February 5, 2012: There wasn't any way Eli Manning and the New York Giants could beat Bill Belichick, Tom Brady in another Super Bowl. There wasn't any way Eli could have more rings than brother Peyton. Until there was.
Just four years after spoiling the Patriots' perfect season in the Super Bowl in the most unlikely fashion, the Giants would rip out New England's hearts yet again on the big stage in another dramatic win. Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis would again be swayed by a miraculous catch and a Giants late touchdown. Giants 21, Patriots 17. Head-to-head Super Bowls: Eli Manning 2, Tom Brady 0. Eli 2 championships, Peyton 1. Unbelievable.
At just 9-7, the Giants are one of the most unlikely Super Bowl winners ever, becoming just the third team ever with less than 10 wins in a 16-game season to advance to the big game. But the team got healthy toward the end of the season and got hot at the right time and rode it all the way to a title. The defense, lead by a line of Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora, would make life miserable for Brady and the Patriots.
New England on the other hand went 13-3, but wasn't completely healthy. Many Patriots fans argue that if Rob Gronkowski wasn't playing on one leg the Patriots would have been Super Bowl champions. Gronk set new tight end records for receiving (1,327 yards) and touchdown catches (17), and teamed up with fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez (maybe you've heard of him), who had over 900 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The game started in unusual fashion. After forcing a punt that pinned them back, Brady and the Pats took over. After facing a heavy rush as he dropped back, Brady threw the ball away with no one in the area. He was called for intentional grounding and the Giants were awarded a safety and a 2-0 lead. The Giants then took the kick and drove down for a touchdown on a Manning 2-yard pass to Victor Cruz, and all of a sudden it was 9-0.
New England would add a field goal and then get a Super Bowl record-tying 96-yard drive, ending with a Brady to Danny Woodhead score and making it 10-9 in favor of New England at half.
New England got hot. They opened the second half receiving the ball, and Brady marched them down the field for a 12-yard touchdown to Hernandez. It was now 17-9. and the way the Pats were playing it was hard to imagine those would be their last points.
Two Giants' field goals would cut it to 17-15. Brady would be picked off on a deep pass at the Giants 8-yard line, preventing any points. New England would force a punt and get the ball back. With 4:06 left, and the Patriots at the Giants 44-yard line, Brady faced a 2-and-11. He had a wide open Wes Welker streaking over the middle of the field that would have been a key first down deep in Giants territory. The pass sailed a little on Brady, but it's normally a catch the sure-handed Wes Welker would usually haul in. Instead he twisted his body and it went off his hands and the Giants got the break they needed. You be the judge, Brady or Welker's fault?
The Giants took possession from their own 12-yard line with 3:46 left in the game and one timeout. On the very first play, Manning aired it out deep toward the sidelines, where receiver Mario Manningham made a miraculous tightrope catch for a 38-yard gain at midfield. Belichick challenged the catch, but it was good and he was witnessing another Eli Manning nightmare drive in the Super Bowl.
Manning would continue to drive the team down the field. With the Giants facing a 2-and-goal from the 6 yard line with just over a minute remaining in the game and only needing a field goal to win, Belichick made the decision to just let them score. Ahmad Bradshaw took the handoff and saw nothing but daylight to the end zone. He realized what New England was trying to do and he tried to stop at the 1, but his momentum carried him in for the score.
After a failed 2-point conversion, New England would get the ball back with 57 seconds left, needing a TD to win.
A sack on third down made it even tougher. But Brady found Deion Branch for a first down, and then got another. But there was just 9 seconds remaining from their own 49-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Brady threw up a Hail Mary intended for Hernandez. The Giants knocked it up in the air and just out of the reach of a diving Gronk. The Giants were again Super Bowl champs, and again had done it vs. Brady and the Patriots in stunning fashion.
It was the Giants' fourth overall championship. Manning was named MVP for the second time. He completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
Here's to you Eli Manning and the rest of the Giants for toppling the Patriots in the Super Bowl not once, but twice.