The New York Giants have now won four Super Bowls, while losing one. Those five games have featured many memorable individual plays (the David Tyree, Mario Manningham and Phil McConkey catches along with the Jeff Rutledge fake punt just to name a few), single-game performances and total team victories. Giant quarterbacks have set records, defenses have dominated and Big Blue even started the tradition of dumping Gatorade over the victorious coach's head. This week's Top 5 list honors the best Super Bowl performers in the team's history.
5. Jeff Hostetler: Since he went on to start 83 games in his career, it's easy to forget that when Hostetler took the field in Super Bowl XXV, he only had four regular-season starts under his belt, along with the two playoff starts that preceded the game against the Buffalo Bills. He didn't set any records, but he more than held his own in the 20-19 victory, going 20-for-32, throwing for 222 yards, tossing a touchdown pass with no interceptions and rushing for 10 yards. And he somehow managed to hold onto the ball while Bruce Smith was sacking him in the end zone for a safety, keeping five crucial points off the scoreboard for the Bills. Not bad for a backup quarterback playing in the biggest game of his life.
4. Ottis Anderson: The MVP of Super Bowl XXV, Anderson made his mark in franchise history by personifying the Giants' game plan of controlling the ball and keeping it out of the hands of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly in the win over the Bills (of course the offensive line played a role in that as well). Anderson rambled for 102 yards on 21 carries, with his longest run being 24 yards. He culminated the longest drive in Super Bowl history up to that point with a one-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter, which gave his team a 17-12 lead. He also made an appearance in Super Bowl XXI, and scored the Giants' final touchdown in their victory over the Denver Broncos.
3. Justin Tuck: The defensive end made a name for himself in Super Bowl XLII, when he led the defense with two sacks and two quarterback hits, as they battered Tom Brady around the field in the Giants' 17-14 upset win over the New England Patriots. Tuck took Patriot points off the board just before halftime, when he sacked Brady and forced a fumble (recovered by Osi Umenyiora) as they were driving into field-goal range. Fast forward four years, and Tuck put in a carbon-copy performance, again with two sacks, plus three quarterback hits and three tackles. And he was instrumental in giving the Giants their first points of the game, when he forced Brady into an intentional-grounding penalty while backed into the end zone, which resulted in a safety. His four sacks are the most by a Giant in Super Bowl play. Leonard Marshall had three and Michael Strahan two-and-a-half in their two Super Bowl appearances.
2. Phil Simms: An injury robbed him of a second Super Bowl start, but his one day of glory was record-setting. Simms earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXI, when he completed a record 88% of his passes, going 22-for-25. During the game he threw 10 consecutive passes, which was a Super Bowl record (since broken by Joe Montana and Brady). He threw for 268 yards, tossed three touchdown passes and didn't turn the ball over. He also rushed for 25 yards for good measure. It may have been the best quarterback performance in Super Bowl history.
1. Eli Manning: Manning tops Simms because he won two Super Bowls, as well as a pair of MVP trophies. His stats (19-for-34, 255 yards, two touchdown passes, one interception) don't begin to tell the story of his first game. He led two fourth-quarter, come-from-behind scoring drives, scrambled his way into Super Bowl highlight films, topping off his miracle escape by throwing the ball to Tyree, who made the miracle helmet catch. And then Manning tossed the winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with less than a minute left in the game, spoiling the Patriots' perfect season. He was even better the next time around, in Super Bowl XLVI, completing 75% of his passes (30-for-40), starting the game with a record nine consecutive completions, throwing for 296 yards, with a touchdown pass and no interceptions or fumbles. He authored another come-from-behind, final-quarter scoring drive, and tossed one of the most perfectly thrown passes in Super Bowl history on that drive (not to mention clutch), with Manningham completing the play with a just-as-perfect catch. Manning's one of five players to win two or more Super Bowl MVP trophies. The question of eliteness has been answered once and for all, so now it's time for the Hall of Fame conversation to commence.