Super Bowl XLVII: Players To Root For

Sometimes, even if you’re a devoted fan of the game of football, it might be tough to really get excited about the Super Bowl. Maybe you’re still bitter over your team’s playoff defeat. Or your team’s numerous regular season defeats. Perhaps your significant other doesn’t care for football and is becoming a constant distraction. Well, fear not, for here is a sure-fire way to absolve those and many more issues. Find an individal player to root for. Nothing gets someone invested in a game like tugging at their heartstrings a bit. To help this cause, here’s a list of the top players to root for in Super Bowl 47. Cue the cheesy inspirational music!

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Ten Easy Super Bowl Party Tips

With these helpful tips you too can throw a kick-ass Super Bowl party.

By: Michelle Lynn Buckley

Let’s be honest, if it came down to bare essentials, you could have a successful Super Bowl party with a big screen TV, a bowl of chips, and a room of your pals.  But wouldn’t it be nice to bump it up to the next level and be the party of the year?  Of course it would!

Here are our Top Ten Tips for a touchdown of a time:

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Super Bowl records set, tied in XLVI

Super Bowl records set in Super Bowl XLVI

Oldest winning head coach: 65, Tom Coughlin, Giants
Most consecutive completions: 16, Tom Brady, Patriots
Most consecutive completions to start game: 9, Eli Manning, Giants
Most passing yards, career: 1,277, Tom Brady, Patriots
Most passes, career: 197, Tom Brady, Patriots
Most completions, career: 127, Tom Brady, Patriots
Most punts inside 10, game: 3, Steve Weatherford, Giants
Most first downs passing, game, both teams: 33 (Giants 18, Patriots 15)

Super Bowl records tied in Super Bowl XLVI

Most games started: 5, Tom Brady; Matt Light, Patriots
Longest touchdown drive, team: 96 yards, Patriots
Fewest turnovers, game, team: 0, Giants
Most safeties, game, team: 1, Giants
Fewest touchdowns rushing, game, team: 0, Patriots
Fewest passes had intercepted, game, team: 0, Giants
Fewest first downs by penalty, game, team: 0, Patriots
Fewest punt returns, game, team: 0, Patriots
Fewest fumbles, game, team: 0, Patriots
Fewest fumbles lost, game, both teams: 0 (Giants 0, Patriots 0)

– Compiled By Elias Sports Bureau

Manning’s play the hot topic in winning locker room

INDIANAPOLIS — After the Giants finished their on-field celebration Sunday night, they retreated to their locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium, where a vibe of complete satisfaction permeated the room.

Eli Manning obviously was hot in demand, and he spoke with reporters and hugged teammates without his demeanor swinging one way or another. In other words, same old Eli. Manning now has two Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVP awards, and no one seems surprised.

“No doubt in my mind at all,” said Giants WR Mario Manningham, speaking about the final scoring drive. “I wasn’t even concerned. I knew he was going to pull it through, man. We worked too hard to get here.”

Manningham had the catch of the game, a brilliant 38-yard sideline reception to kick-start the game-winning drive. The receiver was asked what he was thinking as Tom Brady‘s final throw headed toward the end zone.

“Anybody catch it but somebody in the blue jersey,” he said.

After working my way past pop star Seal — yeah, I have no idea — I checked in with Michael Strahan, celebrating the win like he still was wearing No. 92. He also was gushing over Manning.

“For a guy who had more pressure on him in the league than any other player because of his heritage and his family,” Strahan said. “To play the way he played in two Super Bowls. Hats off to Eli. He’s definitely a deserving champion.”

Archie Manning was hanging out outside the Giants’ locker room, giving me the chance to ask him if he ever believed his family could have this much success.

“No, I never imagined having kids playing college football, college anything,” Archie said. “So what they’ve accomplished, sometimes we look at each other and pinch ourselves.”

Now the perks of being a champion are set to begin for all the Giants.

“Yo, we going to see Obama!” Devin Thomas said.

