Giants Are World Champions!
With a thrilling victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, the New York Giants are world champions for the second time in five seasons.
The Giants got on the board first in strange fashion. The New England defense forced a punt on the Giants' first possession, and Steve Weatherford responded by pinning the Patriots inside the six yard line. One play later, quarterback Tom Brady was penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety.
On the Giants' ensuing possession, Eli Manning connected with wide received Victor Cruz for a touchdown, opening up the lead to 9-0. That drive almost ended on a Cruz fumble two plays earlier, but another penalty called against New England negated the penalty.
The Patriots came roaring back, though, as Brady led his team deep into Giants territory for a field goal. Weatherford's next punt had New England starting from their own four yard line, but Brady and the Patriots responded with a 96-yard touchdown drive, a mark that tied a Super Bowl record.
The Giants entered the second half trailing 10-9, and that deficit only grew as the third quarter progressed. Chad Ochocinco made his first appearance of the game with a huge 21-yard catch, setting up an Aaron Hernandez touchdown that gave New England its largest lead of the game, 17-9.
It was the Giants' turn to make a comeback. Manning led his offense on two successful drives, but the New England defense kept him out of the end zone both times. Lawrence Tynes came through with two successful field goal attempts, cutting the deficit to just two points and setting up a dramatic fourth quarter.
New England's penultimate drive ended in frustration as Wes Welker dropped a pass, missing an opportunity to get the Patriots inside the 20 yard line with less than four minutes to go. Instead, the Patriots were forced to punt, and Manning had just enough time to make them pay.
The opening play of the Giants' final drive proved to be the biggest of the game: Mario Manningham made a near-miraculous 38-yard catch, bringing New York to midfield with plenty of time left. A few minutes later, Ahmad Bradshaw's uncontested touchdown run gave the Giants the lead, 21-17, but also gave the ball back to Brady with just under a minute to play.
Brady's last-ditch effort to bring home the victory fell short. His final pass dropped to the ground in the midst of a sea of blue and white, and the Giants officially became Super Bowl champions.
Just as in 2008, Eli Manning was named Super Bowl MVP. Manning also set a Super Bowl record by starting the game with nine consecutive completions. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, at 65, became the oldest head coach ever to win a Super Bowl. Weatherford's three punts inside the 10 yard line were the most in Super Bowl history.
Brady set a few Super Bowl records of his own, including a string of 16 consecutive completions to go with several career marks. Nevertheless, the day belonged to the New York Giants.
Knicks Woes Reversed at Home
After a heartbreaking two-point loss to the Celtics in Boston, the Knicks fared better at Madison Square Garden with wins against New Jersey and Utah.
New York (10-15) played well early against the Celtics, taking a six-point lead into halftime and leading by 12 at one point in the third period. The Celtics fought all the way back, though, winning the game on the strength of 30 points from veteran small forward Paul Pierce. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points.
Reeling from a tough stretch in which they'd lost 11 of 13 games, the Knicks turned the tables against the New Jersey Nets Saturday night. The Nets jumped out to an early lead, 30-20 after the first quarter, but New York cut that deficit to just two points by the end of the half, then took the lead for good near the end of the game.
Backup point guard Jeremy Lin came off the bench to lead the Knicks to victory, scoring a game- and career-high 25 points. The former Harvard standout also picked up seven assists and five rebounds. He scored nine points as part of a 15-4 spurt in the game's final minutes that secured the Knicks' victory.
After that relatively close game, the Knicks defeated the Utah Jazz in much more convincing fashion, 99-88.
Fresh off his standout performance, Lin started the game at point guard and led all scorers with 28 points. He once again showed off an ability to come through with the game on the line, scoring 13 of those in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks jumped out to a sizable early lead, taking a 51-38 advantage into the second half. Despite Utah's 35-point surge in the third quarter, that lead held up.
Amar'e Stoudemire started an indefinite lead of absence following his brother's death in a Monday car crash. Anthony left Monday's game with a strained right groin.
Fortunately for Knicks fans, their team didn't miss a beat despite the absence of those two stars.
Islanders Defeat Senators, Fall to Sabres
On the road in Ottawa, the New York Islanders came away with an overtime win, 2-1. Zack Smith scored Ottawa's goal at the end of the second period, taking a 1-0 lead. Just over five minutes later, Matt Martin tied the score thanks to an assist from PA Parenteau.
Playing in his 600th career game, Matt Martin drilled the game-winning shot in overtime to secure the Islanders' victory.
Things weren't as rosy for the Isles Saturday night, as they came up just short in a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres. New York (21-22-8) scored three goals in the first period, but the Sabres came all the way back to tie the score at three.
Brad Boyes drilled the game-winning shot in the shootout that followed, while Parenteau and Franz Nielsen came up just short.
Rangers Overpower Flyers
Hosting the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night, the Rangers again came up big with a 5-2 win.
It was a banner night offensively for New York (33-12-5). Five different players scored, including three points in the final period to put the game away.
All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist saw his shutout streak come to an end, but still picked up his 24th win of the season.