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View Full Version : NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2012 - 11:05 A.M.



RoanokeFan
01-02-2012, 10:08 AM
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</font></u><u><font color="#ff0000" size="4">THE DATA WILL UPDATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND SHOW THE UPDATE TIME IN THE HEADER</font><font color="#ff0000" size="4">. </font></u><font size="4">
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</font></u></font></font><font size="4"><font size="6"><font size="4"><font color="#FF0000"><u><font size="6">NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</font></u></font>
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NEWARK STAR LEDGER</u></font><font size="4"><font size="3">

GIANTS' STRONG RUN I NTO THE PLAYOFFS REMINISCENT OF 2007 (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_strong_run_into_the_pla.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>Justin Tuck doesn’t care that the early line for the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)’ NFC Wild Card game on Sunday has
his team as three-point favorites against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (10-6).
To him, the Giants are still the underdogs, Las Vegas oddsmakers be damned.


“Don’t tell me that,” the defensive end said when a reporter told him the
betting line. “We’re still the underdogs. I’m embracing that role.”</p>


It was the role Tuck and the rest of the 2007 team welcomed as they made an
improbable playoff run, winning three straight games on the road before
upsetting the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. </p>


That Giants team caught lightning in a bottle, mounting momentum from a close
loss in Week 17 against the New England Patriots and carrying it through the
postseason as they won at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay to reach the Super
Bowl.</p>


This year’s team has drawn comparisons to the 2007 squad from outsiders and
players alike. If anything, the Giants are carrying more momentum as they enter
their first playoff game since 2008. </p>


The Giants have played their best football the last two weeks, defeating
playoff-contending teams in must-win situations. The defense — led by the front
four — is flying around, getting after the quarterback as it continues to get
healthier. The offense seems to be back on track after a two-week interlude,
based on Sunday night’s performance in <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_trump_cowboys_31-14_to.html">a
31-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.</a></p>


“The last couple weeks has really put the smile on their faces,” coach Tom
Coughlin said. “There is confidence in the three units and all three units need
to play together and I think we are starting to see that take place.”</p>


Yet, Coughlin and several of the 17 players remaining from the 2007 team have
said they are reluctant to compare the two teams. They know plenty has changed
in four seasons." Read more...
</p>
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GIANTS' JUSTIN TUCK SAYS MOsT PEOPLE WOULD CALL THE FALCONS' O LINE "DIRT BAGS" (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_justin_tuck_most_people.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)' Justin Tuck has heard the
criticism this and agrees with what has become a negative league-wide perception
of the Atlanta Falcons' offensive line as he prepares to face them on
Sunday.


"We know they have that quote-unquote reputation," <a href="http://proxy.espn.go.com/blog/new-york/giants/post/_/id/10338/tuck-most-would-call-atl-o-line-dirt-bags">Tuck
told reporters Monday according to ESPNNewYork.com</a>. "But in a way it kind of
is exciting. Most people, you would call them dirt bags. But it is what it is.
We got to make sure we do our job and if we are doing our job well, then they
will be upset and they will be trying to do things to get us off our game and we
got to take that as a compliment. But in the same sense you got to protect
yourself and hopefully the referees have 20-20 vision this week."</p>


To say the Atlanta Falcons offensive line doesn't have have the best
reputation around the league would be an understatement. </p>


Earlier this season, several Green Bay Packers players including nose tackle
B.J. Raji and linebacker A.J. Hawk were unhappy with what Raji called "cheap
stuff, " such as hitting players after the whistle, <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/131436523.html">according to the
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel</a>.</p>


"Great teams don't indulge in the kind of cheap stuff the Falcons do," Raji
told the paper. "We're the champions and we play that way. We walk away from the
stuff they pull. These guys are coached to play after the whistle.</p>


"I don't know what the deal is. I think it's a lack of talent on their part.
We didn't worry about any of that. We came out and played our game."</p>


Two weeks later, members of the Detroit Lions' defense were singing the same
tune, <a href="http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7145144/ndamukong-suh-detroit-lions-calls-matt-ryan-injury-karma-atlanta-falcons">according
to espn.com.</a>" Read more...
</p>GIANTS-COWBOYS GAME REVIEW: GIANTS ARE NFC CHAMPS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants-cowboys_game_review_gia.html)

"There was a guy who would send tweets to me, Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily
News, Tom Rock of Newsday, Paul Schwartz of the Post and Pat Hanlon of the
Giants on pretty much a daily basis. His handle is “@COWHER_IN_2012” and he
would give us a countdown until the end of the Coughlin era, which he assumed
would be today.


He was wrong and he <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/COWHER_IN_2012/status/153824467146125312">changed
his tune this morning</a>.</p>


However, I’m still fending off people calling for defensive coordinator Perry
Fewell's head, which amazes me. This team is headed to the postseason and the
defense has given up only four touchdowns the past two weeks (two of which came
on short field). I would think that would be enough. And the funny part is if
they continue to play well over the coming weeks, these same folks will want him
to stay even though he’ll go back to being a hot head-coaching candidate. </p>


What a business.</p>


* * * *</p>


GAME BALLS</p>


Coughlin and Fewell. See above.</p>


WR Victor Cruz. I don’t have a rooting interest. Seriously,
I don’t. But when it comes to night games, we have to write as the game is going
on and file by the final gun. So naturally, I had a running story about the
Giants’ winning the NFC East that was about to go up in smoke because the
Cowboys were making a run. So I said aloud, “Where’s Victor Cruz to save my
running gamer?” There he was, down the field singled-up on CB Orlando Scandrick.
That was an absolute prayer of a heave by QB Eli Manning and it’s at least the
third deep jump ball Cruz has won this season. (Off the top of my head I’m
recalling the one against Philly and the one against Seattle.) To be coming up
with those plays at only 6 feet tall shows you what kind of athleticism he has.
It’s the kind of athleticism that leads me to wonder once again, “How in the
world did this guy go undrafted?!”</p>


Manning. Among many things, I’d say the most impressive
aspect of his season has been his ability to throw strikes on the move. He did
it on a pass to Devin Thomas in the first half and again on a couple of balls to
Cruz in the second half.</p>


DE Osi Umenyiora. Like Cruz, you wonder what his stats
would’ve looked like if he had played a full season.</p>


DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Justin Tuck had just left the game
with a shoulder issue (see below for more), so the Giants moved Pierre-Paul from
right end to left end. <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/MikeGarafolo/status/153685872460578817">I tweeted
it’s because left end is where you want your best run stopper</a>, even though
Umenyiora was there on passing downs up to that point. No sooner did that tweet
get out than Pierre-Paul showed us all why. He spun off a block by Cowboys TE
Jason Witten, used that huge right wing of his as leverage on Witten’s back,
located RB Felix Jones and brought him down. The skills and technique to make
that happen are amazing, as does the hustle he displayed on the first play of
the fourth quarter when he pivoted and whacked Jones after catching a
checkdown.</p>


