Sitting at 6-6 and down by 12 with 5:41 remaining in the week 14 contest against the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants hardly looked like a championship team. Despite the odds, one Giant player never wavered: quarterback Eli Manning.
Manning drove his time quickly down the field to score a touchdown. Then, the Giants defense held the Cowboys to a three-and-out to get the ball back in Manning’s hands. Cool Eli rallied his team to another touchdown and two-point conversion to give New York a three point lead. Manning’s play and a blocked field goal on the last play of the game appeared to save New York’s season.
New York would fall the next week as they lost to Washington for the second time in 2011. At 7-7, New York was clinging to playoff hope, but Manning remained confident.
From there on, New York wouldn’t lose again. They beat the cross town rival Jets on Christmas Eve and defeated Dallas again to clinch the NFC East at 9-7. Surely, the Giants had a rough stretch in the middle of the season losing four in a row, but Manning took tremendous strides. As his defense struggled with injuries, Manning kept his team afloat with his 4,933 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. He truly proved his elite status in the NFL.
The Giants may have snuck into the playoffs but looked dangerous with Manning and a completely healthy defensive line. The defense sure helped as the cause as the Giants forced two safeties and gave up 14 points per game in their four victories to claim Super Bowl XLVI. Manning also passed for 1,219 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception in the four games.
In the Super Bowl, the Giants again found themselves trailing with less than four minutes to play. Just like he did four years ago in Super Bowl XLII against the same foe, Manning was ultra-cool and drove his team down for the winning score. Not a field goal, Manning did it in style getting his team in the end zone.
Also like he did four years ago, Eli Manning won the game’s MVP. His second matches Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s two Super Bowl MVPs. Eli Manning also has more Super Bowl rings and Super Bowl MVPs than his older brother, Peyton. That certainly raises the question, has Eli had a better career than his Peyton?
Peyton is certainly the king of the regular season; he has 54,828 passing yards, 399 touchdowns and a record of 141-67. But Eli, his baby brother, the man who wouldn’t play in San Diego, the guy who supposedly couldn’t handle the pressure of New York, has won more Super Bowls.
Maybe it’s too dramatic to put Eli’s career over Peyton’s so quickly. It could be argued that Peyton is the best quarterback of all-time. One thing is for certainly, however, Peyton is going to have to make some room on the family shelf for his little brother’s trophies.