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A rematch of Giant importance

Chris Vecchiarello
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

This year’s Super Bowl will prove to be a legendary battle of two rivals that seem to be matched fairly in all three disciplines of the game.

Both teams feature accomplished coaches who studied the game under Bill Parcells. Both coaches learned the importance of balanced attacks on the offensive side of the ball, in-your-face pressure from the defense and how clutch special teams performances can decide the outcome of close matches.

The “Big Tuna” always preached the importance of a strong running game, an efficient aerial attack that could stretch the field and, most important, the epic battle over the line of scrimmage. Watch the front lines for a clue as to which team will bring the trophy home.

Physicality will be prominent. Expect both teams to play tough and try to come out of the gate playing smash-mouth football to set the tone. Also, expect both offenses to run the ball with a good mix of short passes over the middle – especially New England and their pair of talented tight ends. Michael Boley will have his hands full chasing Aaron Hernandez. A significant turn of events is Rob Gronkowski’s high-ankle sprain, which might keep the all-pro sensation sidelined.

On the defensive side of the ball, Vince Wilfork is coming off a tremendous game in which he repeatedly collapsed the Ravens’ pocket, frustrating Joe Flacco and forcing rushed passes and inaccurate throws. It will be up to center David Baas and guards David Diehl, Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee to keep Eli Manning’s protection intact.

The Giants’ defensive line was equally impressive in its games against the Packers and 49ers. With intense pressure coming from Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Mathias Kiwanuka, the Patriots’ line indeed will be in for a long day. During the NFC playoffs, the Giants also forced pressure on quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith by mixing in a few well-disguised inside linebacker blitzes by Jacquian Williams. This is a strategy that Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will have to employ against Tom Brady, who is great at reading a defensive scheme before the snap.

Expect Belichick to use the no-huddle offense that has been so effective at keeping opponents from changing defensive personnel to match the down-and-yardage situation. The Patriots employed this no-huddle tactic during their regular-season matchup with the Giants, and was not as effective as with other teams. Credit the lack of effectiveness to an impressive New York front line that is stacked with speed, power and an uncanny ability for swatting down passes and swiping the ball out of an opposing quarterback’s hand.

I think the X-factor will be Manning, who has proven that he is indeed an elite quarterback and has shown me a toughness that I had not realized he had. Eli was hit hard and punished time and again by the San Francisco defense; he kept his composure, showing determination and grit.

Look for Giants receivers Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham to provide big targets for Manning, as New York undoubtedly will try to exploit a soft Patriots secondary.

Up until now, you might have thought that my analysis was unbiased; this assumption could not be further from the truth: The fact is that I will be bleeding royal blue Sunday. The key for beating the Patriots is not a well-kept secret anymore, and I am hoping that this Giants team will frustrate Brady by pressuring his passing and repeatedly introducing him to that fine Indianapolis turf.


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