Share This Page

Giants vs. Patriots II in Super Bowl matchup worth four-year wait

INDIANAPOLIS — Here we go again.

Four years after what many consider the best finish in Super Bowl history, the Giants and Patriots are facing off once more for the NFL championship. While there are no perfect records on the line this time, this matchup could be equally enticing.

It certainly looks that way heading into Sunday's big game. In 2008, with New England undefeated and having beaten New York in the regular-season finale, the Patriots were 12-point favorites. The spread now is 3, and the Giants beat them during the season.

Both teams are on quite a roll, too. The Patriots (15-3) have won 10 straight — it was 18 in a row in '08 — and the Giants (12-7) have five consecutive victories.

All of which matters not a bit, according to Bill Belichick, who will tie a record for head coaches with his fifth Super Bowl appearance.

"I've been asked about that game for several days now. All of the games in the past really don't mean that much at this point," said Belichick, 3-1 in NFL title games. "This game is about this team this year. There aren't really a lot of us coaches and players who were involved in that game, and very few players, in relative terms, between both teams. We are where we are now, and we're different than where we were earlier in the season. The Giants are where they are now, and I think they're different than where they were at different points of the season. To take it back years and years before that, I don't think it has too much bearing on anything."

The loss still reverberates for former Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin.

"It was like getting punched in the stomach," he said. "I still can't watch the highlights from that game because of the opportunity we missed out on was so grand

Having come this far before is immeasurably helpful, according to Justin Tuck, the leader of the Giants' defense whose return to health and form has keyed New York's resurgence. He says the experience of four years ago in the Arizona desert will benefit everyone.

"The only thing that I tell the younger guys is make football football," Tuck said. "Don't make this game bigger than it has to be. Everybody around you is going to make it bigger, but we have to concentrate on why we're going out there. There's going to be a lot of parties. There's going to be a lot of people pulling at your coattail. Listen, if you go out there and you handle your business and you win this game, you can party all you want to after that.

"For me, personally, the first time I went to a Super Bowl I approached it as such — as a once in a lifetime thing."

For Tuck, it wasn't. And while the defense he leads to Indianapolis isn't quite as overwhelming as the unit that made life miserable for Tom Brady in '08, it has been reinvigorated as the Giants surged to the NFC championship. It also is just as deep as the group that sacked Brady five times, hit him nine more — Osi Umenyiora claimed he had that many hits alone — and unnerved the usually unflappable star.

Today, it's Tuck, Umenyiora, All-Pro Jason Pierre-Paul, Dave Tollefson and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who compare favorably with Umenyiora, Tuck, Michael Strahan, Jay Alford and LB Antonio Pierce in 2008.

Other than head coaches Belichick and New York's Tom Coughlin, that is the most common element between the two Super Bowls.

"It's been a strength of their team for as long as I can remember," Brady said. "Michael Strahan, as great of a player as he was, I think we played them in 2003 and they were still harassing the quarterback. It seems like they always have guys who can rush the quarterback. Justin Tuck is as good as they come. Osi week in and week out, he's a player who can ruin a game for an offense. You look at the group they have now, and they have a ton of depth at the defensive line position."

Controversial receivers Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress have been replaced by skilled playmakers like tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in New England, wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in New York. Eli Manning no longer is a question as Giants quarterback, and has carried the offense much the way running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw did in the past.

Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants into the Super Bowl in overtime in '08 and — incredibly — this year, too. Wes Welker led the Patriots with 112 catches that season and had 122 in this one.

Sixteen Giants remain from the 17-14 Super Bowl victory, and only seven Patriots are still around.

Similarities and differences, all juicy elements for Giants-Patriots II.

Here we go again.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.