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Page 2: Page 6:

Matt Light is a big man, and one of the longest-tenured Patriots Green-Ellis, Cruz among many undrafted impact players

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Our two scribes make their cases, why each team will win the game Former Giant David Tyree never forgets his incredible catch

Pages 4-5: Page 8:

How the teams got to the big game, week by week

Comparative statistical breakdown for both the Patriots and Giants


Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Saturday, February 4, 2012

Don’t take him


New England lineman Matt Light has been one of few constants with the Patriots in the Belichick era

“I don’t want to say (you) take it for granted, but when you don’t have a lot of problems, you kind of assume that it’s solid,” Belichick said. “Matt’s had a terrific career,” he added. “He’s been a rock for us there for a long time, both physically and mentally.” Light has been named to three Pro Bowls while protecting Brady’s blind side. The quarterback admitted he was concerned when Light became a free agent after last season, and when the Patriots drafted tackle Nate Solder in the first round of the draft, it looked like the 33-year-old Light’s days in New England may be numbered. But Brady was relieved when the Patriots signed Light to a reported two-year deal after the lockout ended. “He has been a staple for this team in a lot of huge wins. He is a very dependable, consistent, tough, disciplined player,” Brady said. “I think he has a ton of real strong points. That left tackle position is so important to the passing game to protect the backside of the quarterback and there’s nobody I’d rather have back there than Matt.” Brady’s confidence in Light will be a factor in Super Bowl XLVI. The Patriots have given up just

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Matt Light stretches with teammates at the start of practice in Foxborough, Mass., on Thursday, Jan. 26. For more on the Super Bowl, visit us online at:

“Matt’s had a terrific career. He’s been a rock for us there for a long time, both physically and mentally.”


Amber Waterman/Sun Journal photos

Left tackle Matt Light is one of two players on the New England Patriots’ roster who has been to all five of the team’s most recent Super Bowls. This year, the game is down the road from where he grew up, making it that much more special.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Matt Light to expect Super Bowl XLVI to be a little bit easier in terms of dealing with the distractions that come with the big event. But this is a homecoming of sorts for the Greenville, Ohio native and Purdue alum, and the potential for distractions is about 2,000 times what they were in previous Super Bowl sites New Orleans, Houston, Jacksonille and Glendale, Arizona. “I live an hour-and-a-half away from Indy, so I probably have about 2,000 people in my hometown that probably would love to be there that I think are family members, but I’m not 100 percent sure,” he said. Kidding aside, Light said his “relatives” have been very understanding that he can’t accommodate everyone. It probably helps that he has had four other Super Bowls to make a lot of people happy. After 11 years and four Super Bowls, Light’s NFL career has come virtually full circle. He has been the cornerstone of New England’s offensive line since his rookie year in 2001, when he was the starting left tackle on the first of three Super Bowl winners. Light, quarterback Tom Brady and running back Kevin Faulk are the only players remaining from Super Bowl XXXVI. But when stories are written about New England’s dynasty, Light’s name is never included with Brady’s and coach Bill Belichick. Belichick admitted Light’s contributions can be easily overlooked.

one sack in two playoff games, but Light knows the New York Giants pass rush is a whole new challenge, particularly the defensive line. “That’s the heart and soul of that defense and you see how they play the game and the impact they have,” said Light. “They can get it done rushing four. They can get it done rushing three in some cases. We’ve got a lot of film study to do, a lot of practice and a lot of preparation and then we’ve got to go out there and execute in a tough environment.” Light’s environment is tougher than most at left tackle. Often matched up against the opposition’s best pass rusher, he is on an island, noticed only when he doesn’t get the job done. “The thing about the tackle position is there’s a lot less help for those guys and there’s a lot more space to defend than there is for the inside players,” Belichick said. “I don’t want to say it’s more important; it’s just different. It’s just a different type of challenge that a tackle faces than a guy in the interior of the line faces.” Light doesn’t portray the pressure of his job in his easy-going demeanor. If the pressure of a demanding home town was starting to get on his nerves, you wouldn’t know that, either. The same goes for the pressure of playing in a Super Bowl. But Light has the resume to show why he’ll be able to block out all of the hoopla before he has to actually block the Giants. “Obviously, you have a little bit more of an understanding of what to expect and what the whole week’s like and the media day and all that good stuff,” he said. “Yeah, it will be a little easier.”


Staff Writer


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Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Saturday, February 4, 2012





The Patriots will win ... The Giants will win ... because the Giants are overrated


ost people’s recollection of history is selective and sporadic. This appears to be less trend and more epidemic among people who analyze professional sports, for a living or for leisure. To hear it told elsewhere — including a few column inches to my right — two wins by a total of seven points in a fouryear span indicate that the New York Giants own the New England Patriots and will eat their breakfast, lunch and dinner and their legacy for dessert Sunday night. Really? So you want to talk about history? Sure. Let’s rap. One team in Super Bowl XLVI ended the regular season with an VIII-game winning streak. The other won a grand total of IX games through that entire schedule. One needed to dispatch two underachieving, disappointing division rivals in order to clinch home field advantage. The other had to beat two of the three most overhyped teams in the league to finish above .500, win the world’s most overrated division since long division and merely make the playoffs. One beat the tar and the pride out of the teams in the allegedly soft second half of its schedule. The other lost at home by double digits to Seattle and was swept by Washington. The long-term perspective has been flawed and one-sided, too. Even before the Giants pummeled the Packers at Lambeau Field on Jan. 15, comparisons to their 2007-08 championship team ran rampant. Suddenly they were hailed as the poster franchise for momentum, never failing to catch fire when the calendar flips from December to January. Not once did I hear parallels drawn between the Patriots’ two-month winning streak and their teams of 2001 and 2003 that evolved from early-season doldrums and were eminently unbeatable. Las Vegas looks smarter than press row. This should be another air-tight Super Bowl, one that will generate highlights we’ll watch over and over again until all of us assume room temperature. But the Patriots deserve to be favored. Long-term history says so. Short-term history says so. Contrary to what the New York-centric national media has told you, even the numbers and the intangibles say so. If you’re sick to death of hearing about Eli-te Manning, his emergence from his brother’s shadow, his ascent to the Mount Rushmore of Clutch and his fitness for a post office box in Canton should he win that second championship ring, imagine how Tom Brady feels. With even a pedestrian performance

