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Bill Belichick scouts Giants, looks back at team history

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The Patriots are on to the Giants.


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Just like they were on to the Steelers, Bills, Jaguars, Cowboys, Colts, Jets, Dolphins and Redskins.

New England is undefeated through eight games in its Super Bowl title defense, which the Giants will try to change on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. After all, they have a history of doing so and are the reason why the Patriots have four rings instead of six.

Big Blue holds a three-game winning streak against the AFC East powerhouse and is the only team in the NFL that the Patriots have not beaten since the calendar year of 2008. The streak is bookended by victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI with a 2011 regular-season win in the middle.

Leading up to the much-anticipated matchup, both sides have acknowledged the past but know it has no bearing on the field this week -- and rightfully so.

With quarterback Eli Manning and long snapper Zak DeOssie as the only Giants players remaining from both the 2007 and 2011 championship teams, there are plenty of new faces New England has to account for on Sunday.

One of those is reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr., who last week became the fastest player to 150 receptions in league history. He did so in 21 games while also tying the record for fastest to 2,000 receiving yards.

"Good, really quick, tough kid, goes inside for the ball, very good after the catch, makes a lot of plays with the ball in his hands," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said today from Foxborough. "He's a hard guy to tackle, has good quickness and a good ability to separate, but I'd say the thing that's impressed me the most about him is his toughness. He's not a big guy, but he competes well, he goes inside, goes after the ball, takes a hit, hangs onto it. He's a tough, competitive player and very good with the ball in his hands, not just going up and getting it, he's got obviously a bunch of highlight catches, but when he catches the ball, he can run with it and make plays with his quickness and with his open-field running ability."

Toughness is a term Belichick doesn't throw around lightly.

He led some of the greatest defenses the game has ever seen as defensive coordinator of the Giants' 1986 and 1990 Super Bowl teams, the latter of which the franchise is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

"There were a lot of great things about that team, but for me, it was really about the defensive players that I was most closely associated with," Belichick said. "And that's not taking anything away from Phil [Simms] and the job that Jeff [Hostetler] did and all the other great players and great plays that came from that season on offense and special teams. But the group that I was with defensively was really a special group.

"They worked well together and we got a lot of leadership in the secondary from Everson Walls – I mean, the tackle he made on [Thurman] Thomas in the Super Bowl was a huge play. But [Carl] Banks and Pepper [Johnson] and L.T. [Lawrence Taylor] and our front, we had a lot of good days defensively that year and particularly in the postseason. I was proud to coach that group and we had a good coaching staff, guys I really enjoyed coaching with, and the players, it was good chemistry. It was an amazing year."

The memories didn't begin or end there. Belichick led off his conference call with Giants reporters by talking about his recollections of two great Giants who passed away this year.

"Just watching the Giants, kind of one of the first things that I noticed is the patch on the jersey and the number 16," Belichick said. "I know that Ann Mara and Frank [Gifford] meant so much to the great tradition of the New York Giants and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with, in varying degrees, both people. These recognitions of Ann and Frank, to me, just really touches the great tradition the Giants have, have always had, and how important those two people were. That's a part of this season for them and certainly for me, as well. I've recognized, and I know all their friends and all the people that know what those two people have done for our league, as well, their contribution."

Playmakers on Patriot's first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike

The history running between East Rutherford and Foxborough was one of the many storylines to follow on Wednesday. Here are three takeaways from the day:

1. JPP REVVED UP

A credit to his conditioning, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul played 46 of the Giants' 63 defensive snaps (73 percent) in his return last week against Tampa Bay. He was also strong when his team needed him the most down the stretch, and coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday that he expects the two-time Pro Bowler to "rev it up and be ready to go for even more" this week.

"I wasn't sore, I wasn't anything," said Pierre-Paul, who wanted to make clear that there is no pain in his hand. "I came in Monday, I felt good, I felt great, and even after the game, I felt great. Like I say, I put in the work so it really wasn't anything to me. It was just getting the reps out and getting that conditioning in, that game mode, which I think I got in pretty good."

2. INJURY REPORT

Best Photos from Wednesday's Giants practice

For the Giants, WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Larry Donnell (neck), G Justin Pugh (illness), G Geoff Schwartz (ankle), LB J.T. Thomas III (ankle), and LB Uani 'Unga (neck) did not participate in practice. CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral) and CB Leon McFadden (groin) were limited.

For the Patriots, OL Marcus Cannon (toe), LB Jamie Collins (illness), G Tre' Jackson (knee) and OT Sebastian Vollmer (concussion) did not practice. CB Justin Coleman (hand), WR Julian Edelman (knee), DB Duron Harmon (knee), WR Keshawn Martin (hamstring), G Shaq Mason (knee) and DE Jabaal Sheard (ankle) were limited.

3. ELI HOPES TO CATCH THE PATRIOTS ON THE 'RIGHT NIGHT' ONCE AGAIN

Eli Manning and the Giants see the Patriots only once every four years in the regular season, but their history makes them close rivals. That's why Manning knows that what you see one week from New England might not be the case the next.

"I think they change up from week to week," Manning said of the Patriots' defense. "They'll have a game plan for a certain team, whether they want to try and take away certain guys or double guys in certain situations of the game or the whole game. So just trying to figure out what their plan will be and then just still making good decisions. If they try to take away some of our guys, other guys will have opportunities to make plays for us."

Manning was then reminded that the Giants won the Super Bowl the last two times they played the Patriots in the regular season.

"We see them every four years and just kind of caught them on the right nights, I guess," he said. "They're always very good and talented teams. They're well-coached and good players. So hopefully we can play well and catch them on a good night again."

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