Patriots face Giants on NFL’s biggest day
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Agence France-Presse
The Super Bowl XLVI will be a showdown between two superstar quarterbacks. While the Patriots’ Tom Brady has the edge in terms of experience, the New York Giants’ Eli Manning can boast with the fact that his team won the previous Super Bowl meeting between the two teams four years ago. REUTERS PhotoNew England’s Tom Brady and New York Giants star Eli Manning are back in key Super Bowl roles just as they were in 2008 when the Giants denied the Patriots an unbeaten championship season.
But when the 46th edition of the American football spectacle kicks off on Feb. 5, the outcome figures to rely as much on body-slamming battles between defenders and quarterback protectors as it does on typical NFL passing heroics. “It’s all about the heart, passion and who wants it most,” Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty said. “Whoever is willing to line up and fight for that yard the hardest is going to win.
“That’s what it really comes down to. Nothing cute about it, no fancy Xs and Os techniques -- just line up and fight.”
Brady, in his fifth Super Bowl over 11 seasons, will try to avenge his only Super Bowl loss, a 17-14 Giants victory four years ago, and match the career record of boyhood idol Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with a fourth NFL crown.
“Every loss hurts,” Brady said. “You have to move on and use those as opportunities to learn. I think this team has done that. We’re a very mentally tough team. That’s probably one of the strengths of this team.”
The Giants are mentally hardened as well, having won their final two games to claim the last NFL playoff spot and then upset Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco on the road to gain another chance to defeat New England for a title. “This team has a tremendous belief in itself even when others don’t believe in us,” Canty said. “We’ve been knocked down and we continue to get back up. We’re battle tested and have been through tremendous adversity.”
Brady will guide the NFL’s top yardage-producers, with favorite receiver Wes Welker a threat deep or over the middle and Rob Gronkowski, expected to play despite a sprained left ankle, and Aaron Hernandez dangerous at tight end. But the eventual hero could just as easily be a reserve making the play of his life.
“If you look at the history of this game, there are a lot of players no one was talking about who made plays, “Brady said. “That’s how this game goes. You never know who is going to be the difference. We all need to go do our job.”
The Patriots will also try to establish a ground game behind Benjarvus Green-Ellis, quickly run plays without huddling and use screen passes and runs off fake passes to keep the Giants on their heels.
“We have to get as much pressure as we can on him, cover his receivers and try and confuse him as much as we can,” Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora said.
When the Giants have the ball, Manning will try to take advantage of the NFL’s second-worst pass defense with receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks while running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs carry the rushing load.
“We will try to keep a decent balance between run and pass,” Manning said. “It’s a matter of seing what’s working.”
The Giants defeated New England 24-20 in a regular-season game last November. The Patriots have not lost since while the Giants lost their next four games before charging into the Super Bowl when all seemed lost.
The Giants won four years ago in the final seconds and many expect Sunday’s game to come down to who has the ball last with enough time to mount a scoring march.
“I’m very confident that we could get it done,” Patriots receiver Deion Branch said. “But we don’t want to be in that situation.”
Madonna: It's a dream come true
INDIANAPOLIS - Reuters
Pop queen Madonna said it was a dream come true to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 5 and conceded she was feeling pressure at the idea of singing in front of the huge live television audience.
Last year’s Super Bowl attracted 111 million U.S. viewers - the largest for a single TV broadcast in the United States.
“This is a Midwesterner girl’s dream to be performing at the Super Bowl halftime show,” said Madonna, who was born in Bay City, Michigan. “In over 25 years of performing that I’ve done, I have never worked so hard or been so scrupulous or freaked out as much as I have trying to make the most major show at this Super Bowl.”
The show has been featuring big acts, including Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, U2, Prince, Bruce Springsteen.