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Super Bowl roundup: New York papers wave the pom-poms for Giants

02.05.12 at 11:28 am ET
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Even amidst the constant bustle in a city that proudly never sleeps, the Super Bowl tends to make a fair share of noise. And with the hometown Giants playing tonight on football’s biggest stage, the New York newspapers are unsurprisingly dominated by Super Bowl XLVI.

Beginning right where the Patriots and Giants left off in Super Bowl XLII in 2008, Steve Serby of the New York Post predicts another Giants victory behind the arm of Eli Manning and his ability to once again best Tom Brady.

Wrote Serby: It used to be that Tom Brady was the last man you would want standing between you and the Lombardi Trophy. It was Eli Manning who shattered Brady’€™s aura of invincibility one magical, momentous night four years ago, and it is Eli Manning who will deliver an emphatic reminder tonight against Brady and the Patriots and bring the Lombardi Trophy back home. It is Eli Manning who has Brady’€™s number, and it is Eli Manning, more than any Giant, who knows how to finish. It is Eli Manning, unlike any other New York quarterback, who has not trembled at the sight of the diabolical man in the hoodie on the enemy sidelines, Darth [Bill] Belichick.

It is Eli Manning who shows up at Super Bowl XLVI with the right arm and brain his big brother always had and the toughness Phil Simms always displayed. It is Eli Manning who will be cheered wildly by the pro-Giants crowd inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and by fans all so eager to adopt Peyton’€™s little brother. ‘€œI think he’€™s battle-hardened,’€ Bill Parcells said. Now do you understand why Gisele wants family and friends to pray for Tommy? Yes, Eli is in Brady’€™s class … and Manning doesn’€™t have to flinch at the menace of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck coming for his head.

Building on Serby’s final point, George Willis of the Post wrote that the Giants defensive line is ready to pressure, fluster and neutralize Brady just as it memorably did in the last Super Bowl match-up between these two teams.

Wrote Willis: It’€™s a chance to put the finishing touches on a season of triumph, which at one point looked much like one of misery. Tonight, this unit without a nickname will chase Brady and history. It all comes down to simple math, really. There won’€™t be enough New England blockers to double team Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Dave Tollefson on the same play, which means Brady is going to be under pressure. The frequency of how much that happens and the amount of disruption caused will determine if the Giants beat the Patriots.

Many have speculated and talked at length about the factor of revenge in this year’s Super Bowl, given the history that exists between these teams and franchises. Some, most notably Patriots players, have downplayed the importance of revenge.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bill Parcells, Chris Canty, Dave Tollefson

Setting the Super Bowl scene: Patriots-Giants

02.05.12 at 10:48 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — The wait is finally over.

After two weeks of analysis, predictions and hype from both teams, the Patriots are set to take on the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI (6:30 p.m. ET NBC and Sportsradio WEEI 93.7 FM).

The Patriots will attempt to win their fourth NFL championship tonight here at Lucas Oil Stadium in the heart of Indiana as they take on the New York Giants in the much-anticipated rematch of Super Bowl XLII.

While the stadium is enclosed, the weather outside resembles that of previous Super Bowls in warm weather climate, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 40s.

The scene here is predictably busy and hectic at the last minute as parking lots are charging anywhere between $200 and $1000 for parking in and around the stadium.

Something else that is predictable is tight security. The NSA has declared this Super Bowl a ‘Level 1′ security event so there will be bomb-sniffing dogs and several layers of security for media and fans to pass through, alike. The stadium gates open for the general media at 2 p.m., with kickoff slated four and a half hours later.

All eyes will be on No. 87 for the Patriots as Rob Gronkowski and his injured left ankle take the field. He is expected to start and play in the game, barring any last-minute setbacks. He was listed as probable on Friday’s injury report and showed no limp in the 90 minutes the team was on the field for a photo opportunity on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

‘€œI think he’€™s doing better,’€ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of Gronkowski, before the team went on the field to begin the session. ‘€œI think he’€™s doing a little better each day. We’€™ll just have to see where things (are).’€

Belichick has been notably relaxed and laid back this week as his team prepares for a shot at its fourth championship.

‘€œThese guys have worked hard, they’€™ve earned this trip,” Belichick said of Saturday’s photo shoot. “We know we’€™re here for a job but it’€™s also a fun thing to be part of this game so it’€™s fun to be seeing them enjoying it. This is what we all work for. To be here. You want to be here, you want to enjoy it, there’€™s a job to do but you want to be able to enjoy the trip.’€

With a win, Belichick and Tom Brady will join Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw as the only head coach/quarterback combo with four Super Bowl titles.

Brady can also make history tonight by himself. With a win, he will earn his 17th playoff victory, which will establish a new NFL record, surpassing the 16 of his boyhood idol, Joe Montana. A win will also move him into a tie for the most Super Bowl championships in NFL history, matching the four of Bradshaw and Montana. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Art Rooney, Bill Belichick, Chuck Noll, Joe Montana

A week in Indianapolis (video): Lightning may come out of Tom Coughlin’s fingertips

02.04.12 at 11:02 pm ET
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Read More: Artie Lange, Curt Schilling, Deacon Jones, Indianapolis

Super Bowl roundup: Ahmad Bradshaw ‘OK’ to play

02.04.12 at 4:19 pm ET
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Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw has been experiencing a sore foot after two straight days of practicing for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Bradshaw is one of six players on the Giants injury report, “but he’s OK,” Tom Coughlin told reporters on Friday. “He’ll be ready. He’ll be listed as probable.”

Despite the injury, Bradshaw showed up for practice Wednesday and Thursday after resting the first two days post-arrival to Indy.

“He got in two good days of work prior to this,” Coughlin said. “He’s prepared.”