DT Chris Canty. Two sacks in two games for a guy that had
only four total as a Giant coming into Week 16. Also, he played a bigger role on
the quarterback sneak than I realized. (See the bottom section.)</p>


RB Ahmad Bradshaw. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a guy
spike the ball in mid-air as he’s reaching across the goal line. I wouldn’t
advise him to try that again, but he was over the line when he did it so I guess
it’s okay. Great game for Bradshaw, who’s running like he never had any foot
problems in the first place.</p>


LB Mathias Kiwanuka. He was one of the first players on the
field for pregame and was practicing his downhill breaks and run fits, going
through imaginary angles to get to the ball carrier. One snap into the game, he
flew downhill to stop Jones for a 1-yard loss. Later, he got downhill fast to
five FB Tony Fiammetta fits on a tackle for a loss. It’s really cool in this gig
of ours to sometimes get a peek at the preparation and then see it play out on
the field just like they draw it up and work on it. More on Kiwanuka in the
coming days.</p>


LB Michael Boley. In addition to going over the top on the
sneak, he made a very nice stop short of the stick on Witten one play prior. And
like he said after the game, he was able to recognize from the splits and from
Cowboys QB Tony Romo going under center the sneak was coming.</p>


TE Bear Pascoe. He got things going by leaping CB Terence
Newman to kick-start the Giants’ first drive.</p>FB Henry Hynoski. He leaped Newman, too. Wonder what that
exacta would’ve paid. And yet Bradshaw’s attempt failed. Hynoski said the
players were chiding Bradshaw about that one today. Asked when the last time he
hurdled a player was, he replied, "High school. Junior year, I guess." I had a
frequent tweeter tell me today it was likely these guys saw something on film.
I’d agree. I’m guessing they saw how Newman tries to dive at ankles to make
tackles.


WR Hakeem Nicks. The late catches are one thing and are the
obvious part of his night. Here, let’s talk about the blocks he made on CB Mike
Jenkins on Cruz’s touchdown and the way he hooked and pinned Newman on
Bradshaw’s touchdown.</p>


S Antrel Rolle. I’m going to re-run his quote about
committing to the nickel spot because it’s very telling and honorable,<a href="www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_antrel_rolle_has_come_t.html">
as are all of these quotes</a>: “I’m not playing the safety position, which at
times has been a little frustrating. But when I say ‘all in,’ that means
everyone’s all in. I’ve accepted my role as the nickel (cornerback) and I’m
going to try to be the best nickel I can be week in and week out.” He was last
night with his interception in the third quarter when he undercut a route by
Witten.</p>


Tuck. Something’s up with his shoulder. Just a hunch. And I
don’t mean the neck burner he had earlier in the season. That left shoulder is
the same one that’s given him issues since college and was trouble a few years
ago after then-Cowboy Flozell Adams tripped him. Still, he only left the game
briefly and returned to continue creating havoc and record a sack.</p>


LG Kevin Boothe, LT David Diehl and
C David Baas. Boothe was as physical as I’ve ever seen him,
Diehl continues to play well at the key spot on the line and Baas wasn’t exactly
the mismatch for NT Jay Ratliff the Cowboys thought he would be (per NBC’s
in-game report). These three combined to give Bradshaw a hole that looked to be
about 7 feet wide on his 29-yard run late in the second quarter. The Cowboys
were in a terrible alignment for that play and the Giants made them pay. Great
job by Boothe there to seal LB Sean Lee.</p>


RG Chris Snee and RT Kareem McKenzie. Them,
too. I just grouped the guys above because of their role on the Bradshaw run.
One note about Snee: his pass protection has been stellar the past couple of
weeks. He’s been stoning guys at or near the line.</p>


Romo. This wasn’t a choke situation. He played well even
though he was clearly hurting. That hand was blown up big time and might’ve
caused him to misfire on a deep ball early in the game. He also had the mental
lapse that led to Rolle’s interception but was otherwise solid.</p>


Dallas LB Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus
Ware. They committed a few neutral-zone infractions but came to play
and created constant pressure. Both were impressive.</p>


‘Boys WR Laurent Robinson. Very good emerging player.</p>


NBC sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya. Here I was tweeting
in the pregame she had <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/MikeGarafolo/status/153619460119470080">somebody
holding an umbrella for her</a> (I was wondering how I can get such treatment)
and then she shuts me up by <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/MikeGarafolo/status/153641354445074433">booking
down the field to catch Romo</a> when he jogged off before the Cowboys’ pregame
warmups were over. Tafoya ran from one side of the field to the other to catch
up to him, ducking in and out of players and personnel to get an update on
Romo’s hand. I’m estimating it was about 75 yards. Halfway through her sprint,
she chucked her umbrella to the side because it was slowing her down. Impressive
hustle right there for a 47-year-old veteran who obviously doesn’t want to just
glide through this gig of hers. </p>


* * * *</p>


GASSERS</p>


Newman. That’s about as bad as it gets in a big spot. If you
watch the Cruz touchdown, you’ll see S Gerald Sensabaugh coming down to help
bracket Cruz. It was a <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/as_giants_play_cowboys_for_nfc.html">modified,
less “draconian” version of the inside-outside coverage</a> I wrote about for
Sunday’s paper. It’s clear from the way Sensabaugh tracked Cruz that was his guy
and he wasn’t just providing general help over the top. That means Newman has
help to the inside, which also means he has to maintain outside leverage. He
didn’t come close to doing that and gave Cruz the edge. Now, because Sensabaugh
is coming down to bracket Cruz, that means there’s no deep help, so you can’t
get beat like that. You just can’t. Brutal night for Newman.</p>


CB Alan Ball. Only slightly better than Newman.</p>


* * * * </p>


SECOND GUESSES</p>


Wondering why the Giants called a timeout with 14 seconds left in the first
half as the Cowboys were driving for a potential score? Coughlin says you have
every right to do so. “It was a dumb play by me and I outsmarted myself,” he
said. “I was trying to create another play but as it stood, it was a dumb play
and thank God they didn’t get any points out of it.”</p>


You know, I thought I saw this the correct way live but when it comes to
night games and writing on deadline I’m never positive because so much is
happening so quickly. But re-watching it confirms the spot on Pascoe’s 2-yard
catch on a third-and-1 the opening drive was atrocious. Line judge Byron Boston
marked the ball between the 19- and 20-yard lines — a yard and a half further
than the furthest Pascoe’s forward progress took him. I’m not even positive he
had the first down there. It didn’t matter because the Giants punted but Boston
was right there and I can’t believe he botched that spot so badly.</p>

I said earlier this season (in one of the game reviews but can't find it now)
I didn’t have a problem with Nicks holding the ball out wide when he does it
because he’s near the sideline. However, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
should not be doing it in the middle of the field the way he did on a punt
return early in the fourth quarter. If he played for Coughlin, the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/jets_aaron_maybin_not_fined_fo.html">“old
guy”</a> (those are D.J. Ware’s words, not mine) might have a
coronary seeing that.</p>


