The NFL Super Bowl is always full of story lines, and this season’s Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots has more story lines than an entire season of Desperate Housewives.
The biggest, in my eyes, is the rematch of Super Bowl XLII. On Feb. 3, 2008, the New York Giants traveled to Arizona to take on the then 18-0 New England Patriots. The Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history in a 17-14 victory. The Patriots were 12-point favorites heading into the Super Bowl and would have completed the first 19-0 season in NFL history.
I’m one of the few people who think that the loss to Eli Manning and the Giants will be a revenge point for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Both Brady and Belichick have denied that revenge will have a factor in the game. I don’t see how playing against the team that ended your pursuit for perfection wouldn’t serve as an added bonus to win this game.
A story line that reaches the heart of both teams’ fan bases is that of New York Giants’ linebacker Mark Herzlich. The rookie linebacker was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in 2009, causing him to miss his entire senior season at Boston College. Herzlich was the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was sure to be a first-round draft pick before he was diagnosed with cancer.
Herzlich was able to beat the cancer that doctors said would end his football career. Doctors said that the possibility of a football career was out of the question. Herzlich made the Giants final 53-man roster and made his NFL debut against the Philadelphia Eagles.
That a player was able to overcome something as serious as cancer to be able to play football again is enough of a heart-wrenching story itself. The fact that the player has the chance to participate in the biggest game of the NFL season is something very special that NFL fans don’t see very often. Even as a Patriots fan, I am rooting for Herzlich.
The injury of New England tight end Rob Gronkowski has to be the biggest player story line of Super Bowl XLVI. “Gronk” had reporters surrounding his media day booth 45 minutes before he was set to speak, showing how big a part of the Patriots offense his play is.
Gronk hurt his ankle on a play in the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. The record-setting tight end came back into the game, but has been wearing a boot and hasn’t practiced since the injury.
The play of Gronk is a huge staple in the Patriots’ offense. Gronk has been a safety net for Brady all season and is always relied on to make big plays. If Gronk is able to play, the Patriots have a big shot of putting up big numbers on offense. If he can’t, it will greatly hurt the Patriots and could cripple their offense.
With the injury of Gronkowski, there has been lots of talk about the playing time and impact of wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. The egotistic wide receiver came to one of the most complex offenses in the NFL and basically hasn’t had any impact. Ochocinco had only 15 catches and one touchdown the entire season.
I, for one, have been a fan of Ochocinco since he was in Cincinnati. I was fine with his big-mouth talking because he had no troubles with the law and wasn’t a locker room “obliterator” like fellow wide receiver Terrell Owens.
It’s a stretch to say Ochocinco will have a significant impact on the Super Bowl, but he just might be a huge secret weapon.
This Super Bowl is bound to be a memorable one. I think it will be a very close, hard-fought battle to the end. I believe that, overall, the Giants are the more complete team, but I think the Patriots will pull away with the victory.
The X-Factor will be the play of Tom Brady. I’ve always seen Brady as the king of fourth-quarter comebacks. He gets what I call “that look in his eye” – The look that says, “We are not going to lose this game.”
I believe Brady will get that look with about three minutes left in the game when the Pats are down 20-24. I think Brady will drive the Patriots down the field to score the game-winning touchdown to win 27-24. The win will be Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s fourth Super Bowl, the most ever by a coach-quarterback combination.