Super Bowl XLII MVP: Not Eli Manning

Tim CroleySenior Analyst IFebruary 4, 2008

Yes, Eli was great. Two touchdown passes, and who in their right mind can really place the interception on him?

After all, the ball did hit the receiver directly in the hands before being knocked straight to the defender.

At times it seemed as if Houdini himself was leading that last drive. Magically evading sacks, dodging bullets in the form of fumbles, heaving up a prayer after being dead-to-rights…and then having it caught!

All just another day at the office for a Manning. This time though, it was the younger brother, Eli. MVP? Perhaps he was most deserving. I have no problem with that.

I had to humble myself a bit, as I once was an Eli-hater. But after last night’s performance I witnessed the “other” Manning come to life and direct his team in all aspects of leadership to take over the game on that last drive.

Plaxico caught two passes, none bigger in his career than the second, the game-winning touchdown that capped-off an 80-plus yard drive as precious seconds were rolling off the clock. That clutch play erased every memory from earlier in the game, when pass after pass had been hurled in his direction but was dropped or misjudged or for whatever reason incomplete.

MVP for Plaxico? Well, he did come up clutch in the end, but went under the radar for most of the game. Not to take away from the play, but I believe any receiver could have had the advantage with that play call and one-on-one match-up.

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Strahan led the defense with a vengeance unlike any other. There is no doubt about that at all. That defense locked down the best offense in the history of the NFL. Tom Brady witnessed most of the game from two positions: on the bench and on his back. I cannot recall the last time I saw an NFL QB so pressured, especially not in such a big game.

The defense sacked Brady five times, not to mention the 20-plus times they knocked him off his feet. Strahan, MVP? Arguably he had his moments, but I don’t think anyone thought twice about giving it to him.

In humor, I have heard that some would like to give it to Tiki for getting out so the Giants could actually succeed, and so Eli could take over as the true leader and commander of this team—which he has done without a doubt!

But I would like to offer another man for the candidacy of Most Valuable Player—Justin Tuck! The man was a beast, recording two sacks and six tackles, and a forced fumble to top it off.

That play is perhaps the most overlooked big play of the entire game. The Pats were driving, were destined for at least a field goal attempt before half-time, and out of nowhere Tuck raced around the edge to strip Brady of the ball. I literally thought he was about to pull Brady’s arm out of socket it was such a ferocious rip.

Tuck was perhaps the true leader of that defense, not Michael Strahan. That front four of the Giants owned the Patriots o-line. And it was clearly the play of Tuck that contributed the most.

I know Strahan had his moments, and perhaps the use of a double team of Strahan on occasion was the factor that allowed Tuck to dominate. But whatever the reason, he took over and raged fury on every one who attempted to block him.

Tuck was like a heat-seeking missile aimed directly at Brady. Nothing was going to stop him.

Kudos goes to the entire NY Giants team, particularly the defense. And an extra special kudos should definitely be given to Justin Tuck, an underrated defensive beast who should absolutely be considered as the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLII. 

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