Super Bowl XLVI: Why Patriots Ill Offensive Line Gives New York Giants the Game

Andre KhatchaturianCorrespondent IIIFebruary 1, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 19:  Sebastian Vollmer #76 of the New England Patriots celebrates as he runs off the field after defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-27 at Gillette Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Buried under all the headlines that emerged during media day was one that can actually end up making the difference in Super Bowl XLVI.

It's a short four paragraphs highlighting how New England Patriots' LT Matt Light and RT Sebastian Vollmer are both dealing with illnesses.

So what?

Well, a lot has been made of the New York Giants pass rush highlighted by Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. They've been on a roll as of late and they will be key factors in slowing down Tom Brady's onslaught. 

The only way to stop Brady is to get in his face and pressure him. 

Two of his three losses this season came against teams with great pass rushes. One of them was against the Giants, the other was against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another team that has a great pass rush, the Baltimore Ravens, fought them to the bitter end last weekend in the AFC championship.

This is why having a healthy offensive line is unbelievably crucial for the Patriots. Sebastian Vollmer has missed the last seven games because of injuries but Bill Belichick has mentioned that he could play in the Super Bowl. 

However, now he is ill along with veteran Matt Light. The Patriots success depends on their immediate recoveries. If the Patriots offensive line is healthy, the Giants pass rush isn't going to have an easy time getting to Brady.

The Patriots offensive line hasn't been talked about too much heading into the Super Bowl, but if they perform well like they did last week when Tom Brady was only sacked once, they can become the difference in the game.

The line consists of several veterans like the aforementioned Matt Light, Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly. 

If the line gives Brady time to throw, he'll be able to exploit the New York Giants secondary, which isn't what the team is really known. Better yet, if they start blitzing, it'll open up the middle for Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, opening up the game for them.

Finally, if Vollmer and Light are healthy, this means that Rob Gronkowski and Nate Solder can both line up in the tight end position to have a strong seven-man front. This will absolutely protect Brady. He'll be untouched and since Gronk is blocking, this may mean Chad Ochocinco might become a factor in the game along with Deion Branch.

Evenly matched games like this are won in the trenches. They're won by the least talked about players. Nobody ever talks about offensive linemen. However, they're going to be the reason why Brady will have time to throw and exploit the Giants' weak secondary.

If Light and Vollmer are unable to recover from their illnesses, though, Brady's going to get pressured and hit hard. 

It may actually get ugly and we'll see a blowout in the Giants' favor because Eli Manning isn't going to get rushed by the non-existant pass rush of the Patriots. He'll have his field day. It's all up to Brady to match him and if the line isn't healthy, you could say goodbye to that notion.