Speaking of Coughlin, NBC gave us a nice, slow, drawn-out replay of him after
that punt return telling Thomas, “You can’t do that!” after Thomas was called
for a personal-foul penalty. <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/MikeGarafolo/status/153685872460578817">I tweeted
he added a noun</a> at the tail end of it because he did. I didn’t realize until
today it never made the air. We had the feed from the truck in the press box.
Nobody questioned me on Twitter, I don’t think, but wanted to clarify in case
somebody thought I misread his lips.</p>


* * * *</p>


ODDS AND (TIGHT) ENDS</p>


I mentioned the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/ny_giants_get_big_breaks_in_wi.html">Giants
got a lot of big “breaks”</a> in this game. Don’t take that the wrong way. I
don’t mean they were lucky. Not even close. (Though the loose balls squirting
out of the Cowboys’ hands were fortunate happenings for them.) Note the word
“lucky” doesn’t even make an appearance in that story. Nor should it because
what I’m saying is they often kept their poise while the Cowboys made dumb
mistakes. In addition to the ones I mentioned already, note the two players (RB
Sammy Morris and WR Jesse Holley) colliding on
punt coverage as they tried to crack back on Kiwanuka, who nearly blocked the
punt. That’s two times in two games the Giants nearly blocked a punt.</p>


Cris Collinsworth knows what I’m talking about. After
Sensabaugh didn’t pick up the ball when it was at his feet (the fumble that then
squirted out of TE Travis Beckum’s hands and Manning
recovered), he said, “Oh boy, it’s been that kind of night.” What he meant is it
was that kind of night for the Cowboys. For weeks, we’d been saying that about
the Giants. Last night, those momentum changers tilted in their favor. And you
know what, I’d say they deserved it after some of the games in which things
didn’t break their way.</p>


And there’s Al Michaels, after the montage of missed fumbles
for the Cowboys, saying Dallas “finally did get a break” on K Lawrence
Tynes’ missed field goal.</p>

One more I didn’t see until today: Ratliff knocked the ball out of Manning’s
right hand at the end of a 5-yard scramble on the opening drive of the second
half. Instead of squirting free, it stayed under Manning as he fell on top of
it. Dallas got the ball back at its own 6 after a punt instead of at the 42.</p>


And another: Romo actually stepped on LG Derrick Dockery’s
foot on the quarterback sneak as he tried to dig in and push forward. This one
is less of a “break” and more of Canty getting off the ball quickly to help
stall Dockery. Canty was the real reason Dockery’s foot was in Romo’s way.</p>


I know, I'm spending a lot of time defending my story. It's because a few
people were punchy (including Coughlin when I asked in his postgame presser) at
the suggestion they needed the breaks and/or were lucky. That's not what I'm
saying. What I'm saying is, in a league where a salary cap maintains competitive
balance, there are going to be a few key plays per game that could swing either
way. For whatever reason, it felt like the Giants hadn't been getting those
plays recently. Sunday night, they did.</p>


For clarity's sake, since they've been playing the clip of Coughlin's stern
reply to the "breaks" question, he realized today what I was driving at: "We had
two outstanding plays to get the ball back when the ball was on the ground.
Where's Mike? I acknowledge you Mike. You did a heckuva job at the end of the
game. You were right." When I tried to move my recorder closer to get that one
for posterity, Coughlin quipped, "I'm not repeating that. And that's not for
publication, either."</p>


Anyway, moving on...</p>


Did NBC really overlay some salsa music on Cruz’s dance? Really? Is that what
that was? Or was it sound from the stadium that accidentally was broadcast? For
the sake of all that is objective, I’m hoping for the latter.</p>


And while I’m on the dancing thing, what’s up with the Cowboys’ receivers
stealing Cruz’s dance? First, it was <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_wr_victor_cruz_becomes.html">Bryant
in Week 14</a> and now it’s Robinson. I don’t understand why they feel the need
to take it as their own. Niners CB Carlos Rogers doing it is one thing. I get
it, he’s trying to mock the guy he was covering. Opposing receivers doing it
doesn’t make sense at all. Also, Robinson’s version was horrendous.</p>

Collinsworth, who called another good game, broke down Romo’s illegal forward
pass well when he noted how Romo must’ve lost track of where he was on the field
after escaping to his left, avoiding a couple of defenders and scrambling back
to his right. Quarterbacks usually have a sense for where the line of scrimmage
is, but after all that moving around, it gets lost.</p>


One breakdown by Collinsworth I didn’t like was when he questioned S
Kenny Phillips on Robinson’s 34-yard touchdown in the third
quarter. It was against a Cover-2 look and Phillips had two receivers coming at
him. One was WR Miles Austin in the slot, who wasn’t rerouted
by Rolle. Phillips had to honor Austin, which is why he was late to get to
Robinson. I wouldn’t blame him there. If I had to point to where the coverage
could improve, I’d say Rolle could’ve influenced Austin a bit more and CB
Webster could’ve sunk deeper and more quickly because there was no threat in the
flat. However, it’s also a great throw and catch as well.</p>


Ball wanted a push-off call on Nicks on the final play of the first quarter.
I’d say he has a point. That could’ve forced a first-and-20 to change things had
it been called. It wasn’t, and the Giants scored their second touchdown four
plays into the second quarter.</p>


I didn’t get a chance to talk to Tynes after the game, so I’m not sure what
happened on his missed 40-yard field goal. I wonder if he even knows. That thing
took a right turn for no apparent reason. Tynes’ kicks don’t seem to have a lot
of english (English?) on them. That one did. Something quirky might’ve happened.
It could’ve been the wind. Speaking of the wind, it appeared Cowboys K
Dan Bailey expected it to help his field goal at the end of the
first half. It didn’t. Not enough, anyway.</p>


Looked like the Cowboys talked the Giants into running left on the failed
fourth-and-1 late in the third quarter with some of their pre-snap movement.
Manning appeared to change the play at the line because he saw the Cowboys’
front favoring the right side of the Giants’ line. But at the snap, they slanted
the other way right into where the Giants were trying to run. That helped leave
Lee unblocked for the stop. During the Cowboys’ mini-run, I had visions of that
being a play we’d be talking about for days. The Giants’ winning the fourth
quarter made sure it was all but forgotten by game’s end.</p>


And finally, come clean: who already has the pic of Jerry Jones with his head
in his hands as their wallpaper? I know you do."</p>

ANTREL ROLLE HAS COME TO APPRECIATE TOM COUGHLIN (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_antrel_rolle_has_come_t.html)</p>

"In the middle of Super Bowl XLII Media Day, as hundreds of reporters asking
about how much Tom Coughlin had changed his ways, Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants) tight ends coach Mike Pope made
perhaps the best point of the week when he said <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2008/01/nice_guy_tom_coughlin_inspirin.html">it
was more about the adjustments the players made to Coughlin</a>.</p>


“Probably they have changed more than he has,” Pope said.</p>


This year’s version of the converted is a player who spoke louder than most
last year, who was seen as a dividing force, who was <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2010/09/family_of_fighters_stands_behi.html">proudly
representing his frisky family’s style</a> of working for change and who tried
to light the passion of this team the only way he knew how.</p>


