• Eli Manning
  • Super Bowl XLVI
  • Giants 21, Patriots 17
  • 30-for-40, 296 YD, 1 TD, 0 INT
  • Watch Highlights
  • Joe Flacco
  • Super Bowl XLVII
  • Ravens 34, 49ers 31
  • 22-for-33, 287 YD, 3 TD, 0 INT
  • Watch Highlights

The Pregame Pressure

Eli Manning entered Super Bowl XLVI with the opportunity of a lifetime. If he could beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years, he'd cement his legacy as a New York sports icon and possibly even reserve a ticket to the Hall of Fame. Those who are into all that talk about "elite" status (not my bag) noted that a win would induct him into that club, as well. If Manning and the New York Giants had gone down in flames in their rematch with the New England Patriots, however, it would have fueled talk that Super Bowl XLII had been a fluke.

Joe Flacco entered Super Bowl XLVII on the precipice of greatness. Three playoff wins had significantly boosted his credentials and ensured he'd receive a huge payday from the Baltimore Ravens. But Flacco still needed one more win to put a stamp on one of the greatest postseason runs by a quarterback in NFL history. If Flacco had struggled against the San Francisco 49ers, his earlier conquests would have been largely forgotten. Flacco had started something, but now he had to finish it.

The In-Game Performance

Manning was as cool as ever against the Patriots. You have to have nerves of steel to start a game of this magnitude with nine straight completions, a Super Bowl record. More importantly, he directed the nine-play, 88-yard touchdown drive that put the Giants ahead for good with 57 seconds to go. Manning finished 30-of-40 for 296 yards with one touchdown pass and zero interceptions, winning his second Super Bowl MVP award in five years.

You know how a 16-bit player turned into a ball of fire when he was going off in NBA Jam? That was Flacco on Sunday night. Every throw he made -- even the throws he shouldn't have made -- were right on target. He finished 22-of-33 for 287 yards and three touchdowns, capping a postseason in which his touchdown-to-interception margin stood at a god-like 11-0. Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP, a well-earned honor for a quarterback who had made the leap.

The Post-Game Pick

Manning deserves all the credit in the world for what he was able to accomplish against the Patriots, but Flacco is our pick. He was simply the best player on the field in New Orleans. He played mistake-free football while still taking downfield chances. Even if the San Francisco 49ers had taken the lead late in the fourth quarter, it's hard to imagine that Flacco wouldn't have led the Ravens back. He was a man of destiny. -- Dan Hanzus