Most fans remember the story. With a minute and thirteen seconds left in the game, Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw the ball to the middle of the field where receiver David Tyree made a leaping catch with the ball pinned against his own helmet. Four plays later, Manning hit an open Plaxico Burress in the corner of the end zone with just 35 seconds remaining. Giants win 17-14.
The Patriots surely remember.
New England must feel like they have unfinished business left over from the 2007 season. Of course, it’s highly unlikely they get another shot at a perfect 19-0 season, but quarterback Tom Brady needs one more Super Bowl ring for four. A fourth ring would tie him with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for the most by a quarterback.
In addition, Bill Belichick needs one more Super Bowl ring for his fourth as a head coach which would tie him for the NFL lead with Chuck Noll. But a loss not only would prevent them from tying those records, it would put another black spot on an otherwise great Patriots legacy.
It’s ironic that the team that again stands in their way was the team that put the original black mark on that legacy. The New York Giants entered the 2007 Playoffs as a Wild Card and won three road games to get to Super Bowl XLII. In that game, New York’s defensive line demolished New England’s front and gave QB Brady very little time to throw.
Super Bowl XLVI will be the sixth rematch in the big game’s history, the most famous, of course, being Dallas and Pittsburgh who have met a total of three times in the Super Bowl. In many ways, New York/New England is replacing Pittsburgh/Dallas as the most heated interconference rivalry in the NFL. Other Super Bowl rematches include Washington/Miami, San Francisco/Cincinnati, and Dallas/Buffalo. Of the five rematches, the “rematch factor”
only came true twice. Dallas defeated Pittsburgh in their second rematch in Super Bowl XXX and Washington trounced Miami in Super Bowl XVII.
That stat will not likely influence the outcome of the Super Bowl, but New York’s defensive line certainly will again. Although the Giants had a poorly ranked defense throughout the regular season, key players returned from injury to strengthen the defense right before the Playoff run. The key to defeating the Patriots has always been get to Brady with as few defenders as possible. The Giants were perfectly designed for that scheme in 2007 and just may be perfect again for it in 2011.
Whether they are and QB Eli gets his second ring or if Brady and Belichick add to their legacy, remains to be seen. Either way, it looks to be a great Super Bowl.