When the Giants last squared off against the Patriots, they had to deal with the conditioning machine and pass-rushing menace that was Andre Carter.
Carter ended up having a Pro Bowl season, and the first Giants game came right during his peak, as he followed the loss up with a four-sack effort a week later against the New York Jets.
Carter's no longer in the cards, as a torn quad suffered in the regular-season victory over Denver landed the veteran, his huge arms and his 10 sacks on crutches and on injured reserve.
Carter's injury was (and is) a big loss, but the Patriots have managed to keep a healthy pass rush by relying more on a cast of contributors, rather than one ace.
Mark Anderson has been the direct recipient of Carter's time, as the former fifth-round pick has gone from a niche and late-game player, totaling only 19 snaps against the Giants, to being an every-down player at end and outside linebacker, playing 72 snaps in the AFC title game. Anderson has also been able to emulate Carter's production, totaling 10 sacks, including one against the Ravens.
As impressive as Anderson's been, the story has been how other members of the front seven picked up the slack. Rob Ninkovich notched five sacks in the final seven games of the season, including 1.5 against Denver in the divisional round, and Vince Wilfork has become a disruptive force during the playoffs.