GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While all the talk leading up to Super Bowl XLII centered on perfection, on how the New England Patriots were one of the best teams ever, we forgot to acknowledge one simple fact: The New York Giants were playing better at this time of the year than their opponents.
We should've realized what was happening in the postseason. We do now. The Giants have their Vince Lombardi Trophy after a 17-14 win over the Patriots. Here are 10 things we learned from arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning finalized his stunning postseason run -- as well as the Super Bowl MVP award -- with that game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes. He also gave the Giants a play that probably will turn up on every Super Bowl highlight film for decades to come. When Manning spun out of what seemed to be a sure sack with 59 seconds left and delivered a 32-yard strike to David Tyree, he showed the kind of heart every team covets from its leader. It's fair to say that was one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history.
"I was watching Eli after Randy Moss caught that touchdown pass [to give New England a 14-10 lead with 2:42 remaining in the game]," said Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who watched his younger brother from a stadium suite Sunday. "There wasn't any panic in his eyes. His mind-set was, 'Hey, we have got 2:45 left and we have some timeouts. We'll have the ball last, and we'll make it happen.'"
It looks as though Plaxico Burress now has his own place alongside Joe Namath in the New York sports scene. He had only two catches Sunday, but his second one turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. You have to give the guy credit: He had the confidence to say what the Giants privately believed. And you also have to applaud him for continuing to stay focused when the ball wasn't coming his way.
What you can question, however, is why New England opted to single-cover 6-foot-5 Burress with 5-9 cornerback Ellis Hobbs on Burress' game-winning, 13-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds left.
"They were basically double-teaming me all night," Burress said. "We were just waiting for that one time where we could get him over there in single coverage. I gave him a slant fake; he bit on it; and Eli put it up there for me to come down with it."
New York definitely got off to the kind of start it needed. By controlling the football for 19 minutes, 27 seconds, in the first half, the Giants kept the Pats' prolific offense on the sideline while gaining plenty of confidence. The first quarter was especially critical; New York held the ball for nearly 10 minutes while converting a Super Bowl-record four third-down opportunities on that first drive. That possession was enough to make the Giants see that this game wouldn't overwhelm them.
"We hit them in the mouth time and time again," New York wide receiver Amani Toomer said. "They realized real early that we weren't backing down from them."
Added New England wide receiver Randy Moss: "I think their intensity from the beginning snap to the end of the game was really higher than ours. We just couldn't meet that intensity."