Recap, Preview, and Analysis of Super Bowl XLVI; New York Giants vs. New England Patriots
The most comprehensive and well researched recap, preview, and analysis you will find anywhere on the internet
Read about both participants in the 2012 Super Bowl, how they got here, and their recent match ups.
The AFC and NFC Champions have been crowned. The AFC will be represented by the New England Patriots. The NFC will be represented by the New York Giants. It will definitely be an exciting game either way. However, now that we know who will be playing in the Super Bowl, let's take a look at both squads and determine who has the best chance of winning along with reviewing how they both got here.
AFC CHAMPION; NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
2011 Regular Season
The Patriots had an up and down regular season in 2011. However, their record would not indicate that. They racked up 13 wins with 3 losses. They were 6-2 on the road with their two losses coming against the Buffalo Bills in week 3 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 8. They were 7-1 at home, with their lone loss coming against their Super Bowl opponents, the New York Giants in week 9.
They were ranked as the #1 offense in the AFC, and #2 in the NFL, during the regular season. They accrued 6,848 total yards of offense during the regular season.
Their quarterback, Tom Brady, finished second in the league with 5,235 yards through the air to compliment his 39 touchdown passes. He averaged a little over 317 yards per game. Brady put up a quarterback passer rating of 105.7 on the regular season. his touchdown to interception ratio was at 3.25 to 1 or 39/12.
On the ground the Patriots ran for a team total of 1,764 yards on 448 carries for a 4.0 yard per carry average. They scored a total of 18 touchdowns. They fumbled the football only 3 times the entire season, mostly due to the sure hands of Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis, who has never fumbled in his 4 year pro career with the Patriots. The Law Firm, as he is called, was the teams leading rusher, but only ran for 667 yards with a solid 11 touchdowns.They averaged 110.3 yards per game on the ground.
Their top 4 receivers during the regular season were Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Deion Branch. Two of their recievers set both NFL and franchise records during the regular season.
Wes Welker went for a team high, and franchise record in receiving yards with 1,569, breaking the former mark by Randy Moss. Welker also caught 122 balls becoming only the third player in NFL history along with Jerry Rice and Chris Carter to accomplish that 3 times in a career.
Rob Gronkowski set two NFL records during the regular season and broke one additional franchise record. Gronkowski shattered the all time NFL mark for both touchdowns by a tight end and receiving yards by a tight end. He hauled in 17 scores through the air along with 1,327 yards receiving. The former touchdown mark was help by both Vernon Davis, of the San Francisco 49ers, and Antonio Gates, of the San Diego Chargers with 13. The former receiving mark was held by Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow and was set at 1,287 yards.
Aaron Hernandez racked up 910 yards receiving. He also added 7 touchdowns including some late game heroics to help his team win vs. Dallas.
Deion Branch, one of Brady's long standing favorite targets from Super Bowl Championship years past, racked up 702 yards. He added 5 touchdowns to his stat line. His season high was 129 yards receiving in week 2 against the San Diego Chargers.
The Patriots defense was much maligned during the regular season, but mostly for the wrong reasons. Many focused on the yardage they gave up, which had them ranked 31st in the league and the worst in the AFC. However, yardage does not tell the whole story.
The Patriots had 40 sacks, which was a pretty solid number. They also had 41 tackles for losses on the season. Additionally, they racked up 23 interceptions and took two back for touchdowns. They also forced 10 fumbles and scored 1 touchdown.
Their top tackler was Jerod Mayo, who racked up 95 solo tackles. Mayo also got 2 interceptions on the season along with 1 forced fumble. His most important interception came against the Redskins on the road, when he snagged one in the end zone to save a game winning touchdown by the opponents.
The Patriots top defensive back was Kyle Arrington, who nabbed 7 interceptions tying him for the league lead with several other players. Arrington added 88 tackles to his stat line along with 1 fumble recovery.