Sunday, Brady will become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 6,000 yards in one regular-seasonand-playoffs sequence. He’s the second QB to start five Roman Numeral games and is on the cusp of joining Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only guys to win four. Despite missing a full season with a catastrophic knee injury and putting up mortal numbers in his comeback season, Brady is a top-five, all-time signal-caller near the peak of his career. If the Patriots’ patchwork offensive line gives No. 12 even two seconds to make his reads, he performs surgery on the league’s best defenses. Ah, and there’s the inconvenient truth. For all the talk about the porous Patriots and the peaking Giants, the latter’s defense stunk equally across the big picture. The Giants were a bottom-five ‘D’ all season. They have defied just as much (here’s that word again) history to get here as the bend-like-Gumby Patriots. Their secondary won’t make anyone forget Elvis Patterson.

Las Vegas looks smarter than press row. This should be another air-tight Super Bowl, one that will generate highlights we’ll watch over and over again until all of us assume room temperature. But the Patriots deserve to be favored. In fact, the Patriots have demonstrated a much greater propensity for forcing turnovers, a game-changing element with which Manning is (wait for it) historically generous. Red zone interceptions and strip-sacks were as much a Patriots staple in 2011 as the perpetual prevent. All the other categories furnished as damning evidence against the Patriots actually favor them. Manning has three great receivers? Brady has the best slot receiver on the planet (Wes Welker), one of the most prolific Super Bowl pass catchers ever (Deion Branch) and a tight end combination that scientists should be using as a proof of evolution (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez). Gronkowki is hobbling around Indianapolis in a walking boot? Hmmm, I must be the only person in America who watched Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz hobble off the chewed-up turf at Candlestick multiple times. Patriots can’t run the ball to ease the pressure on Brady? He isn’t the one who had to fling it 58 times in the conference championship games. Even with BenJarvus Green-Ellis showing grandmother-like burst between the tackles, Hernandez lining up at fullback and Stevan Ridley using that loaf-of-bread grip, the Patriots had a better running game than the Giants. All season long. So the Patriots pass the ball better, run the ball better and force turnovers better. They’ve lost the swagger of 2007 and regained the why-not-us mentality of 2001 (OK, and the 2004 Red Sox). No 9-7 team has won the Super Bowl, and that history isn’t going to change, either. The Giants’ predecessors in medicrity, the 1979 Rams and 2008 Cardinals, got close. So will the G-Men. But not close enough. Brady will set the tone early with a touchdown or two out of the gate. That will atone for two failures of the two previous meetings — putting the Giants’ defense into heavy-breathing, on-its-heels mode, and forcing Manning to play catch-up long before the fourth quarter. Neither is a good scenario for the Jersey syndicate. Patriots 34, Giants 27. Chew on that legacy while you’re thumbing through the history book.

Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. He respects the Giants but fears no one.


because they are simply better


am not here to try to convince you the New York Giants are a cross between the 1985 Chicago Bears and 1989 San Francisco 49ers. Despite what you've no doubt heard and read all week, the Giants are not unbeatable. The New England Patriots are not lambs for the slaughter. The Giants are not in their heads. Eli Manning is not a better quarterback than Tom Brady,

ball over once in three postseason games. It has dominated time of possession despite having a mediocre running game. And it has the best quarterback the Patriots have faced this season. There is a lot of hype surrounding Eli Manning right now. Some people who apparently haven't watched him play besides Super Bowl XLII and this season insist that he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame if he wins his second Super Bowl title this Sunday. But Manning did have an excellent 2011, and he's been great so far in 2012. He outplayed Aaron Rodgers by a mile at Lambeau. He took one of the worst beatings a quarterback has ever taken in the playoffs against San Francisco and prevailed. If the Patriots can't put that kind of pressure on Manning, their secondary will be shredded by a deep, speedy group of receivers. I'm trusting that Bill Belichick isn't dumb or arrogant enough to line up Julian Edelman in the slot against Victor Cruz. But even if the Patriots stay in zone or get their preferred matchups in man-toman, their defensive backs won't be able to keep up with Cruz, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, who didn't play in the Giants' 24-20 over New England on Nov. 6. And why does an undrafted, rookie tight end that caught 38 passes all year scare the hell out of me? Oh yeah, Jake Ballard owned the Patriots on the gamewinning drive. If the Giants have a chance at another one of those drives on Sunday, say the ball at their own 20 with less than two minutes left, you will find me on my living room floor in the fetal position. Obviously, this brings me no pleasure. I hate the Giants. I hated them long before Super Bowl XLII. Growing up in the 1970s, I hated that Channel 13 always insisted on subjecting me to Joe Pisarcik, Doug Kotar and Brad Van Pelt and their truly putrid and boring teams on a weekly basis. I've built up a lot of resentment for the Giants, and the fact that some of their fans still want Tom Coughlin fired makes me want to strangle them with their "18-1" tshirts. I can only hope the Giants are as cocky as their fans are and believe they are as invincible as the national media is making them out to be. But I doubt Coughlin will allow that. And I can't ignore the facts, which all add up to the final painful fact that the Giants are the better team. So, since every Patriots Super Bowl in the last four has been decided by three points, the Giants will win this on a Lawrence Tynes field goal with eight seconds left, 26-23. Now please excuse me while I repeatedly smash this keyboard against my head.

