Super Defensive Effort Set Up Giant Victory Quarterback Eli Manning will get plenty of credit for leading the New York Giants to a Super Bowl upset. But don't forget the tenacious Giants defense, which sacked Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady five times.
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Super Defensive Effort Set Up Giant Victory

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Super Defensive Effort Set Up Giant Victory

Super Defensive Effort Set Up Giant Victory

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The New York Giants have pulled off a Super Bowl upset of Giant proportions. It was a victory that stunned the undefeated New England Patriots and electrified Giants fans. Here's one of them, Van Salient(ph). He said he never doubted his team, even as they trailed the Patriots with less than a minute to go.

Mr. VAN SALIENT (Giants Fan): I knew it was going to be hard. Even though they were down 14-10, I knew there was going to be a comeback, especially the way Eli was playing. He wasn't making those many mistakes, so I knew we had it in the bag.

MONTAGNE: That was Giants fan Van Salient in New York's Times Square singing the praises of quarterback Eli Manning. Manning led his team to a 17-14 victory over the Patriots. Among the many millions watching the game was Bill Curry. He's an ESPN football analyst, and an occasional guest on this program. Good morning.

Mr. BILL CURRY (ESPN): Good morning. How are you, Renee?

MONTAGNE: Fine, thank you. So two weeks ago you told us you thought the Giants had a marvelous shot at an upset. How did they do it?

Mr. CURRY: Well, a couple of things. Anytime you read the words greatest of all time and you begin to hear Patriot players or any team players begin to talk about whether or not we might be making history, this might be once forever, that is a corrosive thing and it gets in your brain and it's almost impossible to go out and play your best when you're thinking about we may be the greatest. It's almost inevitable when you read those words that a whooping is coming, really.

MONTAGNE: Let's talk a little about two great plays towards the end of the game, one from each quarterback, Eli Manning and Tom Brady.

Mr. CURRY: Yeah. Very quickly, something to set that up. Eli Manning was the young quarterback. He was supposed to be the one that would be feeling the pressure. When he came out and went 16 plays on the opening drive, almost a ten-minute drive, and they kicked the field goal, he made an announcement: I'm here to play. And so then at the end, there was confidence that he could do it again, and he did. The incredible play that you referred to - actually there were a couple - but the third and five miracle escape, that's not something that Eli's known for, but he somehow scrambled away, go the ball up in the air so that David Tyree could make a catch that we're all going to watch for the rest of our lives. It was a 32-yard gain, and it sort of set the stage of inevitability.

MONTAGNE: And Tom Brady, his team lost, but he also came through.

Mr. CURRY: Tom Brady was magnificent on that drive, but that was the only time all night he had a chance to set his feet and throw. The defensive front of the New York Giants harassed him. They sacked him five times, hit him 18 more times, and he never really had a shot to be the real Tom Brady except on that drive. And when he had a chance to function, yes, he took his team to the touchdown and took the lead and it looked like, well, here we go again.

MONTAGNE: Now, Giants coach Tom Coughlin, he was almost fired last year. So this must be a huge vindication.

Mr. CURRY: It is, but coaching is just that kind of business, especially in this quick fix society. And people are close to being fired a lot. And now he'll be a hero. And if they lose the first two or three games next year, he'll be back on the firing block. That's just the nature of the business. It's not fair, but that's how it is.

MONTAGNE: Bill Curry is a football analyst for ESPN and former professional football player. And one more note on Super Bowl XLII from Patriots coach Bill Belicick, who led his team to 18 wins and no losses until last night. Congratulations to the Giants, he said. They made some plays there at the end and we didn't. It's disappointing.

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