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View Full Version : NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: TUESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2012 - 4:15 P.M.



RoanokeFan
01-03-2012, 09:44 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 ONLY ONE OF SEVEN PLAYOFF TEAMS SINCE 2002 OUTSCORED IN REGULAR SEASON (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_one_of_only_seven_playo.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants) are one of seven teams
since 2002 that have made the playoffs despite being outscored in the regular
season. This, according to <a href="http://www.giants.com/news-and-blogs/article-1/Cruzs-numbers-among-franchises-best-/5f066b8b-252c-48b5-8f8e-f9f489b7703f">the
weekly stat review</a> released by the team today.


Naturally, I wanted to see how those teams fared in the postseason. Just
thinking about the stat and the fact 113 teams who made the postseason in that
time frame weren't outscored, I figured the rate of those teams getting bounced
out had to be high, right?</p>


Wrong. Three of the previous five (this year's Broncos are on the list, so
obviously we don't know what they'll do yet) won their wild-card playoff game.
And one of the two that lost (the '04 Seahawks) lost to another team on the list
(the '04 Rams). So obviously somebody had to lose that one.</p>


That leaves the 2006 Giants as the only team that we can point to as one that
lost. And if you recall correctly, they played the Eagles pretty tough in that
game. They tied the game late, only to lose on a last-second field goal by David
Akers.</p>


So I guess what I'm saying is that's the good news. Now, here's the bad news:
Of the three teams that won their first-round game, none won in the divisional
round. So that means none of the teams that advanced made it to the conference
final.</p>


None of this means the Giants can't get that far. It's just some historical
perspective.</p>


Here's the list of teams I'm talking about:</p>


2004 Seahawks: 371 points for, 373 points against
(Lost to Rams 27-20 in
wild-card round)</p>


2004 Rams: 319 for, 392 against
(Lost to Falcons 47-17 in divisional
round)</p>


2006 Giants: 355 for, 362 against
(Lost to Eagles 23-20 in wild-card
round)</p>


2006 Seahawks: 335 for, 341 against
(Lost to Bears 27-24 in divisional
round)</p>


2010 Seahawks: 310 for, 407 against
(Lost to Bears 35-24 in divisional
round)</p>


2011 Giants: 394 for, 400 against</p>


2011 Broncos: 309 for, 390 against" Read more...</p>VIDEO: FALCONS PREPARE FOR GIANTS (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/giantsblog/video_falcons_prepare_for_giants_kF9Aa9c7RFbqoTQR0 ikcSO)

<font size="4"><font size="3">##

GIANTS' HOT TOPIC: WHO'S YOUR MVP SO FAR? (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hot_topic_whos_your_mvp.html) - VOTE

Excerpt: "</font></font><a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_victor_cruz_puts_g.html">The
continued rise of Victor Cruz</a> and the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_antrel_rolle_tom_coughl.html">new-found
harmony between DB Antrel Rolle and head coach Tom Coughlin</a> has us wondering
who you think is the Giants' MVP this season - where the "P" is gonna stand for
person, as Tom Coughlin may deserve some votes.<div class="entry-content">


Let's start with Coughlin - and to do that, let's go back to August and the
end of the lockout. Most Giants fans on NJ.com were convinced that there was a
talent drain and very little influx for the Giants as the rest of the league
went into a free-agent frenzy. Most Giants fans commenting on NJ.com thought
that spelled doom. Why didn't it? Could it be that the Giants' brass - as
opposed to the brass 90 miles south on I-95 - had their talent figured right?
Could it be that the Giants' coaching staff knew that what they had to work with
could be enough? And then did Coughlin get it done, without any star-studded
free agents, despite an injury-riddled defense? He got it done enough to win the
NFC East.<span style="LINE-HEIGHT: 1px; DISPLAY: block; HEIGHT: 1px; CLEAR: both" class="pds-clear">
</span></p><noscript></noscript>And then three players stand out as possibilities.


