline, and team doctors were checking him out once he got there. Back-up quarterback Brian Hoyer even started warming up.

    However, Brady was able to return to the game in the next series. The Patriots avoided disaster.

Giants Lose Jake Ballard Too

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    The Giants lost Travis Beckum to a torn ACL in the first half, and they had to watch Jake Ballard go down with a knee injury in the second half.

    Ballard did his best to get warmed up on the sidelines after he was helped off the field, but cameras caught him sinking to the ground in pain.

    Per ESPN's John Clayton, Ballard was ruled out with a left knee injury. His exit left the Giants with one healthy tight end.

Mario Manningham Makes a Brilliant Catch

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    In 2008, it was David Tyree who made a brilliant catch to save the Giants' bacon in the fourth quarter.

    In 2012, it was Mario Manningham.

    The Giants took over with fewer then four minutes to play in the fourth quarter and a 17-15 deficit to overcome. On the first play of the drive, Eli Manning uncorked a throw from inside his own 10-yard line and found Manningham deep down the left sideline.

    It was ruled a catch at first, and an instant replay confirmed it. Manningham got both feet down and possession. 

    The catch set the Giants up at midfield.

Ahmad Bradshaw's Yes!-No! Touchdown Run

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    Four years ago, David Tyree's brilliant catch was followed by a game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress.

    This year, Manningham's brilliant catch was ultimately followed by a touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw that was slightly less anticlimactic. 

    Put simply, the Patriots let Bradshaw score. They knew the Giants were going to score anyway, so they decided to let them so they could get the ball back.

    Bradshaw's mistake was crossing the goal line. He tried to stop short, but his momentum pushed him across for the touchdown.

    The two-point conversion failed, making it 21-17 Giants. 

    After that, it was Tom Brady's turn.

Close, but No Lombardi Trophy

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    It was a hard-fought back-and-forth battle the whole way, so it makes sense that Super Bowl XLVI would come down to the mother of all final plays: a Hail Mary.

    With just five seconds left on the clock, Tom Brady heaved one towards the end zone from midfield. Aaron Hernandez was there waiting for it, but he was swarmed by Giants defenders. One of them tipped it.

    And it fell just out of Rob Gronkowski's reach.

    Game over. Giants win, 21-17.

    What a finish.

Eli Manning Wins Super Bowl MVP. Again.

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    Eli Manning was simply brilliant in Super Bowl XLVI.

    All told, Manning completed 30 of his 40 pass attempts for 296 yards and a touchdown. Just as he did four years ago, he came up clutch when it mattered, making several key throws in New York's final drive.

    Naturally, he was named Super Bowl MVP for the second time.

    He now has just as many Super Bowl MVPs as Tom Brady and one more than his older brother.