Pats Go for 16-0 vs. Giants; Sights Set on Bigger Picture
15 down and one to go. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is staring a perfect regular season in the face and he has the opportunity to accomplish that feat in a familiar place. He called Giants Stadium home on two separate occasions when he was on Bill Pacells' staff with the Giants and Jets. The former is his opponent in Week 17 and it will be interesting to see how the Giants play the game, having already clinched a playoff berth themselves.
"Certainly there are a lot of fond memories that I have from Giants Stadium and from my 12 years with the Giants," Belichick said. "That was a huge part of my career and that will always be with me."
Questions have surrounded the Giants all week if they will play their starters for the entire game. Head coach Tom Coughlin has already stated that he will play this game just as any other on the schedule, but was coy about certain aspects. "The 45 guys who are dressed will play and they will play to the best of their ability," he said. "The objective for our team as we prepare this week, Week 17, is no different than what the objective would be if it was Week 3 or Week 4.
"I think I have made it clear - the best interest of our team will be focused on always. But we are going to prepare and play as hard as we can."
Belichick also downplayed the hype surrounding the game, which will be shown on not only the NFL Network on Saturday night, but also two network channels on free television. "Right now we don't really think too much about the record, we just think about this week," the coach said. "We just want to go 1-0 this week, that is all."
After losing to the Indianapolis Colts in last year's AFC Championship game, the Patriots have not only turned it up a notch, but have completely tore it up from the offseason until now. Already having a very good offense led by quarterback Tom Brady, the receiving corps was rebuilt with the additions of Donte' Stallworth, We Welker and Randy Moss.
Moss was acquired for a song from the Oakland Raiders on Day 2 of the NFL Draft and has rejuvenated his career with 92 receptions for 1,393 yards and 21 touchdowns. The flair has surrounded Moss, but the workman plays have come from the former Dolphin Welker. 1,053 yards on 101 catches have been from the middle of the field on the majority, and he has been the unsung hero on this extremely talented squad.
In the backfield, second-year player Laurence Maroney has averaged 4.8 yards per carry and will approach 1,000 yards. Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk have been effective, as well, with Faulk a weapon out of the backfield with 39 receptions. Brady will be the runaway MVP winner with his 4,450 yards, 48 touchdowns and only 8 picks for a 117.2 QB rating.
What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing if the Patriots do not win three more games in the postseason.