|New England in '02 was last big underdog to win Super Bowl|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 24 January 2008 13:46|
Just think back six years and look at a then-not so perfect New England Patriots.
A 14-point underdog against the St. Louis Rams and ``The Greatest Show on Turf,'' Bill Belichick and a fresh-faced Tom Brady guided the Patriots to a 20-17 victory on a last-second 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Remarkably, the road to the Patriots' first Super Bowl title started with an 0-2 record and included an overtime win over Oakland in postseason.
The Giants started this season 0-2 and earned a spot in the Super Bowl with a 23-20 overtime win at Green Bay in the NFC title game on Sunday.
Like those Patriots, the Giants aren't being given much chance by the bookies. New York opened as a 13 1/2-point dog. It went down a point on Thursday.
The Giants (13-6) don't seem to care that few fancy them against the Patriots (18-0) and their bid for NFL history.
But the Giants know they pushed the Patriots in the regular-season finale, a 38-35 loss. New York led 28-16 in the third quarter before Brady engineered three touchdown drives.
``I guess the biggest thing is the confidence level,'' defensive end Justin Tuck said. ``We feel like we can play with anybody, even though the Patriots are 20, 30, 40, 50-point favorites in this game. Regardless of all of that, it comes down to what you believe and we believe we can play with anybody.''
Offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie smiled when asked about the spread, adding that the Giants are not letting the hype of a championship game affect them. Their goal is to work hard, correct the mistakes they made last week and play a decent game.
``That's the way it has been the whole year,'' McKenzie said. ``It's par for the course. We just keep defying the odds.''
The Giants have advanced to the title game getting solid play from Eli Manning and superb play from their defense.
In the Super Bowl win over the Rams, that was the formula the Patriots used. Brady completed 16 of 27 passes for 145 yards. The defense scored a touchdown on an interception, set up another TD with a fumble recovery, and a field goal with another interception of Kurt Warner.
Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas isn't into the comparisons, or the favorite/underdog roles.
``Just like I guess Green Bay was favored. That doesn't mean anything,'' Thomas said. ``The only thing that matters is when the ball is kicked off, when it's time to play, you make more plays and go out there and play good defense and good team ball and try to win the game. That's the only thing that matters. That favor doesn't do anything but motivate the other team.''
Guard Chris Snee said the Giants will have to improve their play to beat the Patriots.
``The perfect game is hard to achieve, but we are confident, and that certainly goes a long way,'' Snee said. ``I think with the first game against them, we were just starting to build some confidence. We are an extremely confident team and hopefully that will have an impact.''
Snee snarled when asked about the double-digit point spread.
``The last three weeks the line has been wrong,'' he said. ``I don't care about the line. I just want to go out there and play smart football. I think they have earned respect to the point where they should be favored. Look at their schedule. It has all Ws. It's very impressive.''
Punter Jeff Feagles, who will be making his first Super Bowl appearance after 20 years in the NFL, said every team the Patriots have faced this season seemingly has been a double-digit underdog.
``When you are an elite team, I guess that's what it takes,'' Feagles said. ``We don't need any respect. We'll get respect when we win the game.''