INDIANAPOLIS -- An agonizing season for Justin Tuck ended in improbable glory.

The Giants defensive end, who lost several close members of his family and battled through multiple injuries during the season, emerged as a Super Bowl champion for the second time.

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"I think it made me a stronger person, it made me a better leader, and I know my uncles and my grandfather and my grandmother, they're looking down and smiling," he said of the hardships he endured. "I know all the heartaches I had this year were for a reason. All of that feels like it's gone away with this win. I'm blessed to have this opportunity."

Tuck had two sacks in the 21-17 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, including a key play on the final drive, and also forced a safety early in the first quarter. Tuck was closing in on a sack in the end zone when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady heaved the ball downfield and -- because no receiver was near the ball -- was called for intentional grounding.

Tuck missed several games this season with neck injuries and also played through ankle, shoulder, toe and groin issues. There was a time midway through the season when he publicly said his play was terrible, warned of a "historical" collapse when the Giants lost to the Saints and spent much of the first three-quarters of the season moping.

But he certainly wasn't doing that Sunday night in Indianapolis.