• Victor Cruz, who started the season as a possible fill-in for the departed
Steve Smith, ended up breaking the team receiving yardage record. His highlight
reel isn't just full of spectacular plays - it's full of game-winning plays.</p>


• Jason Pierre-Paul was the first-round draft pick many NJ.com Giants fans
loved to hate. Now, with the off-field tumult that sometimes characterized the
Giants' d-line off the field, JPP was responsible for the tumult on the field,
shredding protection schemes, making teammates better, running his nonstop motor
all over the field.</p>


• Eli Manning's detractors usually brush aside the Super Bowl ring as an
aberration, but it seems to have been a precursor of the real Eli - and last
year was the aberration. In a year when, coincidentally or not, his brother was
stuck off the field, Eli has completely come into his own as a passer, as a
quarterback in the fullest sense of the word and as a leader.</p>


Vote in our poll and explain your vote below. Who's your Giants Most Valuable
Person for the regular season?</p></div><font size="4"><font size="3">
D'ALESSANDRO: VICTOR CRUZ PUTS GIANTS ONE STEP CLOSER TO THEIR GOAL WITH ASTONISHING PLAY (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_victor_cruz_puts_g.html)

"</font></font>The only difference this latest performance made to his life, as far as
Victor Cruz could tell, was the volume of text messages he had to scroll through
Sunday night.


“There were about 50 this time,” he explained. “That’s probably about double
what I get.” </p>


Otherwise, it’s business as usual, he asserts. He’s played great games
before, we agreed. But this was the first time he was pinned to the middle of a
white-hot spotlight — faced with the win-or-go-home scenario that made the final
game of the season such compelling theater — and he acted as though he owned the
moment. </p>


Put it this way: Maybe the country had already heard of that Cruz kid on the
Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/), but <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/new_york_giants_victor_cruz_to.html">it
took him less than one quarter to show the largest NFL Sunday night</a> audience
in history what the fuss was all about. </p>


“The weird thing is, it felt like another game, even though you can
definitely feel the energy, and you know it’s the big stage,” Cruz said. “All
the lights were on and we had to perform.”</p>


Here’s the catch: He refuses to overstate it — destroying Dallas only means
the Giants earned the right to play on and gather momentum toward the ultimate
goal, he said. The only personal significance, however, is measured this way: “I
just hope it means that the work I put into the game this year — prior to the
lockout, in the film room, getting prepared for whatever role I was going to get
— is paying off for me,” he said. “And you learn being in the right place at the
right time is everything.” </p>


He laughed at what his life has become these past four months, then added,
“Remember, this is still pretty astonishing to me, too.”</p>


We’re glad somebody finally mentioned that. </p>


The thought won’t go away that much of this Giants season was fueled by a
miracle. Victor Cruz’s emergence was not something one could predict, and this
is something we may never see again. It’s not some Damn Yankees sequel. Sure,
competitive teams always need an upstart or two to provide real impact, but they
don’t become a “co-MVP” of their teams, which was the term Justin Tuck used to
describe Cruz the other night. </p>


So now this 25-year-old kid — who in August was on the preseason bubble, who
couldn’t run a decent route, who couldn’t hold onto the ball — is a household
name. </p>


Another result of this magic act is with regard to Tom Coughlin’s
countenance. Maybe you noticed it. Usually, this coach is a master of monotony,
speaking in flat tones and factual phrases. But when you mention Cruz, he’s a
different man. </p>


You heard Coughlin say Sunday night that he’s doing “cartwheels on the
sidelines as he is running by.” The fact is, Cruz represents what coaches live
for — a world-class athlete with a short learning curve. The implausibility of
this is visible in Coughlin’s face. His voice rises a few keys. He goes off the
didactic coach-speak and sounds more like a fan.</p>


“Well, I’ve taken him under my wing in his personal development,” was
Coughlin’s jocular reaction when Cruz’s name was raised Monday, and everyone
chuckled at this remark, as if Coach had suddenly started doing the salsa.
</p>But seriously, folks:


“No, I think if you look at it in stages, his preseason was okay. The start
of the season, exactly where he fit, was another question. And then I think he
just got an opportunity to play, got a taste of it, he knew he had a lot to
learn, but was willing — and he had the ability — to put himself in positions
where he could take full advantage of that. And then it just started to grow and
develop.”</p>


