Feb 102012
 
 February 10, 2012  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
New York Giants 21 (13-7) – New England Patriots 17 (15-4)

by rnargi for BigBlueInteractive.com

Prelude

The New York Giants are Super Bowl XLVI Champions.

For the second time in four years, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots with a heart-stopping, mind-boggling fourth quarter comeback that has become commonplace for this team.  When the confetti flew down Sunday night, the Giants had completed another comeback, this time from 8 points, to vanquish Tom Brady and Bill Belichick once again.

The Giants mantra all year was “Finish.”  After Justin Tuck took to the post-game interview room on Christmas Eve and proclaimed the Giants “All In,” the fans began to believe and the snowball began to roll.  I wish I could say that I had been “All In” from the beginning.  I wasn’t.

At 11:16pm EST on Sunday, December 11th, Tony Romo hit a wide open Dez Bryant on a busted coverage for one of the easiest 50 yard touchdowns ever thrown against the Giants.  Dallas converted the extra point to extend their lead to 12 with only 5:41 left on the clock after kicking off.  New York was less than half of one quarter away from near certain elimination from playoff contention.  I then had the following text exchange with TTB in Roanoke:

Me: “Ballgame…” “Season…”

TTB: “Not going to give up yet.  When we win this game, I want a shout out on your BBI review.”

I have learned my lesson.  When speaking to TTB on Sunday night after the win, I swore I wouldn’t count the Giants out ever again, even if they were 3-10 on the season and officially eliminated.

“Finish.”  “All In.”  Indeed.

Game Summary

This game was intense.  It was essentially a tale of three games.  First, New York was in complete control for much of the first quarter, scoring the game’s first 9 points.  Then an offensive blitzkrieg from New England resulted in 17 unanswered points and an 8 point lead.  Finally, New York mounted three scoring drives in their last four possessions to account for the final 12 points and the 21-17 final score.

New York had eight drives not including the 1-play kneel down before the end of the first half.  Incredibly, these drives were of 10, 9, 8, 7, 10, 9, 10 and 9 plays.  It seemed the Giants could move nearly at will, but were unable to finish these drives.  Four of those drives, including two that were of 10 plays, ended in punts.

New England only had one extended drive that didn’t end up in points.  It was the fateful drive that faltered due to the incomplete pass to a wide open Wes Welker, the de facto turning point of the game.  New England had 9 possessions on the day, but just 4 of those drives can actually be considered successful and only 3 resulted in points.  New England had a 1-play ‘drive’ to open the game which resulted in a safety and the game’s first two points.  They were also stopped twice by the Giants on three-and-outs and threw an interception on another drive.  Throw in the desperation final drive and that’s basically a shutdown day (5 drives cut short or stopped by the defense) against the Patriots.

New York won every single major statistical category on Super Sunday, starting with an astounding 37:05 to 22:55 time of possession advantage.  Limiting the explosive Patriots offense to just over a quarter and a half of possession was a huge, huge factor in this game, particularly with the Giants unable to convert long drives into touchdowns.

There were a couple of other keys to this victory.  First and foremost, and despite fumbling two times, the Giants did not turn the ball over.  New England committed one – an interception.  During the entire playoff run, New York committed just one turnover while forcing their opponents into seven.  Their +6 turnover ratio led all teams in the playoffs.

The other thing that should not be overlooked is that New York’s special teams put New England in horrible field position all night, forcing them to go nearly the entire length of the field every time they got the ball.  On kickoffs, New England’s average starting field position was their own 21.  On punts, New England’s average starting field position was their own 10 yard line.  The best starting field position the Patriots had all day was their own 29 yard line.  No other drive started beyond their own 21 and three of those started inside their 10.  Combined with holding the Patriots to under 23 minutes time of possession, the poor starting field position really hurt the New England attack.

Offense

The offense was on point for most of Sunday.  Unfortunately a couple of questionable calls and untimely pressures and sacks stalled several promising drives.  As mentioned, every single possession was of 7 plays or more, the only time this season that has happened.  Ironically, the Giants’ shortest possession of the night in terms of time of possession was their final drive of the game.  The winning touchdown drive lasted just 2:49 on 9 plays.

