The Past Is In The Past

Bill Belichick

Putting the past behind them is one thing the Patriots have perfected. That's why the only Super Bowl XLII talk you're going to hear is coming from those who aren't in or around the team on a regular basis.

Super Bowl rematch not on Patriots' radar
The Sports Xchange

   You don't hear much about Super Bowl XLII in the Patriots' locker room. That's a game they'd rather forget. The Giants spoiled their perfect season in Arizona, escaping with an improbable Super Bowl title.

   Whether they like it or not, the memories will be relived this week. The Patriots and Giants will meet again Sunday for the first time since that legendary game in February of 2008, and both teams appear to be headed for the post-season, which makes this showdown another measuring-stick game for both sides.

   Prior to Super Bowl XLII, the Giants hosted the Patriots in the regular-season finale. The Patriots won, but the Giants came away with the confidence knowing they could hang with the league's best team. That turned out to be one of the deciding factors several weeks later when they met again in the Super Bowl.

   The winner of this year's game could receive a similar boost. The Patriots are struggling defensively, particularly against the pass, and a big-time performance against the rising Eli Manning could be the lift they need moving forward.

   Likewise, the Giants could benefit greatly from pulling off the unthinkable a second time - in this case, that would be handing New England its first regular-season home loss since 2006. Who has the edge?

   "Obviously, defensively, they have a very strong pass rush (and) good pass defense," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "Offensively, they have a good quarterback, good receivers, good offensive line (and) good backs. (Head coach) Tom (Coughlin), as usual, does a good job with the team -- they're well prepared, they're well coached, they're disciplined, they're tough, they're a physical team and they're playing very well.

   "We've got our work cut out for us this week. There are a lot of things that we need to work on and improve on. They're a good football team. It will be a good test for us. They're a team we're not really familiar with. (We) haven't played them in awhile, so we'll have to do a lot of extra work on them personnel-wise and also scheme-wise to make sure to do our best for our preparations for Sunday."

   Although winning Sunday won't erase what happened four years ago, the Patriots would certainly enjoy a little payback at the Giants' expense. The real joy would be bouncing back from last week's dismal performance in Pittsburgh and beating another solid NFC team, a feat they also accomplished three weeks ago when they rallied to defeat Dallas.

   As far as Brady is concerned, the key is getting the necessary protection up front so he can take his shots at New York's secondary.

   "They get pressure probably better than anybody in the league," Brady said. "They lead the league in sacks. Every guy on that defensive line can rush the quarterback. JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) has eight sacks and Osi (Umenyiora) got six and (Justin) Tuck hasn't been in there a lot, but he's still getting them.

   "They got a whole group of pass rushers. The only time you rush the passer, obviously you commit more people to coverage and they do a good job of that. They're very good against the pass. We have to go out there and be balanced and execute certainly better than we did last week."

   SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 5-3, but the Giants hold the trump card in postseason play with their upset win four years ago in Super Bowl XLII. The last time the Giants visited Foxboro was 2003 when Kerry Collins was still their quarterback; the Patriots won that game, 17-6.


Little comment on Edelman's situation

   --WR Julian Edelman has been in the news after being arrested earlier this week on charges of sexual assault at a bar in Boston, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has had little to say on that subject.

   "I don't have any comment," Belichick said. "I think his representatives made their comment on it. I don't have anything to add to it."

   Asked if it would be a distraction, RB Kevin Faulk said, "You can keep letting everybody else talk about it. Don't worry about it. You've got a game to play on Sunday. I was actually in that situation in the offseason a few years ago. It's one of those things you forget about it. It happened already, (so) you move on."

The Price Is Right

   --Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has made it clear he'd like to get WR Taylor Price more involved in the offense. Price has yet to make an impact, but he took snaps against the Cowboys three weeks ago and may push fellow WR Chad Ochocinco out of the regular rotation.

   "He's practiced well and we need to get him in there more," O'Brien said. "He's done a good job in practice and he's a guy that we've got to get him some more reps in the games."

Chip On Their Shoulder

   --After a dismal effort last weekend in Pittsburgh, the Patriots have all but guaranteed a stronger performance defensively against the Giants.

   "I've never been around a group of guys that want to win more than the guys in this locker room and winning is everything," S James Ihedigbo said. "We work too hard during the week and we watch too much tape and we study too much as a group to come up on the short end of a week that we put so much effort into preparation.

   "Like I said, we're definitely going to have a chip on our shoulder this week and I know our defense we're going to be fired up. We're going to be ready to go, we're playing back at home, we're going to study the game plan hard, and we'll be ready to go on Sunday."

No Rhythm

   --QB Tom Brady blamed the offense's performance last weekend on a lack of rhythm, which isn't surprising considering the team never had the ball that much on offense.

   Pittsburgh's ball-control offense led to a huge discrepancy in time of possession, which explains the pedestrian numbers on the offensive end.

   "We were never in a rhythm, but that takes running good plays," Brady said. "We just weren't playing our style of football. We didn't do enough to really counter their strengths; we kind of played into their strengths."

Forgetting the past

   --Suffice to say, no one in the Patriots' locker room felt the need to discuss Super Bowl XLII, known as one of the biggest upsets in championship game history after the Giants ended New England's perfect season four years ago.

   "This is an entirely different team we have -- and they have -- and strengths and weaknesses," Brady said. "There are so many players on our team that obviously were not a part of that game, or any game against the Giants."

   Added Belichick: "I think we're probably pretty much over that. Whatever the thoughts were after the game, they've come, they've gone and that's what it is. Can't change it."

Pretty Good On The Rebound

   --Since the beginning of the 2003 season, the Patriots are 26-2 (.929) in games following a regular-season loss. Over the last nine seasons (2003-11), the Patriots have only lost back-to-back games on two occasions, once in 2006 and once in 2009.

   --The Patriots have won 18 straight games at Gillette Stadium against NFC opponents. The only loss was their first game against an NFC opponent at the new stadium when the visiting Green Bay Packers beat the Patriots, 28-10, in October of 2002.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- The number of consecutive home wins for the Patriots over NFC opponents at Gillette Stadium.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're all pretty much in a bad mood. There is a mourning process that goes on with our team, our coaches, (and) players. We hate losing. It's not something we'll ever get used to. It sucks. The whole week sucks, actually. You just have to go out there and erase that memory with a good win and good days of practice." -- QB Tom Brady on the team's mindset following last week's loss to Pittsburgh.


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