The Patriots rushed four and dropped seven into coverage on the play. The Giants max-protected with seven, and sent just three receivers into routes. The two-receiver route combination to Manning's right featured Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. With two underneath defenders and a safety to that side, the Patriots guarded them well enough early in the play that Manning chose to look elsewhere.
The Giants had double-team blocks on three of the Patriots' four pass rushers. The one-on-one block was guard Kevin Boothe on defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Wilfork pushed Boothe back toward Manning, but not far enough. Manning had the time to turn away from the two-receiver side and back to his left to find that Manningham had easily beaten cornerback Sterling Moore.
Moore was unable to slow down or re-route Manningham off the line of scrimmage, allowing the speedy receiver to get up the sideline without breaking stride. Manningham's quick release made the job of safety Patrick Chung even more difficult. Chung played textbook deep-half coverage, hanging two yards inside of the numbers until Manning indicated where he was throwing, and then sprinting toward the sideline.
Chung collided with Manningham just after the ball arrived, but the execution was too perfect. Manning couldn't have thrown a better pass and Manningham might never make a better catch.