He paused here, as if he had just witnessed the metamorphosis of a
caterpillar.</p>


“But when you look at this latter part of the season, the number of plays
that young man has made — which has either given us a spark or put us in
position to win games — it’s truly amazing,” Coughlin concluded.</p>


Which is another way of saying that his 99-yarder against the Jets saved this
team’s season, and his 74-yarder against the Cowboys will keep him on the
national radar — and in his coach’s heart — for a long time.</p>


For the folks around here, those were just two game-busters in a season
filled with them. But nobody predicted that he’d finish near the top of the
league in every category — his 82 receptions rank ninth, his franchise-record
1,536 yards were third, his 18.7 yards per catch also was third, and his TD
number (nine) was sixth-best.</p>


That’s just the overture. </p>


“I’m just so happy we won our division,” the miracle kid said. “All I kept
saying was, ‘I wanna put that hat on.’ You know, the one thing you see when
you’re young is when they put the division champion hats on in the locker room.
I always wanted that.”</p>


So they all got to wear the hats. Hat’s off to the Paterson kid who helped
put them there."
</p><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS' ANTREL ROLLE, TOM COUGHLIN SET ASIDE DIFFERENCES TO GO FOR TITLE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_antrel_rolle_tom_coughl.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>Winning cures nearly everything in the NFL. Losing, on the other hand, tends
to be the spark that ignites the verbal equivalent of M-80s in a crowded locker
room.


For proof of the latter, see Florham Park on Monday. The former, meanwhile,
was on display Monday when Antrel Rolle gushed to reporters about Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) coach Tom Coughlin, with whom he’d
butted heads last season.</p>


Now, here they are entering the postseason practically holding hands and
singing “Kumbaya” following some self-evaluation by the outspoken Rolle.</p>


“He’s his own person. I’m my own person. You’re not expected to agree on
everything,” said the Giants’ safety, who had an interception in Sunday’s 31-14
victory over the Cowboys that won the NFC East for the Giants. “But through it
all we’ve got one common goal in mind, which is to go out there and win a
championship.</p>


“He understands me better as a player this year, and I respect him as a
coach.”</p>


That wasn’t always the case. Rolle griped about Coughlin’s game-day
scheduling early last season. Last January, he said he wasn’t having much fun
playing for Coughlin and that the Jets’ team chemistry “might be” better than in
the Giants’ locker room. </p>


A year later, his tune has changed. And Coughlin, who converted practically
an entire locker room before the 2007 Super Bowl season, 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), 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.”</p>


Count Rolle among those who have kept working — even on Coughlin’s
behalf.</p>


“When you have speculation your coach’s job is up for grabs or any kind of
threatening situation, I take that very personally,” Rolle said. “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 praised Rolle for his interception Sunday night, when he slipped
underneath Jason Witten without Tony Romo seeing him. It was proof Rolle can be
a “ball hawk” while playing down low as a nickel cornerback or “bison”
linebacker even if he wishes he was patrolling the deep part of the field as a
safety." Read more...
</p><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><font size="4"><font size="3">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>
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><font size="4"><u>NY DAILY NEWS
</u></font>
GIANTS' MOUTHY SAFETY ANTREL ROLLE, NO NONSENSE COACH TOM COUGHLIN FINALLY CONNECTING AS BIG BOLUS PREPARES FOR PLAYOFFS (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/antrel-rolle-tom-coughlin-connect-giants-article-1.1000203)

Excerpt: "Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle) was still
glancing across town last January, envying the party going on in Florham Park,
N.J. He saw the Jets having fun, playing for a coach “they would die for.”<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="story-body">


He definitely did not feel the same.</p>


There were moments last season, Rolle admits now, when he regretted his
decision to sign a five-year contract to play for a team coached by <a title="Tom Coughlin" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin">Tom
Coughlin</a>, even for $37 million and $15 million guaranteed. The Pro Bowl
safety wasn’t having fun. Coughlin was “too uptight” and crushing the chemistry
and will of his players.</p>


It all seemed like a bad mistake.</p>


“Oh, I definitely thought that,” the mouthy safety said Monday. “I’d be lying
if I said I didn’t. But I stayed strong. Everything happens for a reason. I’m
extremely happy and fortunate to be a Giant, and I thank them all for bringing
me here.”</p>


