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Manningham, Nicks stepped up as Pats sold out to stop Cruz

NFC Championship - New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The Patriots’ defensive game plan for Super Bowl XLVI became pretty clear from the get-go: They weren’t going to let Giants receiver Victor Cruz beat them.

Using a variety of double-teaming concepts in the slot and outside, New England executed its strategy, holding Cruz to 25 yards on four receptions.

So Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks stepped up.

Manningham, in particular, was often left in one-on-one situations against defensive backs. Although Manningham’s tendency to lose track of the sideline cost the Giants one would-be first-down reception in the second half, he more than made up for the miscue by creating enough separation to secure a perfectly placed over-the-shoulder throw  from Eli Manning on the Giants’ final possession.

The catch went for 38 yards and was the highest-impact non-touchdown play of the Super Bowl. Eight plays later to finish the drive, tailback Ahmad Bradshaw fell into the end zone for the game-winning score. Manningham finished with 73 yards on five grabs.

Nicks, meanwhile, posted game-highs in receptions (10) and yards (109). Seven of his catches went for first downs.

As for Manningham, the performance came with good timing. He is headed for unrestricted free agency in March.

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44 Responses to “Manningham, Nicks stepped up as Pats sold out to stop Cruz”
  1. crimhollingsworth says: Feb 5, 2012 10:30 PM

    Mara and Coughlin have proved all of the haters in NYC wrong. Just like Mara said, he’s got that stack of mail from
    G-MEN NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS fans demanding the firing of Coughlin.

  2. brian32556 says: Feb 5, 2012 10:30 PM

    Can you believe the receiving corps the Giants are going to have for the next 5 years!!!!!

  3. orf14fire says: Feb 5, 2012 10:31 PM

    The giants still suck even if they won the Superbowl. The giants did not win the patriots beat them selfsame with that crappy defense…jb of norfolk

  4. brian32556 says: Feb 5, 2012 10:33 PM

    That was the most emotion I have ever seen Bill Belichik show for another coach at the post-game handshake!

  5. nxsteven says: Feb 5, 2012 10:34 PM

    Is there any real difference between this Patriots team and a Peyton Manning led Colts team?

    Great offense, nearly no defense at all, and a QB that can’t get it done in the clutch.

  6. gdeli says: Feb 5, 2012 10:36 PM

    what are you talking about evan? the giants had a triple threat. Anyone of them could have caught the balls. Brady called time out with 45 seconds left when he was on the ground and the refs let it run down to 39 or so THEN the giants have a penalty on THEM and the refs aloow the time to run down to 9 seconds. Is that legit? The giants had the better team today and the giants should thank the goon that injured gronkoski for their win. If welker was taller he would have caught that ball. It’s over.

  7. linvillegorge says: Feb 5, 2012 10:39 PM

    Not sure what they were thinking selling out to stop Cruz. The Giants have 3 very legit WRs and Nicks is their best one.

  8. roamingabriel says: Feb 5, 2012 10:41 PM

    The best thing about the game is that it’s over and we can stop hearing from all those east coast losers…

  9. domeinate says: Feb 5, 2012 10:41 PM

    Brave and tuff game by the NY receivers.

  10. rodjmaw says: Feb 5, 2012 10:43 PM

    They question if Eli was a elite quarteback. All I gotta say is “you can’t spell ELITE without ELI”

  11. gdeli says: Feb 5, 2012 10:43 PM

    Time for the rise of the vikings? If you see this guys including ponder, you better impress me next season because I am not impressed at all right now. They did squat last year upgrading the team. And to bring in MCNABB? oh my. Not good. What will change next season? I might root for the pack rather than have 52 years of misery. How many vikings SB loses? How many nfc championship loses can we take? I feel AP and harvin’s talents will be wasted again. uh.

  12. schmitty2 says: Feb 5, 2012 10:45 PM

    nxsteven says:
    Feb 5, 2012 10:34 PM
    Is there any real difference between this Patriots team and a Peyton Manning led Colts team?

    Great offense, nearly no defense at all, and a QB that can’t get it done in the clutch.

    Brady and Manning have 4 SB trophies between them you moron!

  13. duanethomas says: Feb 5, 2012 10:46 PM

    Watching ESPN and glad the Pats lost so we won’t be subject to Teddy Bruschi the expert on the New England way with his cadence of a 9 year old kid.

    Tiki is kicking himself because he is an outsider and all he had to do is not critize his QB and coach.

    For laughs I miss Emmitt Smiff the man of many words.

  14. mforman2 says: Feb 5, 2012 10:47 PM

    True, but it was like David Tyree the second. Eli in addition to being good, is the luckiest quarterback in the NFL.

