Patriots move on to Super Bowl XLII
By Jason Huff
Assistant Sports Editor
Why would anyone think the New England Patriots would stop short of perfection and lose their final game to a team that couldn’t beat them one month ago?
The Patriots haven’t dominated every team they have played, but they have shown that they can finish close games just as easily as they beat other teams by 40 plus points. One of the close games happened to be against the Super Bowl bound New York Giants.
The Patriots and Giants week 17 game showcased a Giants team that played at their full potential with underachieving quarterback Eli Manning playing the game of his life.
The final result was still a Patriots victory to complete their 16-0 perfect regular season. Manning threw four touchdowns and only one interception against the best team in football and still lost.
Can he really do any better than that? Manning should have shown his new found confidence after three consecutive road wins against division rivals in the NFC playoffs.
Tom Brady and the rest of the New England Patriots are seasoned Super Bowl veterans who have been there and won three times while the New York Giants are relatively inexperienced at this stage. Only Michael Strahan and Amani Toomer have been to a Super Bowl on the Giants roster.
The Patriots prolific offense has been a force to be reckoned with this season and has led the Pats to victory week after week.
With Brady passing the ball, any team would be hard to beat. If you add Randy Moss and Wes Welker into the receiver slots, you have a point producing machine and that will not change all of the sudden at the biggest stage.
The Patriots have proved throughout the playoffs why they are undefeated and set to rewrite history.
The Patriots 16-0 regular season record obviously was good enough to secure them a first round bye which left them waiting for their next opponent who turned out to be the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Brady led his team with astonishing 26 out of 28 completed passes for three touchdowns along with Laurence Maroney running for 122 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars devised an defensive gameplan that was supposed to take away the deep pass, thus eliminating the threat of Moss deep.It worked, but it didn’t stop the Patriots. That’s the beauty of the Patriots. They can adjust to whatever the defense gives you. The Jaguars took away the deep stuff, so Brady went underneath to his running backs and Welker and ate the Jaguars alive.
The Patriots defense also held enough ground for them to pull off the win. The Patriots went on to win the game 31-20 and secured their spot in the conference championship against the San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers, coming off a win against the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, were primed to play the Pats.
The Patriots turned in a sub par overall performance with Brady throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Moss finished another unproductive game with only one catch for 18 yards.
Unlike the Jaguars game, Brady was not on top of his game. The three interceptions kept the Chargers around in the game for a while, but their inability to score touchdowns in the red zone ultimately cost them.
This would normally spell a loss but the Patriots defense did a tremendous job in the red zone, allowing three field goals when the Chargers had first and goal.
The Patriots 21-12 win over the Chargers was hard fought, ugly at times, but enough to win, just as it has been all season.
The Chargers get inside the red zone, but only settle for field goals. The offense steps up one week, the defense the next.
These two playoff wins punched the Pats ticket to the Super Bowl in the Arizona desert where they will have to win one last game against the New York Giants to obtain perfection.
Bill Belichick will lead his Patriots to another Super Bowl victory like it or not. If he does complete the perfect season, Belichick should go down as one of, if not the best coach ever in the NFL. Winning four Super Bowls in seven years is impressive enough, but during this era of the league with the salary cap restrictions and parity that is shown on a year to year basis, it makes it all the more impressive.
If you’re not a Patriots fan, there is an upside. You will be able to say you saw history unfold.