Sunday, February 3, 2008

NY Giants Superbowl Champions:Eli Manning, David Tyree come up strong for Giants

The star of the night was much-maligned youngster Eli Manning, who in just one calendar year has gone from poster child of inconsistency to Super Bowl hero. Manning's efforts were duplicated by a large number of unheralded players on offense, an offense that was surprisingly more efficient than New England's. Fourth-string Wide Receiver David Tyree caught two huge passes in the fourth quarter, the first being a touchdown with just under 11 minutes left that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead, but then even after New England marched down the field to take a 14-10 lead late in the game, Tyree came up big again with one of the most remarkable catches in Super Bowl history. On 3rd-and-5 with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, Manning somehow slipped away from a pass rush that seemed to have swallowed him and rifled a pass that traveled nearly fifty yards in the air, which Tyree caught it by pressing it against his helmet with a defender hanging all over him. Manning made two more clutch throws on the drive, the first of which was on 3rd-and-11 where he threw a sideline route that wide receiver Steve Smith caught and tiptoed down the hashmarks towards a first down. On the very next play, Manning's favorite target during the regular season, Plaxico Burress, broke away from Ellis Hobbs and waltzed into the endzone, catching the uncontested pass and putting the Giants on top for good. Burress' touchdown catch was only his second catch of the entire game.

New York's tenacious defensive pressure was what kept the game close for the duration, as they put Brady on the turf thirteen different times, sacking him five. All season long, Brady has seemingly had a forcefield around him in the pocket as his offensive line would pick up blitz package after blitz package and allow Brady to scan the field for one of his multiple weapons. We saw flashes of that offensive brilliance tonight, but the Giants were able to stifle the attack long enough to keep the game in reach, and they ended up with the last chance to put points on the board, and converted. It's great to witness this event for Michael Strahan, one of the most recognizable faces in the entire league because of that always-present smile, and also among the classiest and most well-spoken in the NFL. He finally has a ring after 15 years. Also, this is a team who won it without Tiki Barber, who was arguably a top five running back in each of his last two years with the team.