That seems like a startling turnaround, considering all the troubled water
under the bridge between the edgy, 29-year-old Rolle and the staid, 65-year-old
Coughlin. But it’s a familiar story for a strong-willed, principled coach who
eventually wears his players down.</p>


When he first arrived in 2004, like an army storming a beachhead, it was only
a few months before an angry Michael Strahan (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Strahan) led
a group of players in a revolt, filing a complaint against Coughlin with the NFL
Players Association for some of his practices and rules. Less than four years
later, the two frenemies were embracing in Glendale, Ariz., sharing a Super Bowl
trophy.</p>


These days, Strahan swears by the Coughlin Way, just like so many of his
former, once-bitter players who bristled under his command in Jacksonville.</p>


Eventually they come to realize that Coughlin’s way is
right.

“Eventually you’re going to get with his program,” Rolle said.
“He’s the boss man. We’re his soldiers. We’ve got to get with his
program.

“And it works. Eventually it works.”</p>


That’s where the emotional Rolle is today, as the Giants begin preparing for
a wild-card playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. They are united, Rolle
said, “with one common goal in mind — to win a championship.” He no longer longs
to join Rex Ryan (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Rex+Ryan)’s Animal
House.</p>


In fact, Rolle is so entrenched in Coughlin’s army that he even took it
“personal” the last few weeks when he saw speculation that his coach might be
fired.</p>


“I know I’m not the only one feeling this way,” Rolle said. “I know other
guys are fighting for him. It speaks a lot about him. And I know it especially
does from me because things started out so rocky between us.”</p>


Rocky doesn’t begin to describe it.</p>


Rolle waited only until his first loss as a Giant — a 38-14 blowout in Week 2
in Indianapolis last season — to blast Coughlin’s “controlled” environment, the
coach’s game-day schedule, and other unspecified things going on “behind closed
doors.” Then, at the end of the 10-win season, Rolle attacked again, insisting
the Giants would be better “if (Coughlin) just loosened up just a little
bit.” Read more...
</p></div></div>GIANTS' MATHIAS KIWANUKA KNOWS ATLANTA FALCON'S MATT RYAN IS A HARD QB TO HANDLE (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/mathias-kiwanuka-realizes-atlanta-matty-ryan-hard-handle-article-1.1000193)

"Mathias Kiwanuka (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka)
knows what Falcons <a title="Matt Ryan (Football)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Matt+Ryan+%28Football%29">quarterback Matt
Ryan</a> can do to an opposing defense. They played together for two seasons at
Boston College, and the Giants linebacker was impressed.<div id="story"><div class="story-body">


“He is fearless,” Kiwanuka recalled. “You can’t assume that if you have tight
coverage he won’t fit the ball in because he can make every throw. He’s a
prototypical quarterback and he has the confidence to get it in there so it is
going to be tough.”</p>


Ryan, a fourth-year pro, finished the season as the NFL’s eighth-ranked
quarterback. He completed 61.3% of his passes for 4,177 yards, 29 touchdowns and
12 interceptions.</p>


Still, Kiwanuka – who one week earlier expressed confidence the Giants could
pitch a shutout against the Cowboys – believes that even against Ryan, “as long
as we do what the defense asks us to do, we will come out with the win.”</p>


He also believes the Giants’ pass rush – which has amassed 11 sacks in the
last two games – can “rattle” his old college teammate on Sunday afternoon.</p>


“Absolutely,” he said. “There is one way you can rattle a quarterback — if
you hit them in the face a few times. That makes their job a lot harder. If you
shut down the run and make them one-dimensional. If you put them in situations
where they have to throw the ball, especially with that front that we have, you
can.”</p>


BYE PASS
Falcons coach Mike Smith (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mike+Smith+%28Head+Coach%29)
is 0-2 in the playoffs, including a loss as the NFC’s top seed last year to the
visiting Packers. This time, after earning the fifth seed, Smith was almost
happy his team didn’t have a bye.</p>


“The way it went down last year, I’d rather be up this year, be up and play,”
he told the media in Atlanta. “I don’t think we handled it as well as we should
have.”</p>


