Giants and Pats: Super Bowl XLVI…or XLII?
by Mike Trivella | University of Notre Dame
As the saying goes, “Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.” Someone should tell that to the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, and my seventh grade science teacher Mrs. Szeles. Ok, so that second one might just be an urban legend my brother told me because I was an extremely gullible middle-schooler, but for the NFL teams it still applies. Super Bowl rematches are extremely rare in the NFL; indeed only the Cowboys and Steelers, 49ers and Bengals, Dolphins and Redskins, and the Cowboys and Bills have pulled it off. Yet never has a Super Bowl rematch been so eerily similar (in terms of the circumstances surrounding it) to the original game. Four years after one of the greatest Super Bowls in history, the Giants and the Pats are set to do battle once more.
For the Giants, the comparisons between this year’s 9-7 Cinderella and the 10-6 team of 2007 that shocked the world are many. Each team suffered through lackadaisical midseason performances, only to get hot when it mattered most. Each team then proceeded to handle its opponent easily in the Wildcard Round, upset the number one seed in the Divisional Round, and then come away from the number two seed’s hostile stadium with a win thanks to the foot of Lawrence Tynes. All the while, each team rediscovered what it meant to plays Giants defense, and Eli Manning had ice blood in his veins as he pulled off miracle win after miracle win to be able to compete for the ultimate prize.
The parallels exist for the New England Patriots as well, although they might not be as blatantly obvious. While the Pats team of 2007 was arguably one of the greatest teams of all time, this Patriots team lived up to its billing enough to earn the number one seed. Each team then proceeded to win two clutch games at home to book tickets to the Big Game. Also, the offense for each team was spurred by the emergence of a big-time playmaker. In 2007 that player was the resurrected Randy Moss, while in 2011 Rob Gronkowski came out of nowhere to break the single-season NFL records for most receiving yards and touchdowns caught by a tight end.
It seems quite unlikely that Super Bowl XLVI will be the snooze-fest defensive struggle that Alabama and LSU made football fans suffer through in this year’s BCS National Championship. The Patriots under Brady and Belichick have always been an offensive juggernaut. No matter the personnel changes from one season to the next, they always seem to move up and down the field with ease. This year, they made the double tight end formation hip again, with the Gronk and his freakish partner-in-crime Aaron Hernandez torturing outside backers and safeties all season long.
To make matters even more interesting, the opposing team is led by a quarterback who just had the best statistical performance of his career, all with a cast of characters that were either unheard of or very much overlooked. Who could have ever predicted that guys such as Victor Cruz, Jake Ballard and Mario Manningham would carry a Giants offense to the Super Bowl? In a season where the running tandem of Jacobs and Bradshaw were kept relatively quiet, Eli Manning willed the New York Football Giants to a game within the Lombardi Trophy with his arm and quiet, humble leadership.
The way I see it, this game comes down to the defensive prowess of each team. The Patriots defense has been suspect all season, and that’s putting it kindly. If not for cornerback Sterling Moore coming out of nowhere to deny the Ravens a game-winning touchdown, we would be talking about the rematch of Super Bowl XXXV instead of XLII. As for the Giants, the defensive revival currently being led by defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and second-year standout Jason Pierre-Paul has been nothing short of extraordinary.
However, this is the Patriots we are talking about, and in this particular game, it’s the Pats who are the ones seeking revenge. As a diehard Giants fan I can only hope that the Incredible Eli leads the Giants to glory once more. But for the sake of viewers across the country, I also hope that this rendition of the New York-New England rivalry is just as thrilling as the first one.Mike Trivella is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Majoring in Accounting and minoring in Philosophy, Mike splits his time between classes, working out with friends, balancing debits & credits, pondering the true essence of the universe, and as always watching the New York Football Giants.