Report Cards: Patriots - Giants SB46

The Giants defeated the Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl 46. Here's how each team fared, broken down by unit.


   PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus - Tom Brady got off to an uncharacteristically poor start, firing a pass over the middle from his own end zone while under pressure from Justin Tuck and, subsequently, costing the team two points via a safety. When the Patriots went to no-huddle, Brady was brilliant, completing a Super Bowl-record 14 consecutive passes on back-to-back drives at the end of the second quarter and start of the third to give the Patriots a 17-9 lead. After getting by Tuck midway through the second half, Brady was never the same; sure, Wes Welker dropped a pass he probably catches 99 times out of a hundred, but Brady also threw two poor passes to Deion Branch down the stretch. Rob Gronkowski was a non-factor, and a drop by Aaron Hernandez on the final drive, despite how well he played throughout, ended up being costly, too.

-- The Patriots never tried to establish the run, though BenJarvus Green-Ellis still finished with a decent total, picking up 44 yards on 10 carries. Green-Ellis, however, did most of his running early, and the team's inability to pick up key yards on first and second down late in the game helped the Giants get the Patriots off the field down the stretch. Kevin Faulk was inactive and Stevan Ridley never saw the field. For all intents and purposes, it was Green-Ellis and Woodhead carrying the load with Welker getting a pair of carries. The bottom line is with a couple of five- or six-yard pickups late in the game, the Patriots might've been in some manageable third-down situations down the stretch.

   PASS DEFENSE: C -- Early on, it appeared the Patriots were content with giving the Giants the underneath routes while not allowing Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks to beat them. Still, Manningham and Nicks made big plays, particularly down the stretch. Forget the brilliant play by Manningham on the Giants' game-winning drive, because the coverage was perfect; Eli Manning simply made a tremendous throw. The problem was allowing Manning to complete 30-of-40 passes and not make a key stop following Manningham's big catch on that final drive. The coverage was too soft down the stretch, much like it was throughout the entire season. To make matters worse, Jerod Mayo should've been able to make a play on Cruz's first-half touchdown, but he had his back to Manning the entire play. This came down to poor execution, which should be no surprise.

   RUSH DEFENSE: D -- For everything Vince Wilfork did in the AFC Championship to snuff out the Ravens, he didn't carry that into the Super Bowl. The Giants double-teamed him constantly, freeing up holes for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. The two combined for 109 yards and a touchdown. While the Giants certainly peaked in the postseason in terms of the effectiveness of their running game, the Patriots looked soft up the middle. Yes, the game plan was to let Bradshaw score on that final drive to leave Brady with enough time to win the game, but the inability to stop the run the entire game allowed the Giants to dominate the time of possession. Brady standing on the sideline watching his defense give up first downs does nothing to help New England's chances.

- This isn't a case in which the Patriots made a ton of mistakes, but more so a nod to how well the Giants played in this phase of the game. Steve Weatherford pinned three punts inside the 10-yard line for the Giants and would've had a fourth were it not for one of his teammates whiffing at the ball near the goal line. The Patriots lost the battle of field position throughout the night and were simply out-played on special teams.

   COACHING: B - Even though Eli Manning completed 30 of 40 passes, the game plan was to force him to go underneath because of a lot of the Cover-2 defensive alignments. It worked, but Manning was patient and didn't have a turnover. Belichick made the decision to allow the final Giants' touchdown so the offense would have time to get in position.

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   PASSING OFFENSE: A - Quarterback Eli Manning put to rest once and for all any doubt that he is indeed an elite quarterback by making smart, economical throws and minimizing mistakes. Although his 296 passing yards weren't gaudy, he completed 30 of 40 of his pass attempts for a touchdown, and was sacked just three times, finishing with a 103.8 passer rating. Manning also set a new Super Bowl record by completing his first nine passes, the most ever to start a game. Throwing to nine different receivers, Manning received most of his passing yards (109) from receiver Hakeem Nicks, though it was Mario Manningham's 38-yard reception that set the wheels in motion for the Giants' come-from-behind score.

   RUSHING OFFENSE: B - The Giants needed their running game to be effective, and that's precisely what they got as starter Ahmad Bradshaw averaged 4.2 yards per carry (17 of 72) while Brandon Jacobs posted a healthy 4.1 average (nine carries for 37 yards). Although the Giants had some trouble running up the gut at times, credit Bradshaw and Jacobs for doing a good job with spotting the holes and hitting them when they were there to keep the chains moving.

   PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Giants did a masterful job of pressuring quarterback Tom Brady, forcing him to throw before he was ready, hitting him eight times and managing two sacks. Brady's longest completion was 21 yards, that to receiver Chad Ochocinco. Meanwhile the Giants defensive backs and linebackers held Patriots receiving weapons such as tight end Aaron Hernandez and receiver West Welker to fewer than 70 yards.

   RUSH DEFENSE: A --  Once again the interior of defensive tackles Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, and Rocky Bernard were masterful at taking away the running lanes up the middle and forcing the Patriots to send their runs to the outside. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the Patriots' top rusher with 10 carries for 44 yards (4.4 average) and a long of 17.

   SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Thanks to some masterful directional punting by Steve Weatherford, who put three of his four punts inside the 10 and whose fourth punt went for a touchback, the Patriots managed to post a grand total of zero return yards. On kickoffs, rookie receiver Jerrel Jernigan capped a nice year-end stretch as a kickoff returner, showing good vision and acceleration and, most importantly, ball security.

   COACHING: A-plus - The Giants were left for dead and buried when they lost free agents like receiver Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss to free agency; and starters such as cornerback Terrell Thomas, linebackers Jonathan Goff, and offensive lineman William Beatty. However, their 65-year-old head coach Tom Coughlin,  never gave up, never stopped finding the right buttons to push or messages to deliver, and as a result, his team has achieved what 31 other teams sought to accomplish, and that is win the Super Bowl.

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