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    "There was a sense of déjà vu in the lead up to the 46th
    Super Bowl on Sundayand the game didn’t disappoint, delivering a game full of
    intrigue and drama, that resulted in the New York Giants taking their second
    Super Bowl in the last five, the franchise’s fourth, and making the New England
    Patriots wait at least one more year to add their own fourth Super Bowl.

    Much of the pre-game build up revolved around the dominance of individual
    units and individual positional groups but throughout the course of sixty
    minutes each team’s defense and each team’s offense had spells where they had a
    clear upper hand on the opposition ensuring that neither team could get out of
    sight. Ten points is the magic barrier in the Super Bowl but each team fell just
    short of this margin and instead it was the final swing of the pendulum, a 12-0
    scoring run from midway through the third quarter, back towards the Giants that
    proved decisive. Once again it was the Giants’ offense taking control of the
    ball with the game on the line that proved decisive as it has in the prior two
    encounters between these two teams. The Patriots recognized this and tried
    everything to get Tom Brady the ball back with time to win the game, but 80
    yards in 57 seconds proved too much.

    This game may have been short
    on the memorable plays of recent Super Bowls, Mario Manningham’s sideline play
    aside which should stand as an all-time great Super Bowl play (for the throw as
    much as the catch), but it delivered consistent intrigue and drama with momentum
    swinging back and forth. There is always a slightly melancholy air to Super Bowl
    reviews, this was the last competitive game for seven months, so for the final
    time this season join us as we take a look at some key performances from Super
    Bowl XLVI.

    New York – Three
    Performances of Note

    Delivering when the heat is

    The law of averages might have suggested that the pressure should catch up
    with Eli Manning in this game, but the law of averages haven’t
    reckoned with his 2011 season which he capped off with a well-deserved Super
    Bowl MVP award (+8.2 PFF
    grade) after another fine performance, once again in the face of pressure.
    Manning was pressured on 17 of his 43 dropbacks in this game and though early
    sacks might have suggested that the pressure would get to Manning in this game
    he quickly rediscovered his form. For the game Manning was 12-for-14 on passes
    under pressure picking up an NFL QB rating of 105.4 and gaining nearly three
    yards more per attempt when he waspressured. It wasn’t just in the face of heat
    from the Patriots’ pass rush that Manning delivered though as once again as the
    pressure rose late in the game Manning and his receivers, this time
    Mario Manningham (+1.1) delivered in the most
    spectacular of fashions. Manningham’s catch was excellent down the sideline with
    a hit coming and only inches to play with, but Manning’s throw off of the back
    foot with Vince Wilfork walking Kevin Booth
    back to Manning was equally as impressive. The Giants quarterbacks and receivers
    have carried them all season long, it was fitting that once again that was the
    case in their most important game of the season.

    Interior pass rush steps

    Make that four out of six rematches in which the Giants have raised their
    game in the pass rushing stakes this season. Back in Week 9 the Giants’
    defensive linemen were held largely in check by the Patriots but in a flashback
    to Super Bowl XLII the Giants pass rushers got the upper hand in this game. The
    stars off of the edge were, as expected, Justin Tuck (+4.1) and Jason
    (+5.1), with Tuck providing the
    key plays in the second half and Pierre-Paul using his hands to be a difference
    maker early when stopped from reaching Tom Brady. However it was the
    contribution of the interior pass rushers that shouldn’t be overlooked in this
    game, with not only Tuck & Pierre-Paul contributing as interior pass rushers
    but also the Giants’ base defensive tackle pairing of Linval
    (+1.0) and Chris Canty (+2.9) who made their presence
    felt in this game. They combined to record one hit and six pressures on Tom
    Brady with Joseph matching his season high with four total pressures on just 19
    times rushing the passer. They also proved a deterrent in the running game as
    well with the Patriots only attempting eight rushes between the tackle, picking
    up just over 3.5 yards per carry on those runs.

    Fringe performers make the

    An argument could be made for the fact that this game swung on one turnover
    that did happen and three turnovers that didn’t, as players not quite in the New
    York spotlight made a huge difference in the turnover differential column and
    helped the Giants on their way. The first and most obvious contributor was
    Chase Blackburn (+1.5) who was the beneficiary of
    an underthrown pass byBrady who simply hit the edge of his range trying to find
    Rob Gronkowski down the field. Blackburn redeemed himself on
    two counts on that play, recovering after allowing Gronkowski behind him on the
    play, but also atoning for a shoddy attempt in man coverage against
    Aaron Hernandez on the play that established the Patriots’
    eight point lead. On offense the Giants’ hustle diving on loose balls kept them
    in the game late,although it wasan uncharacteristic penalty on the Patriots
    thatspared Victor Cruz’s blushes early on. Only the quick
    thinking and high motor of Henry Hynoski (+2.4) and Chris
    (+0.8) prevented the Giants from giving the ball
    away on what would otherwise have been potentially back breaking turnovers,
    particularly Snee’s recovery which almost certainly saved the game for the
    Giants early in the fourth quarter. A further touchdown and a nine point lead
    for the Patriots at that stage might have proved insurmountable.

