Giants, Patriots head to Super Bowl

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) celebrates with teammate Amani Toomer.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, January 21, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 21, 2008 at 12:26 a.m.

Perfection for the Patriots or one Giant upset: a Super showdown is set.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will try to complete an unbeaten season Feb. 3 against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl at Glendale, Ariz.

"We'll try to elevate our game for one last performance,'' said Brady, the dimple-chinned, record-setting quarterback with the model girlfriend.

New England (18-0) will attempt to match the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to complete an undefeated season. Standing in the Patriots' way are the road-warrior Giants (13-6) and Eli Manning - Peyton's little brother, whose moxie and leadership abilities no longer can be questioned.

"We haven't been given a shot,'' Manning said of his Giants, who have won 10 straight on the road. "But we're here, and I think we're deserving of it.''

Las Vegas oddsmakers might think differently. They installed New England as a 13 1/2-point favorite in the big game, in which New York will get another shot at destroying the Patriots' path to perfection.

New England won 38-35 in its final game of the regular season, rallying from a 12-point second-half deficit.

"That got us going, momentum,'' Manning said.

At least neither team will have to worry about a frigid forecast in Arizona. On Sunday, New England beat San Diego 21-12 in 23-degree temperatures in the AFC championship at Foxborough, Mass., while New York edged Green Bay 23-20 in overtime in subzero conditions in the NFC title game at Lambeau Field.

"Now we're going to someplace warm because I'm freezing my you-know-what off,'' Brady said, flashing that familiar grin.

Brady and the Patriots will be well-thawed by the time they play in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in seven years. A win in this one would rank the Patriots as perhaps the greatest champion in NFL history - Spygate a long-forgotten speedbump.

In that scandal, the Patriots were fined $250,000 and Belichick $500,000 for violating league rules by training a sideline camera on Jets coaches in their season-opening win. New England was stripped of its first-round draft pick next year, but the team stood by its coach.

"I think there's special guys on this team that have stepped up all year when they needed to,'' Brady said.

And maybe none more than New England's record-breaking - and heartbreaking - quarterback.

Brady started this special season by becoming a father for the first time as his ex-girlfriend, actress Bridget Moynahan, gave birth to their son. Brady had since moved on to former Victoria's Secret model Gisele Bundchen, making them gossip fodder around the world.

When the football-hurling heartthrob got back to business, he became a cover story for other reasons.

Brady threw an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes in the regular season, with 23 of those to Randy Moss, who topped Jerry Rice's record. Brady was also the league's Most Valuable Player in helping New England score an NFL-record 589 points.

"They played great all year,'' coach Bill Belichick said. "I'm very lucky to coach this team.''

Linebacker Junior Seau quickly returned the compliment: "Bill is definitely the best coach ever.''

Now, 17 straight wins later, the Patriots are on the verge of making NFL history.

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