Smith said his staff has already discussed what it might do differently this
time to finally get a playoff win.</p>


“You learn from everything you do,” he said. “There are things we are
definitely going to do a little differently. There are a few tweaks. You learn
and write down things and we have already been doing that as a staff.”</p>


SEE CRUZ
Smith is getting his first look at <a title="Victor Cruz" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz">Victor
Cruz</a>, who finished third in the NFL with a Giants-record 1,536 receiving
yards. His reaction?</p>


“Wow,” Smith said.</p>


“This guy is having an unbelievable year,” he added. “He’s got great skills
in route running and he’s got unbelievable hands. It’s amazing watching him
catch the football.”</p>


UP AND RUNNING
TE Jake Ballard (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jake+Ballard) (knee)
and LB Mark Herzlich (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mark+Herzlich)
(ankle) are both scheduled to do some running on Tuesday, according to <a title="Tom Coughlin" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin">Tom
Coughlin</a>. How they fare will determine whether they can practice Wednesday
and if they have any chance of playing on Sunday. . . . DE Osi Umenyiora (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Osi+Umenyiora)’s
ankle “came out well,” Coughlin said, after his first game in five
weeks."
</p></div></div>
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><div><div class="articleBodySection"><div><u><font size="4">NY POST</font></u>
</div></div></div><div><div>
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: REESE'S STRONG DRAFTS REASON GIANTS IN PLAYOFFS (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/backpage/after_further_review_reese_strong_0XCImPX4wFE3dvCb iG51WI)

Excerpt: "Jerry Reese is the guy who before the season starter guaranteed the Giants
would make the playoffs, the guy who was taking a lot of the criticism for a
quiet offseason, and the guy whose job would have been called into question had
the Giants not fulfilled his preseason prediction. <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">


He’s also the guy whose drafting ability is the reason the Giants are the NFC
East champs and playing host to the Falcons on Sunday. </p>


In 2007 when the Giants won the Super Bowl it was seventh-round unknown
rookie Ahmad Bradshaw who emerged at the end of the season and helped carry the
Giants into the playoffs and beyond. </p>


This year it’s two players from the 2010 draft who have become the most
important on the Giants outside of quarterback Eli Manning. Reese’s first-round
pick was Jason Pierre-Paul, who had played football one year at South Florida,
and defensive end was one position the Giants had depth at with Justin Tuck, Osi
Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka all high-level players. But the Giants took
Pierre-Paul with the 13th pick anyway, and he has become the team’s best
defensive player in his second season.</p>


But Reese’s best decision came after the draft when he signed Victor Cruz out
of UMass. The New Jersey native immediately impressed with 297 receiving yards
in the Giants’ 2010 preseason opening victory over the Jets, but after playing
sparingly in the regular season, Cruz hurt his hamstring and was put on injured
reserve. Cruz has come back this year as a star. With Hakeem Nicks and Mario
Manningham battling nagging injuries, Cruz has been the one receiving constant
for a Giants team that also lost Steve Smith to the Eagles.</p>


It was the departure of Smith and tight end Kevin Boss that had Giants fans
struggling to understand the team’s post-lockout plan. Their big free agent
signing was center David Baas, while the Jets were making splashes with the
re-signing of Santonio Holmes and adding of Plaxico Burress, who spurned a
Giants reunion. </p>


Injuries to key players on the Giants defense (Prince Amukamara, Terrell
Thomas, Jonathan Goff) was also a reason for trepidation. It was Reese’s strong
2011 draft that helped patch up that defense with rookie linebackers Jacquian
Williams (sixth round), Greg Jones (sixth round) and Mark Herzlich (undrafted)
all playing meaningful time. The defense was vulnerable at times, but played its
best football the final two weeks of the season to beat the Jets and Cowboys and
win the NFC East. </p>


They have Reese to thank for that. The Giants GM puts his stamp on this team
during April’s draft, not the free-agent period, and it’s the reason the Giants
were able to survive crippling injuries and get back to the playoffs for the
first time in three years." Read more...
</p></div>SEASON'S WILD RIDE GIVES GIANTS MOMENTUM HEADING INTO PLAYOFFS (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/battle_tested_khtrRYv5zeAblDgrAtgydN)

