INDIANAPOLIS — Four years ago, the Giants were the charming underdogs who
took the New England Patriots’ perfect season and made it imperfect.
This season, however, having survived summer injuries and defections, a
four-game losing streak, calls for the coach’s job and six fourth-quarter
comebacks, the Giants arrived at their Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots as
something that seemed more formidable: a team prepared to face a deficit and
They did it again Sunday night.
Just as they did four years ago, the Giants prevailed in the final minute
against the Patriots, beating New England, 21-17 and giving the franchise its
fourth Super Bowl championship — one more than the Patriots — and its second in
four years over this generation’s greatest coach-quarterback combination, Bill
Belichick and Tom Brady.
The Giants are an improbable champion in an improbable season, one that nearly
did not begin because of a lockout, and ended with their becoming the first 9-7
team in N.F.L. history to lift the Lombardi Trophy.
For the Patriots, who were 13-3 in the regular season, it was another bitter
loss, a devastating repeat of the defeat that ended their undefeated 2007
season. They have won three titles, but none since the 2004 season, casting
their dynasty into the distance while the Giants are the only repeat champions
of the last five years.
“I thought four years ago was exciting,” the team co-owner Steve Tisch said.
“That was a dress rehearsal.”
The victory came, fittingly for a season with so many strange twists, in the
oddest fashion. Trailing by 2 points with 3 minutes 46 seconds remaining, the
Giants started the winning drive. Manning — who now has one more championship
than his brother Peyton — lofted a perfect pass down the left sideline to Mario
Manningham, who kept his feet inbounds by inches with two defenders on his back.
The pass went for 38 yards, a pointed answer to the yearlong question of whether
Eli was an elite player.
With a minute remaining, running back Ahmad Bradshaw rushed through a wide-open
hole — the Patriots were instructed to let him score — and tried to fall down.
That would have limited the Patriots’ time to mount a comeback of their own.
But his momentum carried him into the end zone, the 6-yard touchdown run giving
the Giants a 4-point lead with 57 seconds left. The Giants barely celebrated
because they knew that meant Brady had nearly a minute and one timeout to score
The Giants’ defense, maligned early in the season after being decimated by
injuries during training camp, had pulled itself together for critical wins in
the final weeks of the season against the Jets and the Dallas Cowboys, then for
the playoff run. And starting with 57 seconds left, they thwarted Brady one last
time, pressuring him and forcing incompletions, dropped passes, and finally, on
a desperation heave into the end zone in the final seconds, a pass the fell
harmlessly to the ground.
The Giants co-owner John Mara said he held his breath. Coach Tom Coughlin, whose
job status was questioned for much of the season, said he could not scream loud
enough to knock down the pass. When it finally fell, and the blue and red
confetti rained down on the field, Coughlin had won as many championships as his
mentor, Bill Parcells, the former Giants coach who won the franchise’s first two
“You know what, I felt pretty good about our team the whole time,” Coughlin said
of the season. “I knew there was stuff going on on the outside. You lose a game
in New York and you’re fired. Burned at the stake.”
This victory should buy him a little breathing room. The Giants were rarely
dominant this season, but they were often indomitable, led by Manning. He
completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown, and was named the
game’s most valuable player for the second time.
The Patriots’ offense suffered with the star tight end Rob Gronkowski seemingly
at less than full strength after injuring his left ankle two weeks ago.
Gronkowski, who had the most productive season by a tight end in N.F.L. history,
was held to two catches for 26 yards.
The Giants controlled most of the first half, looking sharper and more focused
than the gaffe-laden Patriots did. They opened the scoring by forcing Brady,
packed into his end zone with Justin Tuck giving chase, into throwing the ball
so far away that he was called for intentional grounding, worth a safety and the
game’s first 2 points.
It was an unusual mental mistake by Brady but just the first in a cascade of
lapses that put the Patriots in an early hole. When the Giants got the ball back
again, the Patriots were called for 12 men on the field, which negated a fumble
by Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Two plays later, Manning rifled a 2-yard pass to
Cruz in the end zone, giving the Giants a 9-0 lead.
“Amazing, I dreamed of this moment,” said Cruz, the breakout star of the Giants’
season. He added: “This is the best feeling of my life. I want to catch some
confetti. I want to bring it home.”
When the Patriots finally got the ball back — for only their second play, with
3:24 remaining in the first quarter — they drove deep into Giants territory. But
Jason Pierre-Paul batted down a Brady pass on third-and-4 from the 11, forcing
the Patriots to settle for a 29-yard field goal.
“There were 100 plays you could be talking about, and I would take a lot of
them,” Belichick said when asked what plays the Patriots could have executed
But it was a mistake by the Giants that ended their momentum. With Manning
driving them again midway through the second quarter, guard Kevin Boothe was
called for holding, negating a first down and effectively ending the drive.
That put the ball in Brady’s hands with 4:03 left before halftime. The Patriots
deferred the opening kickoff the way they usually do because they crave the
opportunity to double up an opponent: to score on the final drive of the first
half, then again on the first drive of the second.
In this case, the Patriots got a significant assist from the Giants, who decided
to play deep, taking away the big play but allowing an accurate Brady to chew up
the field. The Patriots’ drive began on the 4 and was pushed back another 2
yards on a holding call.
With Brady unleashing quick pass after quick pass to nullify the Giants’ pass
rush, he shredded the defense, completing 10 of 10 attempts for 98 yards. A
4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead with eight seconds remaining was a gut
punch, a reminder that the Patriots are rarely out of a game, no matter how
poorly they start, as long as Brady is on the field.
Then, Belichick’s strategy worked perfectly when the Patriots went on a surgical
79-yard touchdown drive to open the second half.
After Brady completed a 12-yard scoring pass to Aaron Hernandez that put the
Patriots ahead, 17-9, he tapped the MHK patch on his jersey and pointed to the
heavens, a reminder that Brady and the Patriots were playing the season in
memory of Myra Kraft, the wife of the team’s owner, Robert K. Kraft. Myra Kraft
died last summer after a long struggle with cancer just as the lockout ended.
The Patriots’ defense, porous most of the season, held the Giants to two
straight field goals in the third quarter, helping the Patriots cling to the
lead until those final scintillating minutes.
And so, the final game turned out to be a microcosm of the Giants’ season, and
of the N.F.L. season as a whole. They had skidded to the edge of disaster, only
to pull off a victory one last time.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - If office work has taken a back seat to football chatter,
it must be the annual Super Bowl slowdown.
Excitement over what has become the biggest single sporting event of the year in
the United States may actually end up costing employers some $800 million in
lost productivity the week before the big game, a report said on Monday.
In Chicago and Indianapolis, the two cities whose National Football League teams
will face off on February 4 in Miami, losses could reach $85 million in the
run-up to the game, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
Assuming employees, for example, spend 10 minutes a day talking about the game,
making bets, surfing the Internet or shopping for a new television, their bosses
will lose some $162 million per day. In a five-day workweek, that adds up to
$810 million, based on average earnings and expected viewership.
Then there is the day after the championship when people discuss the game's
plays, the TV commercials, or simply call in sick, resulting in more money lost,
the outplacement consultant reported.
CEO John Challenger suggests companies use the Super Bowl to build morale or
encourage communication among workers, rather than focusing on lost
"There are always distractions in the workplace," Challenger said. "The Super
Bowl is just one more."