  15. bostonbornandbred says: Feb 5, 2012 10:47 PM

    im gonna post this because im probably going to not visit this site for a month…

    Congrats to the Giants.. you guys out played us all four quarters and deserved the super bowl…

    and to all the other fans who are gonna come on here and rag on the patriots.. guess what… AT least they played in the game tonight… there are 30 other franchises who have NO BUSINESS talking tonite because even though we lost (again) at least we were there…

    so congrats once again Giants…

  16. damnyoulinelliot says: Feb 5, 2012 10:48 PM

    Rex Ryan was right: “New York” won the Super Bowl!

  17. returnofmeezle says: Feb 5, 2012 10:49 PM

    eagles fan here, why isn’t gilbride being considered for head coaching job?

    Eli is clutch, I admit I was one who said he wasn’t

  18. thefiesty1 says: Feb 5, 2012 10:49 PM

    Great catch Mario.

  19. bat42boy says: Feb 5, 2012 10:49 PM

    Manningham should have been MVP. If he didn’t catch that pass the Giants might not have won that game. They gave the MVP to Eli to appease Payton.

  20. duanethomas says: Feb 5, 2012 10:52 PM

    So much for the 10X better practice then 2007 for the Pats. Same result.

  21. svcfilmguy says: Feb 5, 2012 10:52 PM

    Interesting strategy that ultimately backfired. That secondary has been a problem all season, so one of those three was bound to burn the Patriots. It happens.

  22. 7thlombardiontheway says: Feb 5, 2012 10:53 PM

    Okay, wow. Try winning four in a decade. The Steelers know of only one thing. Winning. Appreciate or give up hope. Losers. Win Multiple rings as in +2 and tell me your amazing stories, loser.

  23. gcsuk says: Feb 5, 2012 10:54 PM

    bostonbornandbred says:
    Feb 5, 2012 10:47 PM
    im gonna post this because im probably going to not visit this site for a month…

    Congrats to the Giants.. you guys out played us all four quarters and deserved the super bowl…

    and to all the other fans who are gonna come on here and rag on the patriots.. guess what… AT least they played in the game tonight… there are 30 other franchises who have NO BUSINESS talking tonite because even though we lost (again) at least we were there…

    so congrats once again Giants…
    ——————————————————–

    Absolutely right. Patriots fans hear it from Jets fans, just like Giants fans hear it from Eagles (and Skins) fans. You can talk all the smack you want when YOUR TEAM is playing in the SB. Until then…zip it.

  24. jonanthans says: Feb 5, 2012 10:58 PM

    Congrats Giants fans, your team and your Qb silenced a lot of critics tonight. Your team will be a threat to return to the the big game next season.

  25. rmc1995 says: Feb 5, 2012 10:58 PM

    Nicks has stepped up all year. I didn’t see them sell out on Cruz, I saw a lot of cover 2 and cover 5. Manningham’s big catch was with a safety over top. Nick’s found the soft spots in the zone and showed his experience in reading the defense.

  26. omegaichiban says: Feb 5, 2012 10:59 PM

    Even if he loses the sideline, Eli can put the ball in-bounds. He simply led him out of bounds on the one pass. But hey, It wasn’t a revenge game or anything was it Tom……..

  27. rpmcanes says: Feb 5, 2012 11:02 PM

    Giants made more plays tonight and deserved to win.

  28. goldrush36 says: Feb 5, 2012 11:03 PM

    If Cruz would stop ducking hits, he could’ve at least had twice the yardage I’d imagine. I didn’t catch much of the game but both times I seen him with the ball he was ducking down. Eventually when you keep doing that and then you get up and dance in the defenders faces it catches up to you and some turns the lights out. Congrats to the G-Men on a well earned victory though.

  29. The Prophet says: Feb 5, 2012 11:04 PM

    I think its become clear that the Patriots have no business in the Super Bowl anymore. That lackluster effort just emphasizes how unimpressive their wins over the Ravens and Broncos were. The Patriots have jumped the shark, time to step aside and let new AFC teams rise up in the NFL.

  30. zaggs says: Feb 5, 2012 11:18 PM

    I remember when Eli was drafted and the few years afterwards how the Chargers fans kept bragging that San Diego fleeced the Giants. How you like that trade now Chargers?

  31. patriotinvasion says: Feb 5, 2012 11:23 PM

    Congrats to the Giants. Patriots gotta get better. Eli is elite.

