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NFC Guest analyst

Richard "Batman'' Wood, a former standout linebacker at the University of Southern California and for the Tampa Bay Bucs (1976-84) who is now the coach at Wharton High, recently talked to Times staff writer Brian Landman about the Super Bowl matchup.

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001


Oh, boy. This is a tough one because you're talking about a good defensive team (Baltimore), but you're also talking about some blue-collar workers (New York).

Both quarterbacks have experience. (Giants coach Jim) Fassel is an aggressive-type guy, I don't think he'll lay back. He'll come right at you. And he's got two good kids in Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne to carry the ball, and (Jamal) Lewis is very quick for Baltimore. The big factor is what defense is not going to make a lot of mistakes. Brian Billick is a great offensive coach, and they've been playing at a peak. Trent (Dilfer) came in, and they've been on a roll.

So, I think it's going to be a close game.

But I like the Giants. I'm a New York guy. I'm an NFC guy.

That's nothing against the AFC. I like Baltimore's defense, of course, but the Giants have more balance on offense. They have two good running backs and either one of those guys can start popping the ball left and right, getting some yardage and eating up the clock. On the other hand, Baltimore's front seven is effective and -- I'm a front-seven guy -- if they don't make any mistakes and they don't allow any gaps for those two kids to get going ...

It's going to be a battle. It's going to be a good one. Hopefully there will be no distractions. That's a main factor there. A lot of young guys get caught up in that stuff, and they forget why they are here. It's for the world championship.

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