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Super Bowl Tweets, 3 p.m.: Patriots arrive at Lucas Oil stadium 02.05.12 at 3:43 pm ET
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National reporters provided fans with updates as the Patriots and Giants made final preparations for the Super Bowl.

Giant buses now leaving hotel, bound for Superbowl XLVI … tweeted NFL Network reporter Albert Breer. Has been a crazy scene here at the Giants hotel. Lobby packed with friends and family, temporary bar set up there.

The official Twitter page for the Patriots tweeted not long after, Team buses are pulling into Lucas Oil Stadium.

As for the players …

Patriots and Giants players alike have been interacting with fans on Twitter, replying with gratitude for their encouraging words and faith.

In a response to this tweet by a fan: This is the day you’ve been waiting 4! *insert backflip here*, Patriots linebacker Gary Guyton tweeted: And you know this man!!!!

One young fan showed love for Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, tweeting @Shoutout 2 @TeamVic for embracing his culture! >> Victor Cruz is emerging as Latin sensation.

Even R&B singing sensation and TV personality Ciara tweeted praises of Cruz.

2 Day was soooo much fun! Victor Cruz taught me how to salsa! The Cruz Salsa! Watch The Insider tonight at 7pm pst!

Hartford Courant sports columnist Jeff Jacobs tweeted: Victor Cruz refuses to salsa on command from freaky guy.

While it may appear that Cruz is known for his spiced-up dance moves on the sidelines of almost every game, CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted: If Victor Cruz is the Super Bowl MVP, he’ll make more in marketing than his yearly salary ($450,000).

According to a recent tweet quoting a movie, Patriots defensive end Andre Carter is keeping his sense of humor despite the big game.

What cologne am I gonna go with? London Gentleman, or wait. No, no, no. Hold on. Blackbeard’s Delight.-Anchorman

Read More: Albert Breer, Andre Carter, Ciara, Jeff Jacobs
Why don’t Patriots draft players like Jason Pierre-Paul? Different draft strategies led Patriots, Giants to Super Bowl 01.27.12 at 1:15 am ET
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Jason Pierre-Paul has become one of the top pass-rushers in the NFL, a key component of a Giants team that is relentless in its effort to beat quarterbacks senseless. Yet the difference-making defensive end represents precisely the type of player whom the Patriots wouldn’t touch in the draft.

Why?

The answer helps to illustrate how the Giants and Patriots have rebuilt their rosters to make their respective runs to Super Bowl XLVI. There’€™s a reason why the NFL draft gets so much attention each year. Champions are built in the draft, and next Sunday will feature a matchup of two previously championship-caliber teams that have used the draft in drastically different ways to get back to the Super Bowl.

The cogs — Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Wes Welker, Eli Manning and Osi Umenyiora, among others — are still there, but the Patriots and Giants have reloaded in the draft over the last four years. Both teams have done well, though they’€™ve done so with different philosophies and different results.

The Patriots have drafted 41 players since 2008 (the first draft after Super Bowl XLII), and 24 are still with the team. The Giants have drafted 31 players since 2008 and have kept 23 of them. The highest Giants pick not currently with the team from the last four drafts? That would be 2008 fourth-round pick Bryan Kehl. The Pats, meanwhile, have parted ways with seven players taken in the first three rounds of the last four drafts.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Andre Carter, Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty
Taking a closer look at the regular-season matchup between the Patriots and Giants 01.25.12 at 9:07 pm ET
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Here are five takeaways after rewatching the Nov. 6 regular-season matchup between the Patriots and Giants:

1. We’€™ve been big proponents of the Patriots’€™ use of the no-huddle all season — New England has used it one in every four snaps since the start of the regular season, and run it effectively on a number of occasions this year in hopes of catching an opponent on their heels. One of the things that really stood out was the fact that even though the Patriots couldn’€™t muster any offense in the first half (they were scoreless over the first two quarters), they didn’€™t run a single play in the no huddle in that time. In all, New England used it just four of 75 total offensive snaps against New York, or five percent of the time. To that point in the year, it represented a season-low in total snaps and percentage (two games later, New England used the no huddle just once in 65 offensive snaps against the Chiefs). The only time the Patriots went no-huddle against the Giants was on their final drive of the afternoon, one that ended with the go-ahead touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Aaron Hernandez with 1:36 to go. For a team that leaned so heavily on the no-huddle all season long, the numbers were interesting.