  32. bkostela says: Feb 5, 2012 11:37 PM

    “Although Manningham’s tendency to lose track of the sideline cost the Giants one would-be first-down reception in the second half, he more than made up for the miscue by creating enough separation to secure a perfectly placed over-the-shoulder throw from Eli Manning on the Giants’ final possession.”

    Why do people listen to Chris Collinsworth? If the ball is thrown just inside the numbers, it’s an easy pick for the safety. I understand giving your quarterback a cushion to throw the ball to your outside shoulder, but he got to where he needed to be to catch the ball. The issue should have been made that he didn’t get his feet in, not that he ran the route poorly.

  33. bigbluenoser says: Feb 5, 2012 11:58 PM

    Canyon of heroes anyone

  34. skinsfantom says: Feb 6, 2012 12:17 AM

    ORF14FIRE, you my friend, are an idiot. GDELI cry much? YA FAIRY

  35. kingcarlbanks says: Feb 6, 2012 12:21 AM

    @orf14fire

    You are the epitome of haterism. Your the kinda guy that talks smack on your neighbor’s new car because you can’t afford it, while secretly coveting it. they Giants accomplished something 31 teams couldn’t. If they suck them your team really ain’t worth shizz. But hey keep doin you, Hater, I got a parade to attend!

  36. vman0626 says: Feb 6, 2012 1:52 AM

    you eli haters are right. he is no good. he is lucky. he isn’t in the nfl networks’s top 100 active players. i just have one question….

    how come he has two rings and two mvps
    in four seasons???

  37. DonRSD says: Feb 6, 2012 2:35 AM

    Nicks > Cruz > Manningham
    Cruz needs to buy Nicks whatever he wants.
    Nicks demanding a double team = why Cruz had a fantastic season.
    Nicks = the truth
    Cruz = solid player, but NOT a #1 wr

  38. woohoothing says: Feb 6, 2012 3:02 AM

    Glad we got to see the salsa dance even though cruuuuz had a quiet night because of the dam double team.

  39. jimsjam33 says: Feb 6, 2012 5:33 AM

    Eli you were Super !

  40. raiderredleg says: Feb 6, 2012 6:52 AM

    Patriots (like Green Bay) have a great offensive and will for the next few years, but both teams HAVE TO fix their secondary issues.

    With no Ty Law/Asante Samuel type CB they were horribly outgunned on the back end of their defense (luckily they only faced Denver and Baltimore in the AFC playoffs) and it finally bit them in the Super Bowl when they ran into the Giants, which flooded the field with WRs.

    Kudos to finding Sterling Moore off the Raiders practice squad and the Patriot Way and all, but my arguement is that instead of chasing Ocho Stinko and Albert Hayensworth this offseason the Patriots should have made a bid to sign Nnamdi Asomugha.

    Yes he would have cost a ton, but he is the #1 CB in the NFL right now and NFL Man of the Year type of guy off the field. Having him available to shut down half of the field would have been a difference maker and made the whole defense play better.

    As a Raider fan who has seen the Patriot Way gooble up former Raider players/Draft (leaving the Raiders with an old Richard Seymour) and outperform the Raiders on the field for the last decade since the “Tuck Game” I really don’t understand why Kraft/Belicheck didn’t crack open their wallets and get him.

  41. brownsclown says: Feb 6, 2012 7:05 AM

    Great Game for the Giants and for Eli. They deserved the win. The Pats took away Cruz, and injuries got to the Tight Ends, but Manningham and Nicks stepped up.

    The Pats lost because their wide outs, escpecially Lousy Stinko, could not step up. This game showed that players who feel entitled and believe they are legends (in their own minds) like Gerard Warren and Lousy Stinko, just don’t have it in them to step up and make big plays in big games.

  42. packerbadger says: Feb 6, 2012 8:13 AM

    Madonna outshined the game. Snorefest. Giants are luckiest team alive; and between the last two superbowls and their paths to get there; I don’t ever want to hear a giant fan whine about the refs again. Refs + Luck + Giants = Patriots loss. I really didn’t care who won going into the game, but I’ve never seen so many dropped balls at convenient times of the game or two fumbles by same person on consecutive kickoffs in my life!!

  43. orf14fire says: Feb 6, 2012 10:16 AM

    @kingcarlbank before you post you are supposed to ask your parents if you are able to get on the internet. what are you 12..jb from norfolk

  44. orf14fire says: Feb 6, 2012 10:20 AM

    @skinsfantom. I am assuming by your screen name you are a skins fan. Which means that you saw this joke play and relize that if the skins can beat them twice then the surely suck. Also in cases you didn’t know the pats have the second worse defense in the league; and i am the idiot check your facts. jb from norfolk

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