Poised Giants hang on to nip Patriots, 21-17

2012-02-05T22:00:00Z 2012-02-07T16:40:18Z Poised Giants hang on to nip Patriots, 21-17By Al Hamnik, (219) 933-4154
February 05, 2012 10:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | On the surface, Sunday's Super Bowl had more layers to peel away than a Bermuda onion.

You had the much-discussed revenge factor stemming from the New York Giants' 17-14 win over New England in Super Bowl XLII.

Or the Giants' Tom Coughlin, at 65, possibly becoming the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl title.

His counterpart, Bill Belichick, was shooting for a fourth Super Bowl title in 11 years.

The Patriots were risking a 10-game win streak, while the Giants' had overcome their early struggles at 7-7 in December.

But it was previous Super Bowl MVPs Tom Brady and Eli Manning squaring off that gave us reason to tune in on the 150th day since the NFL season opener.

"Talk is cheap. Play the game," Coughlin said.

And play they did as the Giants used Manning's poise late in the fourth quarter and made a defensive stand to knock off the Patriots, 21-17.

With the ball at his 12-yard line and 3:44 remaining to play, Manning carved up the Patriots' 31st-ranked defense like an Easter ham, connecting with Mario Manningham for 38 yards, then 16, then 2, then finding Hakeem Nicks for 14 to bring the crowd of 68,658 to its feet.

Then with 57 seconds left, Ahmad Bradshaw ran untouched up the middle from 6 yards out, stopped at the goal line, turned and fell in backwards.

"It's the best feeling in my life," Bradshaw said. "I'm so happy for my team, my family, my city.

"You know what? It's two of the greatest teams in NFL history and we won it."

The Super Bowl champs earn $88,000 per player to go with their rings.

Manning finished 30-for-40 for 296 yards and one touchdown, finding nine different receivers, and took home the MVP award.

"It's been a long season but we've got great coaches and the guys never quit," Manning said. "It just feels great to win a Super Bowl. It doesn't matter where you are."

The thriller overshadowed a record-setting performance by Brady, who completed 26 of 41 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. In one stretch, he completed a record 16 consecutive throws.

New England had one final chance with the ball at its 20 and :55 left in the game. Brady was under heavy pressure the entire series as a last-second Hail Mary was slapped away in the end zone.

The Giants (13-7) had taken a quick 9-0 lead on a Brady safety and Manning's 2-yard scoring pass to Victor Cruz, who did his salsa dance, of course.

New England (15-4) then woke up, scoring the next 10 points on Stephen Gostkowski's 29-yard field goal in the second quarter and Brady's short TD toss to Danny Woodhead seconds before halftime.

Both future Hall of Fame QBs were impressive with Manning's 114.8 rating the first half and Brady's 119.

The Patriots made it 17-9 on Brady's 12-yard TD throw to Aaron Hernandez early in the third quarter, his 20th completion in 23 attempts.

New York pulled to within 17-15 on field goals of 38 and 33 yards by Lawrence Tynes.

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