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NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ crew offers thoughts on Super Bowl XLVI matchup

01.24.12 at 1:04 am ET
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NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” crew has weighed in with some thoughts on Super Bowl XLVI.

Bob Costas on Giants-Patriots: “No matter how they got there, this would be a bold-faced matchup: Patriots-Giants, a rematch of one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever with the key principals still in place – the coaches and the quarterbacks. When you think of how they got here and how good the games were today with the Patriots almost going to overtime and the Giants in fact going to overtime.

“The Giants trip to the Super Bowl closely mirrors what happened last time. The Patriots are not the juggernaut they were then, but the Giants had to go on the road and beat the Packers and beat San Francisco. It certainly feels like what happened four years ago. And there’s an irony that I am sure will be repeated a thousand times between now and two weeks from now that Brady meets Manning in Indianapolis, but its Eli, not Peyton.”

Al Michaels on the Giants: “Much as it was the case four years ago, the Giants were almost given up for dead in early December, and stayed alive with a tremendous comeback on that Sunday night in Dallas, which set them up for this post-season run.”

Michaels on the quarterbacks and coaches: “Despite that fact that Tom Brady was very critical of himself after today’s game, he is one of the greatest of all time, obviously. And Eli is an elite quarterback as well, there’s no doubt about that. So you have two great quarterbacks and two really outstanding coaches. Bill Belichick is clearly one of the best of all time and I think Tom Coughlin will finally get some of the respect that I felt he has deserved for a long, long time.”

Michaels on the matchup: “An extremely attractive matchup. The Patriots offense against the Giants defense that is playing a heck of a lot better than it was playing earlier in the season. The Patriots defense of late has played better, too. So it’s a great chess match with two elite quarterbacks and two teams with great traditions and great histories. It should be a terrific matchup.”

Cris Collinsworth on the Giants’ season: “It reminds me so much of what happed in 2007, the lowest of expectations going into the playoffs, and were they going to even make the playoffs. It’s really a credit to the resiliency of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. Somehow this team just finds a way in the most unlikely of circumstances to come together and to play great football. What Eli has done with his come-from-behind wins this year has been remarkable.”

Collinsworth on the Patriots’ defense: “The story for the Patriots, a defense that did not put up good statistics all season long, came together and played their best football in the playoffs. Based on Brady’s comments at the end of the game, he wasn’t too happy with his game and yet the defense was good enough, with a little help from a missed field goal at the end of the game, to carry them through.”

Collinsworth on Tom Brady’s postgame comments:: “It’s not often that Tom Brady needs help from anybody to make his way to the Super Bowl, but you know that he is going to be inspired in a way that he hasn’t been, maybe ever. Hearing his post-game self-critique, you know that he has a little chip on his shoulder going into the Super Bowl.”

Collinsworth on the Super Bowl rematch: “This is a rematch of a game that probably bothers the New England Patriots the most. They had the chance to stake their claim to be the greatest team of all time and the Giants beat them in major underdog fashion. The conditions are going to be perfect for both teams in this one, and I expect greatness from the game.”

Tony Dungy on the Super Bowl XLII rematch: “These teams do know each other. There are some of the same players and coaches, but the way both teams play is significantly different. The Patriots don’t have the deep passing game that Randy Moss gave them. Now they utilize the two tight ends. The Giants were a running team, but now it’s Eli.”

Dungy on what to watch for: “The pass rushers are going to tell the story. Both quarterbacks and receiving corps are operating at a high level. I expect the secondaries to have a tough time, which is why I think the team that can generate the most quarterback pressure will have an advantage. The Giants have obviously been hot at pressuring the quarterback the latter part of the season, but the Patriots have gotten hot the last two games.”

Dungy on the matchup: “It’s going to be a great matchup. You have veteran coaches on both sides and many of the key players competed in Super Bowl XLII. The stadium is a wash. It favors the passing game, but it also favors pass rushers. It will make for a better game for the fans.”

Rodney Harrison on the Super Bowl XLLL rematch: “I definitely think it’s a factor. The Patriots still have Tom Brady, Kevin Faulk, Wes Welker and others players who still have bitter tastes in their mouths. They might deny it, but it’s a factor. It matters.”

Harrison on the Giants: During the regular season, the Giants were very inconsistent. Right now, they are the most complete team in the playoffs. You really don’t want to face a team that can get after the ball like they can. They are a very scary team for the Patriots to face.

“The Giants are resilient. They believe right now, no matter what the situation. They went to Green Bay and beat the No. 1 offense. They go to San Francisco and beat the No. 1 defense. What can’t they do? They are not afraid and they are a scary team right now.”

Harrison on the Patriots: “If you’re the Patriots, you have to be excited about how your defense is playing. They are really showing a mental toughness that wasn’t there in the regular season. They aren’t perfect, but they are playing a lot better. I think what Bill Belichick has done is to tell the unit that the regular season is over and now they have an opportunity to prove themselves based on what they’ve done in the playoffs. They are playing loose and having fun.”

Read More: Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Rodney Harrison
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