Rematch has making of perfect ending for the NFL season

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INDIANAPOLIS — MVP quarterbacks on marquee franchises. A rematch of a nail-biter from four years ago, featuring many of the same key characters. Madonna and plenty of Manning – Eli, and Peyton, too.

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Tom Brady  MARK HUMPHREY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MARK HUMPHREY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tom Brady

This Super Bowl certainly has all the makings of another thriller, the perfect finish to a season that began in turmoil and wound up the most successful in league history.

The NFL couldn’t have planned it any better.

“It’s actually been a very fun week here,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, seeking his fourth Super Bowl ring in 11 seasons, and doing it in the city where archrival Peyton Manning has worked for 13 years – if not for much longer, given his health issues and disagreements with Colts management. “It’s a bit surreal to be playing in Indy’s home stadium and to be practicing at their facility.”

It’s been even weirder for Eli Manning to have led the Giants here, only to find his superb season and chase for a second championship overshadowed by big brother.

Eli, who will surpass his brother for NFL titles with a victory Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium – yes, Peyton’s Place – claims his sibling’s issues are irrelevant to this game, in which New York (12-7) is a 3-point underdog.

While Eli would own two championships with a victory, to one for Peyton, Brady could tie his childhood quarterbacking hero, Joe Montana, and Terry Bradshaw with four. Coach Bill Belichick would equal Chuck Noll with the same number.

To get it, the Patriots (15-3) must protect their crown jewel. Four years ago, Brady was banged around so much by New York that it turned the Super Bowl in the Giants’ favor.

“We feel that we certainly have a very strong group of men in the front,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It’s just the way we play and prefer to play.”

Brady certainly remembers the pain, both on the field and the scoreboard.

“Any time you lose, it’s a tough thing,” Brady said. “We’ve lost one Super Bowl. I remember waking up in Arizona the next morning after an hour of sleep thinking, ‘That was a nightmare, that didn’t happen.’ After time, you learn to move on and get over it.”

SUPER BOWL XLVI

Patriots vs. Giants

Indianapolis

6:30 p.m. Sunday NBC-Ch. 26


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