Today, one day after recording an interception in the Giants’ victory over
the Cowboys that won them the NFC East, Antrel Rolle spoke about Coughlin in a
way few could have imagined only months ago.</p>


“He’s his own person. I’m my own person. You’re not expected to agree on
everything,” said the Giants’ safety, who signed a five-year deal as a free
agent before the 2010 season. “But through it all we’ve got one common goal in
mind, which is to go out there and win a championship. He understands me better
as a player this year and I respect him as a coach.</p>


“When you have speculations your coach’s job is up for grabs or any kind of
threatening situation, I take that very personally. No coach that Antrel Rolle
is playing for should (have) his job up for grabs. That’s just the way I look at
it and I go out there and put all my heart and soul into it week in and week
out.”</p>


Coughlin realizes it was simply a matter of Rolle getting through an
adjustment period after five seasons with the Cardinals.</p>


“I would think it takes a while for someone coming into a program just to
figure out what it’s all about, who’s who,” Coughlin said. “Last year, we had 10
wins and didn’t get in (the playoffs) and so there was some frustration. There’s
been some frustration, which has been dealt with pretty well quite frankly this
year as well and now we’re seeing the result of having some patience and
continuing to work, which these guys have done. This team has done that, they’ve
worked through many issues throughout the course of the year and come back
stronger yet.”</p>


Rolle said he has gone out there the past few weeks with the intention of
fighting for Coughlin’s job and that he knows he’s “not the only one who feels
this way.” It’s funny because that was the same line he threw out there with
negative connotation when he <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2010/09/family_of_fighters_stands_behi.html">questioned
Coughlin’s scheduling and ways</a> following a blowout loss to the Colts in Week
2.</p>


But this offseason, Rolle began to see the value in Coughlin’s ways. He did
some self-evaluating and had conversations with his mother and other friends.
It’s continued into recent weeks when teammates Deon Grant and Chris Canty have
told him they appreciate his passion and what he’s trying to accomplish but
wanted him to start worrying mostly about himself and his own
responsibilities.</p>


Last season, Rolle admits that wasn’t the case. He was trying to do too much
to fix the chemistry and the coverage issues. He was speaking out of turn in
front of the media and on the field, where he got burned against the Packers on
an 80-yard touchdown after attempting to fake a blitz before the snap.</p>


This season, especially lately, he’s simplified things and bought more into
Coughlin’s philosophy.</p>


“My mom, she gave me the best advice,” Rolle said. “She was like, ‘Antrel,
you’re in a golden opportunity. You’re in the best situation, the best place you
can possibly be to play and even establish something in your life after
football, so just make sure you go out there and don’t let anyone take you out
of your game. Just be yourself, don’t try to do too much and just play
ball.’</p>


“And another guy is Deon Grant. He sat me down and we had a long conversation
and he was like, ‘Bro, I understand what you’re trying to do and I appreciate
what you’re trying to do but be you. Let your play do the talking for you.
That’s what you do, that’s who you are, that’s who we know you as.’ Honestly,
that’s the best advice I could’ve gotten from any player.”</p>


Rolle told Grant he felt like himself against Dallas and in the victory over
the Jets. That’s the benefit of reducing the friction between him and Coughlin
as well as accepting his role as a nickel cornerback or “bison” linebacker who
plays down low. Previously, he had griped he wanted to be a “ball hawk” as a
safety.</p>


But after Sunday’s game, he said <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/ny_giants_get_big_breaks_in_wi.html">he’d
come to accept his role </a>because of what it means for the team as a
whole.</p>

“I really like the way he put himself in position for the interception
because the quarterback, quite frankly, didn’t see him,” Coughlin said of
Rolle’s play on Sunday. “He was in one area of coverage and the more time went
on he saw the eyes of the quarterback and moved into the area where Witten was
and made an outstanding play. He tackled well, had some physical tackles.</p>


“He’s an emotional guy and he wears it on his sleeve. He gives you everything
he’s got and watching him develop and play under wherever we want him to play,
whether it be down and back or back down like it is right now, he’s playing very
well.”</p>


In Florham Park, there’s chaos instead of chemistry. In East Rutherford, two
guys who seemingly mix like oil and water are singing Kumbaya.</p>


Amazing what winning and a little self-evaluation can do.</p>


“I’ve always loved him as a guy. He’s probably one of the better men I’ve
ever been around,” Rolle said of Coughlin. “His coaching style is different than
anything I’ve been a part of, which is fine. We’re all different people, we all
have different things in mind. But eventually, you’re going to get with his
program. He’s the boss man; we’re his soldiers. Eventually, it works.</p>


“I was a little stubborn, I was a little whatever it was. But we’re all on
deck. That’s coaches and players included.”</p><font size="4"><font size="3">##

COWBOYS VS. GIANTS:TONY ROMO PUMMELED IN OSI UMENYIORA'S RETURN (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/cowboys_vs_giants_tony_romo_pu.html)</font></font>

Excerpt: "Osi Umenyiora chuckled this week when he tried to recall the last time he
lined up on the left side at defensive end.


He paused for a moment, thinking back through his career, and estimated it
was 2004. </p>


But he knew it was a possibility tonight given how well Jason Pierre-Paul had
played on the right side in his four-game absence and Umenyiora said he would be
up for the task if asked. And tonight he didn’t look like it had been seven
seasons as an already-potent pass rush got a late-season boost. </p>


The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) sacked Tony Romo six times
and could’ve had more had it not been for Romo’s ability to slip past defenders
to extend plays. Romo played well despite dealing with a bruised right hand — he
went 29-of-37 for 289 yards two touchdowns, and an interception — but it came
under consistent pressure in <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_trump_cowboys_31-14_to.html">the
Giants’ 31-14 win.</a></p>


Umenyiora, playing in his first game since sustaining a high-ankle sprain
against the Saints on Nov. 28, brought his trademark speed from both sides,
sacking Romo from the left in the second quarter and the right in the third.
They were Nos. 8 and 9 of the season for Umenyiora — the second-most on the
Giants despite missing half of the season due to injury. </p>


“It was a little uncomfortable, but it was all right,” he said of playing
left end.</p>


It was a dilemma any defensive coordinator would love to encounter: how to
find enough snaps for three Pro Bowl defensive ends. </p>


Perry Fewell came up with a few solutions — on some plays he would line
Umenyiora up at left end, Pierre-Paul on the right, and Justin Tuck inside at
tackle with Chris Canty. Other times, when one of the three needed a breather —
Umenyiora said he battled through some pain in his ankle — the Giants used the
other two as the bookends.
</p>“I’m not worried about snaps,” said Pierre-Paul, who had a sack. “I don’t
know how many snaps I played but we gotta come in next week and hopefully I get
more snaps because we’re in the playoffs.”