‘™¦ Super Bowl fans everywhere are taking to social media outlets when it comes to navigating their way to and around Indianapolis.

Fans are using Facebook and Twitter to find the best restaurants and best parking spots for game day, and are even using them as locating devices to find out where the next major celebrity will appear.

According to a report by CBS New York, a year after Super Bowl XLV set a record 4,064 tweets per second during the fourth quarter of the game, organizers are aiming to make this year’€™s game in Indianapolis the most connected Super Bowl ever.

Read More: Ahmad Bradshaw, Corey Webster, Hakeem Nicks, Jacquian Williams

Giants website gaffe touts team as Super Bowl champs

02.04.12 at 3:56 pm ET
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The claims by Chris Canty about planning a parade were one thing. On Saturday, the Giants‘ website took such brash predictions to another level.

The website temporarily featured the image below, which linked to sales of merchandise touting the Giants as champions of Super Bowl XLVI. At some point, the mistake was detected and the image removed.

It remains to be seen whether this ends up being an exercise in “Dewey Beats Truman.”

No time for Madonna: Patriots thinking outside the box when it comes to dealing with longer halftime

02.03.12 at 9:03 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been forced to try and get creative when it comes to dealing with the logistics regarding the lengthier halftime New England will face in Sunday’€™s Super Bowl. It’€™ll be twice as long as a usual regular-season break, and Belichick tried to get his team used to it on Wednesday by essentially splitting practice into three parts: The team practiced, took a half-hour break, and then restarted again.

‘€œNormally our halftime is 12 minutes and this halftime will be closer to 30,’€ Belichick said during Friday’€™s press conference. ‘€œIt gets into a whole restarting mentality. It’€™s not like taking a break and coming out in the second half. It’€™s like starting the game all over again. It’€™s like playing a game, stopping, and then playing a second game, a doubleheader in baseball if you will. I think that makes it a little bit different.

‘€œWe tried to simulate that in practice on Wednesday. We had the players go through that process of restarting. You can have a meeting about it, you can talk about this is what it’€™s going to be like. I just felt that it was beneficial for our team, this year, to actually put them through that’€”go out there and warm up, practice, take a break, shut it down for a half hour, go into the locker room, simulate what a halftime would be, in terms of corrections, adjustments, and re-starting our bodies both mentally and physically to restart the game.’€

One player who might be adversely affected by the longer halftime is tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC championship game but returned to practice this week in a limited capacity, will be sitting for a longer-than-usual stretch between the second and third quarters in the locker room. The Patriots want to avoid a repeat of what happened to Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney two years ago — Freeney tore a ligament in his ankle in the AFC title game, and while he played well in the first half, he stiffened up at halftime, and was ineffective down the stretch.

‘€œOnce it gets stiff, it’€™s tough to bring it back,’€ said Freeney afterward.

After the Patriots walkthrough on Friday, Belichick sounded an optimistic note about Gronkowski’€™s ankle.

‘€œHe practiced yesterday. He didn’€™t do anything today,’€ Belichick said of Gronkowski. ‘€œWe’€™ll see where he’€™s at on Sunday, but hopefully (he’€™ll play). I saw no setbacks. He’€™s still making progress.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, dwight freeney, Rob Gronkowski,

Robert Kraft on The Big Show: ‘I hope for something special’

02.03.12 at 6:59 pm ET
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Days before his teams fifth Super Bowl appearance in the last 11 seasons, Patriots owner Robert Kraft joined The Big Show for his annual pre-Super Bowl radio appearance.

Mr. Kraft used the opportunity to touch on a number of subjects, the most notable among them being the Patriots’ performance as a team this season and the impact that the memory of his deceased wife Myra Kraft has had on this team.

When asked about his preseason expectations for the Patriots, Mr. Kraft acknowledged that he didn’t think his team would have made it as far as they did, but that playing in honor of Mrs. Kraft has given this season a whole new meaning and purpose.

“I had a chance to say what values were important to her ‘€“ the mental toughness, the honesty, the sense of teamwork, letting other people get the credit, but doing acts of kindness and being a team player,” Mr. Kraft said of meeting with his team before the season. “She represented everything that a good football player represents and she was very intelligent. We just hoped that the players would conduct themselves in a certain way on and off the field in honor of her.”

Based on feedback he received from fans across New England after the Patriots’ win over the Ravens in the AFC Championship, the legacy of Mrs. Kraft has continued to help the team on the run to the Super Bowl.

“I’€™ve gotten tons of letters and emails from people suggesting she was smiling down with that kick, blowing it left,” Mr. Kraft said. “I want to thank the fans, really, for the great emotional support they’€™ve given to our family this whole year. It’€™s been very kind.”

It was noted in the interview that Mr. Kraft, upon buying the team in 1994, had said that he wanted to model his franchise after the San Francisco 49ers. He wanted the Patriots to always be among the teams in championship contention on an annual basis and with that goal realized in the last decade, Mr. Kraft said that the key for the Patriots has been putting good, skilled and knowledgeable people in the right positions.

“It’€™s always important in every business to know what you’€™re don’€™t know and then get the smartest people you can to do the job, and smart people attract other smart people,” Mr. Kraft said. “Then give them autonomy, encourage them to be bold and then when they do things in the best interest of the franchise, even if it’€™s a mistake, don’€™t Monday Morning Quarterback. Support them.”

Now one win away from the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl championship, all of which have come under his ownership, Mr. Kraft is optimistic his team can capture another title, all while exhibiting the franchise’s core ethos and team-oriented principles.

“I hope for something special,” Mr. Kraft said. “I’€™ve learned that great players go to the Pro Bowl, great teams go to the Super Bowl and that doesn’€™t mean you don’€™t have to have the most talented players. It’€™s about team.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Drew Bledsoe, Myra Kraft
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