Their top defensive lineman were Vince Wilfork, Andre Carter, and Mark Anderson. Wilfork had an all around stat line that was impressive for a defensive tackle with 52 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and 1 touchdown. Carter was their most productive sack master with 10 three quarters of the way through the season, before he was placed on injured reserve with a season ending calf injury. Mark Anderson also added 10 sacks as well along with 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery.
The Patriots ended the regular season with an 8 game winning streak. They consecutively beat the New York Jets on the road, the Kansas City Chiefs at home, the Philadelphia Eagles on the road, the Indianapolis Colts at home, the Washington Redskins on the road, the Denver Broncos on the road, the Miami Dolphins at home, and the Buffalo Bills at home to finish out the regular season. They also finished with a +17 turnover differential, which was one of the best in the AFC.
2012 Post Season
With the regular season record of 13-3 the Patriots had secured the #1 seed in the AFC for the playoffs. That allowed them to control home field advantage throughout their playoff run, minus the Super Bowl of course. With that brought them a guaranteed two home games at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass. It also afforded them a first round bye during Wild Card Weekend.
The Patriots hosted the Denver Broncos in the divisional round match up on Saturday January 14, 2012. They defeated the Broncos in a route that was truly over by half time. The final score was 45-10.
In that game Tom Brady posted an NFL record with 5 first half touch downs. He and teammate Rob Gronkowski tied two more NFL all time marks. Brady ended the game with 6 touchdowns tying both Daryl Lamonica and Steve Young for the most touchdowns in a playoff game. Gronkowski tied Dave Casper for the most receiving touchdowns in a single playoff game with 3.
The Patriots put forth an amazing defensive effort in that game. For a team that had been ranked 31st in the league during the regular season, they racked up an eye popping 14 plays for negative yardage. This is an unheard of stat in any game, let alone a playoff game.
The Patriots hosted the #2 seed Baltimore Ravens for the AFC Championship match up. This game turned out to be an exciting finish. The game was either tied or changed leads 7 different times.The ending had fans of both squads holding their breaths. Followed by either complete shock and misery or complete elation and joy.
To the Surprise of many, the Patriots defense once again put forth a solid performance defensively. The Pats racked up 3 sacks on the afternoon. They also hauled in 1 interception. Additionally, they forced a fumble. They gave up 20 points on the afternoon, a number that is below the league average. Not bad for a squad that was billed as the worst defense in the league most of the season and probably the worst defense Belichick has had during his tenure as Patriots head coach. Yet, they seemed to show up when it mattered most.
Tom Brady, although his stat line wasn't that great, provided another amazing 4th quarter comeback drive that saw him score with his legs rather than with his arm. This, and a missed field goal by Cundiff in the closing seconds propelled the Patriots to their 5th AFC title in the past 11 years. Quite an amazing accomplishment when you think about a league that prides itself as being built on parody.
FINAL TOTAL AFC PLAYOFF STAT LINES
Games Played: 2
Offense: first downs 56 third down conversions 8/17 yards total 839 rushing yards 242 passing yards 597 completions 48/70--68% touchdowns 8 field goals 4/4 total points 68
Defense: first downs allowed 34 third down conversions against 16/35 offensive yards allowed 650 rushing yards 260 passing yards 390 completions against 31/62--50% sacks 8 interceptions 1
NFC CHAMPION; NEW YORK GIANTS
2011 Regular Season
The New York Giants really had an up and down regular season. In fact, they barely won their division, which allowed them to make the playoffs. They had a record of only 9-7. With their last victory in week 17 over the Cowboys securing them a divisional title with a record of 1 win over .500.
They did hand their upcoming Super Bowl opponent their only home loss of the regular season. That victory also snapped the Patriots 23 game home winning streak at Gillette Stadium over the past 4 seasons.
The Giants were ranked 8th in total offense in 2011. They racked up a total of 6,161 yards of total offense during the regular season.
