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Five ways Super Bowl participants can lose

by John Czarnecki



Five ways to beat the Patriots


1. Rattle Tom Brady: The Chargers and Eagles did it best, and now that he has his right ankle in a walking boot, maybe he'll be slower than molasses (his words when he's healthy). Those two teams got to Brady and forced him out of his comfort zone several times. They knocked him around in the pocket and forced him to make some throws under duress and with his feet not set. The Giants led the NFL in sacks, so we know they are capable. The Giants didn't sack Brett Favre in the NFC title game, but they confused him with some blitz packages and took away his favorite underneath stuff. We all know Brady loves to throw short to Kevin Faulk and short screens to Wes Welker.



2. Win the short-yardage war: I don't know how many games I've watched in which Heath Evans or some other guy picks up an easy yard or two on third down. Brady is also the second-best passer on third-down in the league. The Giants must be able to stuff the run like they did against Ryan Grant in Lambeau. New York needs to win the time of possession battle and a couple key stops in short-yardage would help do the trick.


3. Eliminate Randy Moss: In the first two playoff games, Moss has two catches and no touchdowns. He's been doubled and roughed up at the line of scrimmage and is nowhere the home-run threat he was during a record-23 touchdown catch season. Yes, the loss of Moss has slowed down New England's offense, but it hasn't cost them. Moss hasn't pouted, either, which is a credit to him. But he's never been in a Super Bowl before, either, and you can imagine that Brady will want him to score. But Brady must not force the action to Moss, something he was able to avoid in the first two playoff games. Moss did score twice against the Giants to tie and then break Jerry Rice's record. The Packers complained about getting mugged at the line of scrimmage by Aaron Ross, Sam Madison and Corey Webster. It will be interesting how Mike Carey's crew calls incidental contact on Super Sunday.


4. Sustain a running game: The Giants were able to do exactly that in all three playoff games and they must maintain that balanced attack. Unlike Mike McCarthy's lack of a commitment to the run, it is often best to keep handing off the ball just to keep the opposition off-balance regardless of the outcome. New York had 39 rushes to 40 passes against Green Bay. The Giants must maintain a similar ratio against the Patriots instead of getting preoccupied in a shootout. Reducing the number of possessions the Patriots have is all important.


5. Tell them to stay home: Yes, it's funny, but I'm not kidding. That's the only way the Patriots don't win Super Bowl XLII. The Giants' final hope is if their team buses get lost and they fail to show for the kickoff. The Patriots have become a team of destiny, plus they already took the best that New York could offer in Week 17 and won, finishing the regular-season unbeaten. This team was driven all season — not by perfection — but by collapsing after owning a 21-3 lead in last season's AFC title game. The Patriots care about only one thing: winning Super Bowls. This will be their fourth in seven seasons; only the Steelers of the Seventies, four in six, were more dominant.


Five ways to beat the Giants


1. Rattle Eli Manning: During the regular season, this strategy worked perfectly against Manning. There's been a transformation in the playoffs as Manning hasn't thrown an interception in 85 postseason pass attempts after tossing 20 during the regular-season. But the Patriots must collapse the pocket by getting people in his face, and rushing up the middle. Vince Wilfork needs to dominate Shaun O'Hara and push him back. When Manning shortens his stride, that's when his passes sail and he gets into trouble.


2. Stop Jacobs: The Giants had the fourth-best rushing offense in the NFL this season with 134.3 yards per game. If the Patriots hold Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw under 100 yards, they should be home free. New England must prevent Jacobs from getting to the corner because once the 265-pounder gets going; he is very difficult to slow down. Bradshaw doesn't have Darren Sproles' speed, but he is a home-run threat. They must keep both of them in check.


3. Make Tynes beat them: I don't care if Lawrence Tynes finally hit a 47-yarder in overtime; he also missed twice from shorter distances although one was ruined by a poor snap. There is no question that the Pats' Stephen Gostkowski has hit more pressure kicks than Tynes. Also, if the Patriots can limit the Giants to field-goal attempts whenever they reach the red zone, like they did to the Chargers, it's another positive sign.


4. Put Samuel on Plaxico: The six-foot-5 receiver has become Manning and the Giants' No. 1 weapon. Burress has played hurt all season, but has shown remarkable resiliency. He and Manning have been on the same wave-length in the playoffs and it showed in them connecting 11 times for 154 yards last Sunday. During the playoffs, Manning has become very adept at connecting with Burress on his back shoulder, away from cornerback pressure. But Asante Samuel is a better cover cornerback than Al Harris. Samuel has a better chance of stopping Burress; otherwise Ellis Hobbs could be worn out.


5. Run Maroney: Yes, the Patriots have more offensive weapons than any team in the league. If you stop Moss, Welker, Jabar Gaffney, Benjamin Watson or Donte' Stallworth can beat you. But Laurence Maroney can be a game-changer and he's well rested. The running back scored once against the Chargers while gaining 122 yards on 25 carries. A duplicate effort should seal New York's fate: a second Super Bowl loss this decade.

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Running Maroney won't beat us.


This is what I said in response to someone bringing up Maroney on an espn.com thread:


"Sure, he had 2 touchdowns in week 17 against us, but 19 carries for only 46 yards? Let's not forget to mention his long of 13. So, 18 carries for 33 yards? His two touchdown runs were for 5 and 6 yards. So, 16 carries for 22 yards? Very impressive."

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