Saturday, February 4, 2012
Final Word: Super Bowl XLVI
By Dan Graziano
Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLVI:
Home sweet road: The New York Giants have won six straight playoff games on the road or at neutral sites dating to 2007, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Eli Manning has been the quarterback for all six of them, and his six career postseason wins away from home tie him for the record with four other quarterbacks, including the New England Patriots' Tom Brady. (The others are Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach and Joe Montana, so not a bad list.) Manning's ability to remain cool under all kinds of pressure has been well documented, but his record in hostile or neutral environments in postseason games offers yet another example.
Eli Manning has a 7-3 record in the postseason.
You again? Manning and Brady are the third pair of quarterbacks to face off in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys' Troy Aikman and the Bills' Jim Kelly met in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Aikman won both. The Steelers' Bradshaw faced the Cowboys' Staubach in Super Bowls X and XIII. Bradshaw won both. Brady's hoping to buck history and pull off a split with Manning, who beat him in Super Bowl XLII.
Hot at the right time: The Giants are the third team in history to reach the Super Bowl after failing to win at least 10 games in the regular season (not counting strike-shortened seasons). The previous two were the 2008 Arizona Cardinals and the 1979 Rams. Each of those teams lost its Super Bowl, so a Giants win would make them the first Super Bowl champion to enter the playoffs with fewer than 10 wins. They are also the first team to reach the Super Bowl after being outscored by their opponents in the regular season. The Giants scored 394 points and allowed 400 on their way to their 9-7 regular-season record. Those 2008 Cardinals (plus 1) and 1979 Rams (plus 14) were the teams with the worst point differential in Super Bowl history until this year.
Peyton's place: Eli Manning is playing the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where his brother Peyton Manning has established himself as an all-time great quarterback with the Colts. Peyton had a head start on Eli and has fashioned a brilliant Hall of Fame career, but little brother's playoff numbers stack up with big brother's. Peyton Manning is 9-10 all time in postseason games with a 63.1 completion percentage and a 29-19 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Eli Manning is 7-3 in the postseason with a completion percentage of 59.8 and a TD-INT ratio of 16-8. If Eli throws three touchdowns on Sunday, it would give him 11 touchdown passes this postseason, which would tie the record for a single postseason set by Montana in 1989 and equaled by Kurt Warner in 2008.
Tough guys: According to ESPN Stats & Information's "Next Level" stats, the pass-catchers in this game are very difficult to tackle after they catch the ball. The stat they use is "yards after contact," which differs from "yards after catch." Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who's been struggling with an ankle injury since the AFC Championship Game, led the league with 290 yards after first post-catch contact. Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was second with 245. Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was third with 242 yards, and Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was fourth with 231.