(The Giants) proved four years ago that Brady can be rattled, not just with sacks and hits, but by collapsing the pocket up the middle. And they are even more capable now than they were then of making that happen. or Peyton Manning. New York's defensive front four isn't Deacon Jones, Randy White, Mean Joe Greene and Reggie White. But the Giants are better than the Patriots. And they're a bad matchup for them to boot. New England has gotten this far with an exceptional offense based on the precision of its quarterback, the ability of its inside receivers to get open and run after the catch, and the defense's ability to minimize its own mistakes by capitalizing on its opponent's. New York has answers for all of that. It should be the three-point favorite, not New England. The Giants can take care of the precision thing by getting in Tom Brady's face. They proved four years ago that Brady can be rattled, not just with sacks and hits, but by collapsing the pocket up the middle. And they are even more capable now than they were then of making that happen. The Patriots have faced some good pass rushers during their 10-game winning streak, but not a group this talented. The Giants have a lot of options in their front four — sometimes they will line up four defensive ends. The chances of them finding a matchup they like in the trenches and being able to exploit it are pretty good. New England starts a backup center (Dan Connolly) and either a rookie (Nate Solder, who looked shaky at times against Baltimore) or a rusty Sebastian Vollmer who hasn't played in nearly two months, at right tackle. Even if the offensive line keeps Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora off Brady's back most of the night, the Giants can make things difficult for him by loading up its coverage between the numbers and challenging Brady to throw outside, where his options are limited to Chad Ochocinco and that guy he tried to throw the foolish fourth quarter interception to against Baltimore. The secondary is New York's biggest weakness, but the Patriots may not have the tools to expose it. Since Rob Gronkowski's ankle likely won't be 100 percent by Sunday, Brady may have to do without his best deepmiddle threat. If Gronk's mobility is severely limited, they won't have to double him and could turn their attention to Wes Welker or Aaron Hernandez.Regardless of where Brady throws the ball, yards after the catch will be tough to pick up because the Giants a) tackle well and b) will have lots of people in coverage to chase the receiver. New York's defense struggled for much of the year, but for the last five weeks, it has been close to dominant. It's given up more than 14 points just once, in a 37-20 win over Green Bay. New England's defense is playing the best it has all year, but New York's is playing even better, and it is clearly the unit that is more likely to make a gamechanging play. Chances are, the Giants offense won't be handing the Patriots any game-changing plays, unlike Denver and Baltimore. New York has turned the

Randy Whitehouse is a staff columnist. Coughlin’s frozen face still haunts him.

Four years ago, 10 out of 12 Sun Journal employees picked the Patriots. This year? See for yourself!

Justin Pelletier

Randy Whitehouse

Dave St. Hilaire

Steve Sherlock

Assistant Sports Editor, Online

Staff Writer and Columnist

Staff Writer

Sports Editor

Patriots, 24-20

Giants, 26-23

Giants, 24-20

Patriots, 34-30

MVP: Aaron Hernandez

MVP: Hakeem Nicks

MVP: Eli Manning

MVP: BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Bob McPhee

Nathan Fournier

Kevin Mills

Brandon Waltz

Staff Writer

Agate Clerk

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Giants, 28-24

Patriots, 31-27

Patriots, 30-27

Patriots, 28-17

MVP: Eli Manning

MVP: Tom Brady

MVP: Tom Brady

MVP: Tom Brady

Eric Maxim

Kalle Oakes

Tony Blasi

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Giants, 38-27

Patriots, 34-27

Patriots, 31-28

Patriots, 34-28

MVP: Victor Cruz

MVP: Tom Brady

MVP: Stephen Gostkowski

MVP: Wes Welker


Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Saturday, February 4, 2012


The Road to Indianapolis Neither the Giants nor the Patriots got to the Super Bowl with ease. Here’s a game-by-game look at how each team got there. Game 1 Patriots 38, Dolphins 24 MIAMI — Tom Brady shook off a rare turnover to throw for a team-record 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yarder to Wes Welker, and the New England Patriots started with a victory for the eighth consecutive season by beating the Miami Dolphins 38-24.

New England Patriots

downs as the Giants kept their playoff hopes alive by winning the New York-area bragging rights with a 29-14 victory over the Jets.

New York Giants

Game 16 Patriots 49, Bills 21

Redskins 28, Giants 14

Foxborough, Mass.

LANDOVER, Md. — Rex Grossman completed 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns for Washington.

Green Bay, Wis.

Brady finished the regular season with the second most yards passing in NFL history, 5,235, after throwing for 338.

East Rutherford, N.J.

Eli Manning went 18 for 32 for 268 yards for the Giants.

Game 2

The Patriots (13-3) finished the season with eight straight wins.

Orchard Park, N.Y.

Giants 31, Cowboys 14

Patriots 35, Chargers 21 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady threw for 423 yards six days after setting a single-game team record of 517 in leading New England.

Pittsburgh, Pa.

San Francisco, Calif. Denver, Colo.

Brady had three touchdown passes and tied for the third most yards passing in club history, going 31 of 40 with no interceptions as the Patriots scored on each of their four firsthalf possessions.

Packers 38, Giants 35

Oakland, Calif.

Landover, Md.

Giants 28, Rams 16

Indianapolis, Ind.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes and linebacker Michael Boley scored on a 65-yard fumble return to lead the New York Giants to a 2816 victory over the mistake-prone St. Louis Rams on Monday night. Manning hit Hakeem Nicks with a 3-yard TD pass and Domenik Hixon made a spectacular juggling grab on a 22-yard score as New York gave Tom Coughlin a win over Steve Spagnuolo in their first matchup since the one-time Giants defensive coordinator left to take over as coach of the Rams.

