Super Bowl 2012: Unsung Heroes Who Will Shape Epic Game

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  Rob Ninkovich #50 and Patrick Chung #25 of the New England Patriots react against a defensive play against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The stars like Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady and Eli Manning will dominate the Super Bowl XLVI headlines, but the unsung heroes, the guys who don't dominate SportsCenter highlight reels, often affect the outcome of the game more than the stars.

The unsung heroes who make a large impact on the game but whose effort doesn't always show up on the stat sheet, will play a huge role in this game. These players often contribute on special teams in addition to their offensive or defensive responsibilities, and sometimes they affect all three phases of the game.

Let's look at the unsung heroes who will shape this epic Super Bowl rematch.

 

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to their AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves "real" football players, and what I mean by that is he adores guys who can play on both sides of the ball.

When you see Tom Brady punt a football at quarterback or a wide receiver like Edelman playing cornerback, it's because Belichick enjoys using his guys for everything.

Edelman will be a factor in the Super Bowl against the Giants in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams.

Edelman will catch passes from quarterback Tom Brady, will likely cover some Giants receivers in some defensive packages and will return kicks as well. His impact in every phase of the game will give the Patriots some helpful versatility in the Super Bowl.

 

Bear Pascoe, TE, Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  Bear Pascoe #86 of the New York Giants scores a 6-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against Dashon Goldson #38 of the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 201
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Bear Pascoe is an important player in the New York Giants offense because of his blocking and receiving abilities. His strength and size makes him a very good pass protector and run blocker, which means he will feature on the majority of Big Blue's offensive plays.

Pascoe caught a touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, and the Patriots must not underestimate his receiving abilities.

Pascoe's performance in the Super Bowl won't jump out at you on the stat sheet, but the Giants players and coaches know how important he is to their chances of playing well on offense.

 

Patrick Chung, S, Patriots

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31:  Patrick Chung #25 of the New England Patriots answers questions from the media during Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 31, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Patriots safety missed eight games this season because of foot and thumb injuries, but he returned to the New England defense for their dominating win against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round.

Chung is a tremendous tackler and also can cover wide receivers well. His high football IQ also makes him an important and composed member of the defense.

His loss in the regular season was one of the reasons the Patriots defense ranked 31st in passing defense, but since he has returned, there has been a noticeable improvement in the playoffs.

Expect Chung to make a big impact on the Super Bowl with his strong defensive play.