For the game, New York amassed 71 offensive plays, 26 first downs and 396 total yards.  The Giants gained 114 on the ground off 28 carries (4.1 ypc average) and 296 (gross) through the air.

Though New York absolutely dominated the first half with regards to time of possession, they weren’t able to cash in for more than 7 points despite driving into New England territory on every possession.

The second half was more evenly played with regards to time of possession.  This time, however, New York was able to convert three of their four drives into 12 points (two field goals and one touchdown).  Additionally,  every single New York drive ended in New England territory.  If you’re counting at home, that’s 8 of their 8 drives getting into New England territory with one ending at their own 45 due to penalty.  A very impressive performance that should have resulted in more points.

Quarterback

QB Eli Manning didn’t have to do it all by himself on Sunday, and still he won the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award.  You have to hand it to New England – their game plan was to remove wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks from the equation and they did an admirable job of it.  Additionally, New England pounded on New York receivers, much like the Giants under Bill Belichick did to Buffalo receivers in Super Bowl XXV.

Manning attempted to get the ball to his wide receivers 26 times, completing 19 of them.  The other 14 passes were to the backs and tight ends, with 11 of them being completed.  Manning was very patient and had no problem taking the open check down when there wasn’t anywhere to go downfield.  New England rotated between a 3-4 and 4-3 front, but didn’t seem to blitz often.  Manning was deadly on his short passes as he completed 28 of 32 passes that traveled less than 15 yards in the air. That’s an 88% completion rate for that distance.  Manning was unable to complete a pass for more than 19 yards until the fateful final drive.  Eli also once again showed that he was simply not going to throw the ball into harm’s way as he took 3 sacks that appeared to be avoidable.

Manning started off red hot on Sunday, setting a Super Bowl record with 9 straight completions to start the game.  For the game, Manning completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards and 1 touchdown.  His passer rating was 103.8.  His Total QBR for the day was a robust 79.5.  For the playoffs, Manning completed 65% of his passes for 1,219 yards, 9 touchdowns and just 1 interception.  His passer rating for the four games stands at 103.3, second best in the playoffs behind only Drew Brees.

Though Manning’s numbers were good, he also had 3 passes that could have been called for interference.  The refs were letting them play, as they say, and though two were somewhat close, the third was blatant and could have cost the Giants the game.

Eli, once again, was at his best in the 4th quarter.  Manning completed 10 of 14 passes for 114 yards and 7 first downs in the 4th quarter.  Manning, the Baby Faced Assassin, completed 5 of 6 on the final drive, leading the Giants to the winning score.  That was the 8th fourth quarter or overtime drive that Eli has led the Giants to a win on in this season.  Now, Manning has five postseason fourth quarter or overtime comebacks in the playoffs.  That’s third all time, tied with Joe Montana, and only behind Tom Brady (7) and John Elway (6).

Running Backs

New York’s running game was instrumental in the win this Sunday.  The Giants are simply a better team when they have a balanced attack.  Though they dropped back to pass the ball 15 more times than they ran, their 28 rushes resulted in a 4.1 ypc average.

Once again the heavy lifting went to Ahmad Bradshaw.  Ahmad carried 17 times for 72 yards and the game winning ass-first touchdown.  Bradshaw also caught 2 passes for 19 yards.  Bradshaw’s 24 yard scamper around the left end was the big blow on the Giants’ first touchdown drive.

Bradshaw left some yardage on the field, however, by not trusting his blocks on a couple of runs.  Ahmad just seemed unwilling at times to trust his line (which was playing quite well) to apparent open holes.  He cut back into trouble instead.  In addition, Bradshaw should also be sending RG Chris Snee a thank you card for bailing him out by falling on his fumble at the Giants 11 yard line.

Brandon Jacobs also had a solid game, carrying 9 times for 37 yards.  Jacobs was robbed of a 10 yard carry on a third down which would have given the Giants a first and 10 at the New England 36 yard line.  At the time, New York led the game 9-3 and another score there could have started a blowout.  Instead, the penalty made it 3rd and 11.  The next play was an incomplete pass to Manningham that could have been called interference.  Jacobs didn’t catch a pass.

