Deja vu for Big Blue

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: Members of the New York Giants celebrate with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS -- For the second time in four years, New York Giants fans are celebrating, and New England Patriots fans are crushed.

The Giants beat the Pats, 21 to 17, in the Super Bowl Sunday night, and they won it in the final minute, just as they did in 2008.

Big Blue's fourth Super Bowl win was a testimony to a team that managed to overcome injury and adversity, and turn an uneven start into an unforgettable finish. It earned quarterback Eli Manning his second Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award.

Photos: Super Bowl XLVI

Photos: Super Bowl history

"It's been a wild game, a wild season," he says. " ... This isn't about one person, it's about a team coming together."

Complete Coverage: Super Bowl XLVI

Manning, who completed 30 of 40 passes, set a Super Bowl record by completing his first nine. He led the Giants to the game's first touchdown, finding wide receiver-cum-salsa-dancer Victor Cruz in the end zone.

Pats quarterback Tom Brady had a nightmarish start -- called for a safety on his team's first play -- but the four-time MVP gathered himself and his team, taking them on a Super Bowl record 96 yard touchdown drive and to a 10-9 halftime lead. The third quarter saw Brady strike again, and the Patriots were cruising 17-9.

But the Giants defense stiffened, and Big Blue pulled to within 2 points. Then, with time running out, Manning solidified his place among NFL greats, methodically moving his team 88 yards in the final minutes for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

One failed Tom Brady "Hail Mary" pass later, and Super Bowl XLVI (46) was history.

"There were some missed opportunities," Brady later lamented. "Every guy in the locker wishes he could have done maybe a little bit more."

Madonna's halftime performance was full of high-tech dazzle, but the reviews are mixed -- and singer MIA, who joined Madonna on-stage, may have upstaged the headliner with an obscene gesture. NBC, which televised the game, later issued an apology.

If that was the night's low, perhaps its most poignant moment came after the game, when Giants superstar defensive end Jason Pierre Paul shared his first Super Bowl win with his close-knit Haitian family, including his beloved father, Jean, who's been blind most of Jason's life.

  • Cynthia Bowers

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