SUPER BOWL: Why the Patriots' run to perfection will end Sunday Print
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Friday, 01 February 2008 14:25
NFL Headline News

 GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Amazin' Mets over Earl Weaver and the Orioles in 1969. Joe Namath and the Jets delivering on a guarantee against the Colts in Super Bowl III.
The USA hockey team and its miracle against the Russians at Lake Placid. Villanova's perfect game to win the NCAA basketball championship against Patrick Ewing and Georgetown after losing twice in the regular season.
Even the New England Patriots canceling the ``Greatest show on turf'' in 2002.
Get the picture.
The history of sports is filled with unbelievable upsets by teams that seemingly didn't have a chance in you know what.
The New York Giants are next. Forget Tom Brady and the Patriots' quest for perfection.
It ends Sunday in the Super Bowl.
The Giants (13-6) KNOW they can play with the Patriots (18-0). They learned that a month ago in the final game of the regular season in a 38-35 loss.
Sure, New York scored a late touchdown to make the game close, but it also had a 12-point third-quarter lead in a game that meant everything to New England and nothing to the Giants.
``We're confident,'' defensive end Justin Tuck said. ``We believe in our abilities. We are playing the best football team ever to play in the NFL. When we say that we believe in ourselves, it is going to come off cocky, but what do you expect us to say? Did we come down here just to enjoy the festival? We came down here to win a football game.''
Although there is no doubt the Giants must play their best to win, they've done just that recently against Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay.
Start with the offense and Eli Manning.
Peyton's little brother has lived up to those lofty expectations in the last four games, throwing eight touchdowns and one interception, including four touchdowns and an interception in the loss to New England.
That's only half his game. Watch him before each snap. His work studying opposing defenses has allowed him to change passing plays to runs, and runs to passes and help New York average almost 300 yards in offense this postseason.
New York also is plus-5 in postseason turnovers, which is significant. Teams that win the turnover battle in the playoffs win 85 percent of the games.
The running game also will have a new dimension for the Patriots.
In the Dec. 29 game, rookie Ahmad Bradshaw sat out with a calf injury, taking away the outside part of the running game.
Without Bradshaw, New York rushed for 79 yards on 19 carries against New England, a 4.2 yard average. Big Brandon Jacobs gained 67 yards on 15 carries, a 4.5 yard average.
New England's secondary also struggled against the Giants receivers.
Plaxico Burress, who guaranteed a 23-17 win earlier this week, caught four passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns, while rookie tight end Kevin Boss had four catches for 50 yards and a TD. Amani Toomer averaged 10 yards on his four catches. Rookie Steve Smith, finally getting into a groove after season-long injuries, had three catches for 29 yards.
The one concern is Burress. Bothered all year by a sprained right ankle, he has had swelling in his left knee this week. He has not missed a game this season, however, and he usually backs up his words with his play.
The offensive line has been solid. It allowed one sack and two quarterback hits against the Patriots.
Starting left guard Rich Seubert sprained a knee against Green Bay in the NFC title game, but he returned to practice Thursday and should be ready to go.
Bottom line, the Giants should be able to put up points Sunday.
But can they slow down the Patriots?
There is no reason to believe they can't, especially with the defensive line hitting every quarterback in sight and the secondary finally healthy.
The line led by Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora is the key to the game. It must hit Brady or force the Pats to keep six and seven players in to protect him, thus reducing his receiving options.
Hitting Brady also will test the ankle that he injured against San Diego in AFC title game, and perhaps prevent him from having another big game against New York.
Brady completed 32 of 42 for 356 yards and two touchdowns in December as New England controlled the ball for 36:18.
That can't happen Sunday.
It might not with the Giants secondary healthy with starting cornerback Sam Madison (abdominal muscle) and backup CB Kevin Dockery (hip) back. After all, the Patriots go-ahead 65-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Randy Moss came on a play in which Madison aggravated his stomach injury.
In the three playoff games, the Giants have recorded three sacks and 23 quarterback hits. The team also has limited opponents to 83.7 yards rushing in the postseason. And Patriots halfback Laurence Maroney did nothing against New York last time, gaining 46 yards on 19 carries.
Plus, give the Giants a special teams edge. Domenik Hixon returned a kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown against the Patriots, and Jeff Feagles will give New York field position with his directional punter.
Here's the final reason the Giants win. It's the Gisele factor.
Brady's supermodel girlfriend, Gisele Bundchen, is expected at the game, and we all know what happens when high-profile girlfriends are in the stands.
Just ask Tony Romo.
Now the Giants are ready to beat the Patriots and win the Super Bowl.
``We are setting our own history,'' Strahan said. ``We have guys here who are hungry to win, guys who want to be champions, guys who worked hard to be champions, guys who want that ring, and guys who are willing to do what it takes to get it.''
Enough said: Giants 31, Patriots 28.
 

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