The biggest positive from the running game on Sunday was that there were few very short gains and only 1 negative play (for 1 yard).  Staying ahead of the chains and keeping manageable down and distance was a big key for the success of the offense.

D.J. Ware carried once for 6 yards and caught 1 pass for 8 yards.  The completion was off the infamous bubble screen, and frankly it may have been the most successful one the Giants have run with Ware all season.

FB Henry Hynoski was outstanding on Sunday, playing arguably his best all-around game of the season.  Hynoski was Johnny on the spot when Hakeem Nicks fumbled the football on the New England 33 yard line after gaining 17 yards on a pass from Manning.  Hynoski was trailing the play and managed to jump on the football, saving the drive which resulted in the field goal that got the Giants within 2 points.  The Hynocerous also had several vicious blocks, and became extremely important to the Giants offense when tight ends Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard left the game with torn ACLs.  Hynoski caught 2 passes for 19 yards, including a 13 yarder that got the Giants first touchdown drive going.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

For the past two weeks, all the talk had been the match-up expected between the Giants wide receivers against the Patriots secondary.  Conventional wisdom had the Giants holding a huge advantage in this match-up, particularly if WR-turned-DB Julian Edelman was lined up in the slot against Victor Cruz.  As it turned out, the Patriots never put Edelman on the field to play defense and the defensive backfield for the Patriots turned in a pretty good game.

Victor Cruz was essentially double teamed on every play in some fashion, and finished with only 4 catches for just 25 yards.  His biggest catch of the night was a 2 yard touchdown from the slot when he made a sick inside move to get wide open against the Patriot slot corner.  The Patriots had bracket coverage on Cruz on that play.  The MIKE linebacker never looked at Eli (who admitted he never saw him)  and instead tried to shield Cruz.  The ball whizzed right past the back of the linebacker and into the arms of Cruz for the touchdown.

Due to the near constant double team on Cruz, Hakeem Nicks was Manning’s most targeted receiver.  Nicks caught 10 passes out of 13 thrown his way for 109 yards.  Amazingly, Nicks’ longest reception was just 19 yards.  Nicks ran a lot of inside rub routes underneath Cruz and was wide open on several occasions.

Nicks nearly cost the Giants a scoring drive by fumbling when he struggled for extra yardage following a catch at the New England 30 yard line.  Nicks caught a pass on all but one New York drive.

Though Bill Belichick remarked that it was a Cruz and Nicks game and implored his defense to make Manningham and others beat them, Nicks did nearly enough to win MVP honors.  Nicks gained 444 postseason yards, 2nd most in NFL history.  He also set the Giants record with 4 postseason touchdowns.

Speaking of Mario Manningham, he didn’t do much early but sure put on a show during the last drive.  Manningham was targeted 9 times and caught 5 passes for 73 yards.  Up until the final drive he’d caught just 2 passes for 17 yards and had made a huge blunder by getting too close to the sidelines on a deep pass that would have given the Giants a 1st down around the Patriots 12 yard line in the 4th quarter.  On the play, Manningham got jammed at the line and instead of reestablishing outside the numbers, he got too close to the sidelines and his second foot came down out of bounds after making the relatively easy catch.  Two plays later the Giants punted.

All of that was forgotten, however, when he made the David Tyree Moment of the Game happen on the first play of the last drive.  Manning’s first two options were on the right side of the field where Victor Cruz ran a quick in and out while Nicks ran over him on a wheel to the outside.  On the other side of the field, Manningham beat his man cleanly off the line and when Eli looked the safety off for just enough time to fit the ball in, Manningham went up, caught and maintained the ball, somehow got both feet in bounds then held on to the ball as he was knocked to the ground.  The resulting 38 yard completion set the Giants up with plenty of time to finish the drive and win the game.

Manningham caught two more crucial passes on the drive – the first being a 16 yard gain down to the New England 34 yard line. On the next snap, Manningham caught a quick pitch against a zero blitz that only gained two yards but was huge in that Manning would have been under extreme pressure if he hadn’t gotten rid of the ball immediately.  That last drive probably made Manningham, a free agent, a very rich man.

