The Giants have been thinking about beating the Patriots all week. Just don’t ask them to think about the last time they beat New England.
The last meaningful game these two proud franchises played against each other was Feb. 3, 2008 in Super Bowl XLII. Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw for 255 yards, two touchdowns and won the Most Valuable Player award, as the Giants knocked off the previously undefeated New England Patriots, 17-14.
That was a magical night for Manning, but he said all he’s concerned about is Sunday.
“All we’re trying to do is prepare for the Patriots right now,” Manning said. “We’re trying to get ready, go up there and play a great game. We know they’re a good team. We know they’re always a playoff team. It’ll be great to see where we stand against a team that’s as talented as they are and know that they always play well at home … it’s a great challenge for us. Those are the games you get excited for.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has also downplayed the rematch, saying his plate is full worrying about the current batch of Giants, not the 2007 version.
“That’s a distant memory and there’s not much you can take from that. This is an entirely different team that we have and that they have,” Brady said. “There are so many players on our team that were obviously not a part of that game or any game against the Giants. We’re familiar with them [because] we play them in the preseason mostly every year and we’ve played them in the preseason this year. That probably gives us a little more of an understanding of what they do than the game a few years ago or eight years ago or something like that.”
Each member in the Giants locker room – and almost certainly New England’s – said a game played 46 months ago will have no bearing on Sunday’s outcome. Focusing on the now is the only thing Big Blue has on their minds, according to guard David Diehl.
“Obviously, you’re going to keep hearing about the comparisons and the Super Bowl and everything like that,” Diehl said. “That’s part of history and that’s part of the Super Bowl and how great of a game it was, [but] we’re four years removed from that game [so] that didn’t just happen. This is a whole new year. They’re a different team [and] we’re a different team … I don’t think that game plays a bearing into this game. This isn’t the Super Bowl.”
For obvious reason, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would’ve also rather talked about the preparation of this game. He noted how well the Giants are playing despite the mounting injuries and said he’s preparing his team as if the Giants are fully loaded.
“We prepare for all [scenarios], even a practice squad guy who might get called up. It’s no different for any player or team,” Belichick said when told of the Giants’ injury report. “We take everything into consideration. I’m not saying [a star] is like every other player. [Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw] are great players, but whoever is out there we have to prepare for them.”
When pressed to recall the teams’ last meaningful meeting, Belichick went back to his covert ways, declining to get caught up in the game’s backdrop.
“That was a long time ago and there’s no carry-over from the last time,” said Belichick. “All we care about is we’re playing a good football team and it’ll take our best effort this Sunday … their depth, quality and scheme make them one of the best we’ve seen all year.”
Big Blue notes
»The Giants’ injury list seems to grow by the week. Nicks (hamstring) didn’t practice, but was seen riding the stationary bike alongside starting center David Baas (knee). Offensive tackle Stacy Andrews (back) was also unable to practice. Fellow starting wideout Mario Manningham (illness), defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee/shoulder), defensive end Justin Tuck (neck/groin), linebacker Michael Boley (knee) and fullback Henry Hynoski (neck) all practiced. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (neck), however, was a late add to the injury report as being “limited.”
»With Nicks’s status uncertain, disappointing and oft-injured wide receiver Ramses Barden will get more work. He is still on the Reserve/PUP (physically unable to play) list, but is making progress every day, according to Coughlin: “He’s going to get pushed a little harder this week. He practiced probably 50 percent of the time last week and we’ll see if he can continue.”
»Coughlin is hoping for the same with rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara: “Prince will get a little bit more this week, too.” Amukamara, the first-round draft choice who has not made his NFL debut because of the broken foot he suffered on Aug. 6, practiced with the scout team today, as he did last week. When asked what he needs to do to play in the game, Amukamara said, “Show that I can go full speed and not run with a limp. I didn’t feel like I ran with a limp. My foot was sore a little bit but I am getting close.”
»The Giants added defensive back Brandon Bing to their practice squad. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder is from Rutgers and takes the spot of quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who has done four separate stints on the practice squad this season. Bing was signed as a rookie free agent by the Broncos on July 27 and played in all four of Denver’s preseason games and had five tackles. He was waived by Denver on Sept. 3. Bing was then on the Bills’ practice squad from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1. At Rutgers, Bing played 41 career games (13 starts) and totaled 85 tackles (53 solo), three interceptions, one sack and one forced fumble. He’ll fill the void left by Justin Tryon, who is out for the season after playing nearly three quarters of the Dolphins game with a broken arm.
»In a rare candid moment, Belichick allowed himself to look back on his time with the Giants as an assistant coach that spanned most of the 1980s: “Tom and I go back to our days on the Giants’ staff. He came in coaching the receivers and me on defense and we had some good battles in seven-on-sevens and drills like that. I learned a lot from those years working with Tom as a defensive backfield coach that helped me learn offenses and that still helps me today. I have a lot of respect for Tom. He’s a tough hard-working guy whose teams are always well prepared. I try to do the same thing with my teams.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.