They passed for 4,933 yards through the air behind the direction of Eli Manning . Manning threw for 29 touchdowns and added 16 interceptions. His quarterback passer rating was 92.9. His touchdown to interception ratio was 1.81 to 1 or 29/16. He averaged 296 yards per game through the air.
As a team the Giants rushed for 1,427 yards. They ran for 17 touchdowns. Like, New England, they split time with a few different backs. Their leading rusher, Ahmad Bradshaw, ran for 659 yards and 9 scores, which was very similar to New England's leading rusher stat line.Their running backs fumbled the ball 6 times during the regular season.
Their top three receivers were Victor Cruz, veteran Hakeem Nicks, and tight end Jake Ballard. They combined for almost 200 receptions, over 3,300 yards, and 20 touchdowns during the regular season.
Victor Cruz was a pleasant surprise to many Giants fans this season, becoming their top receiver. Cruz hauled in 82 balls. He scored 9 times and caught for 1,536 yards. Again, a very similar stat line to New England's top wide out, Wes Welker, minus the receptions of course. However, his yards per catch were much higher than Welkers with an eye popping 18.6 yard per catch average.
Hakeem Nicks continued to shine in 2011. He hauled in 76 balls for 1,192 yards. Nicks added 7 touchdowns on the season. His yards per catch average was 15.6, a very solid number.
Tight end Jake Ballard, emerged as Eli's favorite target in the middle of the field. While his statistics were not as eye popping as either of New England's tight ends, he did manage to haul in 38 catches for 602 yards and 4 scores. He did his best to make New York fans forget about Kevin Boss who went to the Raiders.
The Giants defense was much maligned during the regular season, as were the Patriots, but for different reasons. The Giants ranked 26th in points allowed. This is probably a much more important stat than total yards as teams win and lose based on point totals.
The Giants still had no problem sacking opposing quarterbacks though. They racked up 48 sacks during the regular season. They were led by rookie stand out Jason Pierre-Paul who lead the team with 16.5 sacks. Defensive veteran Osi Uminyiora added 9 sacks.
The team's top tackler was defensive back Antrel Rolle. He racked up 96 tackles including 82 solo tackles. He also added 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.
The team's top defensive back was Corey Webster. Webster hauled in 6 interceptions on the season, one behind the league lead. Webster added 51 tackles to his stat line. He had no forced fumbles during the regular season.
The Giants won their final two games of the season including wins over their instate rival N.Y. Jets and their divisional rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. With their win on the final week of the regular season, they secured the NFC East divisional title.
2012 Post Season
With a regular season record of 9-7, the Giants secured a divisonal title. This gave them the #4 seed in the NFC, which meant that they would get to host one home game. After that all other games would be on the road in hostile territory.
Wild Card Round
The #4 Seeded New York Giants hosted the # 5 seeded Atlanta Falcons at Met Life Stadium on Sunday January 8, 2012. The Giants were a higher seed despite the fact that the Falcons had a better record due to the Giants winning their division.The game was never even close. The Giants completely dominated the Falcons in that contest with a final score of 24-2 with Atlanta's only points coming off a safety.
In that contest, Eli Manning threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His counterpart, Matt Ryan, was held to just 199 yards and no touchdowns.
The Giants also dominated on the ground. They rushed for 172 yards mostly on the backs of rushers Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Jacobs led the team with 92 yards on 14 carries.
The Giants defense dominated, although not statistically. They did not allow any points, but only racked up 2 sacks with no interceptions and no forced fumbles. The only points in the contest came off of a safety by Atlanta's defense while New York's defense was on the sideline.
The divisional round game was played in Green Bay on Sunday January 15, 2012. The Green Bay packers were the #1 seed and came in with a record of 15-1. They seemed like they could not be beaten. Yet, like in 2008, it seemed Eli Manning didn't get the memo.
The Giants were in a tight game until right before the half, when Eli Manning heaved an unexpected Hail Mary pass that was hauled in by reciever Hakeem Nicks for a touchdown to the shock and surprise of the Packers.