It was apparent right from the outset of the game that the Giants were going to have to rely on the short and intermediate passing game to move the ball through the air, and by proxy, the tight ends would be instrumental in being able to do so.  Unfortunately, Travis Beckum was lost early to an ACL tear and later Jake Ballard was lost to the same injury.  Before he left Ballard had 2 catches for just 10 yards.

Bear Pascoe stepped into the breach, particularly in the running game, and had an excellent game.  Pascoe caught all 4 passes thrown his way for 33 yards.  That’s a quarter of the production, both in receptions and yards, that he had all regular season.

Offensive Line

Before the game, C David Baas got fed up with all the talk about Vince Wilfork and the New England defensive front.  After declaring that the offensive line had busted their butts to be in the Super Bowl, just like New England, he declared “We’re No Slouches!  We’re here for a REASON!”  Indeed.  Baas and LG Kevin Boothe took turns stopping Wilfork from having any impact at all on this game.  Wilfork had just 3 tackles, no sacks, no QB hits, and in fact no QB pressures.  The job to contain him was done by committee, but Baas and Boothe took the brunt of the job.  Kevin Boothe was called for a horrible holding call against Wilfork who later admitted to the referee that it was a “bad call.”  That negated a 10 yard Jacobs run that would have converted a 3rd down and most likely led to a score.

Both Kareem McKenzie and David Diehl had some trouble on the outside containing the Patriots pass rush, but nothing that became a huge problem.  For the most part, Manning had plenty of time in the pocket and there were good holes for the running game.  Although Manning was sacked 3 times, only one seemed to be completely on the line as Manning simply ate the ball on the other two.  Manning was hit 6 times in the game.  It was revealed after the game that Diehl, who started the year at LG and moved outside to LT when William Beatty was lost for the year due to injury, played the majority of the year with a broken hand.  How anyone can play LT with a broken left hand is beyond me, but that’s what he did.

A special mention goes to Tony Ugoh who came in as the second tight end when Ballard went down.  Pascoe had to run all the plays that Ballard or Beckum would normally run, both in the running and passing games, and Ugoh had to assume Ballard’s job and he was solid.

Defense

For the second game in a row, New York dared a team to take them deep.  Also for the second game in a row, they couldn’t do it.  New York shut down the run, then took away the outside and deep routes and flooded the short zones by bringing the safeties down low to try and limit the yards after the catch that New England thrives off of.  For the most part, the mission was accomplished without fail.

New York blitzed rarely, and when they did, Brady was able to defeat it.  Two examples were a corner blitz by Ross that never came close to getting home and the other was a safety blitz off of Brady’s blind side that also never even came close.  New York preferred to stay in their Big Nickel package and get after New England with a four man rush and they did so quite well.

BBI Corner Forum contributor Go Terps noted:

What I thought this Super Bowl showed was that we may be entering an era of less blitzing and a greater focus on getting to the QB with 4 guys. There will be a greater premium on pass rushing DEs than ever before, as well as DTs, that can not only play the run but rush the passer as well. It stands to reason that there will be a greater emphasis on speed at the DT position.

I’m coming around on keeping Osi. That one dimension is utterly crucial in today’s NFL. Teams are not constructing their offenses to run the football consistently. More to the point, Dallas and Philly haven’t. Philly ran well this year, but they still threw it over 100 times more than they passed it, and we’ve all come to know Reid as a guy that gets away from the run.

Outside of quality QB play nothing is more important than getting to the QB with 4 guys.

Fewell has been ahead of the game on this. They allowed 6 TDs in the playoffs:

Atlanta (4th in NFL in scoring, 25.1 PPG): 0
Green Bay (1st, 35): 2, both the result of poor officiating
SF (11th, 23.8): 2 individual plays that were completely anomalous within the context of the game
NE (3rd, 32.1): 2 on back to back drives, and they got little else

Only SF came within 2 TDs of their season PPG. And IMO not coincidentally they’re the only one of the 4 teams to have run the ball more in the regular season than passed it. The other three teams were all primarily passing teams.

Perry Fewell just gave a clinic on how to defend the pass in today’s NFL.

