Super Bowl XLVI preview

Josh Dillon, IVLeader Sports Editor

Familiar faces, new places, and a whole different storyline await the two teams slated to meet up in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.

You don’t have to look too far back to find the last time they met up in the title game. It was 2008 and Eli Manning’s message to the NFL that he was here to stay.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were perfect, unblemished, undefeated, and unstoppable, at least if you paid any attention to sports media at the time. Brady, the NFL’s MVP for the 2008 season, broke a single season record for touchdowns thrown with an unheard of 50, and most of those touchdowns went to much maligned receiver Randy Moss, who seemed poised for a rebirth to stardom after controversy had plagued his career.

Manning and the Giants took a different road to the postseason. While Eli’s stats were respectable (23 touchdowns versus 20 interceptions), he stepped up in the playoffs by being the first quarterback ever to win three straight starts on the road in the postseason.

The teams had met in the final game of the 2008 regular season; the Patriots won 38-35 and used that win to put an exclamation point on the perfect regular season.

But, Manning, Plaxico Burress, David Tyree, and the Giants defense would have something to say about the Pats finishing undefeated. The defining moment came when Manning escaped the grip of Patriots LB Adalius Thomas and heaved a prayer towards the middle of the field. Unheralded WR David Tyree outjumped SS Rodney Harrison to make an unbelievable catch by pinning the ball against his helmet, with Harrison doing everything in his power to knock the ball loose.

This year, there will be no upsets, no perfection on the line, and both teams have their superstars on both sides of the ball. The last two teams standing have both earned the right to play for the Lombardi trophy, and it should be a hard-nosed, hard-fought game for both teams.