Ultimately, it didn’t matter who lined up where — the Giants wreaked havoc on
Romo from all angles." Read more...</p>

POLITI: GIANTS ARE STORMING INTO THE PLAYOFFS AFTER BEATING DALLAS COWBOYS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/politi_ny_giants_are_storming_1.html)</p>

"You came to MetLife Stadium, if you’re a Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) fan, just hoping see the home team
eke out a spot in the playoffs. You left soggy but not the least bit dampened,
thinking something else entirely. </p>


Hey, why not?</p>


That was the impact of this <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_trump_cowboys_31-14_to.html">31-14
victory over the Dallas Cowboys</a> tonight. It wasn’t perfect, and it certainly
wasn’t without its share of reminders of why this Giants team had to wait until
11:30 p.m. of the regular season’s final day to wrap up the division title.</p>


Still, this looked nothing like a team sneaking into the postseason. The
Giants are barreling through the door with a familiar formula, one that could
keep them at the party for a while if things break their way. </p>


Or, as the never-shy Brandon Jacobs declared, “I would not want to face the
New York Giants in the playoffs right now.”</p>


They came at Tony Romo from all directions, frustrating a quarterback who
torched them for 321 yards and four scores the last time they played. They
gained yards in big chunks and small, with running back Ahmad Bradshaw looking
dangerous and Victor Cruz (six catches for 178 yards), once again, making you
wonder how 32 NFL general managers let him go undrafted for seven rounds.</p>


The playoffs will begin with 10-6 Atlanta on Sunday, and everyone knows what
comes next should they win that game. It could be 15-1 Green Bay, which rolled
up 45 points with a backup quarterback today. Or it could be 13-3 San Francisco,
with the top defense in the NFC. </p>


But the Giants played both those teams during the regular season and were in
the game until the final minutes. Now, they could get another crack at them,
healthy as they’ve been all season. </p>


Hey, why not?</p>


“We’re capable of winning the Super Bowl,” defensive tackle Justin Tuck said.
“But just sitting here and talking about it doesn’t mean nothing. We have to go
play the game.”</p>


Look, no one should book rooms in Indianapolis just yet. This is the first
time an NFC East champion has ever had fewer than 10 wins, and the third quarter
should stand as a reminder that the Giants are 9-7 for a reason.</p>


Romo, with his broken finger, started picking off chunks of yardage against
the Giants secondary that remains their biggest weakness to turn a comfortable
21-0 lead into a 21-14 stomach-churner. That’s still how you beat this team:
Block that dominant defensive line, and any decent quarterback (Mark Sanchez not
included) will pick the Giants apart.</p>

But with Osi Umenyiora (two sacks) finally back from injury, with Justin Tuck
(a sack and a forced fumble) looking healthy again and with Jason Pierre-Paul
still drawing double teams, it’s increasingly hard to do that. As good as those
three were tonight, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka might have been the most active
defensive player of them all when the Giants opened that big lead. </p>


No matter what happens, this has to be as satisfying a two-week stretch as
the Giants have had since their title run after the 2007 season. First they
smoked their loudmouth neighbors, the Jets, who completed the immolation in
Miami yesterday afternoon. Then they beat their rivals for the second time in
four weeks, taking the division when they were left for dead.</p>


You want a Cliff Notes version of our local NFL season, look no further than
these two images yesterday: 1.) Santonio Holmes, the supposed team captain the
Jets (http://www.nj.com/jets/) signed for $45 million, pouting on
the bench as the season ticked away. 2.) Victor Cruz, the congenial rookie
getting $450,000 this season, salsa dancing his way down the sideline to turn a
five-yard catch into a 74-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.</p>


For Cruz, it was a remarkable fifth touchdown play of 65 yards or more — the
Jets, in contrast, had three plays longer than 40 all season. The
Giants are here, surviving their injuries, because they made good personnel
decisions to fill out their roster while the Jets failed.</p>


The credit there goes to general manager Jerry Reese. He was the one, in the
face of the criticism during what sure looked like a lost offseason, who
declared, “We’ll make the plays this time and we’ll get into the playoffs and
we’ll make a run.”</p>

He swore tonight that he wasn’t making a guarantee, even if it was spun that
way. But standing near a locker room exit as the clock approached midnight, he
wasn’t backing off, either. </p>


“Of course. Of course,” he said when asked if that run was still possible.
“We have good players in here and good coaches. We’re battle tested. We had a
tough schedule. We’re getting healthy. But you have to focus and do the things
that it takes to win.”</p>


Maybe they’re still be exposed as a flawed team. Maybe the NFC competition is
just too good. But against a good opponent in prime time, with a must-win
mandate hanging over everyone on the field, they made you wonder. </p>


Hey, why not?"</p>NEW YORK GIANTS' VICTOR CRUZ TORCHES DALLAS COWBOYS' SECONDARY (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/new_york_giants_victor_cruz_to.html)

"By the time Victor Cruz turned the corner on Dallas’ Terence Newman in the
first quarter tonight, the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)'
sideline became a bouncing mass of blue and white waving their slot receiver
toward the end zone.


They had seen this before: The way Cruz can catch a sliver of open space and
turn the remaining field into a track meet.

They had seen it a week ago
when Cruz rendered a flat-footed Jets secondary dumbfounded with a 99-yard
catch-and-run that awoke a sleepy Giants offense. </p>


Tonight, Dallas was the victim with a little more than five minutes to play
in the first quarter, on a third-and-1.The Cowboys' secondary tried to chase
Cruz 74 yards down field but Newman dove around the 30-yard line and Gerald
Sensabaugh gave up around the 10.</p>


“I was just watching myself on the JumboTron just making sure they weren’t
too close,” said Cruz, who’s goal this season was just to get one catch in a
meaningful regular-season game.</p>


For the second time in as many weeks, Cruz brought the Giants to life with an
electric catch-and-run, then delivered a series of decisive blows throughout the
game. In <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_trump_cowboys_31-14_to.html">the
31-14 win over Dallas</a> in front of 81,077, a victory that gave the Giants the
NFC East division title and a berth in the playoffs, he finished with six
catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Over the past two games, he’s had 342
receiving yards. </p>


“I guess it’s just God-given ability,” Cruz said. “When I get the ball in my
hands I try and make the most of every play, you know, I try and make the
maximum yardage I can get every time I touch the ball.” </p>


Said Giants coach Tom Coughlin: "He just keeps doing it, and thank God he
does. I am cheering for him, doing cartwheels on the sidelines as he is running
by."</p>

Unfortunately for Dallas, their Cruz-induced headaches were not limited to
that 74-yard touchdown in the first quarter. </p>


On a third-and-7 from the Giants’ 28-yard line in the fourth quarter, Eli
Manning spun off pressure in the pocket and hurled one to Cruz 44 yards
downfield. The safety went in the opposite direction on Cruz’s seam route,
giving Manning the go-ahead to make the throw. </p>


Two plays later, Manning hit Cruz again over the middle for a gain of 20,
setting up a 28-yard field goal. </p>


“He’s come up big,” Manning said. “Last year when we lost Steve Smith to an
injury we really struggled not having anyone to work the middle of the field. We
put a lot on Cruz, he’s done a great job doing that all season.” </p>


The Dallas defense placed a safety over top for some much-needed help. But it
didn’t help. The Cowboys tried, and failed, to get inside the receiver’s head.
After Laurent Robinson scored on a 6-yard quick-slant touchdown, he broke out in
Cruz’s signature touchdown salsa dance.</p>


“I told him if he wants to do my dance, he needs to be a little more fluid,
man,” Cruz said."</p>NY GIANTS GET BIG BREAKS IN WIN OVER COWBOYS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/ny_giants_get_big_breaks_in_wi.html)

Excerpt: "Whether it was questionable replay reviews, missed calls, deflected passes or
sun in the eyes of their receivers, there have been some breaks and close plays
that didn’t go in the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)’ favor for
the past few months.


