Tuck-in time: Might be long night for Tom
Bob GlauberBob Glauber
Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He
Eli Manning and David Tyree produced what might have been the most incredible play in Super Bowl history in the Giants' epic 17-14 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, a moment that went a long way toward Manning's selection as the game's Most Valuable Player.
But there was a case to be made for another Giants player to win the MVP. Remember Justin Tuck's extraordinary efforts in helping the Giants limit Tom Brady to just two touchdowns? This after he led the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 regular season with an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes and an NFL-record 589 points?
Tuck was a beast that night. He had two sacks and forced a fumble, leading a Giants pass rush that was instrumental in shutting down the game's pre-eminent quarterback. Manning may have taken home the MVP hardware, but Tuck's efforts did not go unnoticed.
In fact, Tuck himself suggested Tuesday that he planned to break out the video of that game and scrutinize his play in hopes of a repeat performance in Super Bowl XLVI in 11 days.
"I have some friends that have cut DVDs and told me I better watch them before this week comes," Tuck said. "So I'll probably sit down and watch it and reminisce about what that game meant to me."
Tuck said he'll also reflect on his pregame preparations and take a page from them in the days leading up to the game. "I might just try to go back and see some of the things I did to get prepared for that game and try to redo that," he said.
If Tuck comes anywhere close to that level of play, Brady could be in for another long night. After all, the key to beating the Patriots was a sustained pass rush from the Giants' defensive line, mostly through four-man rushes. And that is precisely the plan once more as the Giants face a Pats team that has won 10 straight.
The last team to beat New England: the Giants, who won, 24-20, in Foxboro on Nov. 6. Brady struggled throughout the game, missing many of his throws under heavy pressure. He threw two interceptions. Tuck didn't have any sacks that game, and has struggled to get to the quarterback through much of the season because of an assortment of injuries.
But he's healthy now, he's coming off a 1 1/2-sack performance Sunday and he's feeling confident about the Giants' chances against the Patriots.
In his mind, it's the Giants' defensive line that will be the determining factor in whether the Giants capture a fourth Super Bowl title. "I think every game we've played this year, the D-line has set the tone, good or bad," he said.
The key: "It's all about stopping the head dog," he said. "On offense, the head dog is the quarterback. Most teams, you get pressure on the quarterback, you sack him, hit him, get him uncomfortable out there, they don't have as much success. It starts with us up front. We're hoping we set the tone like we did four years ago."
Brady is certainly vulnerable to being sacked because of his willingness to hang in until the last possible second. Brady was sacked an average of twice a game in the regular season, and was sacked a combined 10 times in the last three games. In two playoff wins, however, he has been sacked only once.
Tuck is unwilling to say the Giants have the Patriots' number despite beating them in the Super Bowl and again in the regular season. "I think it's going to be another one of those epic Super Bowls and it might come down to the team that has the ball last," Tuck said. "Hopefully, we're able to lift that Lombardi Trophy next Sunday as the Super Bowl champions."