Revisiting the Matchups

Before Super Bowl XLII, TGI identified five key one-on-one battles that New York needed to win in order to have a chance to emerge victorious. Let's take a look at how these matchups unfolded.

Giants CB Corey Webster vs. Patriots WR Randy Moss. Advantage: Giants.

The only way to totally shut Moss down is to overload your defense so much that you can't possibly win the game. All you need to do is see Jacksonville and San Diego's game-plans for proof of that. Yes, Moss had his five catches for 62 yards and the go-ahead touchdown, but he wasn't able to turn the game in his team's favor and make his usual allotment of big plays. Webster's deep pass breakup on Moss on the game's penultimate play will go mostly overlooked, but might have saved New York's Super victory in the process. Webster finished the game with two tackles and just that PD, but his physical play helped take Moss mostly out of the game and allowed other defenders to focus their energies elsewhere. C-Web sure has come a long way.

Giants RDE Osi Umenyiora vs. Patriots LT Matt Light. Advantage: Giants

While neither star lineman posted a huge advantage over his opponent during Super Bowl XLII, Umenyiora gets the slight edge here. And Umenyiora was so happy after winning the title, he probably couldn't have cared less if Light had played a little dirty in Glendale, although nothing was obvious from the press box. Umenyiora, of course, caused a stir leading up to the Super Bowl when he stated that Light was a "dirty" player, before retracting his statement later in the week. While Light was twice flagged for false starts in the third quarter, he was able to keep Umenyiora from sacking Tom Brady, although he did hit Brady once. Umenyiora had four tackles, three of which were solo stops, and he recovered a Brady fumble just before halftime to squelch a potential New England scoring opportunity.

Giants WR Plaxico Burress vs. Patriots CB Asante Samuel. Advantage: Patriots

While everyone will always remember a wide-open Burress catching the game-winning 13-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 35 seconds to play, it wasn't Samuel that Plax victimized. The unlucky defender that Plax ‘posterized' was Ellis Hobbs, who never should have been matched up on Burress in such a key spot in the first place. As for Samuel, who was mostly guarding big number 17, he played his usual solid game. He had two tackles and broke up one pass. He'll always regret not being able to come up with a potential sideline INT during New York's final drive, but there really was no conceivable way for him to make that pick. Besides that, Samuel limited Burress to only one 14-yard catch. Plax wasn't the huge force he was in Green Bay, but he did enough when it mattered to swing this game in Big Blue's favor

Giants MLB Antonio Pierce vs. Patriots RB Laurence Maroney. Advantage: Giants

For all those Giants fans that wished Ernie Accorsi had made a move to get Laurence Maroney instead of tabbing Mathias Kiwanuka in the first round two years ago, perhaps you're feeling a lot better right about now. For all the hype surrounding Maroney, he didn't even look like the best running back on his own team. Pierce, who had a team high-tying 10 tackles (James Butler), helped limit Maroney to only 36 yards. On his 14 carries, he averaged a very pedestrian 2.6 yards per carry. He also caught two passes for 12 yards. While Maroney did cash in the Pats first TD, it did come from one yard out and on his second try from the 1. Pierce was his usual run-stuffing self, directing the defense and making sure everyone was in just the right place to get Brady and Co. untracked. It worked, as this individual matchup ended up heavily in New York's favor.

Giants C Shaun O'Hara vs. Patriots NT Vince Wilfork. Advantage: Giants

Right off the bat O'Hara must receive credit for helping to keep Wilfork's fat finger out of Brandon Jacobs' eye, which he was unable to do in the regular season meeting. Speaking of Wilfork, yes, he did play decently, as his five tackles would attest. But he didn't make one game-altering play. As one of the keys to New England's defense, you don't need us to tell you that that's not such good news for the Pats. The Giants running game wasn't exactly lighting it up either, but they moved the ball when they needed to and controlled the clock well, especially on their opening drive. More importantly, O'Hara and the front five gave Eli Manning sufficient time to pass on most occasions. This wasn't a slam-dunk for O'Hara, but, like the game itself, it ended up being a rough, tough battle, with the slight edge leaning in Big Blue's direction.


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