After two weeks of buildup, the wait is finally over. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots face their greatest challenge yet in Eli Manning and the New York Giants as the two teams battle for the ultimate prize in Super Bowl XLVI, starting at 6:29 p.m. EDT (TV/Radio: NBC/98.5 FM, WEEI) in Indianapolis, Indiana on Sunday.
Obviously, both teams are riding high coming into the big game. Brady and his Patriots are coming off a thrilling 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago. Billy Cundiff missed the potential game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter, giving New England its fifth Super Bowl berth in the last 11 seasons.
Manning and the Giants were pushed to the brink by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago, but New York pulled off a 20-17 victory. Manning threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns and Lawrence Tynes sent the Giants back to the Super Bowl with his 31-yard field goal with 7:06 remaining in overtime.
Of course, the Patriots and Giants aren't strangers. New England and New York met back in Super Bowl XLII, with the Giants pulling off a stunning 17-14 upset to derail the Patriots' perfect season. Manning had 355 passing yards and two scores, including the game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress in the corner of the endzone. On the drive, Manning completed an improbable (and that's really, really underselling it) pass to David Tyree.
Brady and Manning also clashed once this season, with Manning's crew escaping with a 24-20 victory at Gillette Stadium. Ironically, Manning had almost exactly the same passing numbers -- 250 yards, two touchdowns, one interception -- as he did in Super Bowl XLII. Brady, meanwhile, threw for 342 yards, two scores and two picks.
Alas, this is it. One game for all the glory. Who will win the rematch? We shall soon see.