When it comes to special teams, the Giants and Patriots are somewhat on an even scale. I am not sure anyone on either club feels comfortable when Lawrence Tynes or Stephen Gostowski goes on the field with a lengthy kick and time running out. And I am certain neither team wants their chances at winning XLII on the shoulders of either kicker.
Tynes obviously hit the game-winning kick against the Packers, but he did miss two shorter kicks in the fourth quarter alone. If you let Tynes replay the game again, he most likely makes the first two and misses the third, a small sample of his inconsistency.
Neither men have hit a FG from 50+ yards and both are very shaky once 40 yards becomes the attempt. The key for both teams is to capitalize in the redzone and don’t put your Super Bowl title in the hands of the place kicker.
Punting between the Giants and Patriots is not so even. You have Jeff Feagles, the best and most consistent punter in the NFL, and Chris Hanson, who I still believe has the greatest job in professional sports. Who wouldn’t want a ride on the gravy train of an 18-0 team in the Super Bowl and rarely calls upon their punter to even come onto the field. During the season it seemed like weeks between Hanson appearances in New England games and after seeing his performance against San Diego, the Giants can pick up some field position on his weak punts.
The Patriots have been using a variety of kick and punt returners over the course of the season, though they seem to like Wes Welker in the role since he is quick and shifty and has the ability to break through a hole and put a six-spot on the board. The Giants have Domenik Hixon who is emerging as one of the best returners in the game. Hixon had some incredible returns against Green Bay and could very well be the most underrated player on the G-Men. As long as the Giants keep the ball out of R.W. McQuarters’ hands, they will not be turning over the ball via kick returns.
The Giants take the Patriots in special team categories and it could be their key to success on Sunday. The Patriots don’t have a bad special teams unit by any means, but the Giants is one of the better ones in the league and has been an important factor getting them to where they are now. Watch for Hixon to gain big yards on Sunday, the way he did against New England in Week 17 when he went coast to coast for a TD.