Game 3 Bills 34, Patriots 31

Glendale, Ariz.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Rian Lindell hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired and Buffalo snapped a 15-game losing streak against New England and lifted its record to 3-0. Tom Brady went 30 of 45 for 386 yards and four scores for New England. Despite setting a league record for most yards passing over a three-game stretch, Brady matched a career high with four interceptions.

The Giants, who had staged fourth-quarter rallies to win their last two games, mounted another late drive and had firstand-goal at the Seahawks 5 after consecutive completions of 41 and 19 yards to Victor Cruz.

Giants 29, Eagles 16

Game 6

Manning threw four touchdown passes, including two to Victor Cruz, and the Giants beat the Eagles 29-16.

Game 4 Patriots 31, Raiders 19 OAKLAND, Calif. — Tom Brady bounced back from a fourinterception performance by throwing for 226 yards, two touchdowns and committing no turnovers.

Game 13 LANDOVER, Md. — Tom Brady threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns, and Rob Gronkowski set an NFL single-season record for most touchdown catches by a tight end as New England won its fifth straight.

Patriots 20, Cowboys 16 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds left to rally New England.

Giants 20, Dolphins 17

Giants 37, Cowboys 34

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz with 5:58 to play to keep Miami winless.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Eli Manning ended New York’s fourgame losing streak in style, leading the Giants to two touchdowns in the final 3:14 in a showdown for first place in the NFC East.

Manning hit 31 of 45 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns in rallying the Giants from an 11-point first-half deficit. Mario Manningham caught the other touchdown, a 7-yard play which got New York back into the game late in the first half.

Game 11

Game 8

PHILADELPHIA — Tom Brady threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns in a game that all but ended the Eagles’ playoff hopes.

Dan Bailey’s 26-yard field goal had broken a 13-13 tie with 5:13 left. Each team ran one series before the Patriots got the ball after a punt with 2:30 remaining. Brady then completed eight of nine passes for 78 yards on an 80-play drive capped by his pass to Hernandez in the middle of the end zone.

Giants 24, Patriots 20

Giants 27, Bills 24

The Giants won that one, 17-14, on Manning’s 13-yard scoring pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds remaining. This time, it looked like the Patriots would win with a comeback of their own when Tom Brady threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Rob Gronkowski, making it 20-17 with 1:36 to go.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Eli Manning hit Jake Ballard for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left, repeating a Giants’ comeback victory similar to the 2008 Super Bowl between the teams.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 104 yards and a career-best three touchdowns and Lawrence Tynes kicked a go-ahead 23-yard field goal with 1:32 remaining for New York.

Giants 31, Cardinals 27

Bradshaw scored on three 1-yard runs and had a 30-yard run to help set up Tynes’ winner as the Giants rebounded from a bad loss to Seattle by limiting the high-scoring Bills to seven second-half points.

But the Giants had enough time to move 80 yards on eight plays — helped by a 20-yard pass interference penalty against the Patriots that put the ball at the 1 with 30 seconds to play. Three plays later, Manning found Ballard in the back left corner of the end zone.

Game 7

Game 9

Steelers 25, Patriots 17

Patriots 37, Jets 16

PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger passed for 365 yards and two touchdowns as the Pittsburgh Steelers finally found a way to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 25-17.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, two to Rob Gronkowski, and New England took control of the AFC East with a convincing victory over

The scoring passes of 2 yards to Jake Ballard with 3:37 to go and 29 yards to Hakeem Nicks with 2:39 left came after the Cardinals seemingly had taken control of the game 27-17 on Beanie Wells’ third rushing touchdown of the game with 5:16 to go.

Game 5 Patriots 30, Jets 21 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns.

Brady passed for two touchdowns but threw for a seasonlow 198 yards and couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm while losing to the Steelers for just the second time in his career.

Gronkowski snagged his 14th and 15th scoring receptions, moving him past Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis.

New Orleans, La.

Wes Welker caught nine passes for 158 yards and a score, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley adding rushing touchdowns and the Patriots played a mostly mistake-free game.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes in a 58-second span late in the game to rally New York.

Patriots 34, Redskins 27

Arlington, Texas

Seahawks 36, Giants 25 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw a go-ahead 27-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin, and Brandon Browner returned an interception 94 yards to clinch Seattle’s win.

PHILADELPHIA — With Michael Vick knocked out of another game, Eli Manning and the New York Giants wouldn’t let the Philadelphia Eagles finish off their comeback.

Philadelphia, Pa.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Aaron Rodgers engineered a last-minute drive to set up a 31-yard field goal by Mason Crosby on the final play of regulation, and the Green Bay Packers remained undefeated and clinched a playoff berth with a 38-35 victory over the New York Giants. New York tied the game on Eli Manning’s 2-yard touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion run by D.J. Ware with just under a minute to play.

Tom Brady had another strong game, completing 24 of 33 passes for 321 yards and one touchdown as the Patriots scored at least 30 points for the 13th straight regular-season game.

New York.New England linebacker Rob Ninkovich sealed the victory — which snapped a two-game skid — on the Jets’ next possession with a 12-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the final quarter.

Miami, Fla.

Patriots 38, Eagles 20

49ers 27, Giants 20 SAN FRANCISCO — Justin Smith batted down Eli Manning’s pass in the closing seconds of a comeback try and San Francisco won its seventh straight game. In a game between division leaders, the 49ers didn’t rely on Frank Gore, whose franchise-record streak of five straight games with 100 yards rushing ended with a knee injury.

Game 10 Patriots 34, Chiefs 3 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots shook off a sluggish start to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 34-3 on a Monday night. Julian Edelman returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown and Kyle Arrington had two interceptions, helping the Patriots increased their AFC East lead to two games.

