Jerry Rice Picks the Giants in Super Bowl But Says It Will Be Close
By: Doug Farrar, Yahoo Sports
Who knows more about the Super Bowl than Jerry Rice? Not many people on Earth or elsewhere, that's who. The man who holds more NFL records than any other player also has a veritable lock on just about every postseason and Super Bowl record possible at his position. On Thursday, Yahoo! Sports asked Rice what he thought of the matchup between the Giants and the Patriots.
Rice started with Eli Manning and the Giants' receiver corps — with Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham, this may be more than the best bunch of receivers Manning's ever had — it could be the greatest threesome in the long history of the franchise. Still, as much as those guys make it tough on enemy defenses, Rice says that Manning is finally the fulcrum of this offense.
"Here's the deal — Eli threw for about 5,000 yards and 29 touchdowns [this season]. What he's doing now is pretty incredible with the weapons that he's got. Now, he's got the receivers with Nicks, Cruz and Manningham, and now that Nicks is 100 percent, Cruz goes back to the slot position. Now, he's going to be a hard matchup for that secondary. So, they've got the weapons, they've got the right quarterback who's orchestrating the offense, and that's why they're having so much success on the field right now."
As Rice noted, Cruz presents special problems in the slot, because defenses aren't used to dealing with a slot receiver who can charge 30 yards up the seam at a 4.4 clip. "Exactly. And when you look at what New England's secondary has to prepare for, who are you going to put on Cruz? Are you going to put Julian Edelman on him? There's no way … that's death! That's lethal right there. So, it's going to be interesting to see him work the middle and also go deep. They've got so many great weapons, and this offense is playing so well right now."
Of course, Rice had many good words for the Giants' dominant defense, as well. "Their defense is also playing so well, with Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck. They're going to get pressure on Tom Brady, and what I noticed about Brady is that he doesn't like to have pressure up the middle. Because now, he doesn't have the avenue to move around, and we know he's not going to run the football. So, they're going to apply a lot of pressure. Overall, with the Giants, they should win this football game."
On the other side of the ball, Rice noted that while the Patriots don't really have a deep threat at this point, the injured Rob Gronkowski (you may have heard 14,000 times in the last three days, Gronk has a high ankle sprain), is the primary issue for the Giants' defense if he can go at full speed. "That offense starts with Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. To have almost 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns -- [Gronkowski] is an animal on that football field. I'm hoping that he can be close to 100 percent, because he can be a big part of that offense. If he can't go, it makes it easier for that secondary to cover Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. But you've still got the best quarterback in the league in Tom Brady back there. Two Super Bowl MVPs, this is his fifth Super Bowl in 11 years, and we know he has won three. So, I'm sure he's licking his chops, trying to get that fourth football game."
And that led to a comparison Rice would be uniquely qualified to talk on — the constant comps between Tom Brady and Joe Montana. The man who caught a few balls from Joe Cool said that Tom Terrific is very much in that same mold.
"You can tell. With his demeanor and the way he stands in the pocket, delivers the football, accuracy is good, the ball is always going to be out, nice tight spiral … when you look at him, you just see Joe Montana all over again. Just his calm under pressure and the way he looks through his primary, secondary and third receivers. He just knows exactly where those guys are going to be."
Jerry was also in Indianapolis to promote the new NFL Films DVD though Vivendi Entertainment, Greatest Super Bowl Moments.