Excerpt: "As one of the most prominent of the 17 players on the current Giants roster
who remain from the glory of the 2007 Super Bowl run, defensive end Justin Tuck
yesterday said it is the job of the veterans to guide the playoff novices on
what the postseason is all about. <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">


"It's important for them to understand it's going to be a crazy environment,"
Tuck said. "The intensity of the game is probably going to be higher than
anything they've seen." </p>


With that, Tuck paused for a moment, then corrected himself. </p>


"Maybe not," he said, "because we've kind of played two playoff games already
this year, must-win games."
</p>General manager Jerry Reese used the term "battle-tested" to describe the
Giants not long after they put the finishing touches on a 31-14 dismantling of
the Cowboys in the regular-season finale. The Giants (9-7) moved on and will
face the Falcons (10-6) in an NFC wild card game Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
There is a growing sense the hellacious schedule that nearly killed off the
Giants' playoff chances has made them stronger. <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">


<a href="http://www.nypost.com/blogs/giantsblog" target="_blank">UPDATES FROM
OUR GIANTS BLOG</a> </p>


"I think we have been in playoff games, we have been in playoff games for the
last three weeks," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We are battle-tested in a lot of
ways because we have played some really outstanding football teams all down
through the second half of the season." </p>


It hasn't always, or often, gone well for the Giants. They beat the Patriots
-- the No. 1 seed in the AFC -- with quarterback Eli Manning leading a
fourth-quarter comeback reminiscent of Super Bowl XLII. They came down to the
wire in a 27-20 loss at San Francisco -- the No. 2 seed in the NFC. They were
slammed in New Orleans by the potent third-seeded Saints and went toe-to-toe
with the then-unbeaten Super Bowl champion Packers before falling 38-35 on a
last-second field goal. </p>


And Giants all but killed off the playoff hopes of the Jets and officially
eliminated the Cowboys in back-to-back games featuring incredible emotional
investments. </p>


"I think we faced the best of the best opponents throughout the season,"
safety Antrel Rolle said. "We haven't always played up to our standards in most
of those games and we've had a lot of ups and downs. We haven't played a
consistent season under any circumstances. The records are 0-0-0 at this point,
right now, coming off the Jets win and off this win I think we have an
identity." </p>


The Giants weathered so many storms this season they might all qualify for
honorary meteorological degrees. Reese was lambasted in the summer for seemingly
being asleep at the switch in free agency. Coughlin got the Giants off to their
customary 6-2 start, then tried to convince anyone who would listen the ensuing
four-game losing streak was not the recurrence of a familiar second-half swoon.
</p>


Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell mixed and matched with an injury-depleted
squad that sunk to the bottom of the NFL pile. Offensive coordinator Kevin
Gilbride could not figure out a way to ignite the rushing attack. Only the
weekly exploits of Manning kept the Giants in contention as they blew their hold
on first place in the NFC East, regained it by beating the Cowboys on Dec. 11,
then lost it again when they barely showed up in a home-field loss to the
Redskins before finally claiming the prize. </p>


"The season was up and down and this wasn't the way we wanted to go in,"
linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said, "but in terms of how we finished the season,
when we needed to get those wins we got them." </p>


Wide receiver Victor Cruz, who has done everything this season except throw
the ball to himself for one of his wild thrill-ride plays down the field that
end with him salsa dancing in the end zone pointed out the importance of the
regular-season finale. </p>


"This last game was pretty intense," Cruz said. "I think the energy and the
environment that we saw, that's how it's gonna be the entire playoffs." </p>


Everything rises in the playoffs, but Tuck is not sure things can get more
elevated as when the Giants dispatched the despised Cowboys. </p>


"Our crowd was amazing and I don't know if it gets any higher than that,"
Tuck said. "I hope it does but I don't know. That game just seemed like it was
the Super Bowl for us."</p>GIANTS HAVE ENOUGH TO WIN IT ALL (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/feeling_super_iuQdFBet1CEWBWFXLZJ17O)