Eagles 17, Giants 10 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Vince Young threw a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper with 2:45 to play and the undermanned Philadelphia Eagles finally got things right in the fourth quarter.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady led the Patriots back from a three-touchdown deficit as they scored 49 straight points and clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Down 10-0 early, the AFC East-leading Patriots rallied behind Brady. New England scored on five of its next six possessions, excluding a kneel-down at the end of the first half.

Saints 49, Giants 24 NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score as the New Orleans Saints rolled to a 49-24 victory over the Giants, extending New York’s losing skid to three games.

Game 14 Patriots 41, Broncos 23 DENVER — Tom Brady and the Patriots shut down Tim Tebow and clinched a playoff berth with their sixth straight victory. The Patriots won another AFC East title by bouncing back from an early 17-6 deficit and an awful first quarter in which they were outgained on the ground 167 yards to 4.

Redskins 23, Giants 10 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rex Grossman threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss and Washington hurt New York’s playoff hopes.

Tight end Jimmy Graham had five catches for 84 yards, including touchdowns of 5 and 29 yards. Brees’ two other scoring strikes went to Lance Moore, who had five catches for 54 yards.

Grossman threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Santana Moss, Darrel Young scored on a 6-yard run after one of three interceptions by the Redskins and Graham Gano kicked three field goals.

This was a game New York was desperate to win after losing its previous two to San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Game 15

Instead, the Giants dropped a game behind first-place Dallas in the NFC East and faced the possibility of a four-game losing streak, as they hosted the unbeaten Green Bay Packers the following weekend.

Patriots 27, Dolphins 24

Game 12 Patriots 31, Colts 24 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes then scored on a lateral and New England then withstood a fourth-quarter rally to keep Indianapolis winless.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady ran for two touchdowns and threw for another and New England rallied to clinch a playoff bye. The Patriots trailed 17-0 at halftime then scored on their first five possessions in the second half.

Giants 29, Jets 14 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Victor Cruz set two franchise receiving records, and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for two touch-

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes and the New York Giants won an all-or-nothing game to claim the final spot in the NFL playoffs, beating the Dallas Cowboys 31-14. The regular season went down to the last game, and it was coach Tom Coughlin’s Giants (9-7) who won the NFC East and returned to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Wild Card Playoffs Giants 24, Falcons 2 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes and the New York Giants ran all over Atlanta in a 24-2 rout of the Falcons. While Manning came through with touchdown passes, the tempo was set by New York’s defense, which never allowed Atlanta to get going, and the league’s lowest-ranked rushing game, which ran for a season-high 172 yards. Brandon Jacobs led the way with 92 yards on 14 carries.

Divisional Playoffs Patriots 45, Broncos 10 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady threw six touchdowns passes, five in the first half, and put the New England Patriots into the AFC championship game after roughing up Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 45-10. The 35-point romp snapped a three-game postseason losing streak, two of those at Gillette Stadium, and lifted the Patriots to the verge of their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 11 seasons. They’ve won it three times.

Giants 37, Packers 20 GREEN BAY, Wis. — Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes and the New York Giants shocked Green Bay 37-20 Manning, who threw for 330 yards, did the most damage with his throws to Hakeem Nicks, who caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Green Bay had a handful of drops and lost three fumbles, including one on a rare giveaway by Rodgers. The Giants also sacked Rodgers four times.

Conference Championships Patriots 23, Ravens 20 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots stunned the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC championship game after Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining that would have tied the score. Brady scored the winning touchdown when he leaped over the vaunted Ravens defense in the fourth quarter. Brady guided the Patriots to their fifth AFC championship in 11 seasons. The Patriots chase their fourth Super Bowl trophy in Brady and coach Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England.

Giants 20, 49ers 17, OT SAN FRANCISCO — Lawrence Tynes booted the Giants into the Super Bowl again. Tynes kicked a winning 31-yard field goal in sudden-death overtime and New York beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 to reach its second Super Bowl in five seasons. Eli Manning and the Giants (12-7) will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, just as they did when they won it in 2008.

od sign of a go re u s e th ’s t. It of Bud Ligh te s ta t h g ri t e jus t time with th a re g a e m Make any ti



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Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Saturday, February 4, 2012

Recent Super Bowl MVPs 2011

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay


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Tom Brady, QB, New England


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Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore


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Steve Young, QB, San Francisco


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Randy White, DT and Harvey Martin, DE, Dallas

Undrafted, not overlooked By T yler Dunne Milwaukee Journal Sentinel INDIANAPOLIS — There’s still anger in BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ voice. All NFL teams passed on him four years ago. The New England Patriots running back doesn’t know how so many personnel people can be so wrong. “I don’t really care,” Green-Ellis said. “That’s on them.” Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin don’t really care, either. Both the Patriots and New York Giants coaches aren’t into any football caste systems. Once in training camp, everybody has a legitimate shot. The Green Bay Packers, last year’s champion, mine for gold in a similar fashion. And now, undrafted players could decide Super Bowl XLVI. A certain hunger drives players like Green-Ellis. He understands this opportunity was fleeting from the start. On 576 career touches, he’s never fumbled. The Patriots and Giants are both fueled by players overlooked on draft day. “Drafting is not an exact science,” said Green-Ellis, who rushed for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. “People probably get it wrong more than they get it right. Hopefully they get it right more than they get it wrong, but it just is what it is. I don’t think you can measure someone’s heart just by looking at them and seeing them out there performing.” New England and New York have 22 combined undrafted players _ plus undrafted guys they’ve signed from other teams. The Patriots lean on players such as Green-Ellis, wide receiver Wes Welker, guard Brian Waters and center Dan Connolly. The Giants’ resurgent passing attack was spiked by Victor Cruz. The salsa-dancing bolt of lightning opened eyes in the 2010 preseason and broke onto the scene this year with 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine scores. The window for undrafted players to make an impression is microscopic. Time is short, so urgency runs high. Disposable undrafted players have one, maybe two training camps to get noticed. Belichick, Coughlin and Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy all aren’t afraid to reward roster spots to such players from Anonymous University.


