While the scoreboard offers the only mark that really matters, SI.com's Bucky Brooks takes a look at how each team's units performed in Super Bowl XLII.
Quarterback:Eli Manning overcame a shaky stretch in the middle of the game to deliver an MVP performance. Manning repeatedly came up with clutch plays and showed his developing maturity by leading the Giants on a game-winning drive with less than three minutes left in the game. With three critical third-down conversions on the game-winning drive, and two pinpoint touchdown passes overall, Manning deserved the game's top honor.Grade: A
Running Backs:Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 87 rushing yards and set up the balanced attack the Giants used to control the tempo of the game. Additionally, the two backs provided excellent protection in the pocket on blitz pick up, delivering some bone-jarring hits. Their ability to stop Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi on their rushes allowed Manning to connect on several third-down passes in the first half of the game.Grade: B+
Receivers:Amani Toomer and Steve Smith steadied the offense while the Patriots successfully blanketed Plaxico Burress most of the game. Toomer and Smith repeatedly came up with clutch third-down conversions over the middle of the field, but it was the unlikely emergence of David Tyree that sparked the Giants' success. Tyree, who only had four receptions entering the game, scored the Giants' first touchdown on a quick slant and added a critical 32-yard reception on third down to keep their game-winning drive alive. Burress, who only finished with two receptions, still provided the game winner on a sneaky double move against Ellis Hobbs. And New Yorkers won't soon forget Kevin Boss's 45-yard reception that set up the Giants' first touchdown.Grade: A
Offensive Line:Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara and Chris Snee controlled the point of attack and paved the way for a Giants' running game that dominated the first half. Although they surrendered three sacks in the game, the Giants' offensive line provided enough protection for Manning to throw effectively off play-action.Grade: B
Defensive Line: After allowing the Patriots to score on their opening drive, the Giants' defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage the remainder of the game. Justin Tuck, who finished with two sacks and a forced fumble, was a terror from his defensive tackle position, and his relentless penetration up the middle was a big reason Tom Brady was unable to find a rhythm. But Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora also played key roles in helping the Giants limit the Patriots to 274 yards and 14 points. The defensive line accounted for four of the Giants' five sacks and generated 15 hits on Brady in the pocket.Grade: A+
Linebackers:Kawika Mitchell and Antonio Pierce were all over the field making plays. Mitchell, who played a large part in the bluff-and-blitz package used by the Giants, had a sack and eight tackles while Pierce added 10 tackles from his middle linebacker position. Their combined effort helped the Giants limit the yards after catch of Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk on the check downs in the passing game.Grade: A
Defensive Backs: The Giants' secondary kept the Patriots' dangerous receiving corps in front of them all day. Corey Webster, Kevin Dockery, Sam Madison and Aaron Ross didn't allow the big play down the field, and their solid coverage allowed the Giants' pass rush to tee off on Brady in the pocket. Also, the Giants' secondary should be commended for its solid open-field tackling. With the Patriots relying heavily on the screen game to Welker and Donte Stallworth, the Giants needed to tackle well and their secondary was up to the challenge.Grade: B+
Special Teams: The Giants were solid on their coverage teams, but a costly penalty by Chase Blackburn almost cost the Giants in the third quarter. Jeff Feagles was solid, with a 35.2-yard punting average, and Lawrence Tynes made his only field-goal attempt. The Giants did just enough in this critical phase to get the win.Grade: B
Coaching: The Giants' game plan on both sides of the ball was outstanding. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride used a surprisingly balanced attack to control the tempo of the game in the first half and he made great adjustments in the second half to take advantage of the Patriots' eight-man fronts. Steve Spagnuolo crafted an aggressive game plan on defense that consistently pressured Brady and successfully disrupted the rhythm of the Patriots' offense. Both coordinators deserve kudos for their excellent game plans against the Patriots.
Quarterbacks: Brady didn't have much time to operate in the pocket, but he still delivered an MVP-caliber performance. He connected on 29 of 48 passes for 266 yards with one touchdown and led the Patriots on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that gave the Patriots a four-point lead in the late stages of the game. Although Brady didn't have the opportunity to throw the ball downfield, he displayed good poise and patience checking the ball down to Welker and Faulk underneath the Giants' zone defense.Grade: B+
Running Backs: This grade is influenced by the number of clutch plays provided by Faulk throughout the game. Though he left the game briefly in the third quarter due to a hamstring injury, Faulk finished with seven receptions for 52 yards. Laurence Maroney was held to 36 rushing yards and failed to play a major role in the Patriots' game plan for most of the game.Grade: B-
Receivers: Welker single-handedly carried the passing game as the Giants focused extensively on limiting Randy Moss' impact on the game. Welker's 11 receptions totaled 103 yards, and his success working the underneath zones allowed the Patriots to move the ball when the rest of the offense was struggling. Moss, though, was held in check most of the game, but finished with 62 receiving yards and added three key receptions on the late fourth-quarter drive, including a six-yard touchdown. Stallworth wasn't a significant factor in the game, but contributed three receptions on an assortment of screens on the perimeter.Grade: B
Offensive Line: The Patriots' line was thoroughly dominated by the Giants' defense. Matt Light, Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur all struggled in their individual matchups, and Brady was repeatedly battered in the pocket by an assortment of Giants' defenders. With the offensive line failing to adequately protect Brady, the Patriots were unable to utilize their explosive vertical passing game to attack down the field.Grade: F
Defensive Line:Ty Warren, Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork combined for 18 tackles, but their inability to consistently penetrate in the middle allowed the Giants to dictate the tempo and flow of the game in the early stages. With the Patriots unable to handle the Giants' running game with their base defense, Bill Belichick was forced to call more blitzes and eight-man fronts, which opened up other areas of the field for Manning.Grade: C
Linebackers: The Patriots' inability to stop the run early falls squarely on the shoulders of Junior Seau and Bruschi. The Patriots' aging set of linebackers were unable to quickly defeat blocks and their inability to stop the lead and power forced the Patriots to rely on the blitz to stop the run. Adalius Thomas provided consistent pressure off the edge (two sacks), but he was beaten by Boss on that 45-yard reception that set up the Giants for an easy score.Grade: C-
Defensive Backs: The Patriots' secondary held Burress to only two receptions and forced Manning to rely on his less-heralded receivers. Asante Samuel and Randall Gay made several clutch defensive plays, but their counterpart, Hobbs, was beaten on a quick double move by Burress for the game-winning score and allowed Toomer to sneak past him on a 38-yard reception in the second quarter. Although Hobbs came up with the secondary's only turnover, his leaky coverage hurt a solid performance by his teammates.Grade: B-
Special Teams: Maroney's 43-yard kickoff return set up the Patriots' first touchdown and he had another big return nullified by a holding penalty that would have set the Patriots up with a short field. Chris Hanson had a respectable day punting and the coverage units neutralized R.W. McQuarters and Domenik Hixon in the return game.Grade: B
Coaching: The inability of the Patriots' offensive staff to find a solution to the Giants' aggressive pass rush resulted in five sacks and numerous hits on Brady. Although the screen game and underneath package to Welker allowed the Patriots to move the ball, the offense never appeared to have a good rhythm. Defensively, the Patriots were unable to stop the running game early and that failure allowed the Giants to control the tempo of the game.Grade: C
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.