Super Bowl XLVI definitely ranks in top three of title games

INDIANAPOLIS — People asked the question as soon as Tom Brady‘s last-gasp pass hit the turf: Where does Giants 21, Patriots 17 rank among all 46 Super Bowls?

Pretty darn high.

The week before Super Bowl XLVI kicked off, colleague Elliot Harrison and I ranked every Super Bowl, 1 through 45. I’ve attended 44 of the 46 Super Bowls, and it’s harder and harder to distinguish which one is No. 1.

My gut reaction is to put this one at No. 3, right behind the first Giants-Patriots Super Bowl. The reason I’d put it behind Super Bowl XLII was because that was a game the Giants weren’t expected to win. This Giants team, while not favored, was picked to win by a number of experts. The outcome was not as surprising, but it certainly was a great game.

So many unusual things happened in this game. I think the most unusual was Giants LB Chase Blackburn — a player who didn’t even make the opening-week roster — grabbing an interception in the fourth quarter. In a Cover 2 defense, the middle linebacker must cover the center of the field, and Blackburn looked like he was fooled two or three times before making a great interception.

Then, in the series after Blackburn’s interception, the Giants threw a seemingly drive-ending incompletion on third-and-8. But the Patriots were offside,  and the Giants capitalized on their second chance with a first down to continue the drive.

Toward the end of the game, I thought the Patriots had done enough to score again or create favorable field position, which they did. The Giants started on their 12-yard line, and then Eli Manning threw as good a pass as you could possibly want for a 38-yard gain to Mario Manningham along the sideline.

The game was everything we thought it would be. Everyone thought the quarterbacks would shine, although the score wasn’t as high as expected. Now everybody has one thing on their minds: When will next season start?

This Super Bowl really is a defining moment for Manning and Tom Coughlin. This could be a steppingstone for Coughlin to become a Hall of Fame coach and for Manning to evolve from a player whom many criticized to somebody who’ll have a good chance to be in Canton.

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