• 82°

Super Bowl: Why the Giants will win

By Tom Canavan
Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — In this new NFL age of throw first and throw again, it’s easy to forget to first rule of football: Defense wins championships.
Sorry Eli. Sorry Tom. There’s no doubt you’re both among the league’s elite quarterbacks.
Today’s Super Bowl, however, is going to be decided by defense, and the Giants are better than the Patriots right now. The proof is in the performance.
To say the defense is confident heading into the Super Bowl would be an understatement.
“I feel like we’re going to play our best game, so whoever is facing us better play theirs,” defensive captain Justin Tuck.
Take a look at the five-game winning streak that’s carried the Giants (12-7) from a .500 team to a second Super Bowl in four years. The defense has given up only 67 points during the streak, not allowed more than 251 yards passing in any game, recorded 20 sacks and forced 11 turnovers.
And that’s against some very good offenses, including the high-powered one in Green Bay.
There is no secret to the Giants’ game plan: Stop the run, put the Patriots in passing situations and knock Tom Brady on his you-know-what.
Then do it again.
It’s the game plan the Giants used four years ago in Phoenix in embarrassing the Patriots’ offensive line, and the same one they used with a little less effectiveness in Foxborough, Mass., early in November during a 24-20 win.
In that more recent game, the Giants sacked Brady twice and had two interceptions. One sack led to a fumble recovery that set up a score.
Get to Brady and good things happen.
“We did some things that disrupted his timing,” defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “We caused him to stay jittery in the pocket. Hopefully we can do that again.”
Brady and the Patriots will be facing an even better defense in the rematch. The Giants’ front four is healthy and peaking.
Tuck has overcome the shoulder and groin injuries that bothered him in November. Osi Umenyiora is as healthy as he’s been all season, and the defense has suddenly found itself after needing a rescue party for the first 14 games.
Not only is the front four playing well, the linebackers are stopping the run and the secondary is covering so well that quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Alex Smith rarely were able to hit their primary targets in the playoffs.
“To be honest, I think our confidence is very high,” said second-year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who led the Giants with 161/2 sacks in the regular season. “We know what we have to do and what’s at stake.”
If Brady meets the same fate as those other recent quarterbacks and he’s ducking the pass rush, the Patriots are going to have big problems.
“That’s where our energy comes from,” Fewell said of his front four. “That’s where our confidence comes from. That’s where our swagger comes from, because those guys — unlike most teams you are associated with — they set the tone for us. They are the catalyst for what we do and how we do it.”
Umenyiora has no doubt the Giants will get to Brady and put their imprint on the game.
“They’re going to definitely do some things to keep us off of him, max protections, short throws, quick throws, but they can only do that for so long,” Umenyiora said. “Whenever we have opportunities where he does hold the ball, we’re going to have to get to the quarterback.”
The Giants also have gotten a little lucky heading into this one. Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a high sprain to his left ankle in the AFC title game against Baltimore. It probably will reduce his effectiveness.
Offensively, Eli Manning has had a career year, and the Giants can match the Patriots point for point. With New York’s running game struggling much of the season, the key will be keeping Manning upright. San Francisco sacked him six times and hit him 20 times overall in the NFC title game.
However, the Patriots D isn’t in the same category as 49ers. The Patriots allowed the second-most yards in the NFL during the regular season, and their secondary repeatedly got burned for big plays.
Vince Wilfolk will stuff the middle but Manning should have a field day against a shaky New England secondary. There’s no way Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and nickel back-receiver Julian Edelman stop Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham and tight end Jake Ballard.
Championships often are decided by a big play, and Cruz and Nicks have been turning little plays into touchdowns all season. There likely will be chances for more of those.
With both offenses so formidable, former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy felt the game was going to be decided by a special teams play, a blocked punt or field goal, or some other play.
“Both teams are here because of special teams plays,” Levy said. “When you get two very closely matched teams, which I think they are, look for the kicking game to determine the outcome.”
Not likely. Not with the Giants’ defense.
Final score: Giants 31, Patriots 17.
The Associated Press
02/04/12 11:34

Comments

Comments closed.

Coronavirus

Rowan County among communities where CDC recommends masks indoors

Crime

Blotter: Shooters mistakenly fire bullets into woman’s West Kerr Street house

Local

Light installation could delay Bell Tower Green opening, but formal event still set for Sept. 10

Kannapolis

Kannapolis restroom listed among top 10 in the country, vying for top spot

Business

Mixed-use development planned near Atrium Health Ballpark

Local

Little League softball: Rowan plays for regional championship, qualifies for World Series

Nation/World

CDC changes course on indoor masks in some parts of the US

Nation/World

Racism of rioters takes center stage in Jan. 6 hearing

News

State briefs: Woman accused of taking baby to break-in

Nation/World

Man pleads guilty to 4 Asian spa killings, sentenced to life

Coronavirus

Rowan health director says COVID-19 deaths preventable as county sees No. 315

Local

Rowan County Planning Board denies Reaper’s Realm rezoning request after opposition from neighbors

College

Catawba College’s Newman Park renovations grow more extensive

Local

David Freeze begins cross-country cycling journey in San Diego

Local

Community remembrance events to focus on lynchings of the past, need for justice today

Local

August issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Local

After 10 days, three hospitals, one diagnosis, Kassidy Sechler will return home

News

COVID-19 surging as North Carolina set to ease restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Police ask for help finding robbery suspect

Local

Three Rivers Land Trust finalizes deal to double size of nature preserve in Spencer

Local

Spin Doctors announced as headlining band for 2021 Cheerwine Festival

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about Hoffner murder case, ‘Fame’ location

Local

Cornhole tournament at New Sarum Brewery brings out Panthers fans, raises money for charity

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking and entering, burglary tools