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As usual, a Manning wins with late drive in Indy

By Cliff Brunt

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 5 2012 10:05 p.m. MST

INDIANAPOLIS — It was a sight that was so familiar for Colts fans.

A quarterback named Manning got the ball, trailing in the fourth quarter, and he coolly and systematically led his team to victory.

It wasn't Peyton this time, it was Eli. And it wasn't the Colts, either. It was the New York Giants who rallied to a thrilling 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

A large contingent of Colts fans were still happy at Lucas Oil Stadium, getting to watch Tom Brady and the rival New England Patriots lose. When Brady's deep pass fell to the turf in the end zone as time expired, Giants and Colts fans alike celebrated. That's because Eli is Peyton's younger brother, and many Colts fans have also cheered for the Giants over the years.

"We're just happy that Eli won," Colts fan Laura Fabian said after the game. "If we can't see Peyton play, we want to see Eli win."

Dave Demlow, a Colts season ticket holder who was wearing a blue No. 18 jersey, didn't want to see the Patriots celebrate on Indy's home field.

"We love Eli. We love the Giants," Demlow said. "Anybody but the Patriots."

JACOBS' SWAN SONG?: Brandon Jacobs knew he was down to his last chance to show the New York Giants he's worth keeping.

The veteran running back didn't do himself any favors Sunday. He finished the game with 37 yards on nine carries. More important, when the game was on the line, Ahmad Bradshaw carried the load. Bradshaw finished with 17 carries for 72 yards and scored the winning touchdown.

When asked during the week if he expected the Super Bowl to be his last game with the Giants, Jacobs was unsure. The 6-foot-4, 264-pound Jacobs is due a $500,000 roster bonus in March. That and his scheduled $4.4 million salary for next season could cause the team to cut him, especially given his lack of production in recent years.

THE OTHER TIGHT END: Much of the talk surrounding the Patriots heading into the Super Bowl focused on All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski's high ankle sprain suffered in the AFC title game two weeks earlier.

New England's other guy, Aaron Hernandez, is pretty good, too.

Hernandez caught eight passes for 67 yards and a 12-yard touchdown for the Patriots.

It was understandable that so much focus was on Gronkowski. He set NFL records for a tight end with 17 touchdown receptions and 1,327 yards. But Hernandez finished the regular season with 79 catches for 910 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gronkowski finished Sunday's game with just two catches for 26 yards, and he was the intended receiver when New York linebacker Chase Blackburn intercepted Brady's deep pass with the Patriots up 17-15 early in the fourth quarter.

BREES CALLS IT: Record-setting New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said the Super Bowl might be more of a defensive struggle than expected.

He was right.

The Giants and Patriots had two of the NFL's top offenses this season, but also two of the lowest-ranked defenses. Still, Brees never bought into the idea that Sunday's game would be a shootout.

"It's interesting how those games shake out, though," Brees said during the week. "The minute you start talking about two high-powered offenses, the defenses take exception to that and they come out and play exceptionally well."

Brees recalled that during the 2007 season, the Patriots beat the Giants 38-35 in the regular-season finale, and a few weeks later, the Giants won the Super Bowl 17-14 and ended New England's bid for a perfect season.

SAFETY: New England quarterback Tom Brady was called for intentional grounding in the end zone on New England's first play from scrimmage after being pressured by New York's Justin Tuck.

It was just the seventh safety in Super Bowl history. The most recent before that was by the Arizona Cardinals — a team safety — in 2009, when Pittsburgh's Justin Hartwig was called for a hold in the end zone.

The last player to get credit for a safety before Tuck was Buffalo's Bruce Smith in 1991 against the New York Giants. He sacked Jeff Hostetler in the end zone to give Buffalo a 12-3 lead, but the Giants eventually rallied and won 20-19.

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap

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