Super Bowl XLII:
New England Patriots take on the New York Giants
The Patriotsí journey to Super Bowl XLII was paved with perfection. New England has gone through the season 18-0 and this past week instead of winning like they had all season long with a high-powered offense, the Pats did it with a strong running game and a defense that forced the Chargers offense to kick field goals in the red-zone rather than score touchdowns.
The surprise in the AFC Championship game was the fact that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Randy Moss did not have a strong game and yet they found another way to win a crucial game.
Brady only threw for 209 yards and had 3 pass interceptions and the record-setting Moss had only 1 reception for 18 yards.
Against this Patriots team, who wants desperately to be recognized in the same vein at the 1972 Miami Dolphins who went (17-0), four field goals will not beat them.
The reason the Patriots are where they are today is that they are team-oriented and they find new avenues to capture a victory each and every week, but this week it was the defense that pulled the game out of the fire.
And when the game is on the line they find new heroes. Against the Chargers the unsung hero was former LSU halfback Kevin Faulk.
Faulk, who backs up Laurence Maroney at halfback, rushed only 1 time for 8 yards, but it seemed as though every crucial third down play it was Faulk making a play in the passing game.
The former SEC standout caught 8 passes for 82 yards and he was quickly recognized by his head coach Bill Belichick for being a key performer.
ďKevin always comes through for us,Ē Belichick said.
ďHeís been playing big for us all season long. The thing I like about Kevin is that he is fully prepared to do whatever he is asked to out on the field. The guy is talented, but he is also fully prepared to excel and that makes him special.Ē
While most thought that the Patriots would be playing in the Super Bowl, the Giants seemed a long-shot at best.
The Giants had to win three straight road games against a trio of very talented quarterbacks in Jeff Garcia in Tampa Bay, Tony Romo in Dallas and Brett Favre in Green Bay.
And they got it done.
Give full credit to Eli Manning and the Giants stingy defense for the G-Menís run to the top of the NFC. In the Giants 23-20 overtime victory over Green Bay it was Manning who seemed to be able to handle the elements of the cold weather better than the old veteran Brett Favre.
Manning was 21 for 40 for 254 yards passing, but more importantly he threw zero pass interceptions.
For Favre, he was 19 for 35 for 236 yards, but he had two crucial interceptions.
The most important turnover was the one by former St. James High School standout cornerback Corey Webster that set up the winning field goal.
The former All-SEC cornerback read Favreís eyes and stepped in front of the future Hall-of-Famerís pass for an interception and four plays later Lawrence Tynes hit a 47-yard field goal that has the Giants playing in the biggest game of the season.
ďWe have a lot of guys on this team who take a lot of pride in their play and we didnít let the negativity during the season get us down. We just pieced together 10 straight road wins and that is pretty impressive. I am so proud of my teammates and coaches and it is a great opportunity for the guys from Louisiana to make the state proud of us.Ē
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