Giants-Patriots the anti-Rex Ryan Super Bowl
|01.23.12 at 2:36 pm ET|
Coming into the 2011 NFL season, Jets coach Rex Ryan boldly and proudly predicted that his team was going to win the Super Bowl.
But with the matchup now set for the marquee game of the NFL season, it is much closer to a nightmare for Ryan than the dream season he envisioned, as two of his biggest rivals are facing off.
And at least as far as the Giants are concerned, they seem to be relishing in it.
Some teams are happy getting to Conference Championship games, but #ImReallyGoodAt winning them! 5-0 all time! #ALLIN, read a post from the Giants’ official Twitter page last night.
Even beyond the Giants’ apparent dig at the Jets, the game that awaits them is one that does not need much more hype, especially given what happened between them and the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants ended the Patriots’ chance at a perfect 19-0 season with a 17-14 win.
With the history that exists between these teams, for many with the Giants, the parallels between their previous Super Bowl matchup and upcoming one are profound.
“It is kind of eerie,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck told the New York Daily News. “We tried to downplay it all along, but I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t feel like 2007.”
During the Giants’ run to a Super Bowl that season, they entered the playoffs as the NFC’s lowest seed and won three road games before the upset of the Patriots.
This season, New York was able to rebound from a 6-6 start to win three of its final four regular-season games as well as three playoff games in which they outscored their opponents by a combined 81-39 margin.
Yet there are some slight differences, according to New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro, who notes that the Giants won’t be able to play the role of the unheralded spoiler anymore.
Wrote Vaccaro: The upset of upsets four years ago was the defining moment of [Tom] Coughlin’s career, perhaps the signature victory in the entire history of the Football Giants. In that game, they had most of the 44 states outside the confederacy of New England on their side, and it isn’t likely to be like that anymore. The Giants don’t sneak up on anyone anymore.
They aren’t cute, cuddly overachievers anymore.
The differences continue when it comes to the Giants offense.
What was an attack built on a punishing run game in 2007 has now morphed into a high-octane passing attack led by quarterback Eli Manning and a potent wide receiver trio with Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and UMass product Victor Cruz.
The New York Times’ NFL blog, The Fifth Down, goes inside the numbers.
Wrote Mike Tanier: The Giants have evolved into a big-play passing offense, with Eli Manning completing 44 passes of more than 20 yards in the regular season. The Giants average only 3.6 yards a rush on first down and 3.5 yards a rush over all, and the weak running game results in a large number of third-and-long situations. The Giants face third down and more than 10 an average of three times a game, one of the highest rates in the league. Manning has developed a knack for bailing the third-and-long boat: from halftime of the game against the Falcons to halftime of Sunday’s game, Manning was 13 of 15 when converting third down and 6 yards or more, with one incomplete pass and one fumble.
The rematch with New England, however, does not come without concerns and weaknesses for the Giants.
In particular, ESPN’s John Clayton sees a problem in the trenches for the Giants.
Wrote Clayton: What is the Giants’ biggest concern going into this game? Blocking. In the Giants’ victory over the 49ers, Manning was sacked six times, hurried 11 times and knocked down 19 times in 64 dropbacks. Giants coach Tom Coughlin has done a great job of patching the offensive line, and you knew there were going to have problems against the 49ers’ tough front seven. Manning wasn’t sacked in the first Patriots game but he was hit eight times. The Giants will have to control Mark Anderson, who is the Patriots’ top remaining pass-rushing defensive end. He had 10 sacks during the regular season. They will problems handling Wilfork, whom the Ravens couldn’t control. To have success, the Giants might have to pound big running back Brandon Jacobs into the line to wear down the Patriots, who run a 4-3.
But beyond the game’s specifics and regardless of the small factors that will play a large role in deciding who will hoist the Lombardi Trophy in two weeks, the game is destined to be another tightly contested battle that will meet the hype, according to Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated.
Wrote Rosenberg: When you factor in the stage, the stakes and the preposterous nature of the act itself, the Tyree catch may have been the most amazing play in American sports history. I don’t want it shown so often in the next two weeks that it loses its awesomeness. And the bigger reason I don’t want it shown is this:
We don’t need it.
Giants-Patriots II doesn’t need to be sold. It’s bigger than that. Better than that. Super Bowl hype is always ridiculous — heck, the very name of the event is hype — but sometimes, you can understand the point. It fires you up for something other than chicken wings and beer on Super Bowl Sunday.
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