Dj vu: Giants win Super Bowl on late touchdown


Dj vu: Giants win Super Bowl on late touchdown

Updated: Sunday, Feb. 5 at 10:04 p.m.

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Take that, Brady. You too, Peyton.Eli Manning is the big man in the NFL after one-upping Tom Brady and leading the New York Giants to a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl - in older brother Peyton's house, at that.Just as Manning did four years ago when the Giants ruined New England's perfect season, he guided them 88 yards to the decisive touchdown, which the Patriots didn't contest as Ahmad Bradshaw ran 6 yards with 57 seconds left.Patriots coach Bill Belichick reasoned the Giants would run the clock down and kick a short field goal, so he gambled by allowing the six points.The gamble failed.And now Manning not only has stamped himself as the elite quarterback he claimed to be when the season began - in the same class as Brady - he's beaten the Patriots in two thrilling Super Bowls. The Giants (13-7), who stood 7-7 in mid-December, now own the football world, and Manning owns two Super Bowl MVP awards, the same number as Brady.It was a classic can-you-top-this showdown, and Manning won. He finished 30-for-40 for 296 yards and one touchdown, while Brady was 27 for 41 for 276 yards, with two TDs and one interception."It's been a wild game, a wild season," Manning said. "This isn't about one person. It's about one team, a team coming together."Manning led six comeback victories during the season and set an NFL record with 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He showed that brilliance in the clutch on the winning drive. He completed five passes, including a sensational 38-yard sideline catch by Mario Manningham to open the drive.On second down at the Patriots 6 and with only one timeout remaining, Belichick had his defense stand up as Bradshaw took the handoff. Bradshaw thought about stopping short of the end zone, then tumbled in untouched."I was yelling to him, Don't score, don't score,'" Manning said. "He tried to stop, but he fell into the end zone."Brady couldn't answer in the final 57 seconds, although his desperation pass into the end zone on the final play fell just beyond the grasp of All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. New England (15-4), winner of 10 straight since a loss to the Giants in November, was done."I want to give the Giants a lot of credit," Brady said. "It's a very good football team and they put a lot of pressure on us. We just came up a little bit short."Brady headed off with his head bowed, holding his helmet, while around him was the wild celebration by the Giants, NFL champions for the eighth - and perhaps most unlikely - time."Great toughness, great faith, and great plays by a number of guys today," Manning said, deflecting some of the attention. Still, he one-upped Brady. And Peyton."It just feels good to win a Super Bowl, it doesn't matter where you are," Manning said.It was the fifth trip to a Super Bowl for Brady and Belichick, tying the record. And it looked like a successful one when they stormed back from a 9-0 deficit and led 17-9 in the third quarter. But the Giants, who reached New England territory on every possession except a kneeldown at the end of the first half, got field goals of 38 and 33 yards from Lawrence Tynes. And it looked like Tynes, who kicked them into the Super Bowl four years ago at Green Bay and again this year at San Francisco, both in overtime, would get called on again.Then Belichick, known to try just about anything in a game, took a risk that didn't pay off."I thought we played very competitive. ... We were in the lead for a good part of the game. We just came up a couple of plays short," Belichick said. "You don't feel good after you lose this game."The Giants are the first Super Bowl winner that was outscored during the regular season. They were 6-2 after that 24-20 victory at New England, then lost four straight and five of six.Coach Tom Coughlin insisted "the prize" was still within reach. Now the Giants are holding tight to that Vince Lombardi Trophy."What I was concerned with was these guys making their own history," Coughlin said. "This is such a wonderful thing, these guys carving their own history."New England had the ball for all of one play in the first 11 1-2 minutes, and that play was an utter failure, a rare poor decision by Brady. After Steve Weatherford's punt was downed at the New England 6, Brady dropped to pass in the end zone and had time. With everyone covered and Giants defensive end Justin Tuck finally coming free to provide pressure, Brady heaved the ball downfield while still in the pocket.Only problem: No Patriots receivers were anywhere near the pass. The Giants were awarded a safety for Brady's grounding in the end zone.Manning, meanwhile, couldn't have been more on target early, hitting six receivers in the first period, completing his first nine throws, a Super Bowl record. He also was aided by Ahmad Bradshaw, who hardly looked like a running back with a bad foot. Bradshaw broke a 24-yard run, and New England made another critical mistake by having 12 men on the field on a third-and-3 on which the Giants fumbled.Instead, New York got a first down at the 6, and two plays later Victor Cruz beat James Ihedigbo on a slant to make it 9-0, prompting Cruz to break into his signature salsa move.Manning's first incompletion didn't come until 1:19 into the second quarter.At that point, it was 9-3 after Stephen Gostkowski's 29-yard field goal. The Patriots got to the Giants' 11, but All-Pro DE Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a third-down pass.Soon after, when the Patriots had a three-and-out and Pierre-Paul blocked another throw, Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien had a quick discussion. Then O'Brien, soon to take over as Penn State coach, went over to the struggling Brady.The talk must have helped. On the final series of the opening half, Brady was masterful. Starting at his 4, and ignoring the last time the Patriots began a series in the shadow of the end zone, he was vintage Brady.With New York's vaunted pass rush disappearing, Brady went 10-for-10 for 98 yards, capping the drive that included two Patriots penalties with Woodhead's 4-yard TD reception with 8 seconds to go in the half. Hernandez and Woodhead each had four catches on the drive that, stunningly, put New England ahead despite being outplayed for so much of the first 30 minutes.Brady kept firing - and hitting - in the third quarter, with five more completions. The Giants didn't come within shouting distance of the record-setting quarterback. He capped a 79-yard drive to open the second half with a 12-yard TD to Hernandez, but then the game turned. Again.Consecutive field goals by Lawrence Tynes of 38 and 33 yards brought New York within 17-15. Brady then threw deep for his tight end after weaving away from two pass rushers. His throw was short, and Chase Blackburn picked it off early in the fourth quarter.Although the Giants moved into New England territory again, as they did on every drive to that point, they bogged down and punted.Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Why the Bears can't afford a complete collapse just for a better draft pick

