Eli-te: Eli Manning Leads the New York Giants to Victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 17:02
After losing to the New York Yankees, Pedro Martinez once famously said: "I just tip my cap and call the Yankees my daddy." Another legendary Boston sports icon is currently going through a similar humbling experience, and that is none other than Tom Brady. Tom Brady, sixth round draft pick out of Michigan, seven-time Pro Bowler, two-time MVP recipient, and husband of Gisele Bündchen, cannot, for the life of him beat the New York Football Giants. While you won't hear Brady anytime soon conceding that the "Giants are his daddy," it is clear that his inability to defeat Eli Manning and the Giants is of great concern to him. With Giants victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, Brady's "Mr. Clutch" reputation has now been called into question. In sports there are many levels of greatness, with the highest being immortal. Few athletes can be considered immortal, some of whom are Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, and Joe Montana. Had the Patriots won both, or even one of their Super Bowl bouts with the Giants, Brady's drive towards immortality would still be going strong, however, with two losses in two of the biggest games of his career, Brady's chances of achieving this status are almost zero now. This sounds like a harsh claim, but what do Jeter, Jordan, and Montana all have in common? They never lost the big game or, more importantly, it seemed as though they never lost in the big game. There are no lasting images of any of those three when they lost, while, for Brady, the image of his costly intentional grounding penalty, among others, will linger in our minds. In fact, Jordan and Jeter have both lost either the Finals or World Series, yet their other successes vastly overwhelm their and their respective teams' rare gaffes. Brady, however, has lost to the same team in two consecutive Super Bowl appearances, something which could permanently taint his pursuit of immortality. No matter what Brady does throughout the remainder of his career, with the exception of beating the Giants twice in the Super Bowl, he will forever have that one bugaboo attached to his name.
On the Giants' end, this Super Bowl has cemented Eli Manning as the greatest quarterback in Giants history, unquestionably surpassing Phil Simms. At age 31, Eli has won two Super Bowls, winning the game's MVP in both games. His notable career stats include 27,579 passing yards, 185 touchdown passes, and a steadily climbing 82.1 passer rating. Next season, barring any freak injuries, Manning will easily surpass 30,000 yards and 200 touchdown passes; not to mention, he has been behind center for every offensive snap for the Giants since being named the starter in 2004.
Eli Manning's career is, without a doubt, heading into its prime, something that has every Giants fan giddy. He is surrounded by playmakers, protected by a solid offensive line, and is coached by one of the best head coaches in the game in Tom Coughlin. With the likes of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham (although Manningham may not return to New York, two out of three ain't bad), he possesses one of the most talented receiving corps he has had his entire career. All three, Manningham included, are capable of consistently accumulating 1,000 yards per season and Manning has the arm that can make that happen. Manningham and Cruz are both 25, while Nicks is only 24. My point is, on offense, the Giants have very few holes to fill. With ACL injuries to their top two tight ends, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, their tight ends could be a bit lacking moving forward. However, Jerry Reese, who has quietly one of the best general managers in professional sports, can afford to draft a blocking tight end to sure up Manning's protection. With the three receivers and Eli at the helm, the Giants offense is poised to become an offensive juggernaut in the coming years.
On the defensive side of the ball, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora were hobbled by injuries for the better part of the season, however, like the rest of the team, they were able to dig deep and turn it on in the playoffs, Tuck in particular. In the Giants' two Super Bowl victories over New England, Tuck has tallied nine tackles, while sacking Brady four times. The emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul has led to the defense's reemergence as a dominating force. Although Umenyiora, like Manningham, may head off for a huge payday with a team other than the Giants, their defense is in good hands with Tuck and JPP. One group on the defense which did not receive enough credit during the Giants' monster playoff run was the linebackers; Michael Boley proved to be a stabilizing force for the defense at middle linebacker after returning from a nagging hamstring injury. Additionally, the mid-season re-signing of fan-favorite Chase Blackburn gave Perry Fewell more options on defense, evidenced by his huge interception of Brady while guarding Rob Gronkowski.
The Giants are now top-five in Super Bowl wins behind the Steelers, Cowboys, and 49ers; they are also tied with the Packers with four. The only difference between the Giants and these four other teams is that they have all had at least one dominant decade; the Packers in the 1960s, the Steelers in the 1970s, the 49ers in the 1980s, and the Cowboys in the 1990s. Although not in the top-five, the Patriots dominated the 2000s with three Super Bowl wins. With a defense that can rush the passer better than anyone else in the league and a high octane offense led by the most clutch quarterback in the league the Giants can potentially make the 2010s their decade. With his clutch reputation, Eli Manning is on the cusp of becoming legendary, and, if he can win a couple more Super Bowls, he can achieve what the Giants have stolen from Tom Brady in their two Super Bowl wins over him and the Patriots: immortality.