There’s not much question about what was the biggest play of Super Bowl XLVI.
Mario Manningham’s 38-yard catch on the Giants’ final drive of the game was the longest play from scrimmage in the game, it set the Giants up at midfield on their way to the winning score and it took a great catch by Manningham on a great throw by Eli Manning to make it happen. Manningham was able to get both feet in while sprawling out to corral the ball and held it while falling to the ground on the sideline. Manningham had blown a chance at another big grab on the previous Giants drive when he couldn’t stay in bounds on a second down play that would have put the Giants into prime scoring position, making his redemption all the sweeter.
“They rolled into cover-2 at the last minute and I see (Patriots corner Sterling Moore) in the corner and he acted like he was going to backpedal, but he came up to play cover-2,” Manningham said, via the Boston Herald. “I like spinned him and worked him outside and Eli split the ball on the money. Great ball. I knew where I was on the sideline. I knew I didn’t have much room. Good thing I wear 11 because if I wore 111⁄2 I don’t think I would’ve been in.”
Moore had played pretty well up until that point in the game. The Patriots secondary was leveled with a lot of criticism in the week before the game with Manningham and the other Giants receivers barely able to contain their glee about the chance to face the New England defensive backs. But the Pats never went with Julian Edelman, who looked bad against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, and limited the Giants passing game for most of the evening. The Giants were able to move the ball, but they had to settle for field goals in the third quarter, allowing the Patriots to remain in the lead.
On the fateful pass to Manningham, Moore knew he would have help over the top from safety Patrick Chung so he tried to jam Manningham at the line. He couldn’t get the job done, as he told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
“I got my hands on him about four yards down the field,” he said. “I’ve got to get more on him. I didn’t get enough on him to give Patrick a chance to get over the top. I put that on myself.”
Chung didn’t hold his teammate responsible for the big play. His thoughts sum up the correct reaction to the play that helped turn the game in the Giants’ favor.
“He had both feet down. Good throw, good catch, man.”