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Tom Coughlin to his charges: 'Keep your eyes on the prize'

JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 2/2/2012, 1:23 p.m.
Tom Coughlin to his charges: 'Keep your eyes on the prize'

The hype and buildup will soon be over-and thank goodness!

In a few days, on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. to be precise, Super Bowl XLVI will commence at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The New York Giants and New England Patriots, the NFC and AFC champions respectively, will write another chapter in what has become a compelling rivalry. There are many common threads that connect them. Perhaps the most notable is the Giants' gripping 17-14 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, 2008-a Patriots team that was undefeated and an overwhelming favorite coming into the game.

Four years later, the Patriots seeking revenge has been forwarded by some in the media as a riveting storyline. It's not. Time and significant changes to both teams' rosters and coaching staffs have rendered the revenge factor immaterial.

You can be certain that the head coaches, Tom Coughlin of the Giants and Bill Belichick of the Patriots, will not put any emphasis on the 2008 game this week as they prepare their men for a whole new set of challenges.

"All the games in the past [between us] really don't mean too much at this point," said the pragmatic Belichick upon arriving in Indianapolis. "This game's about this team, this year, and there really aren't very many of us coaches or players who were involved in that game."

All that matters now is, who will be better on Sunday? Who will win the individual battles? Lineman versus lineman. Receivers and tight ends versus defensive backs, safeties and linebackers. Will it be the Giants' stellar QB Eli Manning or the Patriots' celebrated signal caller Tom Brady, who may lead his team on a late-game scoring drive to seal a victory?

For Coughlin, looking at what is to be and not what was is critical to success in the hectic period leading up to the Super Bowl. "Keep your eyes on the prize," he said before heading to Indianapolis. "Steely eyed focus...Be as organized as you possibly can. Be as efficient in terms of your preparation...Once you have done everything that you possibly can, you've put forth your greatest effort, I can live with what's next."

What's next are more positive memories for the Giants after a 27-23 victory.