It probably goes without saying that the Giants were the week's biggest winners, with the Patriots serving as the biggest losers. But what about everything in between?
Without further ado, the biggest winners and biggest losers from the week that was Super Bowl XLVI.
Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin – Well, duh. Not only did the quarterback/coach duo win the game, both went a long way in solidifying their football legacies. We seem to care an awful lot about those types of things, so this is kind of a big deal. You could make the argument, though, that Manning gained even more than Coughlin did with the win. Is there a quarterback you'd rather give the ball to when you're down by a score in the fourth quarter at this point? He has to be it, right? Oh, and by the way, it's probably time to start referring to Peyton Manning as "Eli Manning's older brother" rather than vice versa. He's at least earned that much.
Kelly Clarkson — The former American Idol star absolutely knocked the national anthem out of the park on Sunday night. We've seen in the past couple of years that such a big stage can bring out the worst in performers (looking at you, Christina Aguilera), but Clarkson killed it. And not that it should matter, she looked pretty good doing it, especially when you consider how many prop bet jokes about her weight you may have had to endure for the last couple of weeks.
Ahmad Bradshaw – The Giants running back will be remembered as the guy who scored the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI. That's good for him, especially when you consider that he would have been the greatest goat of all time had the Patriots scored a touchdown after that final drive following Bradshaw's touchdown that was apparently supposed to be a knee on the goal line to kill the clock. Instead of becoming the ire of a passionate fan base, Bradshaw now has something he can look back on and laugh about for years as he polishes his Super Bowl ring.
Mario Manningham — Remember when he was getting killed by Cris Collinsworth of all people for running a crappy route early in the game? Yeah, well, that turned into a distant memory after his catch on the final drive that now puts Manningham's name alongside Lynn Swann, David Tyree and Santonio Holmes in the pantheon of absurd Super Bowl snags.
Danny Woodhead — The numbers weren't glorious, but Woodhead had two of the most important plays all night for the Patriots. The touchdown before the first half ended, of course, and it was also Woodhead who picked up what was at the time, a huge first down on third-and-5 late in the fourth quarter.
Clint Eastwood – Politics be damned, if Clint Eastwood was president, would any bill get vetoed? I didn't think so.
Steve Weatherford – The Giants punter was at his best on Sunday night. He punted four times. The New England drives following those punts started at the 6, 8, 20 (touchback) and 4-yard line respectively. Even the touchback could have been downed inside the 10 had the Giants done a better job. Field position and time of possession played a big role in the Giants' win, and you can't understate Weatherford's role in helping on that front. No punter will ever come that close to being the game's MVP ever again.
Madonna – The halftime show won't ever please anyone and she was almost certainly lip-syncing, but hey, at least she wasn't the Black-Eyed Peas.
Anyone who bet on a safety being the game's first scoring play — Has there ever been a weirder scoring play in the Super Bowl? Until Bradshaw's game-winning touchdown at least? If you took a flier on this 50-to-1 bet, good for you. If you're like this guy and you took the bet, and you're donating the winnings to charity, then you deserve a high five or pat on the back at least.
City of Indianapolis – I have yet to see a negative review of the city and its role as a Super Bowl host. That means a lot considering I'm basing that off of some of the most cynical people in the world — sportswriters.
Peyton Manning – While Peyton's legacy may have taken a hit thanks in part to his little bro winning another Super Bowl, the elder Manning is a winner this week simply because he's not Jim Irsay. Again, more on that in a bit.
People who like good sports writing — If you haven't read this column by Yahoo's Dan Wetzel on Tom Brady, then I'm not sure we can be friends.
Wes Welker — This one's a given, right? It's really unfair to pin an entire loss on one player, so we'll refrain from doing that, but if Welker makes that catch in the fourth quarter, the course of NFL history is completely altered. If the Patriots win that game, Brady and Bill Belichick are in the discussion as the best ever. If the Patriots win that game, Eli Manning doesn't take one giant leap toward Canton. It's pretty crazy. It's a bummer for Welker, but he'll bounce back and will be paid pretty handsomely in the process.
People who care about legacies – You can still make the argument for Brady and Belichick as the greatest quarterback-coach duo in Super Bowl history. Yet, both of their legacies took a pretty good hit on Sunday, especially when you factor in that both Manning and Coughlin have their number now. That's nothing to be ashamed of really, as Brady and Belichick still have three rings. There's still a chance they win another one. But if you're someone who wants to call Brady or Belichick the greatest ever at their respective position, that is a lot more difficult to do after Super Bowl XLVI.
Rob Gronkowski — Really, this one goes back two weeks to the AFC Championship when Bernard "The Hitman" Pollard put Gronkowski in his own version of the Sharpshooter. You can't blame Gronkowski for his performance (a gutsy one at that), but there probably will be more than a few fans who won't be thrilled about him partying the night away just hours after losing the biggest game of his life.
Commercial lovers — The commercials were bad. Like, really bad. I know because it was my job to watch. So yeah, if you were a commercial lover, you were a loser on Sunday night. Then again, if you're a commercial lover, you're probably already a loser to begin with.
Vince Wilfork – The Patriots would never have gotten to the Super Bowl without Wilfork, especially after he played the game of his life in the AFC Championship. Against the Giants on Sunday night, though, the big guy was a relative non-factor.
Giants tight ends — Was there a prop bet for a pair of Giants tight ends both tearing something in their knee? If not, there should have been. Luckily, Bear Pascoe got out of Indy with both knees intact, probably because his name is Bear.
Cris Collinsworth – The NBC color commentator said that Wes Welker makes the catch he dropped "100 times out of 100." You kind of get what he's saying, I suppose, but at the same time, Welker just dropped the ball right in front of you. And it cost his team the Super Bowl. Does that mean he catches it 100 times out 101 tries? Kind of confusing.
Jim Irsay – Dude, we get it. You're trying to make it look like you have all the power over Peyton Manning. But for crying out loud, couldn't you have just let it go for a week? Irsay should have taken a page out of Jerry Jones' book on hospitality this week. You know, if that actually existed.
Cee Lo Green – Old Cee-Lo makes the losers for violating the timeless "If you're a heavy-set dude, you shouldn't wear something that looks like a garbage bag" rule. Or, as Deadspin's Drew Magary called it, "the world's largest Hefty bag."
Cooper Manning — The forgotten Manning brother has to once again sit idly by and watch one of his younger brothers ascend to greatness. At least he's got two high school basketball championships to fall back on. Good for you, squirt!
UMass students — You can only riot so many times before you come off looking like a bunch of drunken dopes who care more about getting on TV for breaking a window than you do about the team you're supposedly rioting about. Just sayin'.
Football fans – Serious question: What am I going to do this Sunday?