New York Giants 21
- Touchdowns: Cruz, Bradshaw
- Field Goals: Tynes (2)
- Safety: Awarded against Brady
New England Patriots 17
- Touchdowns: Woodhead, Hernandez
- Field Goal: Gostkowski
The New York Giants came from behind to beat the New England Patriots 21-17 with a dramatic last-minute touchdown in Indianapolis.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who destroyed New England in the Super Bowl four years ago, repeated the trick to set up Ahmad Bradshaw's six-yard run.
There were still 57 seconds for Tom Brady to respond, though, but the Patriots quarterback fell just short.
As in Super Bowl XLII, Manning picked up the Most Valuable Player award.
Manning, who this season led his team to six victories after being in losing positions before the Super Bowl, kept his composure at the end of a keenly contested encounter to mount the winning drive.
He was helped enormously though by a stunning catch by Mario Manningham, which will be remembered for years to come.
The bizarre touchdown that won Super Bowl XLVI
It came on the first play of their final drive. Manning, on his own 12-yard line with less than four minutes remaining, signalled his intent by firing a long pass down the left sideline. Manningham defied gravity to produce a superb catch as he fell, somehow getting both feet down in bounds and holding on to the ball.
It provided the Giants - who began the game well, taking an early 9-0 lead - with fresh impetus after they wilted under some relentless pressure from the Brady-inspired Patriots.
Eight plays later, and in surreal circumstances, Bradshaw fell into the endzone, completely untouched by the New England defence, who were prepared to concede the touchdown because it would have allowed Brady enough time for one final chance.
Were Bradshaw to have fallen at the one-yard line, Scottish-American kicker Lawrence Tynes would have had an easy field goal attempt to win the game as time expired.
Giants running back Bradshaw, who impressed throughout with 72 rushing yards from 17 attempts, could not stop himself from scoring, setting up a nailbiting final minute in which Brady - who completed a Super Bowl record 16 passes in a row during the game - did his utmost to snatch victory for New England.
But, with the last play of the game, his Hail Mary pass was batted to the ground by the Giants' relieved defence.
It was cruel on Brady, playing in his fifth Super Bowl, who recovered superbly from conceding a safety with his first possession to complete 27 of 41 passes for 276 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Giants capitalised on Brady's mistake to take a 9-0 lead when Victor Cruz snagged Manning's perfectly thrown two-yard pass.
New England responded, hitting back with a well-measured drive before ultimately being stopped by the Giants' defence. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski made no mistake from 29 yards though to get them on the scoreboard.
Danny Woodhead's catch in the endzone then capped a masterful 14-play drive from Tom Brady, which saw the Patriots march 96 yards down the field at the end of the first half - tying the Super Bowl record for the longest drive.
Past five Super Bowls
- 2011: Green Bay 31-25 Pittsburgh
- 2010: New Orleans 31-17 Indianapolis
- 2009: Pittsburgh 27-23 Arizona
- 2008: New York Giants 17-14 New England
- 2007: Indianapolis 29-17 Chicago
Brady picked up where he left off at the start of the third quarter with another controlled drive before ultimately finding Aaron Hernandez with a short pass. The tight end fought off Deon Grant's despairing tackle to run into the endzone to make it 17-9.
The Patriots defence, with a reputation for giving up a lot of yards but not so many points, then took inspiration from their offence. Some fearful hitting and tackling restricted the Giants, but nonetheless they got three more points onto the board courtesy of a 38-yard Tynes field goal.
New England failed to respond, but were unlucky soon afterwards when they failed to recover the Giants' wide receiver Hakeem Nicks's fumble.
New York failed to fully capitalise on their stroke of good luck and were forced to settle for another Tynes field goal, this time from33 yards, at the end of the third quarter to bring them back within two points at 17-15.
Brady's trademark composure slipped at the start of the fourth quarter when, after successfully evading two tackles, his long bomb down the field was intercepted by Chase Blackburn.
Bradshaw then nearly gave the ball straight back to New England but again the Giants got lucky when Chris Snee recovered the fumble.
The Patriots then aimed to run down the clock in the knowledge that the Giants had already blown two of their three timeouts.
But, after punting the ball back, Manning - who completed 30 of 40 throws for 296 yards - was able to weave his magic and set up yet another fairytale ending for the Giants.