Several players hollered in celebration, the enormity of their achievement slowly coming into focus.

– Dan Hanzus

Brady, Patriots confront another grim defeat to G-Men

INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Brady sat slumped at his locker, facing away from reporters — away from the world — pulling up his socks.

With the stark reality of Super Bowl XLVI sinking in, the Patriots QB moved in slow motion. Expressionless. It’s the Brady you’d imagine seeing 20 years from now.

Across the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium, DT Gerard Warren talked about an opportunity lost.

“It’s tough to take,” Warren said. “I mean, like I said, you get to the peak of the mountain. You can’t take that last step to get all the way to the top, stick your flag up and crown it. … It’s tough to take.”

In between reporters’ questions, the room was still, painfully hushed. Warren was asked if he’d taken a look at his quarterback sitting alone.

“I didn’t see him over there,” he said. “I know the whole team’s probably disappointed, the whole organization right now. Like I said, our goal wasn’t to just get to the Super Bowl, it was to finish it out the right way. We’re on the short end of the stick.”

At the lip of the room, Patriots owner Robert Kraft leaned into a confidant and asked, “What should we do?”

Someone mentioned moving on to some obligatory postgame party, but it was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind in this room.

– Marc Sessler

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, NFL.com 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.

Giants crowned champions of Super Bowl XLVI

INDIANAPOLIS — The Giants are kings once again.

As Patriots QB Tom Brady‘s final, arching pass fell incomplete in the end zone while time expired, Lucas Oil Stadium morphed into uproar and bedlam.

Super Bowl XLVI is in the books, a 21-17 Giants victory, and while Brady lives for these moments — the ball in his hands on the world’s biggest stage — this night belongs to Eli Manning, who’s the MVP in the biggest game for a second time.

People once joked about the idea that New York’s quarterback was an elite player.

The jokes are over. The questions are answered. Eli — and his Giants — are elite.

And fitting champions of the National Football League.

– Marc Sessler

Patriots let Bradshaw score game-winning TD

INDIANAPOLIS — In a move reminiscent of Terrell Davis‘ fourth-quarter run in Super Bowl XXXII, the Patriots let Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw score the go-ahead TD with 57 seconds left to allow Tom Brady one last chance at the Super Bowl XLVI title.

Of course, it was the Packers who let Davis score in a similar situation (a 1-yard run with 1:45 left) in the 1997 game, and that plan backfired: John Elway and the Broncos won their first Super Bowl title when Brett Favre couldn’t lead a game-winning drive. It didn’t work for the Patriots, either, as Brady’s last-gasp pass fell to the ground amid a scrum of Giants and Patriots in the end zone.

But it seemed Bradshaw didn’t know how to react against the passive Patriots defense, and he almost stopped 1 yard short of the goal line. But he didn’t, going in from 6 yards out, and the Giants took a 21-17 lead.

The touchdown was made possible by Mario Manningham‘s ridiculous catch on the opening play of the drive. Manningham hauled in beautiful deep ball from Eli Manning for a 38-yard gain, moving the chains to midfield.

– David Ely

Manning, Manningham connect in the clutch

INDIANAPOLIS — In what will be thought of as the biggest play of Super Bowl XLVIMario Manningham pulled in a 38-yard pass from Eli Manning to move the Giants to midfield with 3:39 left in the fourth quarter.

It was a brilliant throw by Manning and an even better job of concentration and footwork by Manningham, who got both feet in as he was pushed out of bounds. The play was reviewed, and the ruling on the field was upheld.

The Giants trailed 17-15 at the time of the reception.

The throw comes on the heels of a huge drop by WR Wes Welker, who could have put the Patriots inside the Giants’ 20 with less than four minutes to play but wasn’t able to hold onto a Tom Brady pass. New England punted two plays later.

– Dan Hanzus

Brady’s pass picked to open fourth quarter

INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Brady‘s first interception of Super Bowl XLVI was a memorable one.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, Brady broke free from Giants defensive linemen Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard before spotting Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski down the field. Brady airmailed a pass that LB Chase Blackburn intercepted at New York’s 8-yard line.

