Super Bowl XLVI is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII played between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. Naturally there are some similarities between the teams as these two games are only just four years apart.
Looking at the whole picture, though, there are several parallels that are remarkable and strange. One or two are a coincidence. But when you count a handful of similarities, it feels like a cloud that twists reality has enveloped the game.
The football gods might be playing a little game with us. Are these signs that history is going to repeat or will the gods serve us a twist at the most unlikely moment?
One obvious difference between 2007 and 2011 is that the Giants won the regular season game this season. But elsewhere there are some peculiar similarities between the seasons:
2007: New York’s playoff hopes were teetering on the edge as the season wound down. They needed a December push, and they did win three of their final five games until they secured a post-season spot in week 16. One of the losses was week 15 to division rival Washington, 22-10. 2011: New York’s playoff pulse was faint, heading into December just 6-5. By winning three of their remaining five games, including the final two, the Giants barely made it in. One of the losses was week 15 to division rival Washington, 23-10.
2007: New England completed the first undefeated regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, winning 16 straight games. 2011: Since the regular season loss to the Giants, the Patriots have been on a 10-game winning streak.
2007: QB Tom Brady had a season to remember. Just three years after Peyton Manning broke Dan Marino’s 20-year-old record for touchdown passes in a season, Brady did Manning one better with 50. 2011: Brady finished second to New Orleans’ Drew Brees in passing yards, but Brady did surpass the benchmark previously set by Marino 27 years ago with 5,235 yards.
2007: Randy Moss raised the bar for receivers, breaking Jerry Rice’s record of 22 touchdown receptions by a receiver in a season. Moss caught the record-breaker on his penultimate reception, a 65-yard touchdown pass. 2011: Rob Gronkowski set a new standard for what a tight end can do. Gronk broke two tight end records: touchdown receptions in a season with 17 and receiving yards in a season with 1,327. Gronkowski broke the receiving yards record with his final reception, a 22-yard catch along the sideline.
2007: The Giants were locked in a high-scoring affair in Green Bay with the Packers in the NFC Championship. The game went into overtime. On the opening drive, Packers QB Brett Favre threw a pass directly at CB Corey Webster. The turnover set the table for a game-winning 47-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes, sending the Giants to Super Bowl XLII. 2011: In a battle between fierce defenses, San Francisco and New York couldn’t settle a winner in regulation. In overtime, 49ers returner Kyle Williams was stripped of ball and New York recovered the loose ball. The turnover set the table for a game-winning 31-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes, sending the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI.
2007: Leading up to Super Bowl XLII, Brady was spotted in New York wearing a walking boot on his right foot. It was rumored that Brady suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship. 2011: Everyone saw Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard fall on Gronkowski’s legs as Pollard tackled the 6-5 265 tight end using any method necessary. Upon arriving in Indianapolis, Gronkowski was seen on the tarmac wearing a walking boot on his left foot. According to Gronkowski’s father, Rob suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship.
This isn’t simply about winning streaks, record-breakers and game-changing turnovers. Lightning isn’t supposed to strike twice. The stars align, but the celestial chances of it happening again, with the number of circumstances repeating, would seem impossible.
Strange powers are at work here. Does this mean Madonna will have a revealing “malfunction” during the halftime show too?
I will be paying close attention to how the game plays out. If a football sticks to a helmet for either team, I’m turning off the TV and walking away.
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