Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Patriots look forward to Giants, past SB XLII

As fans of the NFL, we tend to remember the big games, especially the big upsets … especially the big upsets in the big games. And who could forget Super Bowl XLII between the New York Giants and New England Patriots?

The Giants were two-touchdown underdogs as they headed into Arizona as true “road warriors,” a team that had won three straight postseason games on the road before prevailing in the Super Bowl as the visitor. The Giants won, 17-14, smothering the Patriots in a Plaxico-predicted, perfect season-ending debacle that intensified the Boston-New York rivalry even more.

“There’s a number of players that are the same [this season on the Giants] and those players are still the impact kind of players that they were four years ago,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the media Tuesday. “Quarterback, running back, offensive line, defensive backs, pass rushers ... Those guys are good players — they were then, they still are.”

In addition to quarterback Eli Manning (Super Bowl XLII MVP) and Coughlin, the Giants return running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw — although their roles are pretty much reversed now — and a few starting offensive linemen in Chris Snee, Kareem McKenzie and David Diehl.

“Tom’s [Coughlin] coaching philosophy is the same. It’s been very successful; they have a good balance,” Belichick said. “They do a good job of mixing things up offensively: passing game, deep passing game, possession type passes, running game and defensively with coverage and pressure — man and zone, they give you a little bit of everything. You have a lot to prepare for.”

New York’s defensive squad is much different, yet still built around beasts Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

With the exception of Patriots wideout Wes Welker, both teams’ receiving corps have been revamped, and the Patriots’ new threat comes in the form of tight ends, namely Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The Giants have plenty of capable receivers hauling in balls, too.

Quarterback Tom Brady and Belichick have been together throughout Brady’s career, amassing a record-breaking number of wins and three Super Bowl titles throughout 13 seasons. Other returning players from the Patriots/Giants Super Bowl include defensive anchor Vince Wilfork (the only returning defender), a few offensive linemen — Matt Light, Logan Mankins and Dan Koppen — RB Kevin Faulk, Welker and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

A lot of the names are different but the master plans are still being put together by Belichick and Coughlin and being carried out by Brady and Manning. And they all remember Feb. 3, 2008, like it was yesterday.

Follow Sam @SammySports