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Belichick seeks this type of atmosphere, too. “That’s how Bill is,” McCourty said. “He works hard and it trickles down through the whole organization. Everyone here feels like they have a purpose and they want to get it done for the person next to them.” Cruz played in front of fewer than 10,000 fans at Massachusetts. Running back Danny Woodhead entertained some 3,000 at Chadron State. Center Dan Connolly, the pride of Southeast Missouri State? There were 3,212 in attendance at his Senior Day in 2004. Now they’ll all get a chance to have their say in the biggest sporting event in the world. Last season’s Super Bowl was the most watched television program in American history. “It’s good to have other guys around who have been through the same things I’ve been through,” Connolly said. “I think it builds team character to have guys who really had to work hard to get to where they are. . . . I didn’t get drafted. I’ve always had to prove myself. I’m constantly havBenJarvus Greening to do it so it’s alEllis, Patriots’ ways in the back of running back my mind.” Maybe the Patriots are forced to lean on Green-Ellis instead of their model-dating, first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. In the AFC Championship Game _ with Tom Brady shooting blanks _ Green-Ellis rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown. He could be the difference Sunday. And more likely, the Giants will need another breakout game from Cruz to win. A week ago, he torched San Francisco. Cruz never imagined playing in a Super Bowl. But this weekend at Lucas Oil Arena, a first-rounder (McCourty) stands between him and a ring. It’s no secret what got these undrafted players here. “Just incredible persistence, not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” Cruz said. “Every resource that I had, I used it all. That’s what brought me here.”

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In New York, Cruz took full advantage. Surrounded by media members Monday, Cruz said he planned to soak this week in. Within his first few hours in Indianapolis, he had already taken 50 photographs. Cruz freely spoke Spanish with one reporter and said he doesn’t want this moment to end. That’s because Cruz, buried on scouting reports out of Massachusetts, can appreciate the opportunity. He’s walking irony. Cruz wasn’t even invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis but is here for a Super Bowl. Cruz needed a pair of pro days to simply fight his way onto the NFL radar. Some teams are willing to roll the dice. Others are not. “There are so many guys that you’re essentially just taking a chance on,” Cruz said. “Some guys just slip under the radar. Once those hidden gems kind of get figured out and somebody sees them and they get their opportunity to make the best of it, then it’s a great opportunity. It’s a great shot that they took. If they don’t, then it’s another one bites the dust.” New England cornerback Devin McCourty, a first-round pick in 2010, agrees. He says it comes down to the individual. “I think some guys work hard,” McCourty said. “Everyone says, ‘overlooked’ but just once you get that opportunity, are you going to take advantage of it? In the NFL, there’s a bunch of talented players, but who takes advantage of the opportunity? That’s what’s important. A lot of guys in this game have taken advantage of it.”

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‘Unforgettable’ David Tyree caught one of the most memorable passes in Super Bowl history against the New England Patriots in 2008. He never caught another NFL pass. EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning took home the MVP. Plaxico Burress had the game-winning catch. David Tyree got the biggest prize in the 2008 Super Bowl — an unforgettable moment that forever will be his. No play in the New York Giants' 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots has been shown more than Tyree's fourth-quarter catch of a ball against his helmet with defender Rodney Harrison draped over him. It led to Manning's last-minute touchdown pass to Burress and changed Tyree's life. The New Jersey native became a hero in the New York metropolitan area, earned up to $15,000 per appearance fees, made numerous television and radio appearances and wrote a book. "The truth of it was I was never going to have a moment ever in my career that was going to eclipse that," Tyree said in a conference call about what is known as "The Catch" in Giants history. "It gave me a sense of peace as far as moving on and knowing I had a career that I can be satisfied with. "It's not about the money; it's about, for me, having a moment that transcends my own personal career, to be a part of Giants history, NFL history, Super Bowl history," Tyree said. "That's something that most people who've had far better careers than myself never had." A sixth-round draft pick out of Syracuse by the Giants in 2003, Tyree didn't do much after the Super Bowl. He hurt his knee and missed the following season, and spent his last year with Baltimore, failing to make a catch. He retired in 2010 after signing a one-day contract with the Giants. Off the field, Tyree has turned around his life. His days of drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana are long behind him and he has become born-again Christian The 32-year-old father of six serves as the director of strategic partnerships at Tepidus

“It’s not about the money; it’s about, for me, having a moment that transcends my own personal career, to be a part of Giants history, NFL history, Super Bowl history.”

and-5 play with 1:15 to play and the Giants trailing the then-unbeaten Patriots 14-10. Manning avoided a pass rush and lofted a long pass down the middle. Tyree leapt, got his hands on the ball, then pinned it against his helmet, first with one hand and then the other. All the while, Harrison was pulling Tyree to the ground by the arm. Harrison said that the only time he thought about the play was when his son gave him a book for Christmas a couple of years ago with a picture of the play on the front cover. "It's in my office," Harrison said. "Every time I walk in my office I see it so I'm reminded of it every single day. "But it doesn't haunt me. It's something that happened, you know. It's almost funny because I look back at my career and I started thinking, do I have any regrets? And I don't really have any regrets because I played hard, I played tough, I played physical and you ask this guy to make this catch a million other times, he doesn't make it. So it's just one of those things that you look at and say, 'wow, you know what? No matter what I could have done, he was going to catch that ball.” Call it fate. But it's a catch that made Tyree famous and gave him a place in football history.

