The professional American football championship game, also known as the Super Bowl, will be played Sunday in the Midwestern city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The kickoff is scheduled for about 6:30pm EST, 2330 UTC. The nation’s biggest annual sporting event attracts die-hard fans as well as casual observers. Sunday's NFL title game features a rematch of four years ago with the New York Giants taking on the New England Patriots.
When the Patriots took the field for the Super Bowl in 2008 in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, they were unbeaten at 18-0, aiming to complete a perfect season. And they were heavy favorites.
But New York quarterback Eli Manning led the Giants to two 4th quarter touchdowns as they rallied to score an upset victory, 17-14.
Now four years later, the Giants are again the underdogs, after finishing the regular season with a 9-7 record and barely qualifying for the playoffs, compared with the Patriots' 13-3 record. The Patriots are favored, although their star quarterback Tom Brady - who has won three previous Super Bowls - is one of only seven players remaining from that 2008 team.
Manning is still New York’s quarterback and is among 16 Giants players from their championship team.
“A lot of guys who will be key factors in this game did not play in that last Super Bowl, so I think we have to have the mindset that this is a new game;" Manning said "same teams but a lot of different make-up, and that what happened in that last Super Bowl doesn’t matter. What happened in the last game of the season doesn’t matter. It’s about what we do on Sunday, what we do in this game.”
He added that both teams in this Super Bowl have many fine players.
“Tom Brady is a great quarterback. He’s got talented receivers, a good offensive line, good running back, and I think we are very similar. We have a good offensive line, talented receivers, good running backs, so it should be a great game,” Manning said.
Brady regularly gets asked about that missed opportunity four years ago for a historic undefeated season, and he’s determined to play better in this Super Bowl.
“I think all those games you lose there are plays you want back," Brady said. "You know, certainly, every time you lose a game you could have done more to help the team win. But when you win you don’t think about any of those things, you think about all the things you did well. Hopefully that’s what I’m thinking about Sunday night.”
The Super Bowl is America's biggest sporting event, and fans all over the country have been planning parties and other celebrations for Sunday night. Thousands have converged for the game here in Indianapolis, which is hosting the Super Bowl for the first time.
The game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, which was opened in late 2008, and has artificial turf and a retractable roof. It holds about 70,000 fans and is home to the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, who won the Super Bowl in 2007 with Eli Manning’s older brother Peyton at quarterback.
The halftime musical performer is veteran pop star Madonna. When she spoke to reporters at a packed new conference Thursday, she said she would sing three of her older classics and one new song. Madonna hinted it would be “Give Me All Your Luvin’" but she offered no other details.
All commercials for the broadcast of the game sold out by the end of November. The price for a Super Bowl ad rises every year and has now reached an average price of $3.5 million for 30 seconds.
This year’s game will be seen in nearly 200 countries and will be broadcast in about 25 languages. It will also be streamed live on the NFL.com web site.