After that deflation, the Packers never seemed to recover. New York got a turnover in the second half and never looked back. The final score wasn't even close. The Giants were victorious by a score of 37-20. The Giants had once again shocked the world and were headed on to meet the #2 seeded San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game in San Francisco, another rematch of a regular season game from 2011.
The #2 seeded San Francisco 49ers hosted the #4 seeded New York Giants on Sunday January 22, 2012 at Candlestick Park. The game was a very low scoring game through the first three quarters with the 49ers leading 14-10. Then in the fourth quarter, the Giants scored on a Mario Manningham touchdown toss from Eli Manning. That made it 17-14.The 49ers eventually scored a 25 yard field goal to send it into overtime.
In overtime the Giants received the ball. However, they did nothing with it and were forced to punt. When the 49ers got the ball back, their offense could not score either. It was then kicked back to the Giants who were again stopped and forced to punt.
On the ensuing punt, the Niner's return man Kyle Wiliams, who had already fumbled once before setting up a Giants touchdown, fumbled again and New York recovered in field goal territory. This allowed kicker Lawrence Tynes to kick a game winning 31 yard field goal in sudden death.
FINAL TOTAL NFC PLAYOFF STAT LINES
Games Played: 3
Offense: first downs 58 third down conversions 23/52 yards total 1,214 rushing yards 352 passing yards 862 completions 76/123--61% touchdowns 9 field goals 6/8 total points 81
Defense: first downs allowed 54 third down conversions against 11/39 offensive yards allowed 963 rushing yards 361 passing yards 602 completions against 62/113--55% sacks 9 interceptions 1
Bill Belichick's regular season coaching record is 175 win and 97 losses. He has three Super Bowl Titles and 5 AFC Championships. He has led his teams to 11 divisional titles. This is his 11th year as coach of the New England Patriots. He is the only coach in NFL history to win 3 Super Bowls in a 4 year span. His playoff record is 17 wins and 6 losses. With his current team he is 16-5.
Tom Coughlin's regular season record stands at 142 wins and 114 losses. He has one Super Bowl title and 2 NFC Championships. He has led his teams to 7 divisional titles. This is his 8th year as head coach of the New York Giants. Coughlin's playoff record stands at 11 wins and 7 losses. With his current team he is 7-3.
Storylines & Game Hype
As I stated before in a previous article, this game will be great for several reasons. It will have some great storylines, which I also mentioned in previous published articles. To no surprise what I predicted is now being published in the national media as some of this game's top storylines that will be portrayed. I have also listed some other storylines that the national media has yet to pick up on. Read them here first, before the national media steals my previously published ideas, just as they did recently.
Reason #1; Interesting storylines
Storyline A Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, had spent some of his wife's final days rescuing the season by being the only cool head in the room. Kraft succeeded by convincing everyone involved that it would be in their best interest to make sure the season went on. In doing so, he gained a high level of respect from the other owners and many of the players involved in the negotiations.
Storyline B Brady will be going for his 4th Super Bowl title. Something that only Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana have accomplished. He has also joined John Elway as the only player to appear in 5 Super Bowls.
Storyline C Eli, Peyton's little brother, will be trying to win a Super Bowl in his brother's home stadium. Peyton was obviously hoping to be the Manning playing for a title this year in Indy, yet it turns out that he never played one game and may be forced to retire at seasons end due to a serious injury to his neck. He will, however, have the opportunity to watch his little brother play for one there.
Storyline D Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat this season. There were multiple rumors that he was going to be fired or forced to resign when the Giants went 8-8 on the season. Yet, here they are in their second Super Bowl appearance in the past 4 years under Coughlin.
Storyline E Is Bill Belichick the greatest coach in NFL history? Surely the outcome of this game would go a long way to determining the answer in many people's minds. In other people's minds he already is after having been the only coach to win 3 out of 4 Super Bowls. Yet, Chuck Knoll has more titles than Belichick. Therefore, without a Belichick victory the jury may still be out.
