PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Writer
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has moved on from “it.”
Everyone knows exactly what that “it” was, and it is staring Brady right in the face again.
The Patriots have been in a funk ever since Eli Manning and the New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in professional sports history, turning a once-perfect season into 18-1 at Super Bowl XLII.
Fast forward four years later. With all eyes set on Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, Brady and the Patriots have to fight through Eli’s Giants again along with his own slew of receivers for the Lombardi Trophy.
The regular season game in New England was the first time since last Super Bowl that the two teams met.
Manning shocked New England again with one of his many late, fourth-quarter runs to defeat the Patriots, 24-20.
The Giants have not been one of the teams many picked to even make it to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, like in 2007. After defeating the Patriots, the Giants lost five of their next six games and seriously put their playoff chances on the line before winning their last five games. The Patriots, the top seed in the AFC, have won 10 in a row since that loss.
Brady has also had an MVP-like season and has surely enjoyed the emergence of the tight end position. He has made his two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, into the two keys on the offensive side of the ball.
Manning has already proven that this is probably his best season to date. He has thrown the ball more effectively than ever and has found his own valuable playmakers among Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.
The Giants of 2007 changed the way we look at any matchup in sports.
I think it will come down to how effective the Giants secondary can be. The Giants defense was not at its best during the middle of the regular season but has built momentum on this playoff run with the “Fantastic 4.” The secondary needs to be ready or Brady might have a huge day with his receiving crew. The fourth-quarter runs have been a theme this year for the Giants, but Manning answered that most desperate call every time he was needed.
The Patriots have always been a contender and were the team of the decade. When the ball drops Sunday, I’m sure those feelings from Glendale will not be forgotten to the 1-2 punch of Brady and Bill Belichick as Brady will look to stop this monster called the G-Men once again.
Giants 30, Patriots 24