It was February 3, 2008, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants had stayed relevant in the game against the New England Patriots with 2:39 left on the clock. A young Eli Manning trotted onto the field with nervous energy, but the gods hand-delivered the drive that won them Super Bowl XLII.
The Giants started at their own 16-yard line with Manning in shotgun in a 3×1 wide receiver set. Eli stepped back into the pocket with jittery feet, launching a pass in between three defenders that Amani Toomer caught at the 28-yard line.
What happened next was a bit more nerve-racking, as Eli scooped a low snap off the floor and threw a pass off his back foot that sailed over the head of Plaxico Burress, which easily could’ve been an interception.
Luckily, the Giants had the football gods on their side that day, as Eli launched another pass off his back foot on a deep out-route by Plaxico Burress from the slot. A Patriots defender jumped up in the air and nearly came down with the game-sealing interception.
At that moment, with Manning under center on a 3rd-and-10 play, he launched another ball off his back foot right to Amani Toomer at the sticks. He was about a yard short, coining arguably the game’s most intense moment. Standing in the offensive backfield on 4th-and-1 was Brandon Jacobs, a 264-pound car of a human being. With an illustrious stretch of his right arm, Jacobs fell forward just enough to secure a first down and gift the Giants a chance at victory.
Many times over the lengthy career of Eli Manning, we’ve seen him get caught from behind and fumble the football. On the very next play, after Jacobs converted, Manning lost control of the ball after being hit from behind but corralled it between his legs, stifling yet another opportunity for New England to end the game.
On 2nd-and-5, Manning threw a prayer to the sidelines with David Tyree cutting his route short. Asante Samuel had a chance to seal the game, but the ball flew right through his hands. New England had three different opportunities to intercept Manning before he crossed midfield on 3rd-and-5 with one of the most insane moments in Super Bowl history.
Manning escaped the clutches of the New England pass rush, heaving up a ball that will forever be remembered as one of the craziest throws and moments the league had ever seen. David Tyree high-pointed the football, clutching it against his helmet as he stayed above the grass and put the Giants in a position to walk away with a miracle.
Soon after, the Giants faced a 3rd-and-11 with 47 seconds left on the clock. Eli hit Steve Smith on the boundary, who tip-toed his way to a first down, putting the Giants in prime position to throw a beautiful fade route to Plaxico in the end zone.
With 35 seconds on the clock, the Giants needed their defense to step up and stop Tom Brady after one of the most exciting drives in Super Bowl history. We all know how the end played out, and we’ve been reminiscing ever since as the Giants fight to climb to the top of the NFL once again.
If I could go back in time and rewatch this drive for the first time… I think I’d pay a hefty amount to experience it all over again ?
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) February 13, 2022