After two weeks of going on a revenge tour against teams they lost to during the regular season -- the Packers and the 49ers -- the Giants now find themselves on the other side of the coin. The Super Bowl XLVI matchup on Feb. 5 will find the Patriots looking to make amends for a 24-20 loss on Nov. 6 -- not to mention Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants ruined New England's undefeated season.
In that regular-season meeting, the Giants were the heavy underdog as they went into Gillette Stadium to face a Patriots team that had been 18-1 at home during the regular season against NFC teams since 2002.
Yet New York still managed to hold its own, despite not having key starters such as running back Ahmad Bradshaw, fullback Henry Hynoski, center David Baas, and receiver Hakeem Nicks.
This time around, however, the high-flying Giants are as healthy as can be and will be looking to focus on the Patriots team that most recently defeated the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC Championship game last week rather than the squad New York met back in Week 9.
"That (first game) means absolutely nothing at this point," said safety Antrel Rolle "It's a totally different team, a totally different mindset."
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is the game that I wanted ... I like the pay back factor."
"As a Giants fan, I'm glad there are two weeks off. I think my team has some very sore players."
One of the biggest differences that will surely become a hot topic of conversation in the days ahead will be the headaches that Patriots tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski create for opposing defenses.
In their first meeting with the Giants, Gronkowski had eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, while Hernandez had four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
New York, however, has since found a way to limit the damage caused by big athletic tight ends. In the last seven weeks, including playoffs, the Giants defense has done a fine job against opposing tight ends, limiting them to an average of 12 receiving yards per game and just two touchdowns, both by 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in last week's conference title game. During that stretch, the Giants are 6-1.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said the defense's success against opposing tight ends of late comes from a combination of things.
"I think it's a function of our front, I think it's a function of the guys in the back row, as well as the linebackers doing a great job communicating, anticipating and knowing where those guys are because they are so good, as far as tight ends," he said. "And some of it is luck. We are battle-tested as far as that's concerned."
Rolle, who took the blame for letting Davis score on a 73-yard touchdown reception last week, said he likes the way the Giants match up with the Patriots.
"I think we match up extremely well," he said. "We have a great group of guys on our defensive side of the ball and they have a great group of guys on the offensive side of the ball.
"It's all going to boil down to who makes the least amount of mistakes, who's more focused on what they have to get done and most of all, who wants it the most."
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