‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.”
Giants fans won’t be able to get enough of Eli Manning after his 21-17 Super Bowl XLVI win over the Patriots last night.
Bet that Tom Brady can, though. Since the final game of the 2007 season — that would be Super Bowl XLII — Manning’s been hanging around the neck of “The World’s Greatest Quarterback” like a gawky albatross. Manning weighs down what is already a Hall-of-Fame legacy, denying Brady for a second time of that fourth Super Bowl ring he dearly wants for that trophy den that will invariably go into that $20 million house he and Gisele have built in Brentwood, Ca.
Manning? All he does is take his baby face and $10 haircut back to New Orleans after the Giants break up, with his second Super Bowl MVP trophy and a second ring. And those rings and those trophies should, five years after his journey from game-manager to elite passer is all over, put him in the middle of that big discussion the Hall-of-Fame voters have every Super Bowl Saturday.
Brady hasn’t beaten the kid in three tries now, two of which have come in the biggest game of the year. It doesn’t matter that each was close. That’s what these two teams do. They play it all down to the wire.
The fact is, Manning has come out on top, and that’s kind of what greatness is all about, right?
Think about it. Sunday’s win marked his seventh fourth-quarter comeback of the season. Forget the hard stats — 30-of-40 for 296 yards and a touchdown. A look behind the numbers shows he turned the ball over once all season.
And his performance at the end of games has been nothing short of spectacular. Brady may have completed a Super Bowl record 16 straight passes between the second and third quarters, and gone 10-for-10 in his fantastic 96-yard march for a go-ahead touchdown on his final possession before halftime.
But it was Manning who came up with the biggest hookup of the game — a 38-yard throw to Mario Manningham from the 12 on the game-winning touchdown drive. Perfectly placed over Patrick Chung, who was trailing in double coverage, Manning put it on his receiver’s hands by the boundary. From there, it was all Manningham, who touched both feet inbounds as Chung launched him across the sideline.
A 16-yarder to Manningham got the Giants into field goal range. And from there, it was up to Manning to maintain his ever-steady discipline and bleed the clock, leaving just enough time for the Giants to either kick a go-ahead field goal or score a touchdown with less than a half-minute to go.
Manning did his part, throwing safe passes to get to the Patriots’ 7, and then running Bradshaw to the 6.
Then Bradshaw made a mistake. More like a misstep. New England, with one timeout remaining and content to let Bradshaw score to get the ball back in Brady’s hands, went into the old “fall-down” defense. Bradshaw knew it as he blew through a gaping hole, and he even tried to take a knee inside the 1. But he couldn’t keep his body under control, and he tumbled into the end zone for the 21-17 lead, leaving Brady not 20 seconds, but 57 seconds to operate.
Brady eventually got to midfield despite Justin Tuck’s second sack. But his Hail Mary pass fell incomplete, and Tom Coughlin and Manning had their second ring in four years — at Brady’s expense.
For all Brady’s greatness — make no mistake, he’s one of the all-timers — it’s more than obvious that if you’re down by a couple in a big game, you want Manning on your side. He proved that in his career year this year. He proved it again in Super Bowl XLVI.
There’s no doubt, too, that Brady would probably like to see his counterpart transferred to some other team, just to get out of his trophy case.
The Montreal Alouettes, perhaps?
Will Eli go down as the greatest Giants quarterback of all time? Be heard in the comments below…