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This one promises to truly be Super

Stage set for XLVI to play out as classic

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INDIANAPOLIS -- All is set for this to be a Super Bowl classic, one that will be remembered for the actual game, not just the pricey ads that run between plays.

Two all-time quarterbacks, two all-time coaches, injury intrigue and a rematch of two of the NFL's most fabled franchises.

It is, as Lamar Hunt aptly put it, the Super Bowl.

History will look back at this game as the second chapter in the story of Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning. Manning and his Giants won four years ago in Super Bowl 42 with a 17-14 win over Brady and the Pats, denying New England a perfect season.

Much of the talk this week has centred around the Giants pass rush and whether it can knock Brady off his game. Brady has used his two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, as outlets all season when he's felt heat. They've paid him back with huge yards and Gronkowski set a record with 17 touchdowns, most in a season for a tight end.

A high ankle sprain has kept Gronkowski out of practice most of the week and his effectiveness for Sunday's game is in question.

The coaching chess match pits Bill Belichick of the Pats against New York's Tom Coughlin.

Here's a look at three key storylines in Super Bowl 46:


The coaches

Belichick is at his eighth Super Bowl, three as an assistant with the New York Giants and now five as the head coach of the Pats. With a win he'll have four victories and bear consideration as the all-time greatest. Coughlin is at his second Super Bowl and a win will cement his Hall of Fame bid.

Belichick says: "Every Super Bowl is special, and it's a real privilege to be involved. It's what you work for all year going all the way back to February or March, when you start putting your team together ... training camp and all the meetings. To be able to get here is what you work for, so it's a great experience."

Coughlin says: "It has been one elimination game after another. There's been no question that our confidence building is boosted by the players on defence. We've had our backs to the wall. Our leader, our quarterback, has been a very cool customer."


New York's defensive line

If Brady has time to throw he shreds defences. Hitting him, hurrying him or knocking down balls at the line are keys to slowing down the Pats offence and ultimately beating them.

The Giants have a defensive line for the ages led by Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Including the post-season, they've collected 57 sacks and 25 knocked-down passes.

The Patriots will try to use the no-huddle to wear them down.

"We have been conditioning extra. We have done a lot of running because we know exactly what their game plan is going to be, or we think we know," said Umenyiora. "No huddle. Whenever we have a chance to make substitutions we will, but guys who are in the game have to just play."

On stopping Brady:

"The most we can do is just try to get as much pressure as we can on him, cover his receivers and try and confuse him as much as we can."


The quarterbacks

Eli Manning and Tom Brady will be a huge part of the story. Here they are by the numbers:

Manning was MVP of Super Bowl XLII. Has won seven of past eight post-season starts. Had 330 passing yards in divisional playoff, 316 yards in NFC Championship. Had franchise-record 4,933 pass yards and 8,300-yard games in regular season. Has 24 career 300-yard games (incl. playoffs), most in team history. Had 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes in regular season, most ever in a season.

Brady's 16 post-season wins are tied with Joe Montana for most in NFL history. Brady has 1,001 passing yards in four Super Bowls, the fourth-most. Brady has seven career Super Bowl TD passes, fourth most all-time. He needs 381 yards to surpass Peyton Manning (5,389) for third-most post-season passing yards in NFL history. Brady (36) needs four TD passes to join Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44) as the only QBs to reach 40 post-season TD passes all-time. Has 16-5 (.762) playoff record, best post-season record as starting QB in NFL history. Named MVP of Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2012 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


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