Storyline F The Patriots terrible defense making the Super Bowl. All season long people scoffed at the notion that a defense ranked higher than 29th could ever make or win a Super Bowl. Yet here the Patriots are with the leagues 31st ranked defense.
Storyline G Is this the best coaching job of Bill Belichick's career? Many would argue yes, for the simple fact that he has done it with the worst defense he has ever had. However, others might argue that his 2002 victory against the mighty Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI was more impressive as he had a lesser overall team and went up against a greater opponents in the Rams and #1 AFC seeded Steelers whom the Patriots beat in Pittsburgh that year.
Storyline H Rematch of Super Bowl XLII. This will be a rematch of one of the most exciting finishes in NFL Super Bowl history when the Giants defeated the then undefeated Patriots in the closing minutes on a miracle catch by unknown receiver David Tyree.
Storyline I How the Patriots have become the most successful franchise in the NFL since Robert Kraft purchased the team in the early 90's. Since Robert Kraft bought the team, which was one of the worst in NFL history, he has turned the organization into the model franchise with the most playoff appearances, and the most titles of varying kinds, since that time.
He took a perennial loser and turned them into a perennial winner, through excellent personnel moves in the coaching ranks, front office, and on the field. He has employed two future Hall of Fame coaches, and a third coach who won multiple National Championships after going to the college ranks. He has also managed to see his team continually succeed in an era of desired parity and salary caps by the NFL. Yet, he has only missed the playoffs a handful of times. 6 AFC titles later, he is trying for his 4th Super Bowl, something that has never been accomplished in the Salary Cap Era.
Storyline J Who is better Eli or Peyton? Surely the outcome of this game will add more firepower to the equation. Both have made two Super Bowls. They have each won one. However, Eli is younger and has a chance to win two. If he does, many might say, he is a better QB. Although, Peyton has better statistics than Eli, hardware is what counts in the NFL. All the rest is for fans to debate, but rings are the true measure of a champion.
Storyline K Tom Brady being compared to his childhood idol, Joe Montana. Not only is Brady from San Mateo, where he grew up a 49er fan, but this year he has passed or tied Joe Montana in multiple categories. During the season, he passed Joe Montana for regular season wins and touchdowns. During the playoffs he tied Joe for amount of playoff wins with 16, which he could pass him on also if he were to win the Super Bowl. Additionally, he passed Montana for Super Bowl appearances. With a win in Super Bowl 46, he would tie Montana for the most Super Bowl titles by any player. Quite a connection to say the least.
Storyline L Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick's history together. Both having come from the Bill Parcells coaching tree when they worked together originally as defensive back's coach and wide receiver's coaches in New York, they have both gone on to have successful coaching careers. They have met twice in big games previously and will meet for a third time in big games this coming February 5 for Super Bowl XLVI. One of those times,however, Belichick was still a coordinator when the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship in 1996. The other time was Super Bowl XLII.
Storyline M Myra Myra Myra. The Patriots season was dedicated to Robert Kraft's wife, Myra Kraft, who was lost to cancer on July 20, 2011. Known as "Momma Kraft" to the players, her dedication to helping those in need and her loving disposition left a lasting impact on those in the organization and those in her community. This season the Patriots are wearing MHK patches on their jerseys in her honor.
Storyline N Belichick and Brady became the winningest coach / quarterback combination in the history of the game. Brady and Belichick passed Shula and Marino this season for the most wins by a coach / quarterback combination. The previous mark held by the Hall of Fame coach and player combo had 116 wins. The previous record holder before Shula and Marino was Knoll and Bradshaw of the Pittsuburgh Steelers with 107. They were together from 1970 to 1983.
This season Belichick and Brady passed the mark to move into first place all time. They did this in two less years together as Shula and Marino were together from 1983 to 1985 for a total of 12 seasons, while Belichick and Brady have been together for 10 seasons thus far from 2001 to 2011.