Tonight, in their <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_trump_cowboys_31-14_to.html">31-14
victory over the Dallas Cowboys</a>, everything seemed to swing their way,
thanks in part to some questionable decisions and plays by Dallas as well as a
few loose balls that slipped out of the Cowboys’ hands.</p>


The biggest of those plays in the Giants’ favor was a fourth-and-1
quarterback sneak by Tony Romo early in the fourth quarter that fell about a
half-foot short of the stick at the 9-yard line. Linebacker Michael Boley leaped
over the pile to get a piece of Romo and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul came
from the side to finish the play.</p>


The Cowboys trailed 21-7 at the time and could’ve opted for a field goal.
They instead chose to try a hurry-up play that didn’t catch the Giants
off-guard.</p>


“I wasn’t expecting him to get under center. He hadn’t really taken many
snaps under center in the game,” Boley said of Romo, who was playing with a
bruised right hand. “He started out in the ’gun. To see him walk down and get up
under center was kind of sneaky. And the offensive linemen, their splits were
tight so it kind of gave it away.”</p>


The failed sneak came after a bunch of miscues by the Cowboys that could’ve
been momentum changers.</p>


Late in the first quarter, Alan Ball tried to jump on a loose ball after the
Giants’ Will Blackmon muffed a punt but it squirted out, perhaps thanks in part
to the slick turf from showers that began in pregame and continued into the
first half. Giants rookie linebacker Greg Jones, who was trailing the play
because he missed his initial block, eventually recovered at the Giants’ 32-yard
line.</p>


“It was good to see it go our way,” Jones said. “More often than not, we had
some calls go our way tonight.” Read more...
</p>GIANTS TRUMP COWBOYS, 31-14, TO WIN NFC EAST, RETURN TO PLAYOFFS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_trump_cowboys_31-14_to.html)

"The theme of this season for Tom Coughlin was simple: “Finish.” If he said it
once in training camp, he said it a million times since then.


Finish. Finish. Finish.</p>


The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) did tonight — barely. And
now, the Dallas Cowboys are finished.</p>


The seeming pattern of Coughlin meltdowns, which led to the “finish” theme,
was broken by a 31-14 victory at MetLife Stadium tonight that wasn’t as easy as
the final score indicates.</p>


The Giants (9-7) are NFC East champions and will host the Falcons at 1 p.m.
Sunday in their first playoff game following a two-year absence from the
postseason.</p>


“We straightened it around and finished the game the way we wanted to finish
it, finished the regular season the way we wanted to finish it,” Coughlin said,
adding four more “finishes” to his season tally, “and created an opportunity for
ourselves to be in the playoffs.”</p>


After a 6-2 start nearly spiraled downward, the Giants closed with a pair of
victories over the rival Jets and Cowboys (8-8) that have them believing they
can make a run in the coming weeks.</p>


“I know I’ve said many times I don’t like (the Cowboys) and they don’t like
me,” said Justin Tuck, who had one of the Giants’ six sacks. “But you have to
respect a team like that.”</p>


Especially after they didn’t fold following a rare fast start by the Giants.
Tuck initially said he was surprised the Giants didn’t “finish” (his word, we
promise) the Cowboys, but when told this team never seems to make things easy he
realized he misspoke.</p>


No, the Giants needed another outstanding late performance by Eli Manning
(24-for-33 for 346 yards and three touchdowns), a big stop by Michael Boley and
Jason Pierre-Paul on a quarterback sneak early in the fourth quarter and a
couple of clutch third-down grabs by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks to fend off a
comeback attempt by the Cowboys behind the bruised right hand of quarterback
Tony Romo, who hit Laurent Robinson for two touchdowns in the second half to
make this a game.</p>


“There was speculation about Romo’s hand,” Coughlin said, “which obviously
wasn’t very accurate.”</p>


<a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/new_york_giants_victor_cruz_to.html">Cruz’s
big catch was a 44-yard leaping grab</a> over cornerback Orlando Scandrick on a
third-and-7 with 9:22 left in the game and the Giants holding on to a
one-touchdown lead. It was the first time the Giants had gained a first down
since Manning hit Cruz for 27 yards less than a minute into the second half.
</p>“The defender’s in position there,” Coughlin said. “But Eli does a great job
of avoiding the rush and throws the ball up and Cruz comes down with the
ball.”


Cruz opened the scoring tonight with a 74-yard touchdown on a quick
out-and-run, giving him five touchdowns of 68 or more yards this season. The
former undrafted free agent became the first NFL player with five or more
touchdowns of 65 yards or longer since the Rams’ Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch had
six in 1951.</p>


However, his fourth-quarter catch might’ve been more vital because it set up
a 28-yard field goal that made it a 10-point game with 5:46 to go.</p>


“Just a heck of a game,” Coughlin said, “a heck of a season for the kid.”</p>


And for Manning, who once again delivered in the clutch by going 6-for-8 for
113 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.</p>


“We’ve been through a lot, definitely some ups and downs,” he said. “But to
keep our poise, to keep confident, for guys to stick together and not to turn on
each other … we came together and knew what we had to do to win the NFC East and
we got it accomplished.”</p>


Thanks in part to Nicks’ 36-yard reception from Manning on a crossing route
to convert a third-and-5 with 4:04 to play and move the ball to the Cowboys’
4-yard line. His touchdown catch on the next play, uh, finished the drive and
provide the final margin.</p>


Again, it wasn’t quite as easy as it looked, though it probably should’ve
been after Cruz’s touchdown, which was keyed by a nice block from Nicks on Mike
Jenkins, and two nifty touchdowns by Ahmad Bradshaw gave the Giants a 21-0 lead
at the half — their biggest advantage of the season and their largest halftime
lead since going up 24-3 on the Eagles in Week 15 last season.</p>


That one didn’t end so well. Nor did that season.</p>


Thus, the theme this time around — finish — plus a special one for this game
to help make it happen.</p>


“Everyone threw in all of their poker chips,” said Antrel Rolle, who had an
interception in the second half to help slow the Cowboys’ comeback. “We’re all
in.”</p>

YOU GRADE 'EM: GIANTS VS. COWBOYS - VOTE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/you_grade_em_giants_vs_cowboys_2.html)</p>GIANTS VS. FALCONS: A LOOK AHEAD (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_atlanta_falcons_a_lo.html)