Again, it’s important to note that of their nine possessions, New England gave away two of them (the safety and interception) and were forced to start each and every drive from deep in their own territory.  Combined with the time of possession rolled up by the offense, the defense got a huge assist from the other two segments of the team.

Another point is that New England only ran 12 plays from the hurry up offense, which was unexpected.

Front 7

The Giants once again unleashed the front four with little help from blitzes to get after the QB, and right from the beginning, Tom Brady was under heat.  Throughout the night, Brady was bobbing, ducking, and weaving from pressure that wasn’t even there.  It was apparent that the Giants pass rush was under his skin.  The funny thing was, however, that the Giants didn’t always put pressure on Brady, instead holding or collapsing the line just enough to make him feel like pressure was coming and then getting up into his passing lanes.  DE Jason Pierre-Paul only had one QB hit though he was in on a couple of pressures, but his biggest contribution came by knocking down two Brady passes at the line of scrimmage.  JPP was also used to bang on New England TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez quite a bit as well, and was effective at disrupting their timing.

Brady exclaimed that it was like trying to throw through a forest out there, as the rest of the defensive line consistently got their arms and hands up causing Brady to move and alter his throws.  Though Brady did complete 16 straight passes in the middle of the game, none were for big yardage and it was unsustainable against the type of defense New York was playing.

DE Justin Tuck once again may have been robbed of an MVP trophy due to a late drive by Eli Manning.  Tuck had 3 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 QB hits. His pressure on Brady caused the safety.  Tuck’s best play was his first sack which came in the 3rd quarter.  Brady was facing a 3rd and 8 from his own 19 yard line when Tuck dropped into coverage and the Giants sent just three men after Brady.  Tuck, who was roving in the middle of the field, came forward when Umenyiora got outside pressure and forced Brady up into the pocket.  Tuck buried Brady and it’s been reported that Brady hurt his shoulder on the play.  Brady wasn’t the same after that hit.  Before Tuck’s sack, Brady was 20-24 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. After that sack, Brady was just 7-17 for 75 yards and threw the Chase Blackburn interception.

Defensive tackles Linval Joseph, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard played very well, particularly in the passing game where they maintained excellent push up the middle and did a great job of keeping Brady in the pocket.  Joseph nearly had a strip sack on the play that resulted in an interception.

Arguably, the two most active players for the Giants were linebackers Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley.  At their expense were linebackers Mathais Kiwanuka and Jacquian Williams.

Chase Blackburn has been nothing short of a Godsend.  Blackburn will never be a world class linebacker.  He wasn’t even signed by another team after being let go before the season began.  The part time teacher was called on the Tuesday prior to the regular season Green Bay game and has been playing MIKE linebacker ever since.  It’s not a coincidence that following that loss to Green Bay, New York’s defense completely turned around and became one of the league’s best.  Chase Blackburn took over the play calling duties on defense and they rarely looked back.

On Sunday, Blackburn had his share of match-ups with the New England tight ends.  He won a couple and he lost a couple.  On New England’s second touchdown he didn’t jam or at least re-route Hernandez and lost him over the middle (off one-on-one coverage) for the easy score.  Later, on a busted play in which Joseph nearly strip sacked Brady, Blackburn stayed with Gronkowski 50 yards downfield and fought him off for an interception to thwart a New England drive.  I cannot be the only one whose eyes nearly fell out of their head when it was realized that Blackburn was the man who made the play.  It turns out, that was part of the Giant’s strategy.  Instead of playing a traditional cover 3 with a three-safety big nickel, New York instead used that look but brought the safety, usually Kenny Phillips or Deon Grant, down low to help in the underneath coverage while pushing the MIKE linebacker deep.  The reason for this was that the Giants felt there was little risk of being burned by the New England vertical passing game.

Boley led the team with 10 total tackles and 1 pass defensed.  A healthy Boley was another key to the resurgence of the defense.  Boley realized early on that Gronkowski was little more than a decoy for the Patriots.