2. Injuries were a big part of this game. Hernandez was still working his way back after a knee problem, and while he played 59 of a possible 78 snaps (according to Pro Football Focus), he clearly was at less than his best. That led to a passing game that relied almost exclusively on Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, as the two accounted for more than half of the targets (25 of 49), receptions (17 of 28) and receiving yards (237 of 342). In addition, the Patriots lost safety Patrick Chung to a foot injury late in the game and linebacker Brandon Spikes to a knee injury late in the second half. That led to some interesting personnel combinations down the stretch — linebacker Tracy White and safety Sergio Brown was on the field at the end of the game in pass coverage. On the other side of the ball, the Giants were without wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and starting center David Baas (more on them in a bit), which certainly altered their overall game plan.

3. The Giants were looking to defend the pass first and foremost against New England. According to Pro Football Focus, they had five defensive backs on the field on every play. Despite that, even with the New York pass rush being one of the best in the league, the Patriots were a pass-first offense — Brady looked to pass more than twice as much as run, with New England running the ball 24 times and throwing it 49 times. (For what it’€™s worth, PFF has Brady as being blitzed 14 times, and ended up going 4-for-12 for 68 yards with one run and one sack.) While New England got decent production in the running game from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it was clear that Green-Ellis wasn’€™t 100 percent physically. For Green-Ellis, this game was sandwiched by eight-yard game against the Jets and a nine-yard game against the Steelers, and in the middle of an extended period where he was questionable on the injury report because of a toe problem on a consistent basis. (As our scout suggested here, expect the Patriots to try and run the ball more often against the New York defensive line that is always looking to get after the passer.)
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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Andre Carter, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Brandon Spikes
Patriots Positional Playoff Preview: Linebackers 01.10.12 at 12:23 am ET
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With the Patriots off this weekend and the postseason ready to begin, we’€™ve got the Patriots Positional Playoff Preview, a weeklong, position-by-position look at the Patriots and how they look heading into the postseason. We’€™ve already looked at the offensive side of the ball, as well as the defensive line. Now, it’€™s the linebackers:

Depth chart (stats from coaches film review): Rob Ninkovich (62 tackles, 46 solo, 6.5 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, 2 interceptions), Gary Guyton (46 tackles, 33 solo, 1 interception), Jerod Mayo (103 tackles, 67 solo, 1 sack, 6 quarterback hits, 2 interceptions), Dane Fletcher (37 tackles, 25 solo, 6 quarterback hits), Brandon Spikes (51 tackles, 36 solo, 1 quarterback hit), Tracy White (25 tackles, 19 solo). Jeff Tarpinian and Jermaine Cunningham are on injured reserve.

Overview: It was a rocky year for the New England linebackers, who, in truth, have been asked to do a lot. There have been shifts from a three-man front to a four-man front and back again over the course of the year. Mayo, Fletcher and Spikes were all sidelined at one time or another for multiple weeks with injuries. And the Patriots defense hasn’€™t played all that well for large chunks of the season. But now, with the postseason looming, they appear to be healthy, and while the stats aren’€™t where they should be, they remain a key part to the success of the New England defense.

One of the most intriguing members of the New England linebacking corps is Ninkovich. In my mind, he was most affected by the move from a three-man front to a four-man front at the start of the season, and appeared to struggle at times with the change in responsibilities. However, over the second half of the season, his numbers have improved, particularly when it came to setting the edge against the run and rushing the passer. (He had 14 quarterback pressures and four sacks over one five-game stretch toward the end of the season, and was third on the team behind Andre Carter and Mark Anderson in both sacks with 6.5 and quarterback hits with nine.) He has lined up as a down lineman on occasion, as well as an outside linebacker, and his versatility and smarts make him one of the most important parts of the New England defense.

One opposing scouts take on the Patriots’€™ wide receivers heading into the postseason: ‘€œGetting Mayo back is huge while other guys filled in and got reps. The all seem to execute and know what they are supposed to be doing. Lack a great playmaker, but Ninkovich is a productive guy run and pass. All play with great motor and instincts. Benefit from beef in front of them on the inside running game. Can be tested if blockers can get on them.’€
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Read More: Andre Carter, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Gary Guyton
Patriots positional playoff preview: Defensive line 01.08.12 at 1:32 pm ET
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With the Patriots off this weekend and the postseason ready to begin, we’€™ve got the Patriots Positional Playoff Preview, a weeklong, position-by-position look at the Patriots and how they look heading into the postseason. We’€™ve already looked at the offensive side of the ball. Now, we take a look at the defense, starting with the defensive line.

Depth chart: Shaun Ellis, Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Gerard Warren, Mark Anderson, Brandon Deaderick. (Myron Pryor, Andre Carter and Mike Wright have all landed on season-ending injured reserve.)

Overview: It’€™s been an eventful season for the New England defensive line, which has run several new bodies through the system. Some have worked (Carter), while some haven’€™t (Albert Haynesworth).

