Indianapolis (AFP) - Eli Manning was ridiculed last August when he said on a New York
radio show that he was an elite quarterback, but the New York Giants
star could have the last laugh on Sunday.
Manning has enjoyed the
best season of his eight-year NFL career and will lead the Giants
against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 46 on Sunday in quest of
his second NFL crown, having led New York over the Patriots in 2008.
Eli it would be a great endorsement of the quality of football player
he is, what kind of football season he has had and what he means to our
team," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
"He is an elite quarterback. Period."
sparked the Giants to a regular-season triumph over New England last
November, only to have New York drop four games in a row, then rally to
take the last vacant playoff spot and upset Atlanta, Green Bay and San
Francisco to reach the Super Bowl.
"When you feel like you have a
good team and you have good players and you have an opportunity where
you can go win a championship, you don?t want to let those things slip
away because you just don?t know if you?re going to get another
opportunity," Manning said.
Legacy and elite status is the last thing on Manning's mind these days.
don?t think about that," he said. "You concentrate on the opponent,
trying to get ready for them. You try to keep your mind focused on the
"We know we have to play our best football. It's going to be a challenge to do our job at a high level."
But teammates have rallied behind Manning's leadership and peaked for the playoffs.
"I think his attitude, his confidence, his approach has been remarkable," said Giants safety Antrel Rolle.
love Eli, man. We're going to ride and die with him no matter what the
situation is, and he's the reason why we're here, without a doubt."
While the Giants flew into Indianapolis on Monday, the Patriots conducted a practice session.
"We had a good, crisp workout," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We got some good things done."
Gronkowski, questionable with a left ankle injury, did not practice,
but Belichick did say that offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, a German
out with a foot injury, might be back on Sunday.
definitely a possibility," Belichick said. "He has gotten a lot better
the last few weeks. We have to see how he handles the extra work. We
won't know until we put him through the process."
The Giants were
aided by Manning speaking out in a team meeting last week about the need
to avoid distractions during the days before the Super Bowl.
build-up to the game is something these guys have never gone through,"
Coughlin said. "If you're not careful, there is a lot of nervous energy
that can be spent without accomplishing anything."
defensive end Justin Tuck said the Giants are more subdued than they
were in 2008, when the denied the Patriots an unbeaten championship run
with a last-minute touchdown.
"Honestly, for us, that thing was us
coming together as a team," Tuck said. "We just said we wanted to kill a
dynasty, and that?s what they were.
"But now we've been here
before and we felt as though all that is secondary. We just want to come
in and have our mind focused on playing a great game."
hopes for a big game, but is also confident that New York's defense can
handle the task if he can simply avoid major blunders and turnovers.
have offensively been playing smart," Manning said. "If we don't make
mistakes and turn the ball over, we can win games playing good defense."