Secondary

The last time the Giants played the Patriots, New England threw 20 times to their tight ends and 8 more times to their running backs.  Their WRs Welker, Branch, and Ochocinco had 20 balls thrown their way and caught just 11.  In Super Bowl XLVI, Brady attempted to get the ball to the wide receivers just 15 times, completing 11.  Twenty-four attempts were made to the TEs and backs, with 16 completed.  Hernandez got the most of the looks with 14 but only caught 8 for 67 yards, which led all Patriot receivers.

Wes Welker did catch 7 of 8 balls thrown his way, but New York was awesome at limiting his yardage after the catch, which is usually what kills the opposition.  According to Star-Ledger beat reporter Mike Garafolo, Welker had a 16-yard YAC after his first catch and then the Giants held Welker to YAC of only 1, 2, 3, 0, 2 and 4 yards on his final six receptions.  That is phenomenal against Welker.

CB Aaron Ross, possibly looking for a big payday in free agency, had a stellar game both in the secondary and coming up to support the run.  On New England’s first play on their second drive, Ross spilled RB Green-Ellis for a 1 yard loss.  That was a very physical play, similar to what we have seen from Terrell Thomas in the past. Chad Ochocinco did get the best of Ross on the 1st play of the 3rd quarter for 21 yards.

CB Corey Webster had the task of holding Deon Branch in check, and he did so for much of the game.  Branch caught just 3 balls for 45 yards on 6 thrown his way.  Webster almost got beat after the Welker drop when Branch got away from him on a crossing route.  Fortunately, Brady, despite having time enough to brew a pot of coffee in the pocket, threw a bit behind Branch and Webster was able to close the gap and jar the ball from Branch.

The safeties played a tremendous game on Sunday.  Phillips made 6 tackles and had 2 passes defensed, none more critical than the 1st down throw from Brady on the last desperate last drive.  Phillips held his ground in the middle despite a receiver flashing underneath him and was able to get his hands on the ball just enough to deflect it so Branch couldn’t reel it in.  Had Branch caught that ball, it’s 1st and 10 Patriots inside Giants territory with roughly 45 seconds left, assuming New England calls a time out.  For a detailed analysis of this play and the adjustments the Giants made on defense at halftime, check out this link.

Antrel Rolle had a good game.  The only time it looked bad for the Giants was on the Welker drop.  Both Rolle and Phillips got caught inside, losing Welker along the numbers.  Webster, who was playing against Branch, held up to stay with him short, expecting Rolle to continue with Welker.  Phillips was simply in no man’s land and would have been trying to tackle Welker short of the goal line, but Brady threw it to Welker’s back shoulder and he was unable to do the turn and come down with the catch.

Special Teams

There’s no other way to say it than to just come right out with it.  New York special teams were a huge reason for the Giants win in Super Bowl XLVI.  Now who in their right minds would ever have thought they’d be reading those words?  Well it’s true.  Field position was a major factor in how this game played out.  As mentioned, New England didn’t have good or even moderate field position even once in the game.  The Giants kicking game was amazing, particularly the punt team.

Steve Weatherford punted four times, and became the first punter in the history of the Super Bowl to pin the opposition inside their 10 yard line on three occasions.  The Giants were in position to make it 4-of-4 on his punt that did bound into the end zone early in the second quarter, but the ball took a fast bounce and the Giants were unable to get a hand on it.  Had Weatherford gotten that one down inside the 5, I think you would have to consider him for game MVP.  As it was, New England secured absolutely no return yardage in the punting game.

The kick return game was somewhat above average.  Jerrel Jernigan had more moves on his 34 yard return than he had on all his other kick returns this season!  Overall, Jernigan returned three kicks for 71 yards.  Will Blackmon had one punt return for 10 yards that did set the Giants up with good field position inside Patriots territory, but was horrible on the free kick following the safety, gaining just 4 yards.

K Lawrence Tynes was very good on his kickoffs, booming all 5 into the end zone with 2 resulting in touchbacks.  The longest return for the Patriots was on the first kick they received, 31 yards by Julian Edleman out to the Patriot 29 yard line.  That was the best starting field position that New England got on the entire day.  The four other kickoffs resulted in starting field position at the 21, 17, 20 and 20 yard lines.

