INDIANAPOLIS -- The music had barely stopped on the Giants' all-night party. Eyes had hardly been shut. The 2011 season hadn't been in the books even 12 hours when the Giants were asked if they could do it again next year.
The Giants, though, want to enjoy this one for a while.
They beat the New England Patriots 21-17 on Sunday in a game some are calling one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever. New York will toast its heroes in a ticker-tape parade today.
"If you're any kind of historian, and you do have any recollection of this parade -- the 'Parade of Champions' if you will, the 'Canyon of Heroes' -- you don't want to miss this," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "...Heartwarming doesn't quite cover this, what you go through and what your feelings are. When you are looking down the side streets, and there's people forever down those side streets, and they're all there because they are taking ownership of their team."
Coughlin and Eli Manning etched a place in Super Bowl history with their second title. Coughlin, 65, became the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl. He is the 13th coach to win multiple Super Bowls. Manning became the 11th starting quarterback to win multiple Super Bowls and fifth to win multiple MVPs. He came out of his older brother's shadow, perhaps for the first time.
They did it Sunday -- again -- by beating a coach and a quarterback considered among the best ever. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have won three Super Bowls and lost two, with both losses to the Giants by a total of seven points. The Giants beat the Patriots 17-14 with a late fourth-quarter touchdown in Super Bowl XLII five seasons ago.
"The games are so competitive and so close, and we're just fortunate to have made the necessary plays late in the game to win," said Coughlin, who will return to the Giants in 2012 in lieu of retirement.
The script from Super Bowl XLVI followed closely the one from Super Bowl XLII.
In 2008, David Tyree was the hero with a leaping, one-handed catch of a Manning pass he pinned against his helmet for a 32-yard gain. The Giants scored on a pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left to complete a 12-play, 83-yard drive.
This time, it was a 38-yard catch by Mario Manningham along the sideline that set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw with 57 seconds left to complete a nine-play, 88-yard drive.
"I wasn't worried about whether it would be an interception or a dangerous throw when the ball was released," Manning said Monday of the throw to Manningham. "I saw a window. I felt confident about it. I didn't think much about it. I just saw where Mario was and knew the timing. A lot of those throws are muscle memory. You don't think about how far to throw it or what to do. You see your receiver you step, you make the throw and hopefully you put it in a good spot where he can catch it. He made a great play."
The Giants' only worry was whether they had left too much time for Brady. The Patriots let the Giants score, knowing their best chance was to get the ball back to their Pro Bowl quarterback with as much time as possible.
Bradshaw considered going down at the 1-yard line, short of the goal line, after hearing Manning yelling at him not to score on what was a second-down play with the Patriots down to one timeout. Coughlin said he should have addressed the situation with Bradshaw before the play.
"Would I have orchestrated it differently?" Coughlin said. "Perhaps. You certainly don't want to leave that much time on the clock. But anything that would have become as a result of that would have been my fault, because I really didn't instruct the runner not to score. But having scored and having the four-point [lead], and the way our defense played at the end, although we certainly kept the drama involved with the fourth-down completion, it turned out the right way."
The Giants are champions again. So can they do it again?