CHICAGO, February 1, 2012—When the New York Giants and New England Patriots first clashed with a Super Bowl on the line, the Patriots were on the brink of achieving an unprecedented 19-0 season. In fact, there were three specific occurrences on the last drive of Super Bowl XLII that remain baffling to this day. Each could have given the Patriots the proper ending to their dream season.
First, facing a do-or-die fourth and one deep in their own territory, the Giants chose to give the ball to running back Brandon Jacobs. He headed straight towards the gap that would normally be filled by all-pro wrecking ball Vince Wilfork. Wilfork fell down; first down Giants.
Later in that same drive, Giants quarterback Eli Manning and receiver David Tyree had a horrible miscommunication that ended with the ball in the hands of All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel. An interception would clinch the game and the perfect season. The ball bounced out of his grasp just as quickly as it had entered it. Maybe that’s the reason Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick is well known for demanding defensive backs who have good hands.
Finally, in a completely desperate attempt to move the ball down the field, Manning went deep to the same receiver that nearly cost him the game a few plays earlier. In case you were born after 2007, it’s important to note Tyree caught the ball with his helmet.
Then, all of the sudden, the Patriots were stuck with the title of conference champions, and walked off the Super Bowl field empty-handed. Tom Brady was deprived of his fourth Super Bowl win by two egregious missed opportunities and a now famous helmet catch. All we can expect in the rematch, Super Bowl XLVI, is Tom Brady to come out blazing with a fire in his eyes and ice in his veins.
Brady is equipped with the deadliest tight end combination in the league: Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who relentlessly shred defenses. Wide receiver Wes Welker is still far and away the most dependable slot receiver in the league, and old stalwart Deion Branch is still making himself available as a target in Tom Brady’s flying circus.
The Patriots defense, however, is as impenetrable as the Titanic, but the defensively-minded Belichick will know what to do against the Giants. They’ve already met in the regular season, and Belichick held another New York Giants team to a mere 17 points in their first Super Bowl clash. Belichick’s defense will have enough exotic blitzes to keep Eli Manning on his toes and his receivers out of the end zone for enough of the game, although don’t be surprised if “enough” is in the 30s.
The battle in the trenches will most-likely determine the outcome of this game, with each defensive line needing to get to the opposing quarterback for a chance to win the game. The biggest question will be if the Patriots offensive line can stand the Giants’ rush, but the Patriots’ coaching staff is much too creative to allow continuous pressure.
The Patriots will be heading to Indianapolis to play the Giants with a pissed off Tom Brady, one of the best coaches of all time, and the best offense that the Giants have seen all year. If the Patriots can fend off the Giants pass rush by sending out enough quick passes, Brady should have a field day carving up the Giants defense. It would be unwise to think that an angered Tom Brady will fail to find a way to get his revenge on the biggest stage in football.
Patriots 41, Giants 38. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick get their record-tying fourth ring together.
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