Fassel is a party pooper
Giants coach has a workmanlike approach to the Super Bowl and wants his team to complete "unfinished business.''
By BRUCE LOWITT
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 16, 2001
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They dominated the Vikings. Okay, Minnesota's defense was pretty much the way it's been most of the season -- absent. But the Vikings' offense, one of the league's best, was blanked. Now the Giants are going up against a defensively strong Ravens team with a less-than-awesome offense.
Which begs the question: Why is Baltimore a 2 1/2-point favorite in the early line for Super Bowl XXXV?
|[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Jim Fassel lifts the NFC chamionship trophy Sunday.
"Somebody's got to be the underdog, it might as well be us," Giants coach Jim Fassel said Monday in the aftermath of his team's 41-0 victory in the NFC Championship Game.
"Why? I don't know. But I'll tell you this, every Sunday's a different ballgame. ... You can't say you shut this team down or you played good against that team and they beat this other team. You start doing that stuff and you are in trouble."
And with what he called "an unfinished job," Fassel said he would drill into his players' heads that they are not going to Tampa to party.
"This is going to be a business trip for us," he said. "We are an early team. We report to work early and if I can maintain as much of our schedule as we can, we will do that. ... We go to bed early. One of the reasons is that they've got to get up early."
Some coaches in past Super Bowls have complained about the extra week off, that it can throw off a team's timing as it tries to peak for the game. To Fassel, no problem.
"This is our third bye this year," he said. "We had one in the regular season, we had one after the season and before the playoffs, now we're going to have another one. I think we've learned how to manage it."
The talking up of the Ravens began in earnest Monday.
"We're not going to have the kind of game we had (Sunday)," quarterback Kerry Collins said. "They'll be the best defense we've played all year, no question. ... The premium becomes turning the ball over. Every week they get three or four turnovers. That's going to be the biggest key.
"Let's kick the ball, whether it's an extra point, a field goal or a punt. Let's kick it and not make the turnovers. We've been good in those kinds of games."
"I watched them in amazement," defensive end Michael Strahan said of the Ravens. "That defense has pretty much manhandled and imposed their will on whoever they play. That's the backbone of their team."
He said the Giants' defense doesn't feel slighted by the attention Baltimore's gets. The Ravens, after all, limited the opposition to 165 points, the fewest in a season since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule.
"It's going to be a defensive battle," Strahan said. "That's no secret. ... I don't see this being a game of big plays, a guy running 50 yards for a touchdown or throwing an 80-yard pass." A field goal could win it, "and if they score a touchdown, that's tough. (Sunday) you saw after (tight end) Shannon Sharpe scored the touchdown that game was pretty much over."
Fassel went a few steps farther, saying the Ravens have no weaknesses.
"They've got good guys up front, good linebackers, good safeties and corners. They've got a solid team. ... You'll see two outstanding defenses going against each other and two offenses that can go after each other. But the defense is why each of us is where we are."
The Giants have dealt with a dominant defense -- Philadelphia -- in the playoffs. But the Eagles had different schemes, different strengths.
"That's part of the intrigue and the fun and the strategy (of preparing for a Super Bowl)," Fassel said. "Every game takes on a new connotation. "How do we win this game right now?' That's the trick in pulling it all together."
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