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Big moment at stake for Nicks, Cruz

INDIANAPOLIS -- Hakeem Nicks received a text message Wednesday morning from David Tyree, the patron saint of Super Bowl miracles. Tyree's words of encouragement:

Take in the moment, enjoy the whole thing, but know what you have to do.

Nicks knows what he has to do Sunday in Super Bowl XLVI. So does his receiving partner, Victor Cruz. They also know what they'd love to do: uphold the New York Giants' fledgling tradition for wide receivers, starring on the Super stage.

Four years ago, it was Tyree with his unforgettable "Catch 42" and Plaxico Burress with his game-winning touchdown in the final minute. Now the new kids are on the clock, Nicks and Cruz and Mario Manningham, trying to create their own legacy in The Rematch -- Giants versus New England Patriots.

They dream. Everybody wants to be Burress, making the catch that wins the championship for his team.

"It's something they're always going to remember," Nicks said Wednesday, recalling Burress' signature moment. "That's something every receiver dreams about."

Catch their rising stars, because their rising stars sure can catch. Nicks and Cruz, only 23 and 25, respectively, might be the most dangerous receiving tandem in the league, and they have the ability to shred the Patriots' spit-and-gum secondary.

Nicks and Cruz combined for more than 2,728 yards in the regular season, including more than 1,500 yards outside the numbers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That should be a huge advantage for the Giants, because the Patriots allowed a league-high 17 pass plays of 30-plus yards on the outside.

Yeah, that's mouth-watering for the Giants.

"A little bit," Cruz said with a big smile.

Nicks said the Giants' pass offense, led by Eli Manning, is almost unstoppable.

"I feel like we're confident enough that we're going to play the game the way we've been playing all year," Nicks said. "We're going to go out there and do the things we've been doing, and try not to let nothing stop us."

Cruz, in particular, could be a serious headache for the Patriots. He and Wes Welker are the two most prolific slot receivers in the league, and the Patriots' slot cornerback is Julian Edelman, a wide receiver moonlighting as a nickel back.

Cruz embarrasses seasoned cornerbacks, so imagine what he could do against Edelman. Bill Belichick is too smart to leave Edelman in single coverage, but Cruz is preparing as if he'll be covered by him.

He likes that.

"Anytime you see a guy that's not playing his natural position and playing on the other side of the ball, it's a matchup you want to take advantage of," he said. "You want to test it out early and see what he can do."

Cruz is enjoying perhaps the greatest receiving season in Giants history. He set a team record for yardage (1,536), with the highest per-catch average (18.7) for a player with at least 82 receptions since Torry Holt of the St. Louis Rams in 2000. Cruz has four touchdown catches of at least 70 yards, the most since Otis Taylor of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1966.

Not bad for an undrafted player -- a 10 million-to-1 shot, as he described himself.

"To be on the biggest stage of my life, so early in my career, is so amazing," Cruz said.

Nicks never has faced the Patriots; he missed the Week 9 meeting because of an injury. Asked what kind of receiver the Patriots can expect to see, Nicks said: "A playmaker. I want to play the game the way I've been playing all year. I'm excited about it. I want to play excited. I want to step up in clutch situations for us."

Even though they've played well in the postseason, Nicks and Cruz lack the experience of their predecessors, Burress and Amani Toomer. In Super Bowl XLII, Burress and Amani Toomer were 30 and 33, respectively. Tyree was 27, going on retirement. (He quit after the 2009 season.)

How will Nicks and Cruz respond in the crucible of the Super Bowl? Can they be as clutch as Plaxico & Co.?

"All I know is this: That was a great receiving corps," Nicks said. "They got the job done with the Giants, but now it's the young group, and we're here now."