They had tied the mark on October 16th against Dallas, but had to wait three weeks to break the mark due to a bye week and back to back losses to the Steelers and Giants during weeks 8 and 9. They passed the mark week 10 against the division rival Jets. They shattered the record when they ended the season with 124 wins.
Reason #2; Ratings
This Super Bowl match up will feature two of the top big markets in the sports world in Boston and New York. While this would have no impact on the game it will definitely impact the viewership. It will also impact advertising as well, which is an integral part of the Super Bowl broadcast, as many people not only wait to see the game unfold, but anticipate highly rated funny ads that can be remembered as much as the game itself.
This will also be a highly rated game as it will feature two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Brady already continually rivaled Eli's brother Peyton as both a former division rival and perennial playoff contestant. Yet Brady, has his own bone to pick with Peyton's little brother from a previous Super Bowl.
Reason #3; Rematch of one of the most exciting Super Bowl finishes in Super Bowl history.
Eli Manning and Giants have faced Tom Brady and the Patriots once before in Super Bowl XLII. This was one of the most exciting Super Bowl finishes in Super Bowl History when Manning did the unthinkable and beat the undefeated New England Patriots who came into that game with a record of 18-0. The Patriots had not lost a single game that season and were going for a perfect season of 19-0, which would have allowed them to join only the Miami Dolphins and the only other team to go undefeated in NFL history. Apparently, Manning didn't get the memo.
The Giants had only scored 3 points in the first 3 quarters of that game. However, the Patriots had only scored 7. It was a close game when the Giants scored another touchdown in the 4th quarter to make the score 10-7. Were the perfect Patriots going to let this one slip away? Not as long as Tom Brady had his say. He marched the Patriots down the field in the closing minutes and threw his only touchdown of the game to Randy Moss who had had a record breaking season receiving. At that point the Patriots led by a score of 14-10. Everything seemed to be unfolding as expected. The only problem was there was still time on the clock.
The Giants were driving down the field. The Patriots defense had stopped them on two straight plays. The Giants were now on 3rd down with 5 yards to go. Then the unthinkable happened. Manning escaped an almost sure sack by both Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour well behind the line of scrimmage and chucked the ball down the field. Both players had had their hands on him. Green had his hand on Manning's shoulder, while Seymour had his hand on Manning's jersey from behind. Somehow Manniing slipped away from both without going down. David Tyree an unheralded player, who was being guarded by future Hall of Fame safety Rodney Harrison, hauled in an amazing catch by holding the ball on with his arm pressing the ball firmly on the top of his helmet. This would be later known as "The Helmet Catch" and was named by NFL Films "The Play of the Decade"(2000s). Steve Sabol, of NFL Films, later called it "The greatest play the Super Bowl has ever produced".
This allowed the game to continue. Several plays later Eli Manning hit Plaxico Burress, after corner back Ellis Hobbs slipped, in the back of the end zone for the game winning score. This allowed the Giants to defeat the Patriots by a score of 17-14. It would rank right up there with the all time great Super Bowl upsets including Tom Brady's first championship against the mighty Rams, who were known as the Greatest Show on Turf, in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Reason #4; Rematch of the exciting regular season match up from week 9 in Foxborough.
These two teams will be meeting for a second time in 2011. However, this time the stakes will be much higher. The winner will take home the Lombardi Trophy.
In their week 9 match up in Foxborough, the Patriots were down in the 4th quarter once again. The score was 17-13 when Tom Brady seemingly scored on yet another one of his comeback drives for New England. Brady had thrown a seemingly game winning 14 yard touchdown to tight end Rob Gronkoski with only 1;36 remaining. This brought the score to 20-17. However, once again, Manning saved his best for last against Brady and the Patriots.
Manning drove down the field, and with the help of a questionable pass interference call got the Giants into scoring range. Many people believed the Giants were going to simply kick a field goal, but Manning had other ideas. With only 15 seconds remaining on the clock, Manning hit tight end Jake Ballard for a 1 yard touchdown to bring the Giants up by a score of 24-20. Once again, Manning had beat the Patriots in the closing seconds to dash their hopes of a victory, something Brady would surely have on his mind in a rematch.
