You hate to reduce this great game of football to just the quarterbacks, but sometimes that really is the difference.
Eli Manning and Tom Brady both had great moments and mistakes Sunday night, but Manning was clearly better when it counted in the final minutes of the game.
Manning hit three straight difficult throws on third down or while getting hit to set up New York’s field goal to cut the lead to 17-15.
When Brady got the ball back, he put the Patriots right on the edge of scoring again. He laudably drained the clock. But a high throw to an open Wes Welker on second down and a misfire to Deion Branch on third down gave the Giants the ball back.
Yes, Welker could have made a difficult catch. Or Branch could have made life easier on Brady by sitting down in the zone. But the Patriots passing game undeniably misfired when they had a chance to put the game out of reach.
When Manning got the ball back, he went for the kill. His 38-yard toss to Mario Manningham was thrown to a well covered receiver into an impossibly tight window. Manningham’s catch was just as good as Manning’s throw.
After that, Manning calmly move the ball down the field on the way to the winning score.
It was the story of the season. Manning was at his best when the pressure was greatest.