Perfect Patriots or giant chokers?

Last updated at 12:43 02 February 2008

The New England Patriots' pursuit of a perfect season reaches a climax on Sunday when they face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

After reeling off 18 straight victories, New England hopes

to secure their fourth championship in the last seven years by

beating the two-touchdown underdog Giants at the University of

Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Bill Belichick

Either the Patriots become arguably the greatest team in

NFL history or they become a benchmark for squandered

opportunities. No team has gone 19-0 in a season.

"I think it's the biggest game of all of our lives - my

life, the entire team, our coaches," double Super Bowl MVP

quarterback Tom Brady told reporters. "We're going to be

remembering this game for as long as we live, win or lose.

"We're going to have great memories of this experience or

we're going to look at it truly as a missed opportunity.

"There's not too many teams in the history of the NFL -

none, in fact - that have been 18-0 going into this game."

New England is the highest scoring team in NFL history and

Brady's 50 touchdown passes also is a record. Toss in wide

receiver Randy Moss's record 23 TD catches and you have what

could be the NFL's all-time best offense.

But the Giants (13-6) and their up-and-down quarterback Eli

Manning have played in the postseason like a team determined to

prove it belongs among the NFL's elite.

Coach Tom Coughlin is enjoying the role of David as he

faces Goliath.

"We have been underdogs pretty much every time we've

played," he said. "We've gone on the road and been underdogs,

and been underdogs at home. So its kind of been a natural


"The main theme that comes out of that for our team is

having something to prove. We always have something to prove.

And there's nothing wrong with that."

The two teams played in the regular-season finale with New

York blowing a 12-point third-quarter lead and succumbing 38-35

before a rowdy sold-out crowd at Giants Stadium.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a Giants assistant for 12

years, cautioned about reading too much into the teams' prior


"I think each game takes on its own personality," he said.

"There are some elements of that game that probably will carry

a similar pattern. I think there will be other elements that

will be different.

"I certainly hope that we can hold them to less than 35

points. I'm sure they're hoping to hold us to less than 38."

Injuries will not appear to play a major role in the

outcome. Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who earlier in

the week predicted a 23-17 Giants victory, is nursing a sore

knee but should play.

New York wide receiver Amani Toomer believes the Giants

will have plenty of support.

"The Patriots are trying to make history and we are trying

to make history," he said. "I think we have more people on our

side because no one wants to see an undefeated team.

"A lot of other teams are going to be behind us because we

have the last shot at them. Hopefully, we will take advantage

of it."

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