- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLVI:
Legacy builders: The New England Patriots and New York Giants didn't have much interest in talking about the big picture during Super Bowl week. Anything beyond Sunday's game was too much to comprehend. But this game is important for legacies on both teams. For the Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick can tie the record for the most Super Bowl wins by a quarterback and head coach with four. (Former Steelers coach Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls; quarterbacks Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw also have four rings.) For the Giants, a second championship would cement quarterback Eli Manning's status as an elite quarterback. New York coach Tom Coughlin also would have a stronger case for the Hall of Fame with his second ring as a head coach.
Setting the tempo: An area that hasn't been talked about much this week is New England's effective use of the no-huddle offense. The Patriots used it more and more late in the season, and it's helped set the tempo. New York likes to use plenty of substitutions, particularly on its talented and deep defensive line, to keep everyone fresh. But a no-huddle will disrupt New York's substitution packages. New England didn't use the no-huddle offense much at all in the previous loss against the Giants in Week 9. How will New York adjust to it in the Super Bowl?
Gronkowski's contribution: Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski is officially listed as questionable with an ankle injury. But he is expected to play. Gronkowski won't be 100 percent, but his presence already makes an impact in this game. New York has to account for him, and that will open things up for others, like receiver Wes Welker and tight end Aaron Hernandez. Gronkowski caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown against the Giants in the regular season. Don't expect that type of production in the Super Bowl.
Don't forget the kickers: Gronkowski, Brady, Manning and New York's defensive line have dominated the discussion for two weeks, but do not forget the kicking game. This Super Bowl is expected to be close and could come down to Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski and Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes. Both have done a good job this season. But there is a big difference kicking in the Super Bowl. In the AFC Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff couldn't handle the pressure and missed a chip shot near the end of regulation. Gostkowski and Tynes could have opportunities to be heroes or goats.
New England's track record with revenge: The Patriots have downplayed the revenge factor all week. Regardless of whether it's on their minds, they have done a great job of avenging prior postseason losses. The Patriots entered the season 0-3 in their last three playoff games. The most recent postseason loss was against the AFC East rival New York Jets. A motivated New England team convincingly swept the Jets in two regular-season games. The revenge tour continued in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens, who knocked New England out of the playoffs after the 2009 season. The Patriots returned the favor two weeks ago. Now, New England has a chance to avenge the Super Bowl XLII loss to the Giants. Will the Patriots complete the trifecta?