INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - In this new NFL age of throw first and throw again, it's easy to forget to first rule of football: Defense wins championships.
Sorry Eli. Sorry Tom. There's no doubt you're both among the league's elite quarterbacks.
And that's against some very good offenses, including the high-powered one in Green Bay.
"I feel like we're going to play our best game, so whoever is facing us better play theirs," defensive captain Justin Tuck.
Then do it again.
In that more recent game, the Giants sacked Brady twice and had two interceptions. One sack led to a fumble recovery that set up a score.
Get to Brady and good things happen.
"We did some things that disrupted his timing," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "We caused him to stay jittery in the pocket. Hopefully we can do that again."
Tuck has overcome the shoulder and groin injuries that bothered him in November. Osi Umenyiora is as healthy as he's been all season, and the defense has suddenly found itself after needing a rescue party for the first 14 games.
If Brady meets the same fate as those other recent quarterbacks and he's ducking the pass rush, the Patriots are going to have big problems.
"That's where our energy comes from," Fewell said of his front four. "That's where our confidence comes from. That's where our swagger comes from, because those guys - unlike most teams you are associated with - they set the tone for us. They are the catalyst for what we do and how we do it."
"They're going to definitely do some things to keep us off of him, max protections, short throws, quick throws, but they can only do that for so long," Umenyiora said. "Whenever we have opportunities where he does hold the ball, we're going to have to get to the quarterback."
Championships often are decided by a big play, and Cruz and Nicks have been turning little plays into touchdowns all season. There likely will be chances for more of those.
With both offenses so formidable, former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy felt the game was going to be decided by a special teams play, a blocked punt or field goal, or some other play.
"Both teams are here because of special teams plays," Levy said. "When you get two very closely matched teams, which I think they are, look for the kicking game to determine the outcome."