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Patriots a thrilling matchup to fans, but to Giants, it's just another game

Eli Manning of the New York Giants looks

Eli Manning of the New York Giants looks to hand off the ball against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI (Feb. 5, 2012). Credit: Getty Images

For most fans, this weeklong run-up to the Giants' game against the Patriots will be flooded with memories. Helmet catches and almost-perfect seasons and toe-taps along the sideline and a Hail Mary pass that came down just before the confetti went up are all part of the lore that links the teams.

They are iconic moments from two of the most thrilling Super Bowls of all time, both won by the Giants.

There probably will come a time this week -- or maybe it already has happened -- when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will tire of answering questions about the kryptonite Giants and what the Patriots' already monumental accomplishments could have been had Eli Manning and Co. not cut them in the line of history twice in the last eight Super Bowls.

But for most of the Giants, this game that has stood out on the schedule since it was announced in the spring is nothing more than a Week 10 contest. That's because the majority of them were in high school or college or on other teams when those Super Bowls were played.

Only two active Giants remain from the 2007 championship squad (Manning and long snapper Zak DeOssie) and five are left from 2011 (add Jason Pierre-Paul, Prince Amukamara and Mark Herzlich, plus Will Beatty if he is activated off PUP this week).

"We're trying to approach it as another week," wide receiver Rueben Randle said Monday. "Another week that we have to go out and win to remain at the top of this division, and I think that's anyone's outlook of this week . . . I think coach [Tom] Coughlin does a great job of making sure we all understand the situation and don't get ahead of ourselves. Just go out there and try to make our jobs as easy as possible with not a lot of thinking going on."

The historical implications may be lost on the current generation of Giants, but the future is very clear. Beating the Patriots not only would allow them to head into their bye in first place in the NFC East (they have a half-game lead over the Eagles, who will host Miami on Sunday) and vandalize another unblemished Patriots season but would send a message throughout the league that the Giants are for real. And just like 2007, it's possible that even a close, competitive loss could accomplish that last part.

"[We'll] go out there and step up to the plate and see where we stand," Randle said. "We want to be one of the better teams in this league, and this is the challenge that we need."

Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, a member of last year's Super Bowl-winning Patriots team, said what makes the Patriots so difficult to beat is their diversification and flexibility.

"The interesting thing about New England is they game-plan every week, and every week is different," Casillas said. "They attack teams differently.

"They run everything on offense so it's like they have tendencies, but they're not as strong as other teams. A lot of teams stick to their tendencies and they do it like that and that's how they beat you. New England picks a weakness or they see where they have favorable mismatches and they attack them. You won't really know their game plan until the day of the game, and then you realize what they're trying to do."

Casillas isn't the only former Patriot on the Giants' roster. Running back Shane Vereen also won a ring there last year. Safety Brandon Meriweather was a rookie starter in Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots team that finished 18-1.

They know how the Pats operate, what makes Belichick and Brady so hard to beat and how much they undoubtedly are thirsting for a win over the Giants.

But they also know how much the Giants want this win.

"Every game is big, but arguably the best team in the NFL is coming to our stadium and it's going to be a big game," Casillas said. "New England is never going to not be a difficult task."

New York Sports