Giants O-line steps up in crunch time for Manning in NY Life Protection Index
NORTHBROOK, Ill. (STATS) – When it mattered most, Eli Manning
received just enough protection to help lead the New York Giants to
their second Super Bowl victory in five years.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants defense stepped up its
pressure at just the right times to bring Tom Brady down in
critical situations and keep the New England Patriots from yet
“The offense did their job and we had to do our part,” defensive
end Mathias Kiwanuka said after New York’s 21-17 victory in Super
Bowl XLVI on Sunday. “They put us in position to win the game.”
In the highly-anticipated title rematch between two of the NFL’s
best when it comes to protecting their quarterback, the Giants
posted a 74.2 rating in the New York Life Protection Index to top
the Patriots, who graded out at 62.0 on the NFL’s biggest stage in
The NYLPI is a proprietary formula created by STATS LLC which
measures pass protection by using metrics such as length of passes,
penalties by offensive linemen, sacks allowed and quarterback
hurries and knockdowns.
Two weeks after Manning was sacked six times, hurried another
six and knocked down 12 overall in a 20-17 overtime win at San
Francisco in the NFC championship game, he stayed off the Lucas Oil
Stadium turf for the most part Sunday. He was sacked three times,
but hurried only once and knocked down just five in all.
For the game, Manning finished 30 of 40 for 296 yards with a
touchdown and no interceptions en route to earning MVP honors for
the second time. And when the game was on the line, Manning was
hardly touched as he again directed a late-game rally over New
England for the Lombardi Trophy.
“That last drive, looking at each other in the huddle, looking
in each other’s eyes, we said we’re going to finish this thing,”
tackle David Diehl said.
Four years after leading New York on a 12-play, 83-yard drive he
capped with a 13-yard TD pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds
remaining in a 17-14 win in Super Bowl XLII, Manning and Co. were
at their best in the clutch again.
Trailing 17-15 with 3:46 remaining, Manning drove the Giants 88
yards in nine plays. They took the lead with 57 seconds left when
the Patriots allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to score in order to give Brady
time to lead the Patriots back down the field.
But the biggest play of the drive was its first. Backed up at
their own 12, Manning’s offensive line gave him just enough time to
unleash a pinpoint throw, hitting Mario Manningham, who made a
remarkable over-the-shoulder catch while keeping his feet inbounds
for a 38-yard gain to midfield.
Stuck in the shadow of brother Peyton for so long, the
oft-maligned younger Manning seven times has led the Giants to
“He is confident,” coach Tom Coughlin said of Manning, who
became the first quarterback to complete his first nine attempts in
a Super Bowl. “He looks to his teammates. He is a guy who is an
outstanding leader. He has taken responsibility for his team.”
And Manning’s line has taken responsibility for him. The unit
finished eighth in the NYLPI rankings at 71.7. It was whistled for
one false start and one holding call Sunday, and was critical in
allowing New York to hold the ball for more than 37 minutes,
keeping Brady and his weapons at bay on the sideline.
Defensively, the Giants set the tempo early against New
England’s front five with a play that altered the game on New
England’s very first play.
After New York failed to score on the game’s opening drive,
Justin Tuck pressured Brady enough in his own end zone that the
three-time Super Bowl champ hastily threw a deep incompletion down
the middle of the field. But there were no receivers in the
vicinity, and Brady was whistled for intentional grounding,
resulting in a safety.
“Tuck, I think, was coming and about to get me. I had to get rid
of it,” said Brady, who was 27 of 41 for 276 yards with two
touchdowns, one interception and the victim of some key dropped
passes while playing with a shoulder injury suffered on Tuck’s
first sack in the third quarter.
Brady, who saw his protection settle down for much of the game
after that, set a Super Bowl record with 16 straight completions.
But he was unable to get rid of the ball on the Patriots’ final
drive when Tuck dropped him on third-and-10, forcing New England to
call its final timeout.
Five plays later, Brady’s desperation heave to the end zone was
knocked down, along with the Patriots’ Super Bowl chances.
In the end, Tuck sacked Brady twice and the Giants hurried him
six times, knocking him down seven overall. Pro Bowl defensive end
Jason Pierre-Paul batted down two passes for a New York defense
that, over the final 26 minutes, shut out a New England offense
that averaged 35.8 points during the regular season.
“They had a great scheme there and they had something going
there to stop our rush,” said Tuck, who also helped harass Brady
during New York’s 24-20 win at New England on Nov. 6. “But we
changed our coverage, and the secondary did a good job so we could
eat up front.”
Despite falling short in Indianapolis, New England fared well
enough to rank fifth overall with a 77.1 rating in the final NYLPI
New Orleans’ quarterback Drew Brees enjoyed a record-setting
season thanks to some consistently strong protection that helped
the Saints record an NYLPI-season high 87.9 rating – the only
rating above 80.0.
Plagued by a late season-ending thumb injury to quarterback Jay
Cutler, the Chicago Bears ranked last at 43.2.