NEW YORK -- Mario Manningham is coming off the best game of his life, including a Super Bowl catch that will be cemented in New York Giants lore. It didn't take 24 hours for the buzz to start about his impending free agency. But the wide receiver gave Giants fans some hope that his miracle catch may not be his last with Big Blue.
"I wanna come back," Manningham said, speaking at Modell's in Times Square as the store unveiled its official Super Bowl XLVI Champions gear. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm going to try to enjoy this Super Bowl (win). I'm not really thinking about that right now."
Manningham has already be linked in reports to the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears. He recorded five catches for 73 yards, including a 38-yard grab from Eli Manning with 3:39 left in the fourth quarter that was the biggest play in the Giants' 21-17 dramatic comeback victory over New England Sunday.
"Eli threw a perfect ball that nobody could get but me," Manningham said. "It was either going to out of bounds or I was gonna catch it."
Manning squeezed the ball by two defenders and right into Manningham's waiting hands. He dropped his left foot and then his right before being hit out of bounds. Eight plays later running back Ahmad Bradshaw sat down in the end zone for the go-ahead score. It's been a virtual whirlwind ever since.
Defensive end Dave Tollefson said he hadn't slept all night. All he had since Sunday night was a few beers, some energy drinks and McDonald's that he ate before arriving at Modell's. He was also sporting a nasty, swollen right hand, having dislocated his pinkie and ring fingers during the game.
"Someone's got to make a play on the biggest stage, it could be anybody," Tollefson said. "Mario's a hell of a player. I've seen him do that stuff in practice all the time so it wouldn't be surprising."
Tollefson was in his second year with the Giants when they beat the Patriots in 2008. He couldn't compare the two. But the time did give him the chance to watch the growth of Manning. He expected his quarterback to turn in his eighth fourth quarter comeback of the season.
"I think Eli would torch his mom if he could," he said. "Don't let the baby face fool you, man. The dude is a stoned-cold killer."
Christopher Hunt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.