New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning celebrates after throwing a fourth-quarter… (Jamie Squire / Getty Images )
Four seasons ago, the New York Giants drew strength from an inspired but ultimately disappointing 38-35 home loss to the then-undefeated New England Patriots.
This season, the Giants drew strength from an inspired but ultimately disappointing 38-35 home loss to the then-undefeated Green Bay Packers.
Four seasons ago, the Giants went on a run in the playoffs and earned a trip to the Super Bowl when Lawrence Tynes booted a field goal in overtime in a foul-weather NFC championship game at Green Bay's Lambeau Field.
This season, the Giants went on another playoff run and made it to the Super Bowl again when Tynes booted a field goal in overtime in a foul-weather NFC championship game against San Francisco at Candlestick Park.
New York's Super Bowl opponent then? The Patriots, who suffered a stunning loss to the Giants in that finale in Arizona.
Their Super Bowl opponent now? Naturally, the Patriots.
"It's kind of eerie," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said Tuesday. "Obviously, you can see the resemblance to '07. You'd have to be blind and not know anything about '07 to not see it. So I'm hoping that it continues. We're playing the Patriots again, and hopefully we'll be able to lift up that Lombardi Trophy again [Feb. 5] as Super Bowl champions."
An encore performance by these Giants wouldn't be as shocking because they're a better team now — and Eli Manning is a better quarterback — than they were in the 2007 season.
Twelve-point underdogs to the Patriots in their last Super Bowl, the Giants are once again in the underdog role. The Patriots are favored by three points, even though their most recent loss was at the hands of the Giants. Since, New England has won 10 games in a row.
"A lot of people haven't given us a shot, and we kind of like it that way," Tuck said. "For all the oddsmakers out there, keep rooting against us."
Manning gave an impassioned talk Tuesday to his teammates, aimed at the younger players in particular, to remind them to get their business out of the way this week — tickets for family members and the like — so they can turn their full attention to football next week in Indianapolis.
"I'm not going to go into the detail and everything he said," safety Antrel Rolle said. "But it was a broad message that needed to be said. It was a message that was heard loud and clear from everyone. Basically, 'This is about business. Let's go take care of it. Let's go get it done, whatever it costs.' "
Manning said the Giants will take advantage of the extra week to rest their battered bodies and further fine-tune through practice, but that the game plan is "95% complete."
"The more film you look at, you might change a few things," he said. "But really from the standpoint of the coaches and the players, our preparation will be done this week."
He said he's going to try to get as many meetings with, say, running backs and receivers done this week "because once you get out to Indianapolis, your routine does get thrown off.
"You will have to work around it somewhat, but you want to keep things as routine as possible."