Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback, threw a last-minute pass to running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who stumbled the six yards to the end zone to put the Giants in the lead, and give the franchise their fourth Superbowl victory.
With just 57 seconds left on the game clock, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a chance to force a drive that would have won the game, but each attempt fell short, and it gave the Giants the win, and Manning the Most Valuable Player award.
The match began with the Patriots winning the coin toss, and deferring, allowing the Giants to receive. A swift three & out drive led to the ball being punted away, and left the Patriots at their own 6-yard line. Brady then threw the ball away after pressure from defensive lineman Justin Tuck, and was flagged for doing so, resulting in a two-point safety - the first seen in the final game of the season since Superbowl XLIII.
The pressure continued for the Giants, and a 9-play, 78-yard drive led to a touchdown from on-form wide receiver Victor Cruz, giving the Giants a 9-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Patriots, however. A 29-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski added three points to the score, and a Superbowl-record equalling 96-yard drive resulted in a 4-yard touchdown from running back Danny Woodhead, giving New England a 10-9 lead at half-time.
The elongated break at half time, at 30 minutes instead of the regular season 12 minutes, seemed to affect the Giants, with Brady and the Patriots leading the charge looking a different, rejuvenated side. A 21-yard pass to Chad Ochocinco, the Patriots' wide receiver, followed by two big rushing plays from BenJarvus Green-Ellis allowed for Brady to shoot a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez, which put the score at 17-9.
A swift drive from the Giants led to punter Lawrence Tynes, of Scottish origin and an avid Celtic fan, kicking a field goal, which was followed by another before the end of the third quarter, after Manning was sacked by Rob Ninkovich, putting the score at 17-15.
The game was won by a big play towards the end of the fourth quarter, when Giants receiver Mario Manningham took a stunning 38-yard pass, keeping his feet just in bounds and dancing forward to the halfway line. This was the confidence boost the Giants needed, and plays involving Hakeem Nicks gained the necessary yards to push forward, and palm the ball off to Bradshaw, who fell into the end zone. The Patriots didn't attempt to tackle, as they knew the time on the clock allowed Brady to try and gain the winning score.
Bradshaw had gone against team orders to fall at the 1-yard line, eating up the crucial seconds on the clock and giving Tynes an opportunity to kick the ball to win the game there and then. However, his momentum took him over the line in what was one of the strangest touchdowns to have been scored in Superbowl history.
Brady had 57 seconds remaining of game play, but the defense of the Giants, in particular Jason Pierre-Paul, blocked every attempt, leading to Brady having no other option but to play a 'Hail Mary' pass - a long throw that has a very small chance of success - into the end zone. Hernandez was inches away, but the ball was deflected away from the Patriots, leading to a memorable night for the Giants.
Tom Brady, who was aiming for his fifth Superbowl ring, was dignified in defeat, but Eli Manning, who has now led the Giants to two Superbowl wins against the Patriots with big plays, celebrated alongside his team mates before lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy aloft, in front of a majority-Giants crowd at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
In what has been one of the best NFL seasons in living memory, the game was a fitting tribute to the season as a whole, giving us the drama, intensity and brilliant plays we now expect from the ever-growing sport.
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