by Mike Lupica
NY Daily News


GLENDALE, Ariz. - It really ended in the left corner of the end zone at University of Phoenix Stadium, and the ball in the belly of Plaxico Burress, who called this one the way Namath did once.

He left Ellis Hobbs, a Patriots defensive back, behind, laid him out the way the Giants had been laying out the history the New England Patriots were supposed to make. Eli Manning delivered that ball, delivered it the way the greatest Super Bowl quarterbacks have delivered the ball in endings like this in the big game, the way Joe Montana and all the others did. And this wasn't just the ending to one of the best Super Bowls you will ever see.

It was the ending to as good a football story as has ever been written, by any team in any year.


It was 17-14 for the Giants against the Patriots, and the Patriots weren't going to be 19-0 and Tom Brady wasn't going to have enough time to drive his team down the field one last time the way the kid, Eli Manning, just had. Eli and the Giants were underdogs yesterday the way they have been for the month, and that couldn't stop them because no one did, not in a month of football, a month of sports in the city of New York, that now goes with anything the city has ever seen.

And as beautiful as that last throw was, as much of a money play it was for a kid who is now a money quarterback forever, it wasn't the play that will be remembered from this day by Eli Manning, because the play that will be remembered is the one you had to see to believe in that last drive. That is the one where they had him sacked on third down and had his uniform and nearly made him disappear.

Only he was still standing. Like his team was still standing against the Patriots, standing up and standing in there all day long. He got out of the pocket and threw one down the field to David Tyree, who out-jumped an old Patriots safety named Rodney Harrison for the ball. It went for 32 yards and after that, there was this amazing sense in Arizona that as improbable a run as any pro team has ever had was now inevitable, even against 18-0.

Namath shocked the world once for the Jets. Eli Manning did that yesterday. Only he had a better game against the Patriots than Namath had in Super Bowl III, against one of the best teams to ever play. The Giants defense gave the offense of Brady and Moss two touchdowns yesterday. Then Brady, after taking the lead with a TD pass to Randy Moss, made the mistake you can never make with a star quarterback, a championship quarterback:

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