David Tyree, former Giants’ WR

Group, a company involved in wealth management, marketing and philanthropic ventures. The Pro Bowl special teams player also isn't afraid to express his religious beliefs. He has come out against same sex marriages, and he has been criticized by many. "I knew what I was getting myself into," he said. Tyree plans to attend the Super Bowl, and he said he might get a few speaking engagements. Tyree has watched the Giants (12-7) current run to a Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots and he marvels at the similarities, calling them spooky. New York has once again made a late-season rush and done its most damage in the postseason on the road, knocking off the defending champion Green Bay Packers in the NFC division round and the San Francisco 49ers in the conference title game. After the 2007 regular season, the Giants won all their playoff games on the road, winning at Tampa, Dallas and Green Bay. Placekicker Lawrence Tynes made gamewinning field goals in overtime both conference championship games. Tyree had three catches in the Super Bowl, including one for a touchdown. The one everybody remembers is the 32-yarder on a third-



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Patriots’ Roster Head Coach: Bill Belichick Pos

3 S. Gostkowski


8 Brian Hoyer


Regular-season • Postseason stats

10 T. Underwood


11 Julian Edelman


OFFENSE Total yards (avg.): 428.0 Passing Rushing


14 Zoltan Mesko


15 Ryan Mallett


18 Matthew Slater


22 Stevan Ridley


23 Nate Jones


24 Kyle Arrington


25 Patrick Chung


27 Antwaun Molden


29 Sterling Moore


31 Sergio Brown


32 Devin McCourty


33 Kevin Faulk


34 Shane Vereen


36 Lousaka Polite


39 Danny Woodhead


41 Malcolm Williams


42 B. Green-Ellis


44 James Ihedigbo


48 Danny Aiken


50 Rob Ninkovich


51 Jerod Mayo


52 Dane Fletcher


54 Brian Waters


55 Brandon Spikes


58 Tracy White




Postseason: 419.5 298.5 121.0 First downs: (399) Rushing Passing Penalty 107




Postseason: 325.0 195.0 130.0 SCORING (PPG) 32.1 21.4 34.0 15.0

Regular season Rush



65 Nick McDonald


70 Logan Mankins


71 Brandon Deaderick



83 Wes Welker


84 Deion Branch


85 Chad Ochocinco


87 Rob Gronkowski


90 Niko Koutouvides


94 Shaun Ellis


95 Mark Anderson


97 Ron Brace


98 Gerard Warren


Prior to 2008, the previous Super Bowl in which the Patriots played was:

W. Welker 83 • WR

Current 53-man roster

Free agents

S. Gostkowski 3•P

Trades 4

Waivers 2

MVP: Deion Branch


Pts. for Pts. allowed

Regular season Rush


K. Phillips 21 • SS


Postseason Rush





Played in last Super Bowl against Patriots

M. Boley 59 • LB

J. Tuck 91 • DE

16 C. Webster 23 • CB

Blueprint for success Team makeup


B. Green-Ellis 42 • RB

Must pressure Brady with a varied pass rush. Up front, All-Pro DE Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora need to be forces against a line built to protect Brady.

D. Branch 84 • WR

Current 53-man roster

Trades 2




Free agents

Waivers 2

Field goals

Stephen YARDS Gostkowski 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49

PATRIOTS OFFENSE If Tom Brady gets time, he will find his two All-Pro receivers, Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowski, not to mention WR Deion Branch and TE Aaron Hernandez. Another key is if the Patriots can run as well as they did in their previous postseason games. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is vastly underrated, and Danny Woodhead is a versatile, do-everything guy.

Brady’s bunch Total catches


Regular season (TDs)

Made Missed


WR Wes Welker (9)


TE Rob Gronkowski (17)

Regular season

Wes Welker set franchise record with yards receiving (1,569), one catch short of his team mark. Has most receptions since 2007 in NFL (554). Might be best slot WR in the league.

79 51 18


TE Aaron Hernandez (7)

Tom Brady • QB x-Andre Carter • DE Rob Gronkowski • TE Logan Mankins • G Matthew Slater • ST Brian Waters • G Wes Welker • WR Vince Wilfork • NT

PROJECTED STARTERS D. Diehl 66 • LT V. Cruz 80 • WR


26.2% 18%

H. Hynoski 45 • FB

S. Weatherford 5•P

After much smack talk from the Eagles, the Patriots had the final say. Branch was a clear MVP choice with 11 catches and 133 yards, while the Eagles went into a virtual tailspin as a franchise.


WR Hakeem Nicks (7)


WR Mario Manningham (4)


TE Jake Ballard (4)


RB Ahmad Bradshaw (2)

K. Love 74 • DT

D. Baas 64 • C E. Manning 10 • QB

S. Ellis 94 • DE

C. Snee 76 • RG K. McKenzie 67 • RT

A. Bradshaw 44 • RB

Hakeem Nicks 88 • WR


1-19 20-29

Lawrence Tynes

30-39 40-49 50+ Made

Missed Regular season


Road warriors

Most postseason road wins by a starting QB (All-time)

Eli Manning Len Dawson Jake Delhomme Roger Staubach Mark Sanchez Joe Flacco

S. Brown 31 • FS

V. Wilfork 75 • DT


L. Tynes 9•K


WR Victor Cruz (9)

B. Spikes 55 • LB

M. Anderson 95 • DE

K. Boothe 77 • LG

J. Ballard 85 • TE

No score 9.7%

In less than six months, Victor Cruz, the obscure second-year wide receiver from UMass, has set a Giants’ single-season receiving record of 1,536 yards with nine TDs, averaging 18.7 yards a reception.

