Finish! From the first day of training camp, that was the message head coach Tom Coughlin drove home to his New York Giants. Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the Giants did just that, finishing an amazing run they started seven weeks ago by defeating the New England Patriots, 21-17, to win the 2012 Super Bowl.
The Giants have now won four Super Bowl titles, and they have defeated the Patriots for the title twice in the last five seasons.
MVP Eli Manning led the Giants on a game-winning, 88-yard drive that started with 3:46 left in the game and the Giants trailing 17-15. Five times this season, Manning had finished games by leading his team to fourth-quarter comeback victories. It was somehow appropriate he would do so in the Super Bowl.
After Ahmad Bradshaw capped the final scoring drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, a play on which the New England defense stepped aside and allowed Bradshaw to score, the Giants had to survive one last Brady drive. The great New England quarterback completed one 4th-and-16 pass, but his final play Hail Mary fell incomplete. The Patriots have now won three Super Bowls and lost two with Brady as quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach.
The Giants started the game quickly. New York took a 2-0 lead when Brady, pressured by Justin Tuck in his own end zone, threw a pass away down the middle of the field and was called for intentional grounding on New England's first offensive play.
New York took the free kick following the safety and went 88 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown and a 9-0 lead with 3:29 left in the first quarter. The score came on a two-yard pass from Manning to Victor Cruz.
The Patriots rebounded in the second quarter. New England got a 29-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, then took the lead near the end of the first with a 14-play, 96-yard drive that ended on a four-yard pass from Brady to Danny Woodhead with eight seconds left in the half.
New England kept its momentum early in the second half. The Patriots opened the third quarter with possession of the ball and immediately drove 79 yards in eight plays for a touchdown, taking a 17-9 lead. The score came on a 12-yard pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez.
The Giants quickly responded with a 10-play drive that resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes, making the score Patriots 17, Giants 12 with 6:47 left in the third quarter.
New York closed to within 17-15 later in the quarter on a 33-yard field goal by Tynes.
There was no further scoring until the Giants began their final drive with 3:46 to play. Manning quickly hit Mario Manningham for 38 yards down the left sideline. This brilliant catch by Manningham was challenged by Belichick, but upheld. Eight plays later Bradshaw went up the middle for the six-yard game-winning score.
The Patriots had a final chance with 57 seconds to play. New England moved form the 20-yard line to its own 49-yard line with five seconds to play, but Brady's Hail Mary fell incomplete. The Giants had finished what they started when they were 7-7 and looking as if they might not make the playoffs at all.
New York finished the season 13-7 overall, with six consecutive victories leading to the championship -- the team's second in the Coughlin-Manning era.