Sequels, the cliché goes, are never like the original. Whether at the movies or in the world of sports, we let our happy and pure memories of the first chapter color our feelings about any chapter (or chapters) that may follow.
Yet when it involves the Roman-numeral display of excess better known as the Super Bowl, the record is more mixed.
The second Steelers-Cowboys clash in XIII may have topped X, but no one other than Dallas fans thinks fondly of the second straight conquest of the Bills in XXVIII. Bengals-49ers in XXIII proved more dramatic than XVI, thanks to Joe Montana’s last-minute scoring drive.
We have that again this Sunday night in Indianapolis. Once the two weeks of hot air and hype are over, and once we’ve seen David Tyree make that helmet catch 25,000 times, only then will the NFC’s Giants and AFC’s Patriots commence XLVI.
Good thing that there is the shadow of what happened in Glendale four years ago. Otherwise, the sights and sounds of obnoxious New York fans and obnoxious New England fans would get really tired really fast for the rest of the country.
Essentially, the events of Feb. 3, 2008 shape this tale. Inches from a perfect season and a fourth Super Bowl title in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, the Pats got denied, and the bitterness felt by all New England partisans has never gone away.
So here is the rematch, Giants-Patriots II if you want to put it that away. And how many times, when Hollywood hypes sequels, do they say that, on this particular occasion, it’s personal?
Well, that cliché certainly applies in this case. Not only are the teams the same, so are the circumstances in which they got here.
No, the Patriots weren’t undefeated, but 13-3, with eight straight wins to close the regular season, sufficed. Brady’s numbers rivaled what he did in his 2007 rampage, and even if the defense was subpar for a while, it atoned with solid playoff efforts against the Broncos and Ravens.