The Pryor Times

Points of Interest

February 7, 2012

Manning is now his own man

INDIANAPOLIS — On the same field where older brother Peyton has cemented his Hall of Fame legacy, Eli Manning put down a foundation stone of his own Sunday.

ELI Manning was brilliant in the Giants’ 21-17 victory in Super Bowl XLVI. He completed 30-of-40 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown. While two of the four Giants’ scoring drives ended in the field goals, Manning never mucked up the works, finally putting to rest the perception that he’s not cut from the same cloth as his big brother.

I suppose he’s not. Eli has two Super Bowl championships, Peyton has one.

“This isn’t about one person. This is about a team coming together, getting this win,” Eli Manning said. “We never got discouraged, kept our faith and kept our confidence and just fought to the very end.”

While Tom Brady set a Super Bowl record with 16 consecutive completions in the Patriots’ pair of touchdown drives to put New England in front, Manning let the game come back to him. Eighteen of the Giants’ first downs were gained via Manning’s arm. He completed his first nine passes of the game, a Super Bowl record.

Still, it was a steady, not spectacular, performance — until the first play of the Giants’ game-winning drive. It will be Eli Manning’s signature play for the remainder of his career.

Trailing, 17-15, and backed up at their own 12 with 3:46 to go, the Giants rolled the dice. Manning dropped back and threw to Mario Manningham along the left sideline. Manningham was double-covered by safeties Sterling Moore and Patrick Chung. It could be easily argued it was a forced throw.

But Manning possesses one trait brother Peyton sometimes doesn’t have — Eli has been known to gamble. He will improvise when the chips are down.

“They were in Cover-2. Usually that is not your match-up. They had us covered pretty well to the right. I looked that way. I saw I had the safety cheated in a little bit and threw it down the sideline,” Manning said.

It helps that he delivered the kind of surgical strike that Peyton is renowned for. A perfect delivery to Manningham who did a great job himself of keeping two feet down on the sideline as Moore and Chung tried in vain to knock it away.

In a game filled with routine plays, the 38-yard strike to Manningham was a championship play.

Four Manning completions later, Ahmad Bradshaw scored the oddest championship-winning touchdown in the annals of the Super Bowl and the Giants survived a Brady Hail Mary at the gun to seal the deal.

While Eli deflected praise and heaped it on his teammates, it was left to the patriarch of the Manning clan, Archie Manning, to put it in perspective Eli’s championship on the field where Peyton has made his bones.

“I think it’s special because of the city here. This city has meant a lot to our family for 14 years, and I’ve been here all week. It is special,” Archie Manning said. “He played like a quarterback needs to play.”

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