Super Bowl 2012: 5 Mistakes the New England Patriots Must Avoid Making

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2012

Super Bowl 2012: 5 Mistakes the New England Patriots Must Avoid Making

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    The New York Giants caught the Patriots by surprise in the 2007 Super Bowl.

    Almost everyone believed that the Patriots were going to roll through the Giants on their path to the first-ever 19-0 season. However, New York had other plans. 

    The Giants put together the perfect game plan to stop Tom Brady and executed it flawlessly. Then when the time came, Eli Manning stepped up and made the plays necessary to win his first Super Bowl.

    This time around you can be sure that the master of the game plan, Bill Belichick, will not make the same mistakes he did the first time around. In fact, he will have his team prepared to make zero mistakes in this football game.

    While making no mistakes is highly unlikely, here are five mistakes the Patriots must avoid in order to beat the Giants this time around.

Ignore the Pass Rush

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    The key to the Giants' victory in their last Super Bowl meeting was New York's ability to get extreme amounts of pressure on Tom Brady.

    The Giants defensive line put together a monster performance that had Brady uncomfortable all game long.

    There are very few ways to stop an elite quarterback. Often times putting seven or eight players in coverage will only make it easier for an elite passer like Brady to tear apart a defense. However, the best way to do it is a dominant pass rush.

    No matter how good a quarterback is or how well they read pass coverage, they cannot complete passes from their back. 

    The Patriots cannot make the mistake of allowing the Giants free lanes at Brady. New England's pass protection will need to contain the Giants' pass rush in order for them to move the ball.

    If they don't, this game will look very similar to their last Super Bowl showdown.  

Lock in on One Target

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    Tom Brady is at his best when he is using all of his weapons.

    He is fortunate enough to have one of the most difficult receivers to cover in football in Wes Welker. Then he has two of the best tight ends in the league in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. For most quarterbacks that is enough, but he also has veteran Deion Branch and a slew of running backs at his disposal. 

    However, we have seen at times that Brady will make throws to certain receivers because he has immense confidence in himself and them.

    We saw it happen when Brady had Randy Moss to throw to. Occasionally, Brady would make a poor decision simply because he trusted Moss. 

    Now it happens with weapons like Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski.

    Brady needs to remember what got him here. He needs to remember when he only had receivers like David Givens and Troy Brown to throw to. 

    In order to be at his best, Brady will need to see the open receivers rather than the names on the back of the jerseys.

Forget About the Giants' Rushing Attack

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    Everyone is talking about Eli Manning and the Giants' big three receivers. 

    Rightfully so. 

    Manning is playing the best football of his career and the Giants have three wide receivers that can create nightmares for any defense. However, the Patriots cannot forget that New York also has two very dangerous running backs.

    Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw form a very versatile duo. Each back has a very unique skill set that allows the Giants to attack opposing defenses in a variety of ways. 

    New England will no doubt have to worry about the Giants' passing attack in this game, but if they do not respect their rushing attack it could be a very long day for the Patriots' front seven.

Get Caught Up in the Hype

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    Eli Manning is certainly playing at an elite level.

    All of the media outlets are discussing right now whether or not another Super Bowl ring for Eli would put him above his big brother Peyton. They are all talking about how Eli is playing better football right now than Tom Brady.

    However, the Patriots need to remember that he is just another football player.

    This is one mistake that I am not worried about them making. Bill Belichick will never let his team get caught up in the hype of any player. 

    The Patriots' defense will approach this game remembering that they are playing Eli Manning. He has had a history of making poor decisions in his career and that does not disappear just because he is playing well at the moment.

    If New England plays smart football, they just may be able to get the old Eli to make another appearance.

Play Outside Their Game

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    Last week the New England Patriots were forced to play in a manner they hadn't all season long.

    They turned to a hard-nosed defense that was able to shut down the Ravens' running game. The offense was more productive when rushing the ball with BenJarvus Green-Ellis than they were passing the ball with Tom Brady.

    They did what they needed to do to win. 

    However, when the time comes to face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, they need to remember what got them here.

    They cannot assume they will have the same defensive success they did against the Ravens. The Giants are a completely different team and they will need to game-plan accordingly. 

    While the Giants' run defense isn't elite, they Patriots won't be able to run all over them. The Patriots need an elite performance from Tom Brady if they hope to be crowned Super Bowl champions.

    If they don't get that, it could be another disappointing ending to the season for Patriots fans.