Regular season (TDs)

P. Chung 25 • SS

R. Ninkovich 50 • LB

x-out with an injury

In the red

Cruz control

Total catches

K. Arrington 24 • CB

WR Deion Branch (5) RB Danny Woodhead (0)

2012 Pro Bowlers




N. Solder 77 • RT

S. Vereen 34 • FB


Postseason 27.0 Pts. for 13.0 Pts. allowed

L. Joseph 97 • DT

D. Connolly 63 • C B. Waters 54 • RG

T. Brady 12 • QB


24.6 25.0

C. Canty 99 • DT

Z. Mesko 14 • P


New England 24 Philadelphia 21

J. Pierre-Paul 90 • DE

First downs: (331) Rushing Passing Penalty

Field goals


Jacksonville, Fla.



OFFENSE Field Touchdowns goals

Feb, 6, 2005


C. Blackburn 93 • LB

L. Mankins 70 • LG

R. Gronkowski 87 • TE


Production inside the 20-yard line, includes postseason:

Super Bowl XXXIX


Postseason: 404.7 287.3 117.3


A. Rolle 26 • FS

M. Light 72 • LT

Team makeup

64 Donald Thomas




53.4 46.6

Building blocks


81 Aaron Hernandez


3.4 1


M. Kiwanuka 94 • LB





77 Nate Solder





Postseason: 321.0 200.7 120.3



A. Ross 31 • CB

Played in last Super Bowl against Giants

63 Dan Connolly




58.3 41.7

62 Ryan Wendell




171 659



76 Sebastian Vollmer



Pts. for Pts. allowed


75 Vince Wilfork


OFFENSE Total yards (avg.): 385.1 Passing Rushing

DEFENSE Yards allowed (avg.): 376.4 Passing Rushing 255.1 121.2




Regular season

181 667 3.7 11


Pts. for Pts. allowed

Regular season


Regular-season • Postseason stats


Ahmad Bradshaw has more power than his size might indicate. Has 14 receptions in the playoffs. Backup Brandon Jacobs rushed for 571 yards and seven TDs during the season.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is an underrated runner with power and burst who has never fumbled in his NFL career. Could be charged with picking up blitzes when Giants send DBs after Brady.

Head Coach: Tom Coughlin

Postseason: (58)

Establishing the ground game

Finding room to roam

DEFENSE Yards allowed (avg.): 411.1 Passing Rushing 293.9 117.1



Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis • Feb. 5 • 6:30 p.m. EST (NBC)





Postseason: (56)

61 Marcus Cannon

74 Kyle Love


ey, Indianapolis. A Manning will be playing in your Super Bowl, after all. No, not that one. It’ll be Eli Manning leading the New York Giants to a Super Bowl rematch against the New England Patriots – and this time on older brother Peyton’s home field. Four years after New York stunned previously undefeated New England in the Arizona desert, they’ll play a Super repeat. Eli vs. Brady. Coughlin vs. Belichick. The Patriots are rolling into the Super Bowl having won 10 straight, with their last loss being to – you guessed it – the Giants, 24-20 back in early November. Patriots-Giants. One more time.


59 Gary Guyton

72 Matt Light

Super sequel


# Player

12 Tom Brady

Giants’ Roster


4 4 4 4 4


2012 Pro Bowlers

T. White 58 • LB

Eli Manning • QB Jason Pierre-Paul • DE

PATRIOTS DEFENSE Have eight sacks in the postseason and get pressure from a variety of people: LBs Rob Ninkovich, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes, and linemen Mark Anderson, Shaun Ellis and perhaps a blitzing safety.

Production inside the 20-yard line, includes postseason: No OFFENSE Field score Touchdowns goals 16.1%




9 Lawrence Tynes


10 Eli Manning


12 Jerrel Jernigan


13 Ramses Barden


15 Devin Thomas


20 Prince Amukamara


21 Kenny Phillips


22 Derrick Martin


23 Corey Webster


26 Antrel Rolle


27 Brandon Jacobs


28 D.J. Ware


31 Aaron Ross


33 Da’Rel Scott


34 Deon Grant


36 Will Blackmon


39 Tyler Sash


44 Ahmad Bradshaw


45 Henry Hynoski


47 Travis Beckum


51 Zak DeOssie


53 Greg Jones


55 Spencer Paysinger


57 Jacquian Williams


58 Mark Herzlich


59 Michael Boley


62 Mitch Petrus


63 Jim Cordle


64 David Baas


66 David Diehl


67 Kareem McKenzie


69 Justin Trattou


70 Tony Ugoh


71 Dave Tollefson


72 Osi Umenyiora


73 Jimmy Kennedy


76 Chris Snee


77 Kevin Boothe


79 James Brewer


80 Victor Cruz


82 M. Manningham


85 Jake Ballard


86 Bear Pascoe


88 Hakeem Nicks


90 Jason Pierre-Paul


91 Justin Tuck


93 Chase Blackburn


94 Mathias Kiwanuka


95 Rocky Bernard


97 Linval Joseph


99 Chris Canty



Jan. 28, 2001


Tampa, Fla.


MVP: Ray Lewis Ray Lewis beat a murder rap, and then helped the Ravens’ defense decimate the Giants. The game featured a wild sequence during which the teams combined to score on three plays in a row.

Associated Press Graphic


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8 David Carr

Baltimore 34 New York 7

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5 Steve Weatherford

Super Bowl XXXV

GIANTS OFFENSE The ground game has stagnated at times (ranked last), because the line has been inconsistent in its blocking. They will try to spring RBs Bradshaw and Jacobs behind G Chris Snee and T David Diehl, but the line’s main chore is keeping Eli Manning upright long enough for him to do damage.


Prior to 2008, the previous Super Bowl in which the Giants played was:

Zoning in

D. McCourty 32 • CB

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Super Bowl 2012  
Super Bowl 2012  

A look at the Patriots and the Giants.