EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 6, 2012

Shades of Tyree

Mario Manningham's sideline grab will be remembered as the play that beat the Patriots

By David Willis and Hector Longo
sports@eagletribune.com

It may not have been quite as dramatic, or quite as bizarre, but Mario Manningham's amazing catch had shades of David Tyree's game-changing head catch four years ago.

With 3:39 to go in the game, Manningham made a tremendous catch, pulling in the pass and barely tapping both toes inbounds.

The play was reviewed and confirmed, and, of course the Giants scored the game-winning touchdown two minutes later.

It, in many ways, was Tyree but with skill instead of luck.

Four-point play

The stick of the night went to Pats safety Pat Chung. It was not only a huge hit, blasting Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks in the ribs and off his feet, it was also a crucial play midway through the third quarter.

Had Nicks caught the ball, New York would have had a red zone first down. Instead, Chung's hit caused an incompletion, the Pats defense turned in stops on consecutive plays and the Giants were limited to a field goal.

The new Faulk

Most everyone was shocked when Patriots stalwart and consummate pro Kevin Faulk was inactive before the game.

But it turned out Danny Woodhead was more than ready to step into the Faulk role. He turned in a pair of key catches in the first half, including when he snuck out of the backfield, scrambled to get open and caught the go-ahead touchdown just before halftime,

That play had a distinct Faulk look to it.

Perfect precision

When Tom Brady is locked in, everything seems easy, so it hardly seemed a shock when he casually completed 18 straight passes last night.

But that actually set the record for the most consecutive completions in a Super Bowl, shattered the record of his idol, Joe Montana (13)

Eli Manning added a record of his own. His scintillating 9-for-9 passing to open the game set the record for the best start for a quarterback in Super Bowl history.

A business to the very end

If you weren't sure how ruthless a business this is and how heartless a coach can be, I bring you Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots and the last two days.

First on Saturday, New England releases receiver Tiquan Underwood to activate practice squad defensive end Alex Silvestro.

Then on Sunday, Belichick and the Pats hold 13-year veteran Faulk on the inactive list.

Now, is that 45th spot that important that the classy veteran couldn't dress one more time?

Like the champion he is, Faulk was out there on the sideline, rooting his mates on.

Playing keepaway

You're excused if you felt like the Giants held the ball for the entire first half.

New York held the ball for a whopping 19:45 of the first two quarters, nearly twice that of the 10:15 time of possession for the Patriots.

Of that time for the Patriots, 4:03 came on the final possession of the half.

That trend continued through three quarters, where once again the Giants nearly doubled the Pats, with the TOP 29:23 for New York and 15:37 for New England.

Quarter dominance

Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was in on five tackles in the first quarter alone.

The Giants needed to make just five tackles in the entire first frame, in which the Patriots ran just five plays for 51 yards.

The Giants, by comparison, ran 17 plays for 116 yards and the touchdown to Cruz.

Ford pays price for his ticket

Attorney Mark Ford of North Andover paid a hefty price for his seat in section 209.

No, not in dollars.

"But I was forced to sit with five Giants' fans," said Ford, who picked up the opportunity to go to the game from a college (Villanova) friend from New Jersey.

Ford drove to the Garden State and the six flew out on a private jet yesterday morning.

"I didn't put my Brady jersey on until we were safely on the ground in Indianapolis," said Ford.

The group flew back out Sunday night.

Biggest Pats fan at Butler

Butler University senior Emily Alaimo planned to spend the Super Bowl with friends on campus.

A huge Pats fan, she planned on leading the cheers.

The special education major probably could serve as a great ambassador, not just for Butler but for the whole Indianapolis experience.

"I love it out here," said Alaimo. "I'm definitely thinking about relocating after graduation. It will be tough with so much family and so many friends back home. But I've grown to love it here."

Truly special teams

An early MVP last night for the Giants was punter Steve Weatherford. He nailed the Patriots inside the 10-yard-line three times, twice with sweet bounces and stuck another out of bounds inside the 10.

A fourth should have been downed inside the 5-yard line, but the Giant in coverage misplayed it and allowed it to go into the end zone.

Clarkson outstanding

American Idol alum Kelly Clarkson again proved herself a tremendous talent, singing a flawless National Anthem, not over-singing but still filling it with flair.

Message to big-time sporting event organizers, book Kelly to sing the Anthem. No more flavor of the months or unnecessary big games (sorry Steven Tyler).

On the other hand, this reporter (Willis) found Madonna's halftime show to be very boring. Frankly, her press conference had more flair.

Yet, ultra-cool Cee-Lo Green was left to make just a cameo appearance.