Alex Berg | Sports Editor | 2-5-2012
Before we go back to that game, let us take a look to see how these two teams got here.
The Patriots had a typical regular season for their standards; they went 12-4, won the AFC East, and Tom Brady was among the NFL’s best in every passing category.
When it came to the playoffs, New England slaughtered the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos to earn a date in the AFC Championship with the Baltimore Ravens.
Brady, uncharacteristically, had an off game against the Ravens. He was held under 300 yards passing, threw two interceptions, and did not throw for a touchdown.
However, thanks to a dropped touchdown pass by Lee Evans and a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff in the last minute, the Patriots found themselves heading to their fifth Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick era.
The Giants, on the other hand, were on the brink of missing the playoffs for the third straight year heading into week 16. They were able to earn a pair of wins, including a “win or go home” week 17 battle over the Dallas Cowboys, to win the NFC East and earn a spot in the NFL playoffs.
Unlike New England, the Giants did not have the luxury of a first round bye. They took care of business by demolishing the Atlanta Falcons to move on to face the NFL’s defending champions, the Green Bay Packers.
New York came away with a rare playoff win at the frozen tundra that is Lambeau Field and they did so in convincing fashion, by a score of 37-20.
New York would then travel across the country to face a tough San Francisco 49ers team and beat them, with some luck of course, in overtime.
This all sets up the rematch of one of the greatest Super Bowls of all-time. The Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NFL history thanks to an improbable last-minute drive that featured a miraculous pass and catch from often-criticized quarterback Eli Manning and the previously unheard-of David Tyree.
The winning drive was capped off with a touchdown catch by Plaxico Burress in the final seconds of the game.
Although Tyree is back to being a no-name and Burress shot himself (literally) into prison, the Giants are still led by a dangerous aerial attack.
Manning has found new targets in Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz, and tight end Jake Ballard.
The Patriots have also changed faces at the wide receiver position. They no longer have Randy Moss, but replaced him with a non-productive Chad Ochocinco. Tom Brady relies on his security blanket Wes Welker and two big tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) to carry the load on offense.
This Super Bowl will give Manning the chance to prove that he is an elite quarterback in this league. A second Super Bowl ring would pass up the great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and, of course, his older brother Peyton Manning.
A win for Brady would give him his fourth ring and definitely strengthen his case for being the best signal-caller in NFL history.
One can expect an all-out passing attack and probably a high-scoring game. It all may come down to which quarterback has the ball in his hands last.
Prediction: Giants 31, Patriots 27.