5 Things Patriots Should've Learned from Last Super Bowl vs. Giants
In Super Bowl XLII, the New England Patriots were heavily favored over the New York Giants. The Patriots were pursuing perfection, and most thought Tom Brady and company would dismantle the Giants and become the NFL's first undefeated team since the 1972 Dolphins.
But the result of that Super Bowl—a dramatic upset victory by the Giants—was far different than what most had expected.
Here are five things the Patriots should have learned from that matchup if they expect different results this time around.
Do Not Underestimate the New York Giants Defense
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I don't think it's a stretch to accuse the 2007 Patriots of hubris. That season, they dismantled opposing defenses on a weekly basis. With the addition of Randy Moss, that team became the highest-scoring offense in NFL history.
However, in Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots were held to a season-low 14 points. Tom Brady was sacked five times, including one fumble.
It seems the Giants may be one of the few teams that has Brady's number,. He had his worst game of the 2011 regular season when these teams met in Week 9.
It's Okay to Run the Ball
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There's no doubt the Patriots will do what has worked for them. They are a pass-first team, and most of the time, they do it very well.
When these teams met in the Super Bowl, the Patriots play-calling was blatantly obvious. They ran the ball only 16 times, compared to 53 pass attempts by Tom Brady. If for no other reason than to slow down the Giants' pass rush, the Patriots must run the ball.
Three Points Are Better Than No Points
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The last few seasons, we have seen the Patriots become a more conservative team on fourth downs. During the Super Bowl between these teams, the Patriots went for it on fourth down twice.
One of these attempts occurred with New England in field-goal range, costing them three points, the difference in the game.
Three points is always better than no points. Bill Belichick must be willing to take points when able.
Stop the Big Play
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If you asked most people what they remember from Super Bowl XLII, it would be the catch made by David Tyree. It was the biggest play, on the biggest stage.
What people may not remember is the situation. The Patriots held a four-point lead with just over a minute remaining. It was third-down-and-five with the Giants in their own territory.
The New England defensive line had no less than three chances to bring down Eli Manning before he unloaded the pass to Tyree. If the Patriots stop the Giants on that play, they would have likely been the Super Bowl champions.
With Giants' receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz threats to score on any play, the Patriots will have to focus on stopping the big play more than ever.
Capitalize on Opportunities
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The one thing that Super Bowl-winning teams do is take advantage of opportunities. The Patriots are generally one of the best when it comes to this.
But missed opportunities in Super Bowl XLII may have cost them the game.
The Patriots forced Eli Manning to fumble twice, only to fail to recover either. As close as Super Bowl XLII was, this easily could have been the difference in that game.