2. 2011 NFC Championship Game – January 22, 2012
There’s no other way to describe the onslaught Eli Manning received during that pressure-cooker 2011 NFC Championship game than to simply say, he was bullied and yet, he prevailed in a hard-nosed victory. In fact, next to both of his Super Bowl MVP honors, Manning’s performance in the 2011 NFC Championship contest may arguably be his greatest ever in the postseason.
And to make it even more impressive, it was, of course, on the road.
Throughout the course of four grueling quarters, Manning was relentlessly under attack by a potent San Francisco 49ers defense, and was sacked a total of six times despite getting back up each time to continue his team’s drives down the field.
After being on the winning end of many regular season games in 2011 that went down to the wire, the question of whether Manning was an elite QB in the NFL had become somewhat of an intense debate between Giants fans and the naysayers all over the league.
After his performance that day in historic Candlestick Park, this was no longer a question, no matter what could be said otherwise. While it had become abundantly clear to Giants fans that there was nothing particularly elegant about their beloved quarterback’s style of play, Manning’s efficiency in leading his offense was nothing short of masterful – especially when it counted most.
And in this road matchup against a powerhouse San Francisco 49ers team (that would be in the Super Bowl the following season), Manning made play after play against a defensive onslaught that continuously knocked him around, getting back up each time with his uniform dirty and helmet twisted.
It was an absolutely stellar performance, and his greatest show of resilience throughout his 16-year career.
A fourth quarter touchdown to Mario Manningham sent the game into overtime where the Giants kicker, Lawrence Tynes, would once again send his team to their second Super Bowl in four years with a 31-yard field goal.