INDIANAPOLIS — Rarely if ever do punters draw crowds in the locker room, but Giants punter Steve Weatherford played such a large role with this success burying the Patriots with his directional punting Sunday night that he was one of the most popular guys in the room as the team celebrated its victory.

Three of his four punts pinned New England inside the 10-yard line — a Super Bowl record. The fourth probably should have been, but the Giants did a poor job in an attempt to down it and it went for a touchback.

His first punt led directly to a New England safety when Tom Brady was forced into committing an intentional grounding penalty from his own end zone. Those two points changed the game. Take them away and the Giants are down four on that final drive, meaning New England wouldn’t have (allegedly) let them score.

Ultimately, the Patriots only managed five net points on drives that stemmed from Weatherford punts.

Eli Manning was a deserving MVP, but Weatherford was giving him a run for his money at certain points in this game.

Oh, and he also delivered a money quote after the game, saying that he’d “like to thank Mike Westhoff. I appreciate his decision (to cut me loose from the Jets).”

Two years ago in Miami, I followed Pierre Thomas around the dressing room after the Super Bowl to show the celebration from his perspective. I figured I’d do the same thing this time with Weatherford…

“I sure do appreciate you, brother,” is what Weatherford told Manning. Guessing that feeling is mutual.