It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was memorable. Super Bowl XLVI has come and gone and once again, the New York Giants reign supreme. Artistically speaking, this was not one of the best title games ever played as it was littered with costly penalties, questionable decision making and enough mistakes to drive both fan bases crazy. But it was a dramatic game, finished with another last-minute drive to dash the Patriots championship dreams. Here are a list of the most memorable moments, plays and drives to take away from Super Sunday.
Tom Brady sans helmet during introductions
Maybe it isn’t a big thing, but 92 players ran onto the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium and only one was without his helmet. Tom Brady has long been the face of New England’s franchise, but that is a face we shouldn’t have seen during the pre-game introductions. The Patriots have built their franchise under Bill Belichick around being a team and this action by Brady flew in the face of all-for-one and one-for-all.
Unusual New England mistakes prove costly
Under Belichick, the Patriots have been an extremely disciplined team that takes advantage of other team’s mistakes. On Sunday night, it was New England handing out the early gifts and it led to a deficit. Brady’s intentional grounding was big, but the 12 men on the field penalty that negated a fumble was bigger. Instead of a game changing turnover, the Giants took advantage of their second life and grabbed a 9-0 lead. Two major mistakes that led to nine points can’t happen in the Super Bowl.
Brady’s finest hour
While the drives to end the first half and start the second half totaled seven minutes and 23 seconds of game time, it was about an hour in real time and Brady was at his best. The 12-year-veteran connected on all 14 of his passes during the Patriots two touchdown drives for 140 yards and two scores. It was as impressive a two drive stretch in Super Bowl history and gave New England a 17-9 lead.
New York’s three-point answer
Sometimes a field goal is a disappointing end to a drive, but for New York, the three points on their first possession in the third quarter was huge. After being off the field for nearly an hour, the Giants put together a 45-yard drive down to the Patriots 20. From there Lawrence Tynes put home a 38-yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-12, this ended a 14-point streak by the Patriots and swung some momentum back New York’s way.
A costly heave
After escaping a pair of Giants defenders, Brady tried to make his own David Tyree moment by launching a pass down field to Rob Gronkowski. There was no helmet catch this time, just Chase Blackburn waiting with open arms. Holding a two-point lead, Brady has to know better than to take that chance, but he went for it and the result was the game’s only turnover.
Eli Manning’s late heroics again
In Super Bowl XLII, the Giants had the ball at their own 17 with 2:42 to play, needing a touchdown to go ahead. In Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants had the ball at their own 12 with 3:46 to play, needing a field goal to go ahead. Both times Eli Manning delivered. Four years ago, Manning went 5 of 9 for 77 yards and a TD. On Sunday, he connected on 5 of 6 for 74 yards. Twice Manning needed to lead a game-winning drive and twice he succeed against the best quarterback of his generation’s team.
Mario Manningham’s sideline spectacular
The 38-yard pick-up on a perfectly placed pass by Manning to an acrobatic Manningham kick started the final drive. Every Super Bowl needs a signature play and this was it for Super Bowl XLVI. The ability for Manning to sneak the ball inside two defenders and for Manningham to tight rope the sideline and get two feet in might be the difference between this week’s parade taking place in New York or Boston.
Ahmad Bradshaw and the most awkward touchdown in Super Bowl history
For the first time ever, a player might have been sorry to score on football’s biggest stage. On a play that similar to Green Bay allowing Terrell Davis to walk into the end zone in Super Bowl XXXII, Belichick allowed Bradshaw to walk through his defense to give his offense a chance to win it. Only Bradshaw was instructed to go down at the one and run clock. However, Bradshaw didn’t quite do this, scoring the first ever Indian style backwards TD ever seen in the Super Bowl. It worked out in the end, but if New England had scored on that final drive, Bradshaw would have gone from hero to goat.
Brady’s poor fourth quarter
On the night, Brady played pretty well, finishing 27 of 41 for 276 yards, 2 TD’s and an INT, but he struggled when it mattered. In the fourth quarter, Brady hit on just 7 of his 16 attempts for 75 yards and an interception. He just missed Wes Welker for what could have been a game-clinching completion and on the final drive he had Deion Branch open for a big gain on the first play but threw behind him. For as great Brady was most of the night, when the Patriots needed him the most, he couldn’t quite deliver while Manning went 10 of 14 for 118 yards and led a game-winning drive.
Robert Kraft and the saddest moment of the night
One of the reasons the game was even being played on Sunday was because of the work of Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Despite the fading health of his wife, Kraft was one of the key reasons the owners and players hammered out their differences and ended the lockout, leading to the emotional moment with Jeff Saturday after the agreement had been reached. Sadly, Kraft lost his wife Myra during the season, leading to an emotional charge by New England to the Super Bowl. The shot of Kraft, standing alone in disbelief at the end of the game was both heart-breaking and will be the lasting image of the night.