"The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) will face the Atlanta
Falcons in the NFL playoffs next Sunday at 1 p.m. at MetLife Stadium. Here's a
look at their opponent: <div class="entry-content">


ATLANTA FALCONS</p>


Record: 10-6, second in the NFC South
Last
meeting: Giants defeated Falcons, 34-31, in overtime on Nov. 22, 2009,
in East Rutherford.</p>


Lawrence Tynes kicked a field goal to win the game, but that wouldn’t have
been possible without Eli Manning finding Mario Manningham down the right
sideline early in the extra session. Manning threw for three touchdowns and what
was then a career-best 384 yards. It’s worth noting the Falcons played without
Michael Turner.</p>


WHAT TO KNOW</p>


• Tom Coughlin will say good things about Falcons QB Matt Ryan, in part
because he’s one of the most efficient in the NFL (at least 61 percent
completions in three of his four seasons) and because Ryan is a Boston College
guy.</p>


• When the Giants scout the Falcons’ 20th-ranked pass defense (236.6 yards
per game), they might see some familiar wrinkles in the secondary. Former Giants
defensive coordinator Tim Lewis coaches the Atlanta defensive backs.</p>


• The Giants and Falcons have four common opponents this season (Philadelphia
Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks). Atlanta is
2-3 in those games (they lost twice to the Saints), and the Giants are 1-4
(split games against the Eagles)."</p></div><font size="4"><u>NY DAILY NEWS
</u></font>
GIANTS' JUSTIN TUCK CALLS FALCONS "DIRT BAGS" (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-justin-tuck-calls-offensive-line-nfc-wild-card-playoff-opponent-atlanta-falcons-dirtbags-article-1.1000036)

Excerpt: "Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck) may not
hate the Atlanta Falcons the way he hates the Dallas Cowboys, but he already has
a strong dislike for their offensive line.


Tuck fired the first shot of wild-card week on Monday when he called the
Falcons’ line “dirtbags” and acknowledged their well-earned reputation for dirty
play. Twice this season opponents have ripped into the Atlanta line for “cheap”
and dangerous tactics.

<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-beat-dallas-cowboys-win-nfc-east-victor-cruz-eli-manning-lead-big-blue-playoff-clinching-win-gallery-1.999682" target="_blank">PHOTOS: RELIVE THE GIANTS NFC EAST TITLE WIN OVER THE
COWBOYS</a></p>


And Tuck said the Giants’ defensive lineman will be watching out for that
during their playoff game at the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon.</p>


“Yeah we’ve seen it. We know they have that quote-unquote ‘reputation,’” Tuck
told reporters, one day after the Giants’ clinched the NFC East championship
with a 31-14 win over the Cowboys. “Most people, you would call them dirt
bags.</p>


“But it is what it is. We got to make sure we do our job and if we are doing
our job well. Then they will be upset and they will be trying to do things to
get us off our game, and we’ve got to take that as a compliment.”</p>


Not many others have taken the Falcons’ allegedly unnecessary cut-blocking
tactics and after-the-whistle cheap shots as a compliment this season. Green Bay
Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/B.J.+Raji) was furious
with them after the Packers beat the Falcons 25-14 in Atlanta on Oct. 9. He
reportedly told a Green Bay TV station that the Falcons do that because “that’s
how they’re coached” and because of “lack of ability.”</p>


“They just want to get you fired up and get you to retaliate and draw a cheap
penalty,” he said. “But it’s tough to ignore it, but you have a chance to get
them back and have to take advantage of it.”</p>


Two weeks later, after the Detroit Lions lost to the Falcons 23-16, several
Lions defenders accused the Falcons’ line of the same thing.</p>


“You watch film of Atlanta’s O-line and they’re 20, 30 yards down the field
cutting guys,” said Lions defensive end Cliff Avril (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Cliff+Avril). “You’re
running toward the pile and they’re trying to clean you up.” Read more...
</p>
##

GIANTS' DE JUSTIN TUCK SAYS BIG BLUE CAN WIN SUPERBOWL XLVI (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-defensive-justin-tuck-big-blue-win-super-bowl-article-1.999654)

Excerpt: "Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck) was seated
in front of his locker grinning as his teammates paraded nearby wearing their
black NFC East champions hat.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


Now that the Giants are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 —
and after Tuck and Chris Snee (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Chris+Snee) dumped the
Gatorade bucket on Snee’s father-in-law Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin) — they
believe they are ready to go on a run.

PHOTOS: GIANTS ARE VICTORS IN NFC EAST (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-beat-dallas-cowboys-win-nfc-east-victor-cruz-eli-manning-lead-big-blue-playoff-clinching-win-gallery-1.999682)</p>


“We’re capable of winning the Super Bowl,” Tuck said after the relatively
easy 31-14 victory over the Cowboys in a winner-take-all that kept the Giants’
season alive and ended Dallas’ year.</p>


The Super Bowl seems unlikely considering the Giants are the first NFC East
champion to win fewer than 10 games. But four years ago, the Super Bowl seemed
like a ridiculous goal, too.</p>


The Giants open the playoffs at MetLife Stadium against the Falcons on Sunday
at 1 p.m. Atlanta has as many weapons as any team in the NFL with <a title="Matt Ryan (Football)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Matt+Ryan+%28Football%29">quarterback Matt
Ryan</a>, <a title="Michael Turner (Football)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Turner+%28Football%29">running back
Michael Turner</a>, wide receivers Roddy White (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Roddy+White) and <a title="Julio Jones" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Julio+Jones">Julio
Jones</a> and <a title="Tony Gonzalez (Football)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tony+Gonzalez+%28Football%29">tight end Tony
Gonzalez</a>. The Falcons are going to be a huge challenge for the Giants
defense, which is finally getting healthy up front and sacked <a title="Tony Romo" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tony+Romo">Tony
Romo</a> six times after getting Mark Sanchez (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mark+Sanchez) five
times last week.</p>


Assuming the Saints beat the Lions at the Superdome on Saturday, if the
Giants get past the Falcons, they will go to Lambeau Field to play the Super
Bowl champion Packers.
</p>“I think we’re in the perfect position,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka)
said. “We didn’t get here the way that we wanted to, but regardless of what has
happened during the season, we’re in the playoffs, we won our division, we have
a chance at the Super Bowl.”<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


Incredibly, the Cowboys didn’t show up in the first half and the Giants
dominated by taking a 21-0 lead with Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz), who
changed the momentum last week with a 99-yard touchdown against the Jets, doing
it again with a 74-yard score to give the Giants a 7-0 lead.</p>


After Dallas finally decided to play and closed its deficit to 21-14 early in
the fourth quarter, it was Cruz again who saved them, catching an extremely
important 44-yard pass from Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) on a third
down when he boxed out <a title="Orlando Scandrick" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Orlando+Scandrick">Orlando
Scandrick</a>. Then later on the drive, he caught a 20-yarder to set up Lawrence Tynes (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Lawrence+Tynes)’
28-yard field goal to get the lead up to 10. Hakeem Nicks (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Hakeem+Nicks) 4-yard TD
catch with 3:41 remaining clinched the division for the Giants.</p>


