Maroney's touchdown gives Patriots 7-3 lead over Giants after 3 quarters Print
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Sunday, 03 February 2008 16:32
NFL Headline News

 GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - The heavily favored New England Patriots clung to a 7-3 lead over the New York Giants after three quarters of the Super Bowl.
Laurence Maroney's 1-yard run early in the second quarter Sunday gave New England a 7-3 lead as the Patriots made their bid for a 19-0 record and a place in NFL history.
In a game that was threatening to become the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever, the Giants kept the potent Patriots in check with a clock-chewing ground game and relentless pressure on quarterback Tom Brady, who was sacked four times and hit often.
The record for the fewest total points in a Super Bowl had been 21, set in Miami's 14-7 victory over Washington in 1973, which capped the Dolphins' 17-0 season.
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 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.
Early in the third quarter, the Giants' stout defense kept the game tight, even after a New York blunder - and a smart challenge by the Patriots - handed New England a prime chance to score.
On fourth-and-2 at New York's 44, the Patriots were punting when Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn, New York's 12th man, sprinted for the sideline. The Patriots punted, but New England coach Bill Belichick asked for a review, and the officials ruled that Blackburn was still on the field when the ball was snapped.
The resulting 5-yard penalty gave New England a first down at the Giants 39. But the Giants' defense rendered the miscue meaningless by sacking Brady a fourth time, knocking the Patriots out of field goal range. On fourth-and-13 from the Giants 31, Brady's long pass was incomplete.
It was the first time Brady had been sacked four times since Dec. 10, 2006, at Miami.
Another sack kept the game close late in the first half. The Giants' Justin Tuck stripped Brady and Osi Umenyiora recovered at New England's 49 with 10 seconds to go.
xpired.
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 3 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 victory in Week 17.
Manning led a long opening drive to give the Giants the 3-0 lead.
The Giants' march covered 63 yards in 16 plays and consumed 9:59 - the most plays on an opening drive of a Super Bowl.
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 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 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.
 

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