Same story, different year.
David Tyree’s incredible helmet catch, and Plaxico Buress’ touchdown grab in the final minutes of Super Bowl 42 saw the end of the Patriots undefeated season and stripped them from their place in history.
You have to believe that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would love nothing more than to exact revenge on Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants for costing them their rings and record setting season.
Unfortunately for New England, the result will feel far too familiar to that night four years earlier.
In fact, this year might not even be so close.
Take a look at the ’07 rosters for both squads. The Patriots defense had some of the all-time greats to ever play their respected positions. They had, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Asante Samuel, and Richard Seymour to name a few. Brady’s number one receiver, a 6’4 potential Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who together the pair shattered the NFL record book that season.
Eli, however, was not as lucky. He had a decent receiver in Burress but aside from him, there was little talent at wide receiver. The defense was satisfactory but nowhere near the best in the league that season. Defensive end Michael Strahan was the main force to focus on in that defensive unit, take him out of the equation and the defense had some trouble.
This year, the tables have turned. The Patriots have lost all of their defensive icons. They ranked 31st in the league in defense this year, and have their #3 wide receiver, Julian Edelman, playing defensive back to help make up for lack of depth.
This questionable defense could be the downfall for New England as the Giants have offensive weapons everywhere, including three highly talented receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Victor Cruz. This means that Edelman will be forced to cover one of these explosive receivers, which will prove to be a mismatch all night long.
If Belichick changes his game plan to accommodate the passing game, be weary of the two-headed rushing attack of a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs to gouge this weak defense.
But the Patriots have never truly been about defense. They rely on Tom Brady to win in a shootout. After all, the Patriots do have the second ranked passing offense in the league. It seems Brady does not need Moss, especially when he has two safety valves in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
That is, however, when Brady is comfortable and relaxed in the pocket. Under pressure, “Super” Tom Brady becomes quite average. In the AFC Championship, the Baltimore Ravens got to Brady all night making him feel uncomfortable, causing him to throw two interceptions, no touchdowns and perhaps one of the worst games of Brady’s career.
These statistics must have the Giants chomping at the bit.
This is because the Giants have some of the best pass rushers in the league today with Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Jason Pierre-Paul. These four defensive stars will be looking to cause havoc all game for Brady and his offensive line. The pressure, combined with a slow Gronkowski due to a high-ankle sprain, will render the Patriots unable to challenge the Giants to a shootout.
So, if the Giants defensive line gets to Brady as the Ravens did, expect the game to fall on the shoulders of the Patriot defense. And so, the game is on the Giant’s offense and Eli Manning, and no one has been more reliable in the playoffs than Eli.
Sophomore PJ Anderson believes in Brady and Belichick to lead New England to their fourth Lombardi. He says, “Brady is the man. Who else would you rather have in the Super Bowl than him?”
Freshman Matt Arman thinks New York got hot at the right time and will prove to be too much for the Pat’s. He says, “New York (will win) no question. The defensive line will get to Brady, making him scared out of his mind, Eli is on fire right now; it’s going to be no contest.”