Super-Mann: Giant QB Keys Upset Over Pats


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was a palpable expectation of history here on a chilly night in the Arizona desert. Super Bowl XLII delivered on that score, but history of a different sort than predicted was made Sunday.

The Giants, 12-point underdogs, ruined the New England Patriots' quest for a perfect season. New York, which lost six of 16 games in the regular season, prevailed 17-14 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Quarterback Eli Manning, the game's MVP, lofted a regal, floating 13-yard pass to Plaxico Burress -- over Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs --- to put the Giants over the top with 35 seconds left.

"The guys on this team and the run we've made, it's hard to believe -- it really is," Manning said. "The drive at the end, there were so many clutch plays by so many guys. It is an unbelievable game and an unbelievable feeling."

Said Burress: "This is the greatest feeling in professional sports. For us to come out and win a world championship tonight -- nobody gave us a shot."

Somewhere, the 1972 Miami Dolphins (17-0) are popping their long-awaited champagne.

The Giants are nothing if not resilient. Because they were technically the visiting team, they won their 11th consecutive road game, including all four playoff wins.

It was the second straight Super Bowl victory for a son of Archie and Olivia Manning, a tribute to good genes and diligent film study. The Colts' Peyton Manning won his first Super Bowl last season at the age of 30. Eli, who was also a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, is three years younger.

Manning completed 19 of 34 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns.

The win was especially sweet for defensive end Michael Strahan and wide receiver Amani Toomer, the only holdovers from the 34-7 strafing by the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV. In addition, it was the third Super Bowl victory for one of the league's most venerable franchises, to go with the Vince Lombardi Trophies won at the end of the 1986 and 1990 seasons.

"We shocked the world but not ourselves," Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce said.

New England beat New York 38-35 in the final regular-season game five weeks ago, but the Giants gained a great deal of confidence in the process. On Sunday, they proved the close competition in that first meeting was no fluke.

If the Giants had a dream scenario for the opening drive, their first possession -- which consumed nine minutes and 59 seconds and required 16 plays -- was it. Manning converted his first four third downs (a first-drive record for Super Bowls), but couldn't manage a fifth, throwing too far underneath to Steve Smith. Lawrence Tynes, who won the NFC title game with an overtime field goal, hit one from 32 yards out to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.

The Patriots answered with a similarly muscular drive but, in what seemed to be a telling result, came away with more. On third-and-10 at the New York 17-yard line, Pierce, his back to the ball, hit Benjamin Watson as the New England tight end reached for the ball in the end zone. It was called pass interference, and two plays later, Laurence Maroney --- who began things with a 43-yard kickoff return --- finished it with a 1-yard run three seconds into the second quarter.

It marked the fewest possessions ever (two) in a Super Bowl's opening quarter.

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