Say what you will about the man, but Eli Manning is tough. On Sunday, facing a 49ers defense with a relentless front seven, Manning took a pounding from the left, right and everywhere in between as the New York Giants struggled to find a foothold. It wasn't pretty as Manning and the Giants tried to figure out Vic Fangio's attacking scheme, but Manning and his team survived and advanced to the Super Bowl.
As Manning continued to take his beating, one had to wonder if he would eventually stay down. Take this sack for instance, which is funny to watch in slow-motion, but painful at the same time.
By the fourth quarter, Manning looked like he'd been hit by a lawnmower. His helmet was jarred, his uniform stained and ripped and ... well, just look at his eyes.
That picture, and the one below, came after he hit Ahmad Bradshaw for a nice gain late in the fourth quarter, with the Giants driving in hopes of tying the game.
We pause to note punter Steve Weatherford also had helmet problems. His were self-inflicted, and came about during the celebration, however.
Manning finished the game 32-of-58 for 316 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. But dang, he looked like he'd been through 12 rounds while fighting way above his weight class by the time it was all said and done. And it's certainly worthy of respect.
For more on the 2012 NFC Championship Game, visit 49ers blog Niners Nation, Giants blog Big Blue View and SB Nation New York and SB Nation Bay Area. Don't forget to check out SB Nation's NFL hub for all your playoff news.