Super Bowl QBs to slug it out

New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady warms up during a practice for the NFL Super Bowl XLVI...

New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady warms up during a practice for the NFL Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis Feb. 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:40 PM ET

Super Bowl XLVI is not about the New England Patriots against the New York Giants.

It’s Tom Brady versus Eli Manning, straight and simple.

All the other matchups, the great Giants defensive line versus the Pats offensive line, whether one secondary can cover the other teams receivers, will Rob Gronkowski be able to play — it all pales compared to the central story and that is which quarterback will have the better day — Brady or Manning?

Nothing else really matters.

Brady is the game’s golden boy at the top of the mountain and it is the younger Manning, the aw shucks Eli, who is scrambling to reach that plateau.

This game in many quarters is being touted as a re-do of the 2008 classic in which Eli brought his troops back from a 14-10 deficit in the final 2:40 of the game, one where David Tyree made that magical stick-to-the-helmet catch, a drive that ended with a game-winning TD toss to Plaxico Burress.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, for one, doesn’t buy into any revenge factor being of much significance for this game and neither do the players.

It may not be a revenge game but no matter which team wins, it will be a legacy game for either Brady or young Eli.

Of the two quarterbacks, Manning is the one that is on the highest of rolls given the way the Giants had to beat both the Jets and then the Cowboys on the final weekend of the season to win their division. Manning was prominent in both.

Manning and company followed that up by a decisive home victory over Atlanta in the first playoff round, then shocked just about everybody with their complete dismantling of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Two weeks ago, the Giants backed into the Super Bowl thanks to two key miscues and turnovers by San Francisco punt returner Kyle Williams. But even in that one, there was Manning, tossing go-ahead TD passes at the end.

In this city the name Manning is king and just about every other fan patrolling the streets is wearing a Manning jersey — a Colts Peyton Manning jersey. But if they can’t cheer for Peyton in this Super Bowl, they can surely cheer for his kid brother Eli. So in this town, the Giants have the hometown edge.

With a victory over Brady and the Patriots, young Eli could also pass his brother as far as collecting Super Bowl rings.

It is strange to think that at the beginning of the season Eli was ridiculed and mocked for saying that he believes he should be listed among the elite quarterbacks in the league.

With a second Super Bowl ring on his hand, he will cement his own legacy and be placed on the pedestal that now finds the likes of Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton.

On that there will be no argument and Eli will clearly emerge from the giant shadow that has been cast by his brother.

Brady, meanwhile, heads a team that is on a 10-game winning streak, their last loss that 24-20 loss to the Giants in November.

Brady, however, doesn’t have to worry about his status, his legend, as he is already being compared to the greats of the game.

The last time Brady was in a Super Bowl he and his team had the added pressure of an unbeaten season resting on their shoulders. This time around he is free of that burden.

In their victory over Baltimore in the AFC Championship, Brady was clearly unhappy with his play, particularly the two interceptions. He has mentioned that time and again this week and is clearly bothered by turning in a less-than-perfect performance.

If he needs any added motivation, there it is.

For added incentive, with a victory, Brady can claim his fourth Super Bowl ring which would tie him for most Super Bowl victories with Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers and his boyhood hero, Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers.

“In my opinion, quarterbacks are measured by the championships they win,” Former Patriot Tedy Bruschi, who is now an analyst for ESPN, said recently. “He (Brady) probably wants to have more than anyone else, that’s how competitive he is. For him to get his fourth would say a lot.”

For Eli to gain is second would mean a lot.

To the victor go the spoils and the legacy of being a champion.


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