Excerpt: "No one believed the Giants could make a Super Bowl run four years ago, and no
one believes they can make one now. <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">


But as the Road to Indianapolis begins Sunday against the Falcons in East
Rutherford, suddenly there are more than a few reasons why fans can believe in
the Giants again, not the least of which is they believe in themselves. </p>


I asked Mathias Kiwanuka what he thinks teams are looking at the Giants and
thinking right now. </p>


"Oh, s - - t !" he said. "Just 'cause [of] the intensity that we're playing
with, and how bad we want it." </p>


You think you can win the Super Bowl?
</p>"There's no doubt in my mind, if we play the way that we've been playing,
that we'll be there," Kiwanuka said. These battle-tested Giants will field 18
players with Super Bowl experience. <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">


"There's 12 teams left; we're in the playoffs," defensive end Dave Tollefson
said. "Everybody's dangerous. It ain't like we gotta go 16-0 to get where we
want to be." </p>


No, all they likely have to do to be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy is beat
Matt Ryan at home, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees on the road and, let's say, Tom
Brady or Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLVI. </p>


Reasons to believe: </p>


SUPER BOWL XLII MVP ELI MANNING </p>


"He understands what it takes exactly to get to where we need to be," the
amazing wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "It's just an amazing feeling just to
have him there and him being a guy we can talk to that's been in a Super Bowl,
that's made a great run before and stuff like that, so it's good to have a guy
like that on your side." </p>


THE PASS RUSH </p>


"Anytime [Manning is] playing like he's playing, and we're playing like we're
playing upfront, we got a chance against anybody," Tollefson said. "That's kinda
been the math equation of success in the NFL, right? You need a guy that can
throw the ball really, really well. And then who's the guys that get after the
guy that throws the ball really really well? It's the defensive linemen. It's
kinda yin and yang of each other. You need both of them to exist successfully,
you know?" </p>


Both of them existed in spades against Brady four years ago, remember? And
have you heard of this fellow Jason Pierre-Paul? </p>


"That's the blueprint for a blueprint for a championship right there,"
Kiwanuka said. "When [Manning] steps up, and he has guys like Cruz going down,
making plays where maybe a play isn't as easy to be made, and then we have our
pass rush getting to their quarterback and we have our DBs, Antrel Rolle, coming
down, taking picks away, that's how you play football, that's how you win
championships." </p>


When the Giants bring their "A" game, they can rattle any quarterback. </p>


"There's no doubt in my mind when we put it together and we have that
collective desire to get there, we're gonna get there," Kiwanuka said. </p>


Big Blue has been stuffing the run of late and making offenses
one-dimensional. "And we got back -- I don't know, you heard of him? Tollefson
said. "Osi Umenyiora?" </p>


COACH TOM COUGHLIN </p>


The elite head coach who does not get the respect he deserves. He has been
there, done that. </p>


"I have many different reasons why I play as hard as I do, and one of them is
Coach Coughlin," Antrel Rolle said. "He's his own person, I'm my own person.
You're not expected to agree on each and every thing. But through it all, we
have one common goal in mind, which is go out there and win a championship."
</p>


HUNGER </p>


The Giants missed the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. </p>


"I can feel it in the locker room, in the practice field," Cruz said. "Guys
are kinda bouncing around, guys have bounce in their step, and it's just a good
feeling right now." </p>


Rolle said: "I've been hungry ever since '08 when I was seconds away [with
the Cardinals] from getting my Super Bowl [win]." </p>


THE 12th MAN </p>


For the Falcons, there's no place like dome. </p>


"Having the crowd behind us is huge," Kiwanuka said. "I think it'll be
similar to this past week's game, only just turned up a little bit more." </p>


The Packers survived a life-and-death struggle at MetLife Stadium against the
Giants. If the Giants advance to the divisional round, they likely would head to
Lambeau Field, where cheeseheads remember Manning beating Brett Favre four years
ago. </p>


"All I can say is this here: We're in the playoffs, and if we keep playing
like we're playing, I don't know of many teams that are gonna want to be playing
us," Tollefson said." </p></div>GIANTS CAN "RATTLE" FALCONS QB RYAN (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/door_matt_YzbU3zYFU7YKkG5oo5RleP)

