When the New York Giants and New England Patriots get together in the Super Bowl, something special happens. Four years ago, the two teams produced an amazing game filled with dramatic moments, and that is exactly what happened last night in Indianapolis. Like in 2008, the Giants used a great catch and a late go-ahead touchdown to beat the Patriots and win yet another Super Bowl. This year, New York won 21-17 in a game that wasn't decided until the ball hit the ground on the final play of the game.
The beginning of this game was anything but exciting. In fact, in the first quarter it looked like the Giants might run away with it. They controlled the time of possession thanks in part to Tom Brady being called for intentional grounding in the end zone on the Pats' first offensive play. The call resulted in a safety, and the Giants went down the field after getting the ball back and scored on a two-yard pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz. After one quarter, it was 9-0 Giants.
The Patriots responded with a field goal, and then the two teams traded punts. New England eventually took over at its own four-yard line with 4:03 left in the first half, and after a false start penalty, the Patriots found themselves on their own two. This is when Brady did what Brady does and started playing lights out football. He drove the Patriots the length of the field in 14 plays and 3:55 and found Danny Woodhead for a four-yard touchdown. The score gave New England a 10-9 lead despite the Giants playing better football overall during the half.
In the second half, Brady picked up where he left off. The opening drive of the third quarter saw the Patriots go 79 yards in eight plays and need only one third-down conversion. Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a 12-yard score, and now it was the Giants with their backs against the wall.
During the rest of the third quarter, New York was able to move the ball, but it couldn't find the end zone. The Patriots were getting by with bend-but-don't-break defense, and they held the Giants to two field goals. This meant that New England led 17-15 going into the fourth quarter, and that was still the score with around four minutes left in the game. The Giants were down to one timeout, and the Patriots had a chance to seemingly put the game away with a pass downfield on second-and-11. Wes Welker was wide open, but he dropped the pass from Brady. After an incompletion on third down, the Patriots had to punt.
The Giants took over at their own 12 with 3:46 to go and quickly flipped the field. On the first play of the drive, Manning threw a bomb to Mario Manningham, who somehow caught the ball and came down with two feet inbounds. The gain of 38 put the ball on the 50, and the Giants quickly got down inside the 20-yard line. At this point the best strategy seemed to be for the Patriots to let the Giants score, but they didn't employ it until four plays later. Hilariously, Ahmad Bradshaw tried to stop on the one-yard line, but his momentum carried him into the end zone for a touchdown. The Giants failed to pick up the two-point conversion, so the scoreboard read 21-17 in favor of New York with 57 seconds remaining.
With only one timeout left, Brady got his wish of having the ball in his hands at the end of the game. A miracle touchdown seemed unlikely, but you never could rule anything out with Brady, especially after he converted a fourth-and-16 play from the Patriots' own 14-yard line. Eventually, New England found itself at midfield with time for only one more play. Brady heaved a Hail Mary to the end zone and it was batted down. Rob Gronkowski laid out for it, but he got there just a little late. The ball hit the ground, the game was over and the Giants are once again Super Bowl champions.
In the wake of this game, the discussion is sure to revolve around the quarterbacks. There is already talk about if Eli Manning is a Hall-of-Famer and if he is better than his brother Peyton. At the same time, there is already lots of talk about Tom Brady losing to Eli again in the Super Bowl and how this affects his legacy. My reaction to those talking points is this: Who cares? As a football fan, I commend both quarterbacks and both teams for putting on a show in Indy and giving us an exciting finish to a wild season.