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Look for Giants to keep things up in the air against Patriots

Quarterback Eli Manning threw 58 passes in New York's NFC title win over 49ers. And given the Giants' unreliable running game, there's little reason to expect a different approach against New England.

January 24, 2012|By Sam Farmer
  • New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham catches a touchdown pass over San Francisco's Tramaine Brock during the Giants' NFC championship victory Sunday. The Giants likely will need to have a successful passing game in order to beat New England in the Super Bowl.
New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham catches a touchdown pass… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)

Reporting from East Rutherford, N.J. — What the New York Giants' offense must do to be successful against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl (Feb. 5, 3:30 p.m. PST, Channel 4):

Eli Manning threw 58 passes in the wind and rain Sunday at San Francisco.

There's no reason to think the Giants quarterback will back off that approach against New England, especially in the climate-controlled confines of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

"We had some decent runs," Manning said of the win over the 49ers, "but we didn't think that was the approach to beat them."

The Giants aren't likely to go to the ground game too much against the Patriots, either, even though their running game, ranked last in the league, has improved over the last month. They will try to pound the ball some with the running back tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, but the passing game is their strength.

Just as Green Bay did in last year's Super Bowl against Pittsburgh, the Giants will try to gain their running yards when the Patriots are thinking pass. New England had the 31st-ranked defense this season.

New York has some of the most dangerous receiving weapons in the game in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, and the Patriots gave up a league-high 79 plays of 20 yards or longer during the regular season.

"There will be a cut-up [of video footage] that the Giants will look at this week called 'explosive plays,' showing where the big plays showed up against New England's defense," said CBS analyst Rich Gannon, a former NFL quarterback. "What was the down and distance? What was the situation? What were the personnel groups? Where can we attack?"

Part of that, of course, means going back and scrutinizing every play of the Giants' victory over the Patriots earlier this season.

"We'll watch that game to see what they did to slow us down," Manning said. "They played a lot of two safeties and really challenged us to run the ball. I think we're running the ball better now than we were at that point, so we'll see if that changes up."

When in doubt, look to the air.

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