In the end, even though the numbers may not suggest it, the New England defensive line was able to have a relatively productive season in 2011, thanks in large part to the work of Wilfork. The 30-year-old had one of the finest seasons of his already impressive career, finishing with a career-high in total snaps played and doing his best to hold together an occasionally unsteady defensive line that spent most of the first half of the season learning how to play together. His Pro Bowl nod — the fourth of his career — was well deserved. (In addition to his traditional work in the trenches, he’€™s added a pair of interceptions this season.)

As for the rest of the defensive line, Ellis has struggled with age and injury, while Warren has been a relatively solid presence as a rotational player along the interior of the defensive line. When it comes to the young guys, Love has flashed some talent (he appears to be a very good complementary piece at defensive tackle next to Wilfork). It also appears that Deaderick (who has some good positional versatility) will bear watching over the course of the next year.

Carter suffered a quad injury in a win last month over the Broncos, and with him on injured reserve, the Patriots have struggled to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Anderson (who finished tied with Carter in quarterback sacks with 10 and second to Carter in quarterback hits, 22 to 14) continues to get lots of reps as a situational pass rusher, but those pass-rushing numbers must improve if the New England defense wants to slow down opposing offenses in the postseason.

An opposing scout’€™s take on the New England defensive line heading into the postseason: ‘€œBig and hard to move inside, which may bode well in cold weather games against running teams. Don’€™t create a lot of pressure on the passer, but can push the pocket inside. Will miss the steady play of Andre Carter against the run and pass. Mark Anderson will flash some ability to create some pressure. They struggle to get pressure when rushing four, and will leave secondary on an island.’€
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Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Brandon Deaderick, Dan Orlovsky
Pressure Points: Which New England defenders did the best job of getting after the quarterback this season? 01.03.12 at 4:05 pm ET
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According to official NFL gamebooks, opposing quarterbacks had 620 dropbacks against the Patriots this season, and were hit by New England defenders a total of 88 times, to go along with 40 sacks (14th in the league) for 274 yards. Here’€™s a breakdown of who did the best job of getting after the quarterback this year:

Quarterback hits:
Defensive end Andre Carter: 22
Defensive end/linebacker Mark Anderson: 14
Linebacker Rob Ninkovich: 9
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork: 8
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: 6
Linebacker Jerod Mayo: 6
Defensive lineman Kyle Love: 5
Defensive lineman Shaun Ellis: 3
Defensive lineman Myron Pryor: 3
Defensive lineman Gerard Warren: 3
Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth: 2
Defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick: 2
Safety Pat Chung: 2
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: 1
Cornerback Phillip Adams: 1
Defensive lineman Mike Wright: 1

Sacks:
Anderson: 10 (75 yards)
Carter: 10 (70 yards)
Ninkovich: 6.5 (54 yards)
Wilfork: 3.5 (17.5 yards)
Love: 3 (14 yards)
Deaderick: 2 (13 yards)
Mayo 1 (5.0 yards)
Warren: 1 (7 yards)
Ellis 1 (7 yards)
Chung: 1 (3 yards)
Pryor: 0.5 (4.5 yards)
Wright: 0.5 (4 yards)

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Brandon Deaderick, Brandon Spikes
Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have done the best job of getting after the quarterback through 15 games? 12.29.11 at 4:38 pm ET
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According to official NFL gamebooks, opposing quarterbacks have 574 dropbacks against the Patriots through 15 games this season, and have been hit by New England defenders a total of 85 times, to go along with 38 sacks (tied for 13th in the league) for 262.5 yards. Here’€™s a breakdown of who has been getting to the quarterback for the Patriots through 15 games:

Quarterback hits:
Defensive end Andre Carter: 22
Defensive end/linebacker Mark Anderson: 13
Linebacker Rob Ninkovich: 9
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork: 7
Linebacker Dane Fletcher: 6
Linebacker Jerod Mayo: 6
Defensive lineman Kyle Love: 5
Defensive lineman Shaun Ellis: 3
Defensive lineman Myron Pryor: 3
Defensive lineman Gerard Warren: 3
Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth: 2
Defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick: 2
Safety Pat Chung: 1
Linebacker Brandon Spikes: 1
Cornerback Phillip Adams: 1
Defensive lineman Mike Wright: 1

Sacks:
Carter: 10 (70 yards)
Anderson: 9 (67 yards)
Ninkovich: 6.5 (54 yards)
Wilfork: 2.5 (17 yards)
Love: 2 (11 yards)
Mayo 2 (5.0 yards)
Deaderick: 2 (13 yards)
Warren: 1 (7 yards)
Ellis 1 (7 yards)
Chung: 1 (3 yards)
Pryor: 0.5 (4.5 yards)
Wright: 0.5 (4 yards)

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Brandon Deaderick, Brandon Spikes
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