Reason #5; Chatter over the greatest quarterback
While Brady has 3 Super Bowl titles, multiple Super Bowl MVP, mutlple regular season MVP awards, and numerous records, Manning keeps telling anyone who will listen that he is as good as Brady. While his stats surely don't show it, he does have a Super Bowl victory against Brady. He also was named Super Bowl MVP in that same Super Bowl, a title I am sure Brady wanted to take home along with the Lombardi Trophy.
Manning has proved that he has just as good of comeback skills as Brady by beating him the last two times they faced each other in the closing seconds. Although, he never leads his team to the regular season record Brady does repeatedly, his playoff record and record agains the Patriots speaks for itself.
Winners vs. Losers
The Giants won 4 games against teams with losing records during the regular season, which was approximately half their win total. They also won four games against teams with non winning records that ended as .500 ball clubs in the Cowboys twice, the Cardinals, and the Jets.Their regular season record against teams with a better than .500 record was 1-3 with losses coming to the Packers, Saints, and 49ers. They had 1 regular season victory against a club that was better than .500, but that team was the Patriots.
The Patriots won 7 games against teams with losing records during the season, which was a little more than half of their win total. They had another 6 victories against teams that ended the season at .500 in the Jets twice, the Broncos, the Chargers, Dallas, and Oakland. The Patriots did not beat a team in the regular season that was better than .500. They were 0-2 against the only two they played with a better than .500 record in the Giants and the Steelers.
The Patriots and Giants have played only 3 times since the 2004 season, when New England traveled to New York in their quest for the only 16-0 perfect regular season in NFL history. On a side note, they have met each other every year since 2005. However, that was in the preseason, which is not the same in any way shape or form, but it does keep both staffs up on the roster of the other team.
During their first of three match ups, since that time, the Patriots won in a shoot out that ended with a score of 38-35. They would however meet again in the Super Bowl that same season.
During the second of their three most recent match ups, the Giants got their revenge when they shocked the world by beating the Patriots who came into that game with an undefeated record of 18-0 and were going for the only 19-0 perfect season in NFL history. They were also trying to become only the second team in NFL history behind the Miami Dolphins to go undefeated in a season. However, Manning didn't get the memo and spoiled the Patriots party plans by producing a miraculous upset that shocked the world in one of the most exciting finishes in Super Bowl history much the same caliber of the Patriots victory against the Rams just 6 years earlier.
Their third most recent match up came this season in Foxborough, with the Patriots looking to extend their then record 23 consecutive home victories. Once again, Eli Manning spoiled their fun, when he hit Jake Ballard for a touchdown in the closing seconds, while almost everyone was expecting the Giants to simply kick a field goal and take the game into overtime. Instead of tying the game at 20, Eli went for the kill and scored allowing his Giants to win by a score of 24-20 and ending another Patriots win streak.
Last 3 match ups Giants 2 victories Patriots 1 victory
Let the Record Speak for Itself
Eli Manning's and Tom Brady's Record in Indianapolis
While Tom Brady will not be playing the Colts or Manning, Peyton that is, in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, let's take a look at his record in Indy to possibly gauge how he performs there. Despite his lengthy career and the fact that the Colts and Patriots seemingly play every year, Brady has actually only quarterbacked the Patriots in Indianapolis 4 times during the regular season and 1 time during the playoffs. The rest of the meetings came at Foxborough.
His first game in Indianapolis actually came in his first season as a starter on October 21, 2001. In that game the Patriots dominated from the start. The final score had the Patriots winning by a score of 38-17.
His next meeting there came on November 30, 2003. At that time the Patriots were defending Super Bowl Champions. When the final gun sounded the Patriots were victorious by a score of 38-34.
