NFL - Patriots let Giants score winning touchdown
Mon, 06 Feb 09:51:00 2012
The New York Giants won the Super Bowl after a bizarre finale in which their opponents, the New England Patriots, intentionally let them score a touchdown with less than a minute left.
Giants star Ahmad Bradshaw was allowed to run in unopposed with 57 seconds left to put his team 21-17 ahead.
The Patriots had been 17-15 ahead, but were fearful of the Giants running down the clock and then taking a field goal from almost point blank range that would have settled the game.
Instead, they gambled on letting Bradshaw run in a touchdown, hoping that they would be able to use the final minute of the match to score a touchdown of their own to clinch the trophy.
That tactic backfired spectacularly, however, as Patriots failed to make ground and quarterback Tom Brady saw his last-gasp throw into the end zone failed to find a team-mate.
Amazingly, Bradshaw even tried to stop himself going over the line for his winning score, but he was unable to counter his own momentum. He ended up toppling over while squatting on his haunches, ending up sitting on his bum on the grass. His coach even looked on angrily at what was perceived as a blunder, yet the touchdown would prove to be the winning score in the game.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 30-of-40 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown and was named Most Valuable Player, reprising his MVP performance of four years ago.
"It just feels great," said Manning, who led the Giants back from a 17-9 deficit in the third quarter with 12 unanswered points. "It was a great game with two great teams."
Manning threw the game-winning touchdown in the last minute of New York's 2008 triumph in Arizona that denied the Patriots a perfect 19-0 season.
This time he launched a thrilling march to victory with a daring 38-yard completion to Mario Manningham from his own 12-yard line and capped the drive by handing to Ahmad Bradshaw, who burst through the middle for the game-winning score with 57 seconds left.
New York ended a 10-game winning streak for New England when Brady's desperation heave into the end zone on the last play was batted away to the ground.
Giants players leaped for joy and galloped around the field as purple confetti fell like magic dust on the delirious winners.
The Giants became the first 9-7 team to win the Super Bowl and made their 65-year-old coach Tom Coughlin the oldest man ever to direct a Super Bowl champion.
New England coach Bill Belichick, who would have tied Chuck Noll of the Pittsburgh Steelers for most Super Bowl coaching wins had the Patriots won their fourth NFL crown of his regime, saluted the Giants.
"They obviously played well tonight. It was a very competitive football game," he said. "They just made a couple more plays than we did."
The Giants trailed 10-9 at halftime and fell further behind after Brady led New England to a touchdown on their first possession of the second half.
But the Giants clawed back with two field goals by Lawrence Tynes before overhauling the Patriots with Bradshaw's burst through the line.
"It is the greatest feeling in the world," Bradshaw said about falling into the end zone for the go-ahead points. "It was the best feeling in my life."
Manning set an NFL record with 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes this season and led six fourth-quarter comeback wins. His cool-headed direction in the dying moments of the game underlined his graduation to the top ranks of NFL quarterbacks.
Brady was 27-of-41 for 276 yards. He threw two touchdowns and one interception, and completed a Super Bowl record 16 successive passes at one point.
But in the end, the vaunted New York pass rush began to bear down on the Patriots' quarterback and turned the tide for the Giants, who registered the franchise's fourth Super Bowl title.
"Can't fault the effort of any of our players," said Belichick. "They played as hard as they could, we could have just played a tiny bit better."Reuters