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Eli Manning Won’t Back Down


Giants defensive end Michael Strahan thanks his quarterback Eli Manning after New York’s dramatic Super Bowl victory on Sunday.

They say New Yorkers love an underdog, so they must have really enjoyed Super Bowl XLII. The New York Giants’ wholly unexpected 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots in Ariziona on Sunday was certainly one of the greatest upsets in the history of U.S. sports. As has been well documented, the Pats were looking to achieve an unprecedented 19-0 winning season. Only one team — the Miami Dolphins in 1972 — has gone an entire season unbeaten, but back then there were only 16 games. The ’72 Dolphins had their own celebration party on Sunday night when the Giants kept that long-standing record intact, for at least another season.

Super Bowl Football

Opposing quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eli Manning exchange pleasantries before Super Bowl XLII.

The disparity between this year’s two conference-champions was refelcted best in their two wildly differing quarterbacks. New England’s Tom Brady is a ready-made all-American sports-star in the Namath/Montana mould. He has graced the cover of GQ, is dating Brazilian supermodel Gisele B√ľndchen and lives in the West Village. The Giants’ Eli Manning — the slightly dorky younger brother of Super Bowl-winning Colts QB Peyton Manning — is the antithesis of Brady. A traded draft-pick who had never quite convinced New York’s discerning and critical fans, Manning led the Giants to unlikely play-off victories in Dallas and Green Bay and ultimately to Glendale, AZ, where the streak was expected to end.


Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers rocked the halftime show with their classics hits “American Girl”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream”.

But as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers reminded fans during the halftime show, “I Won’t Back Down” is a neat anthem for the American antihero. Manning must have taken note, as deep into the final quarter he created one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history. 14-10 down with 1:15 on the clock, Manning somehow wriggling out of a string of repeated sacks to fly a 23-yard pass to David Tyree, who completed a leaping catch by pinning the ball to his helmet. Manning then found wide receiver Plaxico Burress in the endzone for the winning touchdown with just 35 seconds remaining.

From my East Village apartment I could hear chants of “EE-LI! EE-LI!” in the street. Shortly after the game, Manning was elected MVP: Eli had finally arrived.