INDIANAPOLIS – All week long, the city of Indianapolis put its best foot forward in hosting Super Bowl XLVI.
The city was spotlighted internationally for a week as it became the 14th site to host a Super Bowl. An expected worldwide television audience in the neighborhood of 160-165 million viewers got a peek Sunday at the city and its efforts in hosting America's top sporting event.
Putting a solid foot forward as well was Giants quarterback Eli Manning, younger brother of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The younger Manning earned his second Super Bowl MVP award, too, and he and Peyton stand as one of 22 brother duos who have played in the Super Bowl.
Manning completed 30-of-40 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown. He directed a late 88-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown in the final minute as New York prevailed, 21-17.
On Monday, Manning accepted the trophy that accompanies being the Pete Rozelle MVP Award winner. He spoke of his brother and the game.
"I got to be with Peyton a bit and he was proud of me. He was proud of the team," said Manning. "A quarterback like Peyton is, he knows the game well and he asks questions a lot of people won't ask. Like the touchdown to Victor Cruz, he asked me if I saw the middle linebacker running out there, and I didn't. He can see there and tell it how it looks. It was 'single-high' and he kind of jabbed to my right a little bit before running left and looking up Victor. Under center, you know they're bringing a blitz. It is tough to see that, but luckily, he never looked back at me and I threw it right off his shoulder and Victor did a good job of concentrating and making the catch. Then he talked about the throw to Manningham. He (Peyton) was mad, he said everybody was talking about how great of a catch it was. He said it was a pretty good throw, also. It's a brother looking out for me. He was proud of me and happy for me."
NFL players share bonds in a unique fraternity. Brothers share an even tighter one. Eli is five years younger than Peyton, and they have an NFL lineage that includes father, Archie. When asked about having bragging rights on his older brother who won the MVP award when Indianapolis topped Chicago in Super Bowl XLI, the two-time Giants MVP stressed team accomplishments are more important than a sibling connection.
"This isn't about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger," said Manning. "This is about a team, an organization being named world champions, and that was the ultimate goal. That's the only thing that's important, is the team finding a way to get a victory. That's the only thing I care about and Peyton and I both know that's what the goal is every year. It's not about anything else."
The victory was gained in dramatic fashion on the late-game march. The drive started with a 38-yard connection from Manning to wide receiver Mario Manningham, a play that will be remembered as one of the most noteworthy in Super Bowl history. On Monday, Manning relived that moment and the drive.
"They were playing Cover-2. They really had our Cover-2 beat to the right side with Hakeem (Nicks) and Victor Cruz in a two-man route," said Manning. "The Patriots did a good job of jamming both receivers, throwing off the timing of the route. They do have a tendency, their safeties will read my eyes, so I did look to the right pretty long. I didn't like what I was seeing, so I slid up in the pocket. I was going to see where that safety was to the left. I saw he had cheated in, I saw a little window for Mario Manningham where he would catch it or nobody and he made a great catch. (It was) a good job staying inbounds, keeping his two feet inbounds, knowing he was going to get hit on the sideline and holding onto the ball.
"When you're backed up in that situation, when you get a 40-yard gain, that changes your play-calling. You can run the ball, you can be a little more patient. You feel like you're getting close to field-goal range right there, which was all we needed. But, (there were) a couple of other big plays. Mario had another catch later in the drive, Hakeem Nicks on a slant, and then obviously, Ahmad (Bradshaw) on the touchdown run. Just a great drive and a great way to finish the game."