There was a moment after the confetti had fallen after the New England Patriots had taken the slow death march off of the Lucas Oil Stadium turf after losing their second Super Bowl to the New York Giants when ESPN interviewed Justin Tuck sitting on the Giants bench.
Tuck was slouched over looking as if he couldn’t believe what just transpired. Not just the Super Bowl win, but just the Giants overall run. He was exhausted and confused. Exhausted after once again making Tom Brady’s supposed historic night a living hell, confused as to just how the in the hell the Giants were able to win a Super Bowl after the season that they just had.
You’ve probably read my last three articles pertaining to the Giants and they weren’t nice. I bashed GM Jerry Reese for not retooling the Giants properly after Steve Smith, Kevin Boss and Barry Cofield skipped town. I wanted Perry Fewell fired, I wanted our defense euthanized after the Saints debacle, after the Redskins loss in December I was done with this team. 7-7, losers of 5 of 6, this team had little hope of making the playoffs let alone winning a Super Bowl.
You know what I forgot about… It’s the New York Giants. No matter how bad they look, how poor they play, how much they make you want to hang yourself from the tallest redwood, they somehow find a way to figure it out.
This run was just typical Giants. Start off hot, lose a few well played games, go through a stretch where you look like a train wreck, put your backs against the wall, then go on a run where you look like the best team in football.
It’s maddening I tell you.
The same team that let Drew Brees run through them like a run away train is the same team that blew the doors off of the Atlanta Falcons and embarrassed them. The same defense that couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers in week 13 beat him up and dominated him in the playoffs. The same team that lost four straight games to three division leaders and a .500 team beat every division leader and a dangerous 11 win team at home.
The team that looked like a discombobulated mess was the same team that even when Tom Brady was carving them up in the second and third quarters kept a cool head and finished it off in the fourth.
Last night’s Super Bowl win came with the normal heart attacks, sweaty palms and a few screams that come with watching the Giants play, but for the first time in my life of watching agame I was completely calm.
The front four wasn’t pressuring Brady, the offense wasn’t scoring touchdowns, Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw almost blew it with fumbles… But everything seemed perfectly fine.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve become used to this, or the fact that Eli Manning’s personality has affected not only the Giants team but the fans too. The same demeanor that Eli has been killed for since he entered the league is what won the Giants another ring.
Tuck spoke about it at length saying that even when the Pats offense was in a rhythm that he felt ok like nothing was wrong. Even when things were looking bleak everyone from the defense to the coaching staff to the offense was calm.
The offense which was known for its big play capability never forced the action. It was never forced into bad plays and took what the Pats D gave it even it was a field goal. Victor Cruz was a decoy all night as the Pats secondary doubled him at every chance, Nicks had ten catches mostly for first downs and nothing more (we’ll get Mario Manningham in a moment). It was all about patience and in a year after the Giants committed the most turnovers in the league, they wouldn’t budge an stayed patient.
For a defense that makes its living off of killing QB’s last night was a true test for the Giants especially it’s front four. Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyoira, Linval Joseph and others just couldn’t touch Brady. Give Bill Belichick credit for formulating a game plan to keep the Giants pass rush at bay. In the midst of Brady’s 16 straight completions there was rarely a white shirt in his face.
Fewell could’ve went back to the old Fewell and just started blitzing at will to get to Brady. Instead he let it all play out. He kept rushing the front four and keeping linebackers Michael Boley and Jacquan Williams in the middle of the field to protect against the run.
Eventually the pass rush did get to Brady as it forced his only interception of the game and his overthrow of Wes Welker which would’ve put the game away instead it forced a punt.
(side note: I know Cris Collinsworth said it was a bad throw, Skip Bayless and Rob Parker killed Brady for that throw… But Welker should’ve made that catch. When you get two hands on the ball you should be able to haul it in and he should’ve. For a guy that has 122 catches and is routinely called the best at his position those are the kinds of catches you have to make. Poor throw or not you are paid to catch balls like the one Brady threw.)
You saw the rest, Manning to Manningham made all of us believe that this game was the in the bag for the Giants (it’s not better than Manning to Tyree but it was just as amazing). Manningham makes two more huge catches, Ahmad Bradshaw scores a weird touchdown (honestly I’m with Coughlin on this one. He should’ve made a firm judgement on it but in the end six points is six points and field goals aren’t sure things). Then Tuck plants Brady in the ground for the second time leaving the Pats hopes up to a failed hail Mary.
Yep, typical Giants. It’s never easy.
At the end of the day it means different things for everyone in the organization.
It means Eli will finally get his props as being one of the game’s best QB’s and hopefully the NFL network will place in in it’s top 100 players this year.
It means that hate him or love him Tom Coughlin is one of the game’s best coaches by winning his second title. Rex Ryan may get all the buzz in the city but Coughlin is the top dog of New York. Sports Illustrated polled players before the season and Coughlin was voted as a coach no one wanted to play for. After his second ring is that really a wise assessment of him?
For Justin Tuck its vindication of sorts. He was criticized by for Giants Antonio Pierce & Michael about his toughness for not playing through a neck injury. Tuck had a bad season due to his ailment but in the end he was the engine that drove the Giants defense.
He was the only Giant to get to Brady and he did it three times, two for sacks, one for a safety. He came through when the Giants needed him most and with his second title he can take his place along side Lawrence Taylor & Strahan as the most important Giant defenders ever.
For Victor Cruz it means a new deal, for Brandon Jacobs it’s a ride off into the sunset as his days as a Giant might be done. For Manningham he will be forever apart of Giants and Super Bowl lore with his catch.
For the Giants in particular they are just plain old champions. After losing players to free agency and injury, having Plaxico rip the team and Coughlin after signing with the Jets. Losing 5 of 6 in sometimes pitiful fashion and having to run the table to make playoffs they pulled it off.
They are the kings of New York, kings of the NFC, and kings of the NFL.
Eli is elite, Coughlin is a legend, Fewell still has a job and I have a new championship T-Shirt.
When asked by the NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk why the Giants can’t play like they did last night all if the time Tuck just shook his head and said “I couldn’t tell you.”