    New England – Three
    Performances of Note

    Defensive line

    The biggest reason for the Patriots’ AFC Championship game success pulled a
    complete 180 in the Super Bowl, becoming one of the fundamental reasons for
    their defeat to the Giants, as the defensive line simply couldn’t make a
    consistent impact on the game. The Giants made liberal use of double teams in
    run and pass games and, whether they were worn down or disheartened by this
    tactic, when presented with one on one situations against inferior linemen they
    simply couldn’t make an impact. Vince Wilfork (-2.5) was a one man wrecking crew
    in the championship game, but recorded a single pressure and no stops on Super
    Bowl Sunday. Mark Anderson (-1.0) recorded two
    sacks, but nothing more in the entire game as he saw his fair share of double
    teams. Going up against the worst pass protecting line in the league the
    Patriotscouldn’t make theone-on-one matchups tell enough to disrupt Eli
    Manning in the pocket on a consistent basis. The Patriots’ most effective
    defensive linemen all game long were Shaun Ellis (+1.7) and Gerard
    (+3.7) who
    each put in one of their best games of the season when it counted, unfortunately
    their teammates didn’t match that level of play.

    Right side

    One of the question marks entering this game for the Patriots would be who
    would start at right tackle, Sebastian Vollmer, playing the
    better football but struggling with injury,or rookie Nate
    likely the safer option on health grounds. In the end both
    started, with the Patriots opening with a six man line, and both saw extended
    playing time with neither young player covering themselves in glory. Solder
    (-4.2) played 29 snaps
    yielding four pressures on only 18 pass plays whilst Vollmer (-3.9) fared little better on his
    41 snaps yielding one hit and six pressures on 30 pass plays. The two combined
    to yield 11 total pressures giving up pressure just over once every four plays,
    with Brady seeing each pressure coming and looking unsettled by it. In two prior
    playoff games Tom Brady (+0.1) saw pressure on
    just 13 dropbacks, in Super Bowl XLVI he was pressured on 20 of his 43 drop
    backs and his QB rating plummeted from 122.0 with no pressure, including his two
    touchdowns, to 51.6 on plays where he was pressured. The Patriots’ right tackles
    weren’t alone, Logan Mankins (-4.1) continued his subpar
    season, yielding one sack and three pressures in this game as he turned in his
    fourth game with a grade of
    or below this season, as many as he recorded inthe
    previous three seasons combined.

    Defense steps up but no big play in
    the crunch

    This game was an evenly matched one and it could be argued that it came down
    to delivery in the crunch and the ability to create, make or finish that one big
    play. In an all too common theme for New England they saw the Giants do that
    whilst their own opportunities slipped through their fingers. The weakness in
    the New England defense has been thinly veiled all season long and on this
    occasion it was Devin McCourty (-1.3 coverage) and
    Antwaun Molden (-2.1 coverage) who were the most
    ineffective in coverage. Sterling Moore yielded more yards,
    butgot in to break up a handful of passes either playing the man or the ball.
    McCourty & Molden combined to allow all 11 passes targeted to their coverage
    for 117 yards as Hakeem Nicks victimized them in this game. The
    Patriots created the potential for game breaking plays on defense, twice prizing
    the ball loose from New York ball carriers. If the ball bounces differently or
    breaks to a New England defender would we be lauding Brandon
    (+1.5) or
    Jerod Mayo (-1.7) as heroes this morning for
    causing crucial turnovers in a New England victory?


    - For the second straight playoff game the Giants defense recorded 27 total
    pressures. They recorded three more sacks in San Francisco, but got more
    production from interior pass rushers in this game.

    - Tom Brady’s completion percentage on passes aimed less than ten yards
    downfield: 92%, on passes aimed ten or more yards downfield: 40%.

    - Jerod Mayo registered more tackles than any other defender with 11, but
    only two of those were defensive stops.

    PFF Game

    His quarterback was rightfully awarded the MVP award but Justin
    delivered in the crunch and came up with, arguably, two of the
    three most important defensive plays of the game. Tuck’s three highest graded
    games of the season came against the Jets, in San Francisco in the championship
    game and last night in Indianapolis. Overall this season was disappointing from
    Tuck but when it mattered most he delivered in spades.

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2

    Way to go Justin Tuck!!!