We’ve seen Gronkowski separate from defenders repeatedly this season to make this type of grab. Perhaps it’s the tweaked ankle — and taking nothing away from Blackburn, who nearly took an eighth-grade teaching job earlier this season — but Gronkowski found himself tangled up this time around.

Brady was shoved to the ground on the play by Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul. The heart and soul of the Patriots sat upright on the turf in frustration.

One thing’s clear: This one’s coming down to the end.

– Marc Sessler

Third-quarter thoughts

The Patriots opened the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVI with a 79-yard touchdown drive, a good sign because they came out and did something with the ball to open the third quarter and increase their lead.

The Giants came right back on the next drive, but had to kick a field goal.

On the next series, the Giants’ defense force a three-and-out and there was some concern that QB Tom Brady was injured on the sack by Giants DL Justin Tuck. The Giants took over with great field position on the 50-yard line, but Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich came up with a big play, a sack that put the Giants into long yardage and forced them to kick another field goal.

These two teams are very high-scoring fourth-quarter teams, so with the score like it is — a two-point difference — the fourth quarter should be really interesting. Thirty-two points at the end of the third quarter is a relatively low-scoring game.

Giants creep within two on another Tynes field goal

INDIANAPOLIS — The Giants once again were knocking on the door in the third quarter, this time with a touchdown giving them a Super Bowl lead over the Patriots. But New England’s defense once again came up with a key play to keep New York out of the end zone.

On third-and-8 from the Patriots’ 9-yard line, Eli Manning was sacked for a 6-yard loss by Rob Ninkovich and Mark Anderson, forcing the Giants to settle for a second consecutive field goal in the quarter.

The Giants only trail by two points entering the fourth quarter, but knowing they left two touchdowns on the board definitely hurts.

The Giants never would have been in position, however, if not for a heads-up play by FB Henry Hynoski, who pounced on a Hakeem Nicks fumble at the Patriots’ 34. Hynoski’s stats will be just a minor part of the Super Bowl XLVI box score, but he might have made one of the game’s most important plays.

– David Ely

Brady shaken up on sack; Hoyer warming up

INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Brady was shaken up on the third-quarter sack by Justin Tuck.

Brady was driven to the turf on a third-and-8 play with the Patriots leading 17-12. New England punted away on the next play.

Brady jogged to the sideline, keeping his head down until he reached the bench. Patriots officials quickly surrounded him.

Moments later, Brian Hoyer was warming up on the sideline. Developing …

UPDATE: Brady back in the game. He didn’t miss a play.

– Dan Hanzus

Brady sets two Super Bowl passing marks

INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Brady already has made history this evening.

On the Patriots’ touchdown drive to open the third quarter, Brady broke two Super Bowl passing marks, flying past some pretty big names in the process.

Midway through his fifth Super Bowl, Brady now is the all-time leader in career passing yards, breaking Kurt Warner‘s 1,156 yards (in three games with the Rams and Cardinals).

Brady’s 16 straight completions also made up the longest streak in Super Bowl history, surpassing Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana, who previously set the mark with 13 consecutive connections in the 49ers’ 55-10 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.

Marc Sessler

Giants settle for field goal after Chung’s big hit

INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Manning has answered the bell every time the Giants have needed him to this postseason.

After the Patriots went ahead 17-9 on a 12-yard touchdown strike from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez, the Giants desperately needed Manning to step up once again.

It looked like Manning was on pace to do just that until Patriots safety Patrick Chung delivered a huge hit on Giants WR Hakeem Nicks, dislodging the ball and negating what would have been a first-and-goal opportunity for Big Blue. The Giants faced second-and-10 from the Patriots’ 25-yard line after the incompletion and eventually had to settle for a 38-yard field goal from Lawrence Tynes.

Patriots 17, Giants 12.

– David Ely

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