The hype for this Sunday’s matchup between the Super Bowl XLII rivals has begun. The New York Giants make their way up north to face the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. New England are undefeated at home, so far this season (3-0). In fact, the Pats have not lost a home game since November 30, 2008, against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Both teams are coming off of mediocre performances. The Patriots offense looked subpar last week. Their defense has been struggling all season long, giving up the most yards per game in all of the NFL. The Giants offense looked confused at times, but Eli Manning delivered an electric performance. Their defense struggled all game long, but came up with some very big plays to ensure the win, albeit from one of the worst teams in the NFL. Big Blue are certainly capable of beating the Patriots this season. But can they do it against a team who are 20-0, at home, since December 16, 2008? Let’s hear what Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick have to say.
Q: Osi’s shoulder, what happened?
A: He fell.
Q: Do you know what play he hurt it on?
A: No. All I know is he had a sore shoulder after (the game) but seems to think that it will be manageable.
Q: Is he working today?
A: He’s not working today, but that’s normal. He normally has Wednesday [off]. Last week he did work on Wednesday and Thursday as well, and Friday.
Q: How did Tuck do after the game?
A: Sore because he hasn’t had much action, but okay. He’s still treating a couple of things, just being smart about it now.
Q: Will he practice today?
A: He is practicing today, yeah.
Q: Last week you were saying, ‘Don’t overlook [the Dolphins].’
A: I didn’t say, ‘Don’t overlook…’ I didn’t say that at all. I said, ‘Respect all, fear none.’
Re: The Patriots.
A: This is a very, very good football team, as you well know. They’re 5-2. They’ve scored an awful lot of points. They’ve given up some yards, no doubt about it. They lost earlier in the year, which was prior to our Buffalo game so we had a chance to look at that. And I’m sure they would say the turnovers were the demise in that game. The other day Pittsburgh did the formula that anybody would like to copy. [The Patriots] really only had 50 plays. Pittsburgh had the ball for 39 minutes, 22 seconds. Pittsburgh was able to keep the Patriots’ third downs under control. I think that was 30 percent, even though they are 50 per cent on the season on third down, which is an awesome stat to be honest with you, to be able to do that. They went into Pittsburgh. It was a very physical game. They’re 5-2. They’ve won 20 straight (regular season) ballgames at home. We’re excited about having an opportunity to play against a team of this caliber.
Re: Upcoming schedule.
A: We’re playing this one game this week I think, not the other ones. We play it one at a time. Everyone is aware of the schedule, but we’re excited about that.
Re: covering Wes Welker
A: Well I think you have to mix it up. Ike Taylor obviously had a good ballgame, but Welker made his plays as well, as he always does – extremely difficult to cover one-on-one, very, very quick, used up the field much more than you would think in the vertical game as well. Certainly is one of the two go-to guys, if you will. The two tight ends are playing an awful lot. Hernandez is used as a receiver and defended as such. What’s happened there is Green-Ellis and Ridley, along with Faulk coming back, have really given them a great combination in terms of their running backs as well and the ability to throw it to their running backs.
Q: Can you talk about the contributions of Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe?
A: Jake has fought his way into an opportunity. He’s taken full advantage of it. He’s played very well. He came here as a practice squad player and was utilized in that capacity as a blocking tight end and has developed into much more than that. Bear is Mr. Versatile. He’s used in a lot of special teams. He’s used as a tight end, used as a fullback. He’s been caught for holding a couple of times here. That, we’re trying like to crazy to work on, to make sure he’s not a marked man in that capacity. He’s done a good job for us.
Q: How much did your life change by winning the Super Bowl?
A: I don’t know how much it changed. It was the fulfillment of a dream come true, without a doubt. It seems like a long time ago.
Q: How much was that victory amplified by the Patriots’ undefeated record?
A: No doubt they were an undefeated football team that was very, very rare in our league, to go through the entire season undefeated, which they did. Certainly a tremendous challenge for us at the time, because of the quality of their football team, both offense and defense. All the things they represent. How well they played. The number of Super Bowls that they have won. Same basic unit still together. Sure it was a heck of a win for us, no doubt about it.
Q: Have you ever looked back at that game to see what you had to do to win?
A: There have been a few of those, thank you for asking. I can’t remember it right now, it’s so far back. That’s a pretty good job by us.
Q: Is Hakeem going to practice today?
A: We’ll see. It’s going to be day-to-day and he tells me he’s better and says all the right things, but he’s not going to work today.
A: He’s going to get pushed a little harder this week. We’ll see. He’s practiced. He practiced probably about 50 per cent of the time last week and we’ll see if he can’t continue, along with Prince. Before someone asks, Prince will get a little bit more this week too.
Q: How about Bradshaw?
A: Bradshaw is not practicing today.
Q: Was his foot just sore or did he injure it?
A: Just swollen and sore.
Re: New England’s tight ends.
A: Gronkowski is very good as a blocker, as a receiver, as a big, strong individual in the passing game, in the middle of the field or wherever they might choose to use him. The young kid is very good up the field, a polished, if you will, receiver. They use them as a part of their significant passing game. Whether it’s two tight ends and three wide receivers, two wide receivers, two tight ends, no matter where they are.
Q: Anything come up in Baas’ tests?
Re: How is Haynesworth doing?
A: They’re stout. Six of the seven teams have not rushed for 100 yards.
Re: The Patriots’ coverage.
A: First three games they played a lot of man.
Q: Did the research you did on finishing the season better result in any findings?
A: Play better in the fourth quarter, play stronger, be the more physical team.
Re: Eli Manning’s play, especially in the fourth quarter.
A: He’s played very well, the first through the fourth (quarters). The fourth quarter has been a big emphasis for us and he’s played exceptionally well in the fourth quarter.
Re: Patriots pass defense
A: Obviously they’ve made some philosophical changes. They’ve had some players that were starters that are not there, that were starters that are not starting, so on and so forth. They’ve maneuvered to try to be the best that they can be back there and of late they’ve settled on a certain style and would assume they’re still trying to work in that area, as we all are in the areas that we’re not very good at.
Q: An ESPN analyst, in his ranking of the top quarterbacks, said Cam Newton was a better quarterback than Eli Manning. Does that bother you?
A: I don’t pay any attention to it, to be honest with you. I never heard that, but I don’t pay any attention to it.
Q: Given Nicks’ status, will the other receivers have to step up or do you have to make adjustments?
A: Well you have to make adjustments, but you’re still expecting, like under any circumstance, we ask the guys that are coming along to step up and get their game going. And we ask the guys that are currently there to play better.
Read On For Belichick’s take.