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Coughlin, Goodell say Giants' Manning in 'elite' class of QBs

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning drew criticism when he said he was an "elite" player in August. Now it appears that the freshly-minted two-time Super Bowl MVP might have just been ahead of the curve.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin certainly thinks any doubts about Manning's status can be put to rest.

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"I thought, again, that this business about elite quarterbacks, I think that question's come and gone," Coughlin said at a Monday news conference. "I don't think we'll hear much about that again."

The coach then got even more effusive in his praise of Manning.

"He epitomizes everything that I believe in as a player," Coughlin said. "(That's) In terms of the quality, the way he produces, the way he handles it among his teammates, on and off the field."

Coughlin's comments came a day after Manning threw for 296 yards and a touchdown in the Giants' 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Manning also connected with receiver Mario Manningham on a clutch 38-yard pass in the fourth quarter that enabled the Giants to score the game-winning touchdown.

Manning joined Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady and Bart Starr as the only players to have won multiple Super Bowl MVPs, prompting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to pointedly say Manning is now part of "a pretty elite group" as he introduced the quarterback at Monday's news conference.

Coughlin said he was impressed with Manning's modesty.

"I congratulated Eli," Coughlin said Monday, "and, of course, being Eli, he said to me, after winning the MVP, that 'All I want to do is help our team win,' which is so consistent with the way he is."

Giants chief executive John Mara said the secret to Manning's success is his calm demeanor.

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"The more his back is against the wall, the better he performs," Mara said before the team left its hotel for a flight to New Jersey. "There is nobody I would rather have with the ball in his hands at the end of the game, with a chance to win, than Eli Manning."

Manning, expectedly, refused to crow about the fact he has one more Super Bowl ring than his brother, Peyton Manning.

"This isn't about bragging rights," Manning said. "This is a lot bigger. This is about a team and an organization being world champions. That's the ultimate goal. The only thing important is the team finding a way to get a victory. That's the only thing I care about. Peyton and I both know that's what the goal is every year. It's not about anything else."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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