Tom Brady has six Super Bowl rings, more than anyone who has ever suited up and played in the NFL.
But as the New England Patriots quarterback is well aware, he might have added two more to his collection had it not been for the late-game heroics of one Eli Manning.
Manning announced his retirement this week after 16 seasons as quarterback for the New York Giants. He has two Super Bowl rings of his own, and they both came at the expense of Brady and the Patriots.
Brady acknowledged as much Friday in a classy and funny tweet regarding Manning’s retirement.
Congratulations on your retirement, and a great career Eli! Not going to lie though, I wish you hadn’t won any Super Bowls.— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 24, 2020
Manning and Brady faced each other in games five times, with the Giants quarterback coming out on top three times. Two of those victories came on Sundays in February, four years apart.
On Feb. 3, 2008, the Patriots were looking to become the NFL’s only 19-0 team and second to finish with an unblemished record (the Miami Dolphins finished 17-0 following the 1972 season). Super Bowl XLII came a little more than a month after New England edged the Giants 38-35 to wrap up a perfect regular season.
Down by four with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Manning and the Giants embarked on a drive that has become New York legend. On a crucial third down play, Manning appeared to be sacked numerous times but somehow escaped and launched the ball downfield for David Tyree’s famous helmet catch. That play has been voted by NFL fans as one of the top four all-time moments in NFL history.
Four plays later, Manning connected with Plaxico Burress for a 13-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining, lifting the Giants to a 17-14 victory.
On Feb. 5, 2012, the Patriots (13-3 in the regular season) were heavily favored against the Giants (9-7) in Super Bowl XLVI. New York kept the game close though, and trailed by two when Manning and his teammates started at their own 12 with less than four minutes remaining. On the first play, Manning hooked up with Mario Manningham for a 38-yard gain.
Manning completed five of six passes for 74 yards on the drive, which ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants held on for a 21-7 win.
Manning was named MVP of both Super Bowl victories over Brady and the Patriots — a fact that former NFL great Peyton Manning thinks should end any debate over whether his little brother should one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“When you’re the Super Bowl MVP twice against the greatest dynasty of all-time, the New England Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and you join a list that includes Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Eli Manning as the only (multiple) Super Bowl MVPs,” Peyton Manning said earlier this week, “that kind of — I don’t really know what that term ‘drop the mike’ is, but I guess if there was one, there really is no ‘yeah, but’ after that. That kind of ends it.”