In 2007, the seemingly invincible 18-0 New England Patriots were brought down by the New York Giants defensive line, as Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were in Tom Brady's face all game, preventing the Patriots fearsome passing offense from ever getting going.
Four years later, Jason Pierre-Paul has replaced Strahan, but the underlying dynamic remains the same.
For a New England team that depends so heavily on the pass, the Giants ability to rush the passer with only their front four is a huge concern:
"A lot of teams don’t have the personnel to do that," Mankins said. "That’s what makes their pass rush good, that they can get that many guys in there at one tie that can all rush the passer. It’s going to be a big challenge. We’re going to have to play our best game of the year, probably the best game of some of our careers. That’s when you want to play your best game, is in the Super Bowl."
"All the other itty-bitty games that are played during the course of a game, there’s definitely going to be some of that gamesmanship at some point," Waters admitted. "Honestly if we know who to block and the physical part is finishing and putting out and not getting outworked, then I feel like we have a good chance."
Patriot fans are going to have to hope Mankins is right, as winning their fourth championship will probably depend on it.