Super Bowl 2012: 5 Most Intriguing Storylines
Not many people could have predicted that Super Bowl XLVI would come down to a rematch of Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.The storylines surrounding this version of the super-rivalry are enough to make a 30 for 30 film on ESPN.
From the rematch story to the personal stories of two of the NFL's most compelling quarterback's, Super Bowl XLVI is nothing short of a dream match for the league.
Here are five stories fans should pay attention to.
5. Where Did the Giants Come From?
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The Giants were never supposed to make it this far. After an offseason of lockouts that led to little to no personnel moves other than seeing players such as Kevin Boss and Shaun O'Hara part ways with Big Blue and a slew of injuries, no one expected the Giants to even reach the playoffs. Déjà vu for a team that faced a similar scenario in 2007.
The city had since turned green for the New York Jets, who, after two consecutive AFC Championship appearances, were expected to be a far better team.
Oh, how times have changed.
Ironically, the Giants' fortunes changed when they faced Gang Green in a highly anticipated Christmas Eve match, which turned out to have huge playoff implications. The then-7-7 Giants needed a win to stay in NFC East contention and the Jets needed to the win to stay in the AFC Wild Card race. The Giants annihilated their in-stadium rivals and proved NY belonged to them.
The Giants have since won five straight and look for No. 6 in Super Bowl 46.
4. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick Are Back
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This head coach/QB combo are heading back to the Super Bowl, becoming the first such duo to reach the big game five times together.
These two are arguably the greatest combination of coach and player ever, in any sport. The two have successfully hoisted the Lombardi Trophy three out of four previous tries, winning the first three and two of them coming back to back.
And we all know what happened to that fourth try.
Through the countless Tom Brady hairstyles and ripped Bill Belichick hoodie sleeves exists a tandem to be reckoned with, and the Giants have their hands full with them.
3. The Year of the Tight End Gets a Fitting Conclusion
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The 2011 NFL season was one full of surprises, few better or more intriguing than the explosion at the tight end position. In one of the best passing years the league has ever seen, many tight ends saw themselves high on the receiving stat charts for their teams.
None of them, however, had a year like the Super Bowl-bound Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski broke the record for most TD receptions by a TE in a single season (17) and helped Tom Brady to a playoff-record six passing touchdowns by catching three of them in the divisional round against the Denver Tebows—excuse me, Broncos.
The New England Patriots don't just have the Gronk. Lining up on the other end is second-year TE Aaron Hernandez. The two ends became the first pair of TE's to catch five touchdowns each in consecutive seasons for one team and both rank among the top 20 receivers in number of catches.
Expect this pair to be a real problem for the NY Giants defense.
2. Eli Manning: A Man Among Boys
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Nearly the entire sporting world let out a collective "WHAT?!" when Eli Manning said he considered himself an elite quarterback. He put himself among the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger.
Despite putting up career numbers in 2010, one number stood out more than any other: 25 interceptions in the same year Tom Brady threw an absurdly-low four picks.
With older brother Peyton Manning out for the season with a neck injury, little brother Eli become the NFL's most important Manning.
In his usual calm and collected way, he put together his most impressive season yet. He led the Giants to six fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives during the regular season and one in the NFC Championship Game.
Eli Manning has been phenomenal through the 2011/2012 postseason, even outperforming defending Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers and the 15-1 Green Bay Packers.
Manning made a fool of his critics this season and looks to cap off a great season with another Super Bowl ring. To put that in perspective, he would have one more ring than big brother Peyton, Brees, Rodgers and even soon-to-be Hall of Famer Brett Favre. He'd be tied with Roethlisberger and John Elway, and one behind his super-opponent, Tom Brady.
How's that for ELIte?
1. The Rematch
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And of course, the biggest storyline of them all: the rematch.
Who can forget the 2007 season, which, much like this season, saw a seemingly down-and-out NY Giants make the postseason and prepare to step into the University of Phoenix Stadium to take on the 18-0 New England Patriots.
In what turned out to be one of the most entertaining and well-played Super Bowls in recent memory, the Giants stunned the world and defeated the Patriots, leaving them 18-1.
It took a miracle catch by David Tyree on his helmet to keep a last-chance drive going for the Giants, but it happened. In the biggest game of Tom Brady's life, which is saying a lot being his fourth Super Bowl, he came up short.
Four years later we have the dream rematch, fueled by the fact that last time, the NY Giants robbed the Patriots of history on the NFL's biggest stage.
Given the Patriots' record-breaking offense and the intense hot streak the Giants are currently on, this version of the super-rivalry is sure to outdo the first.
Oh, and who doesn't love a good old-fashioned New York vs. Boston matchup?