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Patriots will have final word in Super Bowl XLVI

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  February 4, 2012 01:51 PM

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Based on the amount of blabbing from the opposition you would have thought the Patriots were playing the other New York team in Super Bowl XLVI tomorrow.

The Giants have picked up the braggart baton from the Jets. The mandibles of the Giants have been moving at an Indianapolis 500 pace this week.

Quasi-guarantees, parade pronouncements, boasts about being inside the cerebrum of Tom Brady, declarations about Julian Edelman's effectiveness as a defensive back, jabs about the quality of Gillette razors (ok, I made that last one up) have filled the New York tabloids and to be sure the bulletin board of the Patriots.

Before either team arrived in Indy, wide receiver Mario Manningham said the Giants wanted Edelman on the field to take advantage of him.

Safety Antrel Rolle said on Tuesday that the Giants were going to win. On Wednesday, defensive lineman Chris Canty told Giants fans, "Get ready for a great game on Super Bowl Sunday, and get ready for a parade on Tuesday." Defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul said Thursday that Brady was so concerned about the Giants pass rush he felt phantom menace during New York's 24-20 win in Foxborough on Nov. 6.

The only thing that stopped the parade of Giants' slights was an end to media access for players on Friday.

The Giants' jawing is good for the Patriots. It's created an environment that is the reverse of Super Bowl XLII. Four years ago it was a football fait accompli that the Patriots were going to wrap up their perfect season with a Super Bowl title. All the expectations and pressure were on the New England sideline.

The Patriots weren't trash-talking like the Giants are this week -- that team was wound up tighter than a mattress spring that week -- but there was an air of arrogance and inevitable victory.

Who can forget when a bemused Brady was apprised of Plaxico Burress's prediction of a Giants' victory with Burress saying New York would win 23-17 (they ended up winning 17-14) and spouted out, "We're only going to score 17 points? Is Plax playing defense?"

That hubris extended into the game, typified by Belichick eschewing a 49-yard field goal in the third quarter to go for it on fourth and 13.

Now the Patriots are being underestimated instead of coronated, and loving every minute of it. They've favorites in Las Vegas only.

Belichick and Brady are eating this trash talk up regardless of what they're saying publicly. The Patriots don't need extra motivation to win a Super Bowl, especially against this team, but the Giants served it up to them in family-style portions.

"We just don't do that here. There is no need for that," said Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch. "We're going to settle this on the football field on Sunday, regardless of what happens. It's just like boxing. The tickets are already sold. The rating is going to be very high, so you don't have to boost it up anymore than what it's going to be. But if they're doing it that's those guys.

"We just don't do that over this way. There is no need for it. I promise you we're going to show up Sunday. So, we'll be there. Let's hope that they'll be there too because we're going to be there."

Let's call it what it is. The Giants feel like they have Brady and Belichick's number. We can characterize that as overconfidence, cockiness, arrogance or self-assuredness. It probably depends on your laundry allegiance.

Even Coughlin, a no-nonsense, old-school coach, hinted as much on Friday, when he was asked whether he was concerned about his team's cockiness this week.

"I think it’s just a matter of our team has played good football against a great football team," he said. "We always focus our team on confidence enough to get there and confident enough to get back. That’s the way we look at it."

New York matches up as well with the Patriots as any team during the Belichick-Brady era. They have more defensive linemen than the Red Sox have reclamation project starting pitchers. They have a Manning (Eli) at quarterback. They have a trio of talented young wide receivers. They have a coach that is equally schooled in the Bill Parcells tao of winning.

Since the Patriots beat the Giants 38-35 in the 2007 season finale, New York has held Brady and Co. to 34 points in the last two games. They held the Patriots scoreless for a half in the teams' regular-season meeting. Brady has more turnovers (four) than touchdowns (three) passes against New York in the last two games. Belichick hasn't been able to stop Manning from playing the hero as he led last second-drives in both Giants' wins.

Between the stories about Manning being better than Brady in the playoffs, the rehashing of how the Giants defensive line whipped the Patriots offensive line in Super Bowl XLII, and the saga of Rob Gronkowski's ankle sprain, the Patriots have somehow managed to be talked about like the 9-7 team instead of the 13-3 team.

The Patriots have sit back and soaked in the digs and the doubts -- Brady's party comments at the Patriots' pre-trip pep rally were innocuous everywhere, but New York.

They'll offer their rebuttal tomorrow at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"We're always a team where we do our talking on the field," said cornerback Kyle Arrington. "We let our play do the talking. They're obviously a confident bunch, and so are we. Whoever makes the most plays on Sunday is going to be the team deserving of the win."

Banal Patriot-speak has never sounded so good.

Will the New York loudmouths get the Lombardi Trophy? Fugetaboutit. The Patriots will have the final say this time.

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news

Dearth

...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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