The Manning of the hourEli's late-game heroics help write an unexpected upset story
By TERRY JONES -- Sun Media
GLENDALE, Ariz -- The 'I was there' quotient dropped dramatically in terms of watching history happen.
On the other hand, wow, was that something to see!
The world dialled in to watch the completion of one of the greatest achievements in sports history, a perfect 19-0 season and a fourth Super Bowl title in a seven-year span for the New England Patriots. And they thought they saw it.
With 2:45 to go, Tom Brady and his Patriots teammates appeared to do what great players and great teams do, which is to find a way to win. And for all the world, it looked like they'd done it.
But the memory-making hadn't really begun as Eli Manning - the year after his brother Peyton won the Super Bowl and the MVP award - turned the New York Giants into giant killers in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the big game.
"You can't write a better script. It's an unbelievable feeling," said MVP Eli Manning of taking only the second wild-card team to the title, beating the 18-0 Patriots to do it.
"We shocked the world but not ourselves," said linebacker Antonio Pierce.
"Nobody gave this team any credit or any hope," said Plaxico Burress, the mouthy Giant receiver who predicted the upset and predicted the Patriots would be held to 17 points.
As it turned out, the Giants won it 17-14 and Burress caught the winning touchdown in the final seconds to provide the win. But 'The Catch' which put them in position to put it away was made by David Tyree, who earlier had scored his first pro touchdown.
"That had to be one of the greatest catches of all time in the Super Bowl," said coach Tom Coughlin of going against double coverage.
It was an amazing play.
"That play alone took a few years off my life," said Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. "We shocked the world. Hell, we shocked ourselves. Nobody expected us to win."
But while everybody on the Giants defence was a hero this day to keep quarterback Brady on his back much of the night and the high-powered Patriots offence off the field, it was Eli Manning who put his name on this game just like his brother did the year before.
It wasn't until the fourth quarter that he really got it going.
Manning fired three consecutive passes, the third to Tyree to put the Giants out front.
Then, after Moss caught a TD from Brady with 2:45 left, Manning used what was left to become the man of the match and write a story for the ages.
"It feels great. It's unbelievable. It's the fight on this team. I'm so proud of our players, our coaches ... everybody," said Manning, who found Burress in the end zone for the winning score.
He said you gotta love a good ending.
"Hey, you're four points down, you have to score a touchdown. The third and five to Tyree, I just felt I was being grabbed a little bit.
"I was just trying to avoid the sack. I got out of it. I saw Tyree in the middle of the field. I tried to get the ball to him and it just floated. He made just an unbelievable catch, jumping up, holding on to that ball ... It was just a big-time play."
But this day made Eli Manning a big-time player just like his brother. Maybe that isn't as good a story as the Patriots' perfect season and becoming a team for the ages. But it was still a pretty damn good story.