Why the Bears can't afford a complete collapse just for a better draft pick

As the 2016 Bears season spiraled down to its 1-6 point, one segment of the fan base looks at that problem and sees opportunity in the form of a total collapse that would position the Bears in 2017 to draft a true franchise quarterback.

Nothing could be worse.

Because if the crumbling continues and the Bears wind up, say, 2-14, the Bears might wind up with the No. 1 or No. 2 pick overall. But the lurching downwards will have revealed so many grievous need craters that the organization will be forced to shop the pick in order to fill more gaping holes than they appear to have even now. “Best available” is where teams like that go, because almost any pick at any position will be an upgrade, and a 2-14 team will need a lot of “best availables.”

Put another way: If the Bears bumble in at 2-14, one broader conclusion could be that two years of franchise-reforming by general manager Ryan Pace have been utter failures. If that comes to pass (unlikely), his ability to successfully direct a third draft would be highly suspect.

Instead, consider: The Bears held the No. 7 pick in the 2015 draft. They took their due-diligence look at Marcus Mariota in that draft class. But Tennessee wanted a ransom, and the Bears concluded that the price for moving up would have gutted Ryan Pace’s first draft class. Instead, the Bears landed what was five starters (Kevin White, Eddie Goldman, Hroniss Grasu, Jeremy Langford, Adrian Amos) before the injury tsunami rolled through.

The Titans used the pick for Mariota and improved — from 2-14 to 3-13, leaving them at No. 2 again. This time they traded out of the pick and built a book of 10 selections, but only one (Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin, No. 8) is starting on a 3-4 team. Quantity does not assure quality.

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Now consider: The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles finished 7-9 in 2015. Meaning, they had solid pieces in place: for the Rams, Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Robert Quinn; for the Eagles, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Jason Peters.

The Rams climbed the draft from No. 15 to the No. 1 pick that belonged to the Titans. They took Jared Goff, who’s still waiting for Jeff Fischer to conclude that the rookie could do a whole lot worse than Case Keenum’s 8-10 touchdown-interception ratio and 77.5 rating. Even with that, the Rams are still 3-4.

The Eagles (4-2) went all in for Carson Wentz (swapping 2016 No. 1s and giving up a No. 2, a No. 3, and No. 4 this year, and their 2017 No. 1) and thought enough of him to deal away Sam Bradford to the Vikings, whom Wentz and Eagles just bested last weekend.

Better in the Bears’ current situation and have a demonstrably good enough core that dealing up for a top-ranked quarterback — Clemson's Deshaun Watson, Ole Miss' Chad Kelly or North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky? — makes sense rather than to be a complete shambles at the end of the 2016 season and wondering if any draft pick, quarterback or other, could be trusted.

Bears get Jay Cutler back as QB competition with Brian Hoyer fades to black

Bears get Jay Cutler back as QB competition with Brian Hoyer fades to black

If there was any quarterback “controversy” swirling about the Bears – and one likely will be after this season – this one is safely resolved with Jay Cutler cleared by team medical staff to return from his injured thumb and begin practicing this week, all of this about the time that Brian Hoyer was undergoing surgery for his broken right arm suffered in the loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Whether Cutler would have been re-installed as the starter had Hoyer remained healthy, and throwing for 300 yards per game, is a moot point now. Indications were that Hoyer would not lose the job if he was playing well.

But now, “obviously Jay’s our starter,” said coach John Fox. “He was injured, not permitted to play medically. And now that he’s healed he’s back to being our starter.

“That’s really the facts and kind of what happened and where we’re at now. So I don’t know that there was a ‘competition’ to speak of. Just like there wasn’t a competition when Matt Barkley went in [at Green Bay]; he was our only quarterback left. So it’s good to have Jay back. We’re excited to have him back and hopefully he can remain healthy.”

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Team chemisty is difficult if not impossible to gauge from the outside. And whether teammates prefer Cutler or Hoyer personally is only marginally relevant anyway.

But Cutler was voted an offensive co-captain (along with Alshon Jeffery) and the offense ostensibly is more dangerous with Cutler and his deep-threat capability. Still, the Bears scored just 21 points in the combined seven quarters behind Cutler, while reaching 17-17-23-16 in whole games under Hoyer.

Cutler’s return is expected to have a ripple effect on the rest of the team.“We don’t really play into that much,” said center Cody Whitehair. “[Whoever’s] back there, we’re going to try and do our best to protect them and do our thing on the run.

“But you know, it is nice to have him back. He’s been a leader on the sideline even while he wasn’t playing and it’ll be nice to have him back out there.”