Giants’ Coughlin Turns Up Heat as Team Caps Super Bowl Practices

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is known for his attention to detail, made sure the temperature was just right as his team finished up a week of Super Bowl practices in Indianapolis.

The Giants were told the on-field temperature will be 68 to 70 degrees (20 to 21 degrees Celsius) inside Lucas Oil Stadium for the National Football League’s championship game tomorrow, so he had the temperature set to 70 during each day of practice at the University of Indianapolis’ practice field.

“We were able to get a good sweat going, working in conditions like they’ll have Sunday,” Coughlin told reporters yesterday. “Of course, we didn’t have 60,000 people watching.”

Coughlin took care of that element, as well, having crowd noise piped into the practice facility on the campus seven miles south of downtown Indianapolis.

The New England Patriots completed their practice sessions yesterday with an hour-long walk-through in which tight end Rob Gronkowski participated, moving without a limp as the Patriots ran offensive plays.

Gronkowski returned to practice a day earlier for the first time since suffering a left ankle sprain on Jan. 22 in the Patriots’ victory against Baltimore in the American Football Conference championship game. He is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game.

“We’ll see where he’s at on Sunday,” New England coach Bill Belichick told reporters. “I saw no setbacks. He’s still making progress.”

Bradshaw Skips Practice

Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who has an injured right foot, was held out of yesterday’s session after participating in practice the previous two days.

“He’s OK,” Coughlin said. “He’ll be ready. He’ll be listed as probable. He got in two good days of work prior to this. He’s prepared.”

The game is a rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl in which the Giants upset the undefeated Patriots 17-14 when Eli Manning threw a scoring pass to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left.

The Patriots entered this season as Super Bowl favorites, with 9-2 odds that were the best among the NFL’s 32 teams. New England beat the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens at home to advance to the Super Bowl.

Chuck Noll’s Record

Belichick is chasing Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls during his 23-year run as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Noll’s final season was in 1991, which was Belichick’s first year as an NFL coach with the Cleveland Browns. Belichick has been the Patriots’ coach since 2000 and won Super Bowl titles after the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons.

The five Super Bowl appearances for Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are the most for a coach-quarterback combination, exceeding Hall of Famers Tom Landry and Roger Staubach of Dallas, Noll and Terry Bradshaw of Pittsburgh, and Marv Levy and Jim Kelly of Buffalo.

“Slept like a baby,” Belichick said yesterday at a news conference. “Honestly, I usually do during the season. I start early and have a full day of things that I need to do to prepare myself and prepare the team.”

The Giants beat the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys to finish the regular season and become the first team to win the National Football Conference’s East division title with fewer than 10 wins. New York then notched playoff wins against the Atlanta Falcons, the 15-1 Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers.

Giants Are Underdogs

New York started the season with 25-1 odds to win the championship. The Giants are a 2 1/2-point underdog tomorrow against the Patriots.

One month before the opening week of the regular season, the NFL and its players completed a 10-year labor agreement that ended a 4 1/2-month lockout and allowed the U.S.’s richest and most popular sports league to reopen for business.

Ratings for playoff games reached historic levels this season. An average of 53.7 million viewers watched this year’s conference title games, the most since 1982, the NFL said.

The Giants and Patriots are preparing for what is projected to be the most-watched program in U.S. television history, according to industry analysts, surpassing the record 111 million viewers for last year’s game between the Packers and Steelers.

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