"The Giants will have to beat yet another Ryan to keep their season alive.<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">


After dispatching Rex Ryan and his twin brother Rob Ryan (/t/Rob_Ryan)the past two weeks just to get into the
playoffs, the Giants now are tasked with sending Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (/t/Matt_Ryan)(no relation) home for good
in the wild-card round Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.</p>


History says toppling this Ryan won’t be nearly as difficult as the previous
two.</p>


Despite his gaudy regular-season statistics, No. 3 overall pick pedigree and
catchy “Matty Ice” nickname, Atlanta’s celebrated passer has yet to win a
playoff game in four NFL seasons.
</p>Not only that, but Ryan is less than a full season removed from his personal
low point: a 48-21 rout at home last January at the hands of the wild-card
Packers after leading<a class="topiclink" href="/t/The_Falcons"> the Falcons
</a>to home-field advantage throughout the NF

ashleymarie
01-03-2012, 10:21 AM
Thanks RF. I read some good comments and endorsements for Coughlin from the players in there.

GameTime
01-03-2012, 10:24 AM
thank you Sir....</P>


great job as always...</P>

G-Men Surg.
01-03-2012, 10:46 AM
Good morning ! Thanks RF !

BigBlue1971
01-03-2012, 11:21 AM
many thanks Roanoke! [B]

Mod_C
01-03-2012, 11:27 AM
many thanks Roanoke! [B]

[Y] Good news all around today

RoanokeFan
01-03-2012, 11:30 AM
Thanks RF. I read some good comments and endorsements for Coughlin from the players in there.

It seems TC may have never lost the players in the first place [;)]

RoanokeFan
01-03-2012, 11:31 AM
thank you Sir....</p>


great job as always...</p>

We could be poised for greatness

RoanokeFan
01-03-2012, 11:31 AM
Good morning ! Thanks RF !

Top of the morning to you

GameTime
01-03-2012, 01:14 PM
thank you Sir....</P>


great job as always...</P>




We could be poised for greatness
</P>


who?....me and you?.... or the Giants.....lol</P>

RoanokeFan
01-03-2012, 01:42 PM
thank you Sir....</p>


great job as always...</p>




We could be poised for greatness
</p>


who?....me and you?.... or the Giants.....lol</p>

You, me AND the GIANTS

GameTime
01-03-2012, 02:09 PM
thank you Sir....</P>


great job as always...</P>




We could be poised for greatness
</P>


who?....me and you?.... or the Giants.....lol</P>




You, me AND the GIANTS
</P>


[Y]</P>

RoanokeFan
01-03-2012, 02:17 PM
thank you Sir....</p>


great job as always...</p>




We could be poised for greatness
</p>


who?....me and you?.... or the Giants.....lol</p>




You, me AND the GIANTS
</p>


[Y]</p>

I only threw me if so I wouldn't feel left out lol

GameTime
01-03-2012, 02:37 PM
thank you Sir....</P>


great job as always...</P>




We could be poised for greatness
</P>


who?....me and you?.... or the Giants.....lol</P>




You, me AND the GIANTS
</P>


[Y]</P>




I only threw me if so I wouldn't feel left out lol
</P>


come on Ro....no self effacing humor allowed. If you make fun of yourself what will be left for the rest of us....lol</P>


We have a saying in my family.."don't make fun of yourself because you are stealing my material".....lol</P>

Cindy in INdy
01-03-2012, 05:00 PM
THANKS FOR ALL THIS!

RoanokeFan
01-03-2012, 06:38 PM
THANKS FOR ALL THIS!

[Y]

lttaylor56
01-03-2012, 09:56 PM
Thanks rf. I like our chances after this weekend. Gb & sf don't scare me. We hung w them in close games already. I keep dreaming of redemption against the ravens in the sb

RoanokeFan
01-04-2012, 08:09 AM
Thanks rf. I like our chances after this weekend. Gb &amp; sf don't scare me. We hung w them in close games already. I keep dreaming of redemption against the ravens in the sb

All things are possible IF we <font color="#0000FF" size="6">B<font color="#FF0000">ELI</font>EVE</font>