Eli Manning marched the New York Giants 88 yards for the winning touchdown in the final seconds on Sunday for a 21-17 Super Bowl triumph over New England to finish a fairytale NFL title run.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran six yards for the deciding touchdown with 57 seconds remaining to cap the drive and the Giants’ defense denied Patriots star Tom Brady’s desperate throws to the end zone in the dying seconds to seal victory.
“It’s the greatest feeling in my life,” Bradshaw said. “It’s the greatest thing in the world. I’m just hoping we can win another one.”
Before a crowd of 68,658 spectators at the domed stadium where his older brother, Peyton, stars for the Indianapolis Colts, Manning guided the Giants on a title-winning drive, just as he did to beat the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.
“It just feels good to win a Super Bowl, no matter where you are or what stadium it is,” Manning said. “It just feels great.”
Manning was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after completing 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown, hitting his first nine passes to set a Super Bowl record for completions to start a game.
It was the fourth Super Bowl triumph for the Giants, who also defeated the Patriots in the 2008 NFL championship spectacle and captured the crown in 1987 and 1991. The club also captured four NFL titles in the pre-Super Bowl era.
“I’m in awe right now,” Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said. “We persevered through all the stress and adversity we had, and finished strong.”
The Giants struggled to a 7-7 season start, losing four in a row after a November victory over New England when critics questioned whether coach Tom Coughlin should be fired. They then took six must-win games to claim the crown.
“We stayed in it and kept fighting,” Jacobs said. “I would rather go to war with coach Coughlin than anybody else and I don’t need to say anything about Eli — 228 countries just saw Eli.”
Coughlin, at 65, became the oldest winning coach in Super Bowl history.
New York’s Hakeem Nicks caught 10 passes for 109 yards, while Mario Manningham grabbed five more for 73 yards.
Clinging to a 17-15 lead, the Patriots were undone when Wes Welker dropped a wide-open catch and they had to punt, the Giants taking the ball at their own 12-yard line with 3 minutes, 46 seconds to play.
Manning completed a 38-yard pass to Manningham that was confirmed on a video replay challenge to put New York at midfield.
“Manningham’s play, that put us over the top,” Nicks said. “It was clutch and we made it at the right time.”
Five plays later, Bradshaw ran untouched into the end zone to produce the final margin. A two-point conversion run failed, leaving less than a minute for the Patriots to rally, but the Giants were not to be denied, making certain Brady’s desperate throws at the end fell incomplete.
“We just ran out of time,” Brady said. “We just didn’t make enough plays. I wish we could have done a little bit more.”
Brady completed 27 of 41 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns, including 16 in a row to set a Super Bowl record, but New England suffered a fourth Super Bowl loss, matching Buffalo, Denver and Minnesota for the most defeats.
“It’s as tough a loss as I’ve ever had,” Patriots running back Danny Woodhead said.
Brady threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Woodhead with eight seconds to play in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 10-9 halftime lead, the 96-yard drive matching the longest in Super Bowl history.