Tynes connected on both his field goal attempts, but both were awfully close to the goal post for comfort.  With no room for error as points were at a premium, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one holding my breath on the kicks and also hoping that the last score didn’t come down to a field goal.

Coaching

Tom Coughlin is a two time Super Bowl champion head coach.  He’s got the same number of Super Bowl championships as Bill Parcells does with the Giants.  Coughlin has not had a losing season in his last 7 years, and is now 8-3 in the playoffs with 7 of those coming on the road.  TC has beaten the 16-0 Patriots, the 15-1 Packers, and four teams that were 13-3 en route to two Super Bowl Championships.  How does he do it?  Loyalty.  Determination.  Belief in his men and his system.  Fierce competitiveness.  And now, love.

By all accounts, this season turned around after the game 14 loss to the Washington Redskins.  Sitting at 7-7, Coughlin called Justin Tuck to his office and a “heart to heart” ensued between the two men.  No matter what was said, Tuck came out after the win against the Jets on Christmas Eve and echoed the statement made by a Giants guest speaker from the night before:  “All In.”  Since then, the Giants were unstoppable.

During the hype of Super Bowl week, despite several people worrying about bravado and smack talk, Coughlin shrugged it off saying, “Humble enough to prepare, confident enough to win.”  If we each had a dollar for every time we heard a player claim that this was a “business trip,” we could pay off the national debt.  Well maybe not, but we could have a hell of a party!

The point is, Tom Coughlin had the team focused and obviously he had them prepared to play.

The Giants are lucky that they made it to and won the Super Bowl, because there are no head coaching vacancies left to entice embattled DC Perry Fewell from New York.  For the fourth time in this playoffs, Fewell came up with the perfect game plan to stop the opposition.  People like to talk about Bill Belichick taking the one thing away from the opposition that they want to do most.  Fewell, especially the last two weeks, actually dared the opposition to do what they like to do best by completely eliminating everything else they could possibly do.  New England, despite gaining 84 yards on the ground, really didn’t have much of a running game and only ran it 19 times.  As for Brady, he attempted to go deep 5 times, and connected on none of them.  His longest completion through the air only traveled 21 yards.

As for the rest of the coaching staff, the fact is that it worked in the end.  It may have been a tough year or at least tough stretches for some of the gang, but they pulled it together in the end and now are World Champions.

Final Thoughts

No more onwards.  The 2011 New York Football Giants are World Champions.  What seemed impossible, and at the least highly improbable just seven weeks ago, has happened.  And it happened because this talented team got healthy and pissed off at just the right time.

It could very well be that facing the Jets and their attitude, and their long time and hated rival Cowboys, in those last two games was just what the Giants needed.  They needed to hate someone.  To have something to get prideful over.  “All In.”  They truly were.  The Giants went into a mid-season slump in which they lost to San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Green Bay.  People talked about what a gauntlet that was to run.  No one was actually surprised that they lost all four of them.

That was a tough gauntlet.  But look at what they’ve run into since:

Dallas, Washington, NY Jets, Dallas, Atlanta, Green Bay, San Francisco and New England.  New York compiled a 7-1 record in those 8 games, against teams that were a combined 81-40 when the Giants met them.  That’s a .661 winning percentage.  Now THAT is a gauntlet.

It’s time to savor it, Giants fans.  Time to watch the games over and over.  Purchase the t-shirts, mugs, and DVD sets.  Time to read anything we can on how they did it and where they go from here.  It’s time for a BBI party or two and to get excited for training camp hopefully in Albany next July/August.  Time to speculate and wait with anticipation for America’s Game on The NFL Network, and finally for that Thursday night in September when we open OUR stadium and the NFL season on National TV while we witness the hoisting of the Super Bowl XLVI banner and see the Lombardi Trophy on the field.

Until then, I hope you all have enjoyed the reviews this year.  Frankly, after 24 of them, I’m a bit burned out but I’m awfully glad I got to do all 24 and that the final one was in Super Bowl victory!  Go Giants!

(Box Score – New York Giants vs. New England Patriots, February 5, 2012)
Share Button
Print Friendly

BBI Guest Contributor

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.