|Maroney's touchdown gives Patriots 7-3 halftime lead over Giants|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 03 February 2008 15:13|
The Giants kept the heavily favored Patriots in check with a clock-chewing ground game and relentless pressure on New England quarterback Tom Brady, who was sacked three times and hit often.
The two teams combined for 73 points in their first meeting, a 38-35 New England victory in the Meadowlands on Dec. 29. The rematch didn't produce nearly as many offensive fireworks in the first half.
The Patriots, who set an NFL single-season record for most points in the regular season, had 81 total yards at halftime. The Giants had 139. Time of possession for the Giants: 19:27.
New England appeared ready to add to its lead late in the first half, but the Giants' Justin Tuck stripped Brady and Osi Umenyiora recovered at New England's 49 with 10 seconds to go.
ll to the turf as time expired.
That was about as much drama as the much-anticipated game produced in the first half, which was dominated by two long drives and bruising defense.
Brady's sprained right ankle made headlines during the two-week break between the AFC championship game and the Super Bowl. Gambling that he couldn't escape the pocket, the Giants came after him from the start.
After spotting the Giants an early 3-0 lead, the Patriots responded with a 12-play, 56-yard march that put them on the Giants 1-yard line when the first quarter ended.
The key play came when New York linebacker Antonio Pierce was flagged for pass interference on Benjamin Watson in the end zone.
It took Maroney two carries to give the Patriots the lead, scoring over right guard three seconds into the second quarter.
New York answered with a 46-yard drive to New England's 14. On third-and-5, Manning hit Steve Smith with a low throw. Smith bobbled the ball, and cornerback Ellis Hobbs picked off the deflection and returned it 23 yards to the Patriots 33.
It was Manning's first interception in four games this postseason - and his first since Hobbs intercepted him in New England's 38-35 victory over the Giants in Week 17.
The Giants nearly turned the ball over again on their next possession. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled a handoff from Manning but recovered the ball.
ready to take command. But the Giants turned up the pressure on Brady, sacking him twice on the next series.
After taking over at their own 43, the fired-up Giants drove to New England's 25-yard line. But on third-and-4, New England linebacker Adalius Thomas stripped the ball from Manning.
In the ensuing scramble for the football, Bradshaw batted the ball forward, allowing Smith to recover for New York. The Giants were penalized 10 yards, taking them out of field goal position. Manning nearly threw an interception on the next play, and the Giants punted.
Manning appeared to go backward after a masterful start in his Super Bowl debut. Peyton's kid brother led a long opening drive to give the Giants an early 3-0 lead.
The Giants' march covered 63 yards in 16 plays and consumed 9:59 - the most plays on the opening drive of a Super Bowl.
New York kept the Patriots off balance, running eight times and throwing seven.
The Giants converted four times on third down during the drive - with Manning completing passes three times. He was 5-of-7 for 38 yards.
The first was a 14-yarder to Plaxico Burress at the Giants 42 on Manning's first throw. Manning then found Steve Smith for eight yards near midfield to move the chains again, and he hit Smith again to give the Giants a first down at New England's 17.
The drive stalled at New England's 14. Lawrence Tynes, the hero of New York's NFC championship game victory at Green Bay, came on and kicked a 32-yard field goal to give the Giants a 3-0 lead. It was Tynes' fifth field goal in seven postseason attempts this season.
The Patriots were looking to make NFL history as the first team to go 19-0 and join the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went 17-0, as unbeaten Super Bowl champs.
The Giants, who bounced back from an 0-2 start, hoped to pull off one of the bigger upsets in Super Bowl history. They won 10 straight road games, an NFL record for a season, and they wore their road white jerseys on Sunday.