His next game in Indy came almost three and a half years later on January 21,2007. This was Brady's only appearance in the post season in Indianapolis. The Patriots began fast and furious in this game going up 21-3. However, the Colts came storming back. This game eventually saw the Colts come out on top when Brady threw a fourth quarter interception. The final score was the Colts 38 and the Patriots 34.
The next match up came on November 4,2007. In this game the Patriots were victorious by a score of 24-20.
His final game in Indy came on November 15, 2009. This was the closest game of them all and saw the Patriots lose by a score of 35-34.
It should also be noted that the first 3 regular season match ups and the one post season appearance came in the old stadium, The RCA Dome. His fourth and final appearance in Indy, came in the new stadium, Lucas Oil Field, which was opened in 2008 during which time, Tom Brady was out with a season ending knee injury.
All in all, Brady is 3-1 in the regular season there. He is 0-1 in the playoffs. His total record in Indianapolis is 3-2. However, he has yet to win in the new stadium in Indy.
Eli has only played in Indianapolis one time, on September 19, 2010. In that contest, Eli and the Giants got pummeled. When the final gun sounded Eli's Giants lost by a score of 38-14. Therefore, neither Tom Brady or Eli Manning have won at Lucas Oil Field. However, that is about to change.
The Giants and Patriots Super Bowl History
The Giants have 5 Super Bowl berths. They have a record of 3-1 with one outcome still pending. Prior to this year, the Giants were in the Super Bowl in 1986, 1990, 2000, and 2007.
The Patriots are second on the all time list with 7 Super Bowl berths. They have a record of 3-3 with one outcome still pending. Prior to this year, the Patriots were in the Super Bowl in 1985, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2007.
Same Old Faces, Same Old Places
There are 16 players from Super Bowl XLII that are still on the Giants roster. They include quarterback Eli Manning, running backs Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, and D.J. Ware, lineman David Diehl, Kareem McKenzie, Chris Snee, Kevin Boothe, and kicker Lawrence Tynes on offense.
Still on defense for the Giants are defensive lineman Dave Tollefson, Justin Tuck, and Osi Uminyiora, linebackers Chase Blackburn and Zack DeOssie, and defensive backs Corey Webster and Aaron Ross.
This number is much larger than the Patriots who only have a total of 8 players still on the roster from Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots have only one defensive player from that squad, but he is hard to miss in Vince Wilfork.
All of the remaining players are on offense. They include quarterback Tom Brady, running back Kevin Faulk, wide receiver Wes Welker, lineman Matt Light, Logan Mankins, and Dan Koppen who is actually on injured reserve but is still officially on the team, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
The Patriots come in with one of the most explosive offenses in recent memory, just behind their 2007 squad. The Giants again come into this contest with an explosive defense that can get after the quarterback and cause havoc on the line. This is one of Brady's weak points as it is for almost any quarterback who does not scramble and run outside the pocket. Even Eli Manning can't handle pressure up the middle. However, the Giants only produced 8 more sacks all season long than the Patriots did, so they both might be able to cause some havoc inside the pocket.
The regular season is in the past though. The post season is what matters. In the post season, Brady has played great at times and terrible at others. This could hurt the Patriots. However, Eli has not exactly been lights out throughout the playoffs either. He has had some great play and some terrible play as well. So, anything could happen.
Las Vegas already has the Patriots as a 3.5 point favorite. Yet, that has no bearing on the game. Although, the line in Vegas is usually very accurate, sometimes it is not as evidenced by the 12 point margin the Patriots were favored by the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl back in 2008.
The Patriots are -3 in turnover differential since the playoffs began. The Giants come into this game with a +5 turnover margin. This could be a huge factor in determining who wins. Usually the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. Although, last week the Patriots won in an aberration when they lost the turnover battle, but still won the game. However, the past is the past as Bill Belichick likes to say. Whichever, team plays better on Sunday will be the team that takes home the title. I know that sounds simplistic, but that is what it will come down to.
Now you can decide for yourself by voting in the poll below on which team you think will take home the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLVI.
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