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INDIANAPOLiS — The hard work is done for Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. On Monday morning, the Giants head coach and quarterback reflected for one final time on the team's 2011 season before heading back home to New York to celebrate their Super Bowl XLVI championship.
Speaking to the media at the presentation of Manning's Super Bowl MVP trophy and complimentary Corvette, both men discussed the team's 21-17 victory over the Patriots on Sunday night, the duo's second Super Bowl title in four years. Coughlin said that the traits that helped the Giants through an up-and-down 9-7 regular season were the same ones that carried them in a Super Bowl that saw them lead at one point by nine points and trail later in the game by eight.
"Mental toughness, resiliency, resolve. We keep playing, we keep fighting, and we're highly competitive," Coughlin said about the reasons his team was able to finish the game so well. "We do have great trust in each other, great belief that we can finish, and that if we keep playing one play at a time as hard as we can go that we will find a way to win."
Manning agreed with his coach, saying that the team's veteran players had to count on younger guys to play well. That came through in the playoffs, helping the Giants capture the Lombardi Trophy.
"We felt we had talent across the board on the team, that there were a few spots where we needed young guys to step up, as any team always does every year," said Manning. "You're going to need young players to come in and play a role, and give you a chance to win a championship."
After completing 75 percent of his throws in the game, Manning was named Super Bowl MVP for the second time. He joined Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady as the only two-time winners of the award.
Manning threw one touchdown pass in the game, but also contributed to another. On RB Ahmad Bradsahw's game-winning TD run with just 57 seconds remaining in the game, the quarterback saw the Patriots defense was going to let New York into the endzone. Manning, wanting to run off more of the clock, realized that was taking place.
"Right as I broke the huddle, I kind of had a feeling, under the circumstances, that they were going to let us score," Manning said. "It's a tough situation right there as you are thinking about what to do. I think you have to score a touchdown right there. That's the goal. That's the ultimate goal — to score a touchdown."
That's what happened, even though Manning recalled yelling, "Don't score! Don't score!" to Bradshaw as he saw the Patriots defenders not trying on the play. In hindsight, Manning felt his teammate made the right decision to get the six points when they could and not leave the game on the foot of PK Lawrence Tynes.
"Looking back, we did the right thing," Manning said. "I think you have to score a touchdown in those circumstances."
Both Coughlin and Manning can do a lot of looking back now, on a season that ended in a Super Bowl championship.