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Giants hoping to turn up heat again on Tom Brady

JasPierre-Paul ranked fourth league with 161/2 sacks regular seasincluding one Tom Brady. | Getty Images

Jason Pierre-Paul ranked fourth in the league with 161/2 sacks in the regular season, including one of Tom Brady. | Getty Images

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Time: 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.
TV: Ch. 5 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya).
Radio: 670-AM. • Line: Patriots by 3.

Updated: March 5, 2012 8:07AM

INDIANAPOLIS — There’s no shortage of superlatives heaped upon New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady this week as he prepares for his fifth Super Bowl appearance.

A victory at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday would make him the winningest quarterback in NFL postseason history. An MVP trophy would tie him with Joe Montana for a record three. And he can pile onto the numerous postseason records he holds.

But New York Giants second-year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul doesn’t want to go overboard with the praise.

“Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but at the end of the day he is just a quarterback,” Pierre-Paul said Wednesday. “It is not like he is God.”

Such a statement might be blasphemous among Brady’s countless devotees. But the Giants did hand Brady his only Super Bowl loss, and they have the personnel to humanize him, no one more than Pierre-Paul, who had 16½ sacks during the regular season.

On Thursday, Pierre-Paul was asked about Brady not being God.

“He’s not,” he reiterated.

But Brady can shine like few ­other quarterbacks in history if an opposing defense doesn’t pressure him.

“Going into this game, we know what’s at stake, and we’ve got to get there fast enough,” Pierre-Paul said. “I know our secondary is ­going to do a great job covering the wide receivers and the tight ends, and we’ve just got to get to him. We know it all starts up front no matter what.”

Brady knows that mind-set isn’t a state secret. Each week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick demands the need for his defense to get after the opposing quarterback.

“In our team meetings, coach Belichick talks about getting to the opposing team’s quarterback and hitting the quarterback,” Brady said. “That’s just what defensive football is all about. It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl if they weren’t talking about coming to knock me down and trying to knock me out.

“That’s what I expect, and you know what, our offensive line gets paid to keep those guys out of there.”

The film doesn’t lie: Brady has seen enough quarterbacks punished by the Giants’ defensive line and forced into making poor decisions.

“We’re going to try to eliminate those,” he said. “We really can’t ­afford too many of those on Sunday. We had too many of those the last time we played them, and we’re not going to be able to win the game making mistakes.”

The Giants handed the Patriots their last loss, 24-20, on Nov. 6 at Gillette ­Stadium.

In that one, Brady completed 28 of 49 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns. But he also tossed two interceptions and was sacked twice and hurried three other times.

Brady caught fire for the ­remainder of the season and into the postseason. But he was just
22-for-36 for 239 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in the AFC title game. And while the Baltimore Ravens’ defense played well, Terrell Suggs wasn’t a dominant force, and the ­Ravens managed one sack and three ­pressures.

Four-time Pro Bowl guard ­Logan Mankins expects Sunday to be a monumental challenge.

“They’re probably the No. 1 defensive line in the NFL,” Mankins said. “They ranked third in the league in sacks, and that was with most of their guys injured. They’ve got them all healthy, and they’re playing good football.

“They’ll present challenges to anyone.”

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said he’s not sure there’s “anything [Brady] hasn’t seen.

But the Giants might utilize their unique “NASCAR” package, which features four defensive ends.

“Whether I’m going against a defensive end, or their normal packages, where I’m going against one of their tackles,” Mankins said, “I have to know that guy’s strengths and weaknesses.”

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