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Giants gearing up for the Brady Bunch


This news story was published on January 25, 2012.
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By Jeff Roberts, The Record (Hackensack N.J.) –

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Justin Tuck rubbed his eyes as he reached the lectern, then stared back at a pack of reporters and a bank of TV cameras.

(GRAPHIC: Graphic comparing the regular season stats of Super Bowl quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eil Manning; includes offense and defense comparisons between the Patriots and Giants. )

“(I’m) sleepy. Tired. So if we could make this quick, …” the defensive captain joked.

There has been little time for sleep since the Giants won the NFC Championship. And they won’t have much of it in the 11 days ahead, knowing what awaits them.

Tom Brady. A New England Patriots’ team that has won 10 straight. A team that has plenty of motivation after the Giants ruined their perfect season and stole Super Bowl XLII right out from under them in 2008.

“I think it’s going to be another one of those epic Super Bowls,” Tuck said. “It might come down to the team that has the ball last.”

And it might be contingent on stopping Brady and the NFL’s second-ranked offense.

The Giants have plenty of work to do before they meet those Patriots (15-3) in Indianapolis on Feb. 5 in Super Bowl XLVI.

Tuck expects the game to come down to the fourth quarter — something the Giants long ago became accustomed — having won seven games in the final period or overtime.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said they play well “under pressure in critical games.”

“They’ve played some of their best football when they’ve had to, when it’s counted the most,” he said. “And that’s what you have to do this time of year.”

But facing Brady — a two-time Super Bowl MVP who threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns this season — and his many weapons pose a different challenge.

Wes Welker led the NFL with 122 receptions and finished second in receiving yards (1,569). Tight end Rob Gronkowski added 90 catches for 1,327 yards and an eye-popping 17 touchdowns.

Tuck admitted “it’s going to be pretty much impossible to stop” Brady if he can read their defensive schemes before the snap. Antrel Rolle called him an “exceptional quarterback.”

“He’s tough. During the course of a game I’m covering my guys, and when I’m in zone coverage, I can just see him scanning the field,” the safety said. “I’ve played against a lot of great quarterbacks in my career, (but) the way he scans the field, I was like, ‘Dang!’”

But the Giants beat New England in November, 24-20, at Foxboro. They forced Brady to throw two interceptions, becoming the last team to have beaten him.

“He thrives on mismatches,” Tuck said. “And I think we match up well with him. I think with those tight ends and Wes and (Deion) Branch, they can pretty much go any route they want to go with creating mismatches.

“(But) with the people that we have in our secondary — we have safeties that can play like corners — we can pretty much match up with those guys.”

The secondary also has largely shut down the receiving corps of the Jets, Cowboys, Falcons, Packers and 49ers the past five weeks.

“I think our play speaks for itself,” Rolle said. “I think we’re a different team (than November).”

The Giants face their third rematch this postseason.

They said they wanted another shot at the Packers, who beat them in December. They got it, defeating Green Bay, 37-20, in the divisional round.

They said they wanted another shot at the 49ers, who beat them in November. They got it and won the NFC Championship.

And now come the Patriots. Again.

“Those games mean nothing,” said linebacker Michael Boley, referring to Super Bowl XLII and the previous matchup. “That game was so long ago. A lot has changed, not only with their team, but with ours.”

But there are lessons to be taken. The most important might be that the Giants were without Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and David Baas, all of whom will play this time.

“I think the biggest thing for us is just it’s been a confidence boost, knowing how we played against teams when we weren’t at full strength,” Tuck said.

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