How Giants, Manning came through again

February, 6, 2012
2/06/12
12:02
AM ET

Matt Slocum/AP Photo
Eli Manning matched his 2007 postseason with 9 touchdown passes, one of many similarities between this championship and that one. Manning won Super Bowl MVP on both occasions.
The New York Giants are Super Bowl champions again, winning Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots by the same margin and in a similar thrilling fashion as their regular-season victory.

Once again, quarterback Eli Manning was the king of the fourth-quarter comeback, something he’s done multiple times in his career against the Patriots.

Here’s a deeper look at the notes, stats, and trends behind this game.

Why the Giants won
Manning joined a list of players to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs, along with Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady. Manning’s fourth-quarter performance was a near-duplicate of his previous Super Bowl effort, as the chart on the right shows.

Via Elias, Manning set a Super Bowl record for the most consecutive completions by a quarterback to start a game, with nine. The previous mark was held by Phil Simms for the Giants against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.

Manning was precise on his short passes, completing 28-of-32 throws that traveled fewer than 15 yards in the air. His 88 percent completion rate on those throws considerably exceeded his season rate of 67 percent entering the game.

Manning’s 75 percent completion rate overall was the second-best ever in a postseason game for a quarterback who threw at least 40 passes. The only one better was Drew Brees, earlier this postseason against the Detroit Lions.

It was Manning’s eighth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, most in the NFL, two more than Tim Tebow and Alex Smith. His five career game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime of postseason are tied with Joe Montana for third-most all-time, behind Tom Brady (7) and John Elway (6).

Why the Patriots lost
Brady had a good game statistically, setting the record for consecutive Super Bowl completions with 16, and combining with Manning for a 70.4 percent completion rate (fourth-best by quarterbacks in Super Bowl history). But he could not quite match Manning’s performance.

Brady was 0-for-5 when throwing the ball at least 20 yards in the air downfield, including both the intentional grounding that gave the Giants a safety and the game’s first score, and the incomplete Hail Mary attempt into the end zone on the game’s final play.

The last time Brady failed to complete a pass of that length with at least five attempts was in Super Bowl XLII (0-for-8).

Rob Gronkowski, one of Brady's favorite targets, was on the field for 45 of the Patriots' 62 plays (73 percent), his lowest percentage of plays on the season. Gronkowski was held to three catches and 26 yards and was the intended receiver on Brady’s interception.

Pivotal Plays
Giants: Manning completed only 2-of-8 throws of 15 yards or longer, but one of the two completions was huge -- the 38-yard catch at midfield by Mario Manningham on the Giants game-winning drive.

Patriots: Wide receiver Wes Welker had a crucial drop on 2nd-and-11 with 4:06 remaining in the game on a pass thrown 23 air yards down the field that would have given New England possession in the red zone.

Welker was credited with five drops in the first 18 games of the season, none on a throw more than 10 air yards downfield. His rate of passes dropped was seventh-best in the NFL this season, among those targeted at least 100 times.

Under the Radar
Theme of the postseason: The Giants picked up 100 yards after contact on offense in Super Bowl XLVI, something they did in three of their four playoff wins. In the regular season, the Giants picked up 100 yards after contact just twice (Week 3 vs Eagles and Week 16 vs Jets).

Unsung hero: The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Giants punter Steve Weatherford is the first punter in Super Bowl history to pin an opponent inside the 10 three times in one game.

Stat of the Game
The Giants are first team to win a Super Bowl with fewer than 10 regular-season wins since NFL went to 16-game schedule in 1978 (excluding strike-shortened seasons).

The Giants are the second team to win both a regular season game and a Super Bowl against the same opponent by the same margin. The Giants beat the Patriots twice by four points, matching the 1994 San Francisco 49ers, who beat the Chargers by 23 points in both the regular season and Super Bowl XXIX.

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