Patriots could win the rematch, but then again. . .

Ed Daniels    Four years later, I remember the stinging rebuke, vividly.
    In the days leading up to the Giants vs. Patriots Super Bowl, I was trying to be coy. So, in this space I wrote that the heavy underdog Giants would be out of the game before Bacchus reached Gallier Hall.
    The following week, a lengthy letter found my mailbox at WGNO TV. It detailed the folly of such a prediction.
    I won’t make that mistake again.
    In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, we’ve read about how four years later, the same coach and quarterback and many of the same Patriots are ready to settle the score.
    We have read that Tom Brady, already considered a great quarterback, will be immortal, along with the 49ers’ Joe Montana and the Steelers’ Terry Bradshaw as the starting quarterback on four Super Bowl-winning clubs.
    If the Patriots can protect Brady, then the rematch could fall to New England.
    In the week after the NFC Championship Game, the Patriots vs. Giants Super Bowl was played back several times on NFL Network. Over and over, we saw the improbable catch by wide receiver David Tyree. Eli Manning was 95 percent sacked in the pocket but somehow got free and found Tyree down the middle.
    As Tyree fell, he pinned the ball up against his helmet for the catch. Eli Manning then threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress.
    Lost in all the drama of the final drive was this: the Giants turned the football over three times and got it back only once. Yes, the Giants were minus-2 in turnover margin but still won the game.
    The better team won the game.
    And, the better team won on Nov. 6, 2011, at Foxboro. Manning drove the Giants 80 yards in 1:21. With 15 seconds on the clock, Manning tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ballard: Giants 24, Patriots 20.
    The Giants proved their mettle again in these playoffs. At home, they routed the Falcons, then went on the road to win at Green Bay and San Francisco.
    Their defensive front is stout, again. Jason Pierre-Paul had 16.5 quarterback sacks this season. And Obi Umenyiora had nine.
    But, the elite player on this team is the quarterback. In August, Manning was on a radio show in New York. He was asked if he considered himself to be in a class with the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
    “I consider myself to be in that class,” said Eli.
    Giggles were heard from coast to coast. If Manning and the Giants win Super Bowl XLVI, there will be no doubt about Eli’s status.
    In the meantime, I will not make a Giant blunder, again.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. he can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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