Learning from history could help the Giants make history
What works against the Patriots? There's nothing foolproof. But here are some things the Giants should not do, Seth Wickersham writes.
"Tom Brady doesn't need two feet to beat us.""I don't blame the oddsmakers. I would have made the spread 17."
See, Giants, this is exactly what the Broncos did against the Packers. They put the spotlight on them all week and didn't give Mike Holmgren any material. Ditto with the 2001 Patriots.
assume that the Patriots will underprepare. New England knows every in-game scenario because it has practiced each one. You know that punt against the Chargers that Kelley Washington downed inside the 5-yard line? "We've practiced it probably 100 times," he says. Before the San Diego game, Washington and punter Chris Hanson stayed after practice to work on that exact drill. Remember, New York: The Pats won't hand you anything. You have to earn it.
expect the Patriots to break. This is as tight a team as the NFL has ever seen. After each practice, Brady brings everyone together and leads a "Super Bowl" chant on the count of three. Usually, this stuff is for high school and college. Most NFL teams don't end practice with a cheer. But the Patriots do. No wonder Bill Belichick says they "love" one another. If you expect them to turn on each other if the going gets bad, you're mistaken.
forget the Giants-Bills Super Bowl. In 1991, the lunch-pail Giants faced the high-flying, fancy Bills. The Giants' defensive game plan -- hatched by Belichick, of course -- was to allow Thurman Thomas to gain 100-plus yards. The logic was this: Knowing that the Giants would struggle against the pass, Belichick told his team to let the Bills gain yardage, luring them into believing they truly controlled the line of scrimmage. Belichick figured it would shorten the game and keep the ball out of Jim Kelly's hands. Then, on third-and-short, he believed the Giants could rise up and stuff the Bills.
Well, that scheme worked. Barely.
Of course it's risky, but the Giants might do well to use Belichick's ideas against his Patriots. Think about it: Would you rather have Laurence Maroney running or Brady passing? Give Maroney some yards. Just stiffen up on third down.
give New England's receivers a clean release. Yeah, we saw what happened to Corey Webster in the NFC Championship when he tried to jam Donald Driver and whiffed: Driver caught a 90-yard touchdown. But it didn't cost you the game.Don't get frightened by the big play. See how Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, and Kevin Faulk -- especially Faulk -- do when they're punished. That's what the 2001 Patriots did against the Rams, and Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt struggled until the fourth quarter, when it was too late. Rough up New England's pass-catchers a little. Their pain is your friend.
Don'tget conservative. You're not going to beat the Patriots with field goals. Just ask the Chargers. Don't forget the lessons of UC Berkeley professor David Romer: Field position is overrated. Going for it on fourth down isn't. That should do it, Giants. Good luck. Oh, wait -- we thought of one Do. Pray. Seth Wickersham is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and a columnist for ESPN.com.
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