Giants are looking for redemption - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Giants are looking for redemption

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Posted: Saturday, February 2, 2008 3:20 pm | Updated: 8:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The New York Giants understand what they are up against today - the "juggernaut of the NFL," as Justin Tuck called New England. They just do not care.

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They believe their storyline - regular Joes smite another giant - is every bit as compelling as the New England Patriots' completion of their march to the greatest season in NFL history.

And if the football world is rooting for perfection...

"What's a better thing in the world than to silence the world? To silence a whole crowd? A whole league? An organization?" Giants and former Arizona linebacker Antonio Pierce said early in Super Bowl week.

"We have relished that the last 17, 18 weeks. So why not finish that in the Super Bowl? That's what this team is going to be about. Focused. Energized. Excited."

The Giants gave up 80 points in their first two games, both losses, before adjusting to new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's scheme, and believe they have been treated with only grudging respect, if any at all, since.

That is their story, anyway, and they are sticking to it.

"The main theme that comes out of that is having something to prove," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

"We always have something to prove, and there is nothing wrong with that."

Pierce: "We love it. Why do you have to have people praising you all the time? You get complacent. We are not complacent. We're on our toes."

The Giants were underdogs in each of their three playoff games at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay, and are only the third team in Super Bowl history to have won three road games to get here.

The last team to do it, Pittsburgh, beat Seattle, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL to conclude the 2005 season.

The Giants have succeeded as Super underdogs before, although it has been 18 years since they beat Buffalo, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV, overcoming a nine-point deficit and surviving when Scott Norwood missed a field goal in the final seconds.

This will be the 12th rematch of teams who met in the regular season, and will be the Giants' second chance to spoil perfection.

New York held a 28-16 lead over New England in the third quarter in the last week of the regular season as the Patriots attempted to become just the second team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to have an undefeated regular season.

The Pats scored 22 consecutive points for a 38-35 victory that was secured when they recovered an onside kick in the final minute.

That was the most points scored against New England this season, and it gave the Giants a measuring stick.

"Competing against the best team ever to play gave us some confidence that we can beat them" said defensive end Michael Strahan, a 15-year veteran in his second Super Bowl.

The lesson to be taken from that game, Coughlin said, is that the offense must continue to make plays, because the Patriots are so efficient when they have the ball.

The Giants started two possessions, one in the third quarter and one early in the fourth, with a 28-23 lead, but managed only one first down total and had to punt twice.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady needed only three plays after that second punt to hit Randy Moss on a 65-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots the lead.

Eli Manning was intercepted on the next series - the last interception he threw this season - and the Patriots drove for a Laurence Maroney touchdown and a 38-28 lead with 4:46 remaining.

Those three series doomed the Giants, and they know it.

"We had to really rise up and do something at that time," but did not, Coughlin said.

"You learn you have to be able to answer their call," Manning said.

"We gave them a heck of a shot. I think that shows we are going to have to play our best football and play a perfect game if we want to win."

New England had 74 yards more total offense and a 12 1/2-minute edge in time of possession in that game.

"If we allow them to get that running game cranked up and have Brady sit in the pocket all day, we don't stand a chance," Tuck said.

Strahan prefers to reference another New England game, when the Patriots beat heavily-favored St. Louis, the "greatest show on turf," in Super Bowl XXXVI, 20-17, six years ago.

"No one gave them a shot, and they went out and won their first Super Bowl. We could be that team," Strahan said.

"They are chasing something priceless. They are 18-0. They have coaches who are mysterious. They have players who are mysterious. Everybody talks about them being a team of destiny.

"I feel like we have our own destiny, and history can be made for us, too."

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