Plenty of changes for Giants, Patriots
The last time the New York Giants met the New England Patriots in a game that mattered, it was on February 3, 2008
for Super Bowl XLII. That day, the underdog Giants upset the
then-perfect and heavily favored Patriots 17-14.
A lot has changed since those teams met on that
historic date. Players and coaches have come and gone. The venue will
be at the Patriots' home field, where they have an astonishing 18-1
regular-season record against NFC teams since 2002.
In addition, instead of being undefeated as they
were in the 2007 season, New England has a 5-2 record, which happens to
be the same mark the Giants bring into this weekend's game.
One thing that hasn't changed is the Patriots
remain an extremely dangerous team -- the type of team the Giants will
have to prove they can stand toe-to-toe against if they aspire to be in
the postseason this year.
"You always have to expect, when you play New
England, that they're going to have a great game plan," said Giants
quarterback Eli Manning, the MVP of Super Bowl XLII.
"They're going to be prepared. They've been a top
team for as long as I've been in the NFL. They're well coached, and we
have to make sure we play a flawless game, especially when you play
them in New England. They always play tough."
The Patriots are still led by quarterback Tom Brady, whose ability to dissect a defense is a thing of art. His top
receiver is Wes Welker, who was also part of that Super Bowl game and
who is still doing what he does best -- finding soft spots in the
defensive coverage to make plays.
"He is a great receiver and you don't want to take
anything away from him, but he is human," said Giants safety Antrel
Roll, who added that Welker and the rest of the Patriots offense
doesn't scare him.
Another thing that hasn't changed is the Patriots
are still coached by Bill Belichick, whose core philosophies have kept
the franchise at or near the top of the NFL. Belichick, who is a master
of reinventing his team, has done so again this year, particularly from
a defensive perspective.
"They've been playing defense differently," said
Giants left guard David Diehl. "They've been doing different things up
Under Belichick, New England primarily runs a 3-4
defense, though at times they've mixed in a 4-3 alignment that has seen
the Patriots' two big-bodied defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth on the field at the same time.
However, the Patriots defense hasn't been quite as
stifling as it was in 2007. New England is ranked toward the bottom of
the league, having yielded 3,060 through seven games. They've also been
giving up an average of 323.1 passing yards per game, which is last in
That's just one area where the Giants and Manning
hope to find success on Sunday as they attempt to snap the Patriots'
home dominance over NFC opponents.
"Obviously there are some things that we're hoping
we see some plays that should work," said Manning. "It's still a matter
of execution -- everybody doing the right things, guys blocking,
staying in good down and distance, and being able to run the
ball and get positive yards.
"They'll always have something new, something
different to try to slow us down," he added. "But we'll see what that
is, make adjustments, and go on."
SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting.
Patriots lead series, 5-3. New England has won the last four
regular-season meetings. Most historic meeting between the teams was in
Super Bowl XLII, of course, when the Giants upset the heavily favored
Patriots' chance for a 19-0 season with a stunning 17-14
come-from-behind victory. The Giants' last regular-season victory
against New England was on Dec. 30, 1990, a 13-10 road decision.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Number of consecutive
regular-season games in which the Giants defense has forced at least
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I might have to eat a little extra
this week going into this one." -- Giants LG David Diehl, on the
prospect of lining up across from 6-2, 325-lb. Patriots NT Vince
Wilfork and/or the 6-6 350-lb. Albert Haynesworth.
- Patriots Game Thread
Defense? Blame Belichick
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