After the game, Tuck and Snee waited for Coughlin, now pretty much guaranteed
to return as Giants coach, to shake hands with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Garrett) and
then dumped the Gatorade on him.</p>


They dropped the bucket and “bolted out of there,” Snee said. “I don’t know
if he knows who it was. It had to be done. We got him good.”</p>


Dumping a bucket of Gatorade on your father-in-law is not something that
happens every day, but Coughlin was so thrilled after the game, he surely won’t
hold it against Snee.</p>


“NFC East champions. That’s a great thing to hear,” Coughlin said. “I won’t
get tired of hearing that over and over and over again.”</p>


Order has been restored in New York. After loaning the city to the Jets for
the last two years — it was more like a hostile takeover — it’s a Big Blue town
again. At least for now. And Coughlin gets a lot of the credit." Read more...
</p></div>GIANTS WIN NFC EAST, BEATING DALLAS COWBOYS 31-14, WILL HOST ATLANTA FALCONS IN NFL PLAYOFFS (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-win-nfc-east-beating-dallas-cowboys-31-14-host-atlanta-falcons-playoffs-unit-fewelled-d-bacle-giants-cruz-playoffs-victor-buries-boys-falcons-article-1.999623)

"NY GIANTS 31, COWBOYS 14 (http://nydailynews.stats.com/fb/boxscore.asp?gamecode=20120101019&amp;home=19&amp;vis=6&amp;me ta=true)
<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none"><div class="articleBodySection">

This time there was
no collapse. This time the Giants finished what they started.

Even in the
frightening moments on Sunday night when they seemed to be on the brink of
blowing a three-touchdown lead, the Giants found a way to once again save their
season. They rode the big plays of Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) and <a title="Victor Cruz" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz">Victor
Cruz</a> and the revived play of their defense to beat the Cowboys, 31-14, in a
winner-take-all showdown at the Meadowlands.

PHOTOS: GIANTS ARE VICTORS IN NFC EAST (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-beat-dallas-cowboys-win-nfc-east-victor-cruz-eli-manning-lead-big-blue-playoff-clinching-win-gallery-1.999682)

Then
they all breathed a huge sigh of relief and celebrated their NFC East
championship and their first trip to the playoffs since 2008.

“There were
some times tonight when it was a little nerve-wracking,” said <a title="Tom Coughlin" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin">Tom
Coughlin</a>. “But we straightened it around and finished the game the way we
wanted to finish it — finished the regular season the way we wanted to finish it
— and created an opportunity for ourselves to be in the playoffs
now.”

The opportunity begins on Sunday at 1 p.m. when the Giants (9-7)
play host to the Atlanta Falcons (10-6) in the wild-card round, and true to the
motto they’ve adopted, the Giants are “all in” for the postseason run. Their
rousing victory over the Jets and Cowboys the last two weeks have them riding a
wave of confidence they think can carry them deep into the winter.

“I
wouldn’t want to face the New York Giants right now,” said <a title="Brandon Jacobs" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brandon+Jacobs">running back Brandon
Jacobs</a>. “It’s going to be tough to beat us in the playoffs.”

Added
defensive end Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck): “We’re
capable of winning the Super Bowl.”

After the way they played on Sunday
night, who could argue? Eli Manning again torched the Cowboys, this time for 346
yards and three touchdowns, including a jolting, 74-yarder to Victor Cruz that
got the party started in the first quarter. Cruz, a second alternate on the NFC
Pro Bowl team, ended up with six catches for 178 yards and was a big part in the
Giants taking a 21-0 halftime lead.

That was their largest lead since
last Dec. 19 when they famously blew a 21-point lead at home against the Eagles
— a fact that surely had to be on everyone’s mind when the Cowboys got going in
the second half. Despite his injured right hand, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tony+Romo)
(29-for-37, 289 yards) struck quickly in t

BigBlue1971
01-02-2012, 10:15 AM
<U><FONT color=#ff0000 size=6>NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</FONT></U>

great sound to this board!</P>


</P>


<U><FONT color=#ff0000 size=6>NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</FONT></U>
</P>


thanks for the news Roanoke! one of the greatest sports days of my life.</P>


i love this team!!!!!!!</P>


[B][B][B][B][{][{]</P>


</P>


<FONT color=#0000ff size=5>Go Giants!</FONT></P>

NY_Eli
01-02-2012, 10:46 AM
<U><FONT color=#ff0000 size=6>NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</FONT></U>

great sound to this board!</P>


*</P>


<U><FONT color=#ff0000 size=6>NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</FONT></U>
</P>


thanks for the news Roanoke!* one of the greatest sports days of my life.</P>


i love this team!!!!!!!</P>


[B][B][B][B][{][{]</P>


*</P>


<FONT color=#0000ff size=5>Go Giants!</FONT></P>

+1. Thanks RF! Great reading today!

lttaylor56
01-02-2012, 11:25 AM
Great Sharing last night's win with you RF! NYG is in the post season. Congrats fan's!

<font color="#0000FF" size="6">G<font color="#FF0000">o</font> B<font color="#FF0000">l</font>u<font color="#FF0000">e</font></font>

RoanokeFan
01-02-2012, 11:47 AM
<u><font color="#ff0000" size="6">NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</font></u>

great sound to this board!</p>


</p>


<u><font color="#ff0000" size="6">NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</font></u>
</p>


thanks for the news Roanoke! one of the greatest sports days of my life.</p>


i love this team!!!!!!!</p>


[B][B][B][B][{][{]</p>


</p>


<font color="#0000ff" size="5">Go Giants!</font></p>

+1. Thanks RF! Great reading today!

[Y]

RoanokeFan
01-02-2012, 11:47 AM
Great Sharing last night's win with you RF! NYG is in the post season. Congrats fan's!

<font color="#0000FF" size="6">G<font color="#FF0000">o</font> B<font color="#FF0000">l</font>u<font color="#FF0000">e</font></font>


[B] beers on me n ext week [;)]

GameTime
01-02-2012, 11:52 AM
NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!</P>


Cant wait for next week. It's going to be a very happy week for Giants' fans...</P>


Thanks for all the reads too.....</P>


</P>

derekunion28
01-02-2012, 04:08 PM
thanks rf spent a hour reading alot of this

G-Men Surg.
01-02-2012, 04:26 PM
Happy new year !!!!
Its money week, bring it on !!!
Thanks RF .

fourth&forever
01-02-2012, 04:31 PM
THANKS ROANOKE

lttaylor56
01-02-2012, 05:55 PM
Stupendous!! Bringing dad to our wild card debut in OUR giants, not jets stadium.

RoanokeFan
01-02-2012, 08:50 PM
Stupendous!! Bringing dad to our wild card debut in OUR giants, not jets stadium.

[Y]

RoanokeFan
01-02-2012, 08:52 PM
THANKS ROANOKE

Great day for news

RoanokeFan
01-02-2012, 08:53 PM
thanks rf spent a hour reading alot of this

Great news day [:D]