Admittedly, my first thought when considering Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup is to rush to the safety of the New England Patriots’ 18-0 record. That big goose egg in the loss column is very attractive. It makes you feel very secure.
How can you go wrong siding with a team that’s 18-0, for crying out loud? To do otherwise makes you wonder, at least briefly, about your sanity.
But listen: The New York Giants could win this thing on Sunday. There. I said it. And by golly, I’m proud of it too.
(Brief moment while I gather myself after such a bold proclamation.)
But you know, maybe it’s not all that bold after all. The Giants did come awfully close to beating the Patriots the last week of the regular season before New England mounted a comeback and took a 38-35 victory. New York had the Pats down 28-16 — their biggest deficit all season — in the third quarter. It was the game where you could say Giants quarterback Eli Manning (left) came of age.
New York comes into the Super Bowl with Manning having led them to 10 road wins in a row. Against the Patriots the first time around he threw four touchdown passes, completing 22 of 32 for 251 yards.
One key for the Giants in that game was how they struck early and they’ll need to do that again in Super Bowl XLII. In New York’s opening drive, Plaxico Burress made a great jump-ball catch for a 52-yard reception and Brandon Jacobs caught a 7-yard pass for a touchdown, breaking a tackle attempt by Tedy Bruschi.
Manning was definitely at his best in that game. It enabled him to lead the Giants to their two playoff wins against Dallas and Green Bay and has the entire team brimming with confidence as they get ready for the rematch in the desert.
The Giants haven’t had an offensive turnover since Manning’s interception to Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs. New York will have to be error-free to have a chance against New England.
Of course, the best way to try to beat the Patriots is to keep people like Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Laurence Maroney off the field. Time of possession is always important, but especially against perhaps the best offense the NFL has ever seen.
It’s not beyond the realm to see the Giants winning Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots’ toward history as the first 19-0 team in the NFL could just possibly be derailed.