Steve Weatherford, Punter, New York Giants. Hold your heads up high today, punters of America. Steve Weatherford did you proud. Weatherford punted four times on the day, and after three of them, the Patriots were started inside their own 10 ‒ one was downed at the 6, one was downed at the 4, and Wes Welker fair caught one at the 8. Those long fields were a huge factor, especially in the first half.
Mario Manningham, Wide Receiver, New York Giants. What more needs to be said about this? It'll be one of the most famous and best catches in NFL history. And rightfully so. Personally, I'll take it over the David Tyree catch from four years ago. It's not a more amazing play, but it's more of a catch and less of something wacky that just sort of happened. The throw was picture-perfect, as were the hands, the toes and the timing. A thing of beauty.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End, New York Giants. A batted-down pass in the first quarter kept the Patriots out of the end zone and forced the field goal unit onto the field. He added another bat-down in the second quarter. On the deep-ball interception by Chase Blackburn that was intended for Rob Gronkowski, it was Pierre-Paul who was in Brady's face.
Eli Manning, Quarterback, New York Giants. The final numbers on Eli looked like this: 30 of 40, 296 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions. His signature play from this game will be the completion to Manningham, and even though it didn't end in a TD pass, that last drive counts as a signature one. I don't think anyone stood to gain more from a win here than Eli, and he went out and played well enough to earn it.
Justin Tuck, Defensive End, New York Giants. What a monster game from Justin Tuck. Credit him with the first-quarter safety, because it was Tuck's pressure that made him throw it away. Tuck got Brady with :48 seconds left on a third and 10, forcing the Patriots to burn their last timeout. In the third quarter, Tuck got Brady after first dropping back in zone coverage, then stepping up to end the quarterback scramble. That was on a third down, too. He just beat the guy in front of him all day long.
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