A little more than nine hours after the New York Giants registered their second Super Bowl triumph in four years, coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning met with the media covering Super Bowl XLVI one last time Monday morning.
The Giants put together a late-season run that included six straight wins to end the year, culminating with a 21-17 win over the New England Patriots Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“What a great morning it is for us to come before you as Super Bowl Champions and as world champions,” Coughlin voiced. “It was a great football game, as it always is – the New England Patriots, [Coach] Bill Belichick, an exceptional football coach, and a great game.
“These [Giants-Patriots] games are always this way. Last minute, fourth quarter. We talk an awful lot throughout [the season], finish, finish, finish.
“And the young man who won the MVP certainly put our team on his back many, many times, and we finished in the fourth quarter with some kind of a score that would allow us to eventually win the game. We’re excited.”
The Giants coach, who began Super Bowl week by hoping that fans of the hometown Indianapolis Colts would also embrace his team, had praise for the team’s Super Bowl experience and hosts.
“Our stay here in Indianapolis has been outstanding,” Coughlin said. “I mention the University of Indianapolis and the people there, and the hospitality that we received in practicing over there. The facility, and the National Football League, and the University of Indianapolis providing us with an exceptional practice site, we appreciated that very much. And the hospitality of the people of Indianapolis has been extended to us and we’re very, very thankful.
“I’d also like to mention the general manager Phil Ray of the Downtown Marriott. You don’t find many people like this who answer questions for you and solve problems, and it’s done. All you have to do is say something to Phil about any issue that you’d like and he solves it, and I appreciate that very much as well.”
In looking back at the season that New York put together, especially the team’s playoff march to the Super Bowl title, the Giants coach explained what got his squad to the pinnacle of professional football.
“Mental toughness, resiliency, resolve,” Coughlin said. “We keep playing, we keep fighting and we’re highly competitive. We do have great trust in each other, great belief that we can finish, and that if we keep playing one play at a time as hard as we can go that we will find a way to win.
“There isn’t any question about it and it’s a part of the team idea and a part of the individuals being responsible to one another. When I called for better peer pressure, maybe three-quarters of the way through the season, that’s what I was looking for were guys who, yeah they were constructive, there’s no doubt about it. But they were also asking of each other that each individual study and prepare and practice and play his very, very best and the result being that you are responsible to one another. You have to be accountable to one another. You have to be someone who takes great pride in that responsibility.”
• Mr. MVP – Success isn’t about to change Manning, that’s for sure.
Even after winning a second Most Valuable Player award in his second-ever Super Bowl game, the soft-spoken Giants quarterback preferred to thank teammates and coaches rather than talk about himself, his standout performance in the win over the Patriots or what’s in the future for older brother Peyton.
“This is about a team and organization being named world champions,” Eli voiced. “That was the ultimate goal. That’s the only thing that was important, the team finding a way to get a victory. That’s the only thing I care about.”
He added that the talk about a sibling rivalry over the number of Super Bowl championships was silly.
“Peyton and I both know that’s what the goal is every year. It’s not about anything else,” Eli said. “You know, this isn’t about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger.”
Coughlin was proud of the way the younger Manning produced all year, especially down the stretch and into the postseason.
“I congratulated Eli [after Sunday night’s win] and of course being Eli he said to me after winning the MVP that, ‘All I want to do is help our team win,’ which is so consistent with the way he is,” he said. “I thought, again, this business is about elite quarterbacks, I think that question’s come and gone. I don’t think we’ll hear much about that again.”
• Weatherford getting noticed – Terre Haute native Steve Weatherford, the Giants’ punter, made the media rounds Monday as well with interviews on ESPN and several other national outlets.
Weatherford was credited with an outstanding game by continually putting New England’s offense deep in their own territory to begin drives. He set a Super Bowl record by becoming the first punter to have three kicks downed three punts inside the 10-yard line. A fourth punt was almost nearly downed inside the 10-yard line but bounced away from a New York player and went into the end zone.
“I recognize our guy, Steven Weatherford, and the way he’s played down the stretch and punted the ball, and created field position for our team,” Coughlin said Monday.
• Big ratings for game – According to NBC Sports, Super Bowl XLVI earned a 47.8/71 overnight rating/share to become the third-highest overnight rating in Super Bowl history and less than one percent off the highest (47.9 for both Super Bowl XLV between Green Bay and Pittsburgh and Super Bowl XXI between the Giants and Denver).
The rating grew throughout the game and peaked at a 51.8/73 from 9:30-10 p.m. (EST) in the fourth quarter when Manning led the Giants on a game-winning drive.