The last time the New York Giants and the New England Patriots faced off in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, it turned into one to remember.
That was the year the Patriots went into the Super Bowl undefeated, and they were 12 1/2-point favorites to one-up the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only team to go through an entire season, including the championship game, undefeated with the Dolphins having done it in a 14-game regular season while New England did it in a 16-game season.
But that was also the day Eli Manning became a star, just like his big brother Peyton, as he led the Giants from a 14-10 deficit with just under three minutes to play on an 83-yard march for the game-winning touchdown on a 13-yard sideline toss to Plaxico Burress, with a miracle escape by Manning and an incredible top-of-the-helmet catch by David Tyree on the same play keeping the drive alive.
This is another case of a high-powered New England team entering the big game with big numbers — going 13-3 in the regular season, scoring a whopping 513 points in that time (third highest in the league). They were the kings of the American Football Conference.
New York, on the other hand, came out a more mortal 9-7 in the National Football Conference, and the Giants ended up scoring fewer points (394) than they gave up (400) in the regular season. What business do they have playing against a mighty Patriots team in the Super Bowl … again?
I’ll give you one good reason: the Giants may be the hottest team in the league right now. You don’t dispatch teams like Green Bay and San Francisco that are both red-hot, on their home fields, and come away being considered slouches.
If you look at the NFL’s postseason stats alone, New York has players in the top five in all but one of the individual categories. Manning is second in passing yards with 923, Ahmad Bradshaw is second in rushing yards with 200 while Brandon Jacobs is fifth with 127, Hakeem Nicks is first in receiving yards with 335 while Victor Cruz — who’s been on a tear with Manning lately — is fifth at 244. Antrel Rolle and Chase Blackburn are second and third, respectively, in tackles with 21 and 20. Osi Uminyiora is in a three-way tie for the postseason lead in sacks with 3 1/2. Jason Pierre-Paul is also a major disrupter at defensive end, with 16 1/2 sacks and 86 tackles on the regular season.
It’s that kind of defensive pressure from the Giants’ front four that could spell trouble for New England’s star quarterback, Tom Brady. Brady will have to get rid of the ball quickly, and he has the tight ends to do that in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. But the problem there is that Gronkowski has a high ankle sprain and is questionable for the game.
In fact, Gronkowski is one of 11 Patriot players listed as questionable for the game. Even if he plays, his effectiveness may be limited. And that puts a damper on Brady’s style.
The other New England players listed as questionable include other key names, offensively and defensively: tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), safety Patrick Chung (knee), linebacker Dane Fletcher (thumb), defensive tackle Kyle Love (ankle), guard Logan Mankins (knee), linebacker Rob Ninkovich (hip), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), tackle Sebastian Vollmer (illness, back, foot), standout slot receiver Wes Welker (knee), and linebacker Tracy White (abdomen).
That’s a lot of players who stand a 50-50 chance of playing at all, though there’s little doubt that most of them would suit up for this game.
The worst the Giants can claim on the injury list is six players with a probable status, led by Bradshaw.
Nope, I just don’t see it all adding up very much in New England’s favor. Too banged up at the wrong time, facing a team that’s as hot as a firecracker with the fuse about gone. I can see New York winning this one, 27-21, with Eli Manning getting to lift another Vince Lombardi trophy with yet another Super Bowl MVP award under his belt (and, given the fact that New England’s defensive secondary gave up a league-high 22 red zone touchdowns this season, it looks like New York’s passing game could go nuts today — and if it isn’t Manning getting the MVP award, it’ll be one of his receivers). And we’ll get to see endless shots of jubilation coming from brother Peyton and papa Archie from the skybox in the process.
The game may be set to go in Indianapolis, but the game will very much be in a New York state of mind.
- Talent advantage favors New York in Super Bowl (tortsreport.com)
- Giants vs. Patriots: Predicting the Winner of Super Bowl XLVI (bleacherreport.com)
- Belichick: No setbacks for Pats’ Gronkowski (espn.go.com)
- Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots Injury Reports (bleacherreport.com)
- Super Bowl XLVI: Inside the Giants-Patriots Matchup (fox4kc.com)