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RoanokeFan
01-17-2012, 05:10 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">

</font><font size="4"><font size="6"><font size="4"><font color="#FF0000"><u><font size="6">NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS
<font color="#0000FF">
PLAYOFFS 2 - 0: ON TO THE OTHER BAY!
</font></font></u></font></font></font><u>
</u><u><font face="Verdana">
</font></u></font><font size="4"><u>NEWARK STAR LEDGER</u></font><font size="4"><font size="3">

GIANTS VS 49ERS: VICTOR CRUZ EAGER FOR ANOTHER DANCE WITH SAN FRANCISCO'S CARLOS ROGERS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_victor_cruz_ea.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>In the postgame locker room at Candlestick Park on Nov. 13, after Eli
Manning’s fourth-down pass was batted down by Justin Smith with 34 seconds
remaining in the game, a bunch of Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)
said they wanted one more crack at the San Francisco 49ers.


One of them was Victor Cruz, who desired another piece of the 49ers as a
whole as well as the chance to go against cornerback Carlos Rogers, who
irritated him that day by talking trash and <a href="http://newyork.sbnation.com/2011/11/15/2564496/carlos-rogers-victor-criuz-giants-49ers-salsa-dance">mocking
Cruz’s salsa dance</a> after an interception.</p>


This Sunday, in the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, Cruz will see
Rogers again in the game that will determine which team goes to Indianapolis for
Super Bowl XLVI.</p>


“I did want that rematch,” the Giants wide receiver told The Star-Ledger
today. “I do remember the salsa. It’s very vivid in my memory. I’m just excited
to go back there and I’m going to make sure I get in his ear a little bit
because we had a nice little matchup last time.</p>


“It’s just good. Hopefully we can get a little bit of revenge and we’ll see
how it goes.”</p>


The Giants believe they might be on a mini-revenge tour right now, having
beaten the Packers and now seeing the 49ers on deck. Some have gone so far as to
suggest it could continue with the Ravens in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXV, but
let’s not get ahead of ourselves.</p>


For now, know there’s a lot of confidence and excitement being spewed by the
Giants, who feel they could’ve easily beaten the 49ers in a game that slipped
out of their hands starting with a hamstring injury that knocked out Michael
Boley in the second quarter.</p>


“That’s a game I honestly felt like we shouldn’t have lost. I felt like we
let that one get away,” safety Kenny Phillips said. “They are a good team, they
played extremely well (Saturday), but I think we’ll get the job done.”</p>


Why’s that?
</p>“Because we felt like we could’ve beat them,” said Deon Grant, who vacated an
area rookie Greg Jones should’ve helped cover on Vernon Davis’ touchdown. “It
was a good game. It came down to a few plays here and there, and I have to tip
my hat ... because they dialed up the right plays to beat us, so I can’t take
anything from them.


“We still felt like, humbly, we should’ve beaten those guys.” Read more...
</p><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS TO FACE SAN FRANCISCO IN REMATCH A LOT HEALTHIER (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_to_face_san_francisco_4.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>It was late in the first half against the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 13 that
Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) linebacker Michael Boley suffered
the hamstring injury that would sideline him for the next two games and hinder
him for the first few weeks of his return.



With Boley, the defensive
play-caller, in street clothes in the second half, the Giants were forced to
rely on an inexperienced unit and it showed as the 49ers ran for 77 yards in the
two quarters en route to <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/11/giants_finally_at_loss_for_a_c.html">a
27-20 victory.</a></p>


Several of his teammates have talked about getting a second crack at San
Francisco after losing in Week 11 — in a way for Boley, it’ll be his first
crack.</p>


“It does (stink) I got hurt but that’s with anybody,” Boley said. “You hate
watching the game from the sideline, regardless of whether you feel you could’ve
helped or not. But I guess going back up there could be a little extra incentive
because I didn’t finish the first one.”</p>


Boley wasn’t the only member of the Giants defense nicked up or out
altogether. </p>


“We didn’t have a fully healthy (Justin) Tuck, Osi (Umenyiora) wasn’t there,”
he said. “We were missing a lot of guys. Not to use that as an excuse. That’s
just the reality of it.”</p>


49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged the Giants’ injuries in the teams’
first meeting and knows it goes hand-in-hand with how the Giants, winners of
five straight, have been playing lately.</p>


“Healthier is the biggest thing, especially on the defensive side of the
ball,” Harbaugh told San Francisco reporters today. “Especially the linebacker
unit. When we faced them, they were really down to one linebacker, two really
young linebackers and one linebacker playing out of position.</p>


“That group is really playing at a high level and much different.”</p>


Now the Giants are as healthy as they have been all season — the only player
out of Sunday’s win over Green Bay was rookie LB Mark Herzlich and even he said
that he hoped to return to practice this week if the Giants advanced past the
Packers.</p>


WR Victor Cruz had five touchdowns of 65 yards or longer
this season, so where does the recovery of the onside kick on Sunday rank?
</p>“It’s gotta rank No. 1, man,” Cruz said. “Against Green Bay, against Aaron
Rodgers and not letting them get that ball back ... It probably changed the
complexion of the game. It was tremendous I was able to get the football, I
almost forgot we were on offense.”


Cruz said his quad feels okay after getting hit there on Sunday and that the
plan is for him to practice Wednesday." Read more...
</p><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS-PACKERS GAME REVIEW (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants-packers_game_review.html)

"</font></font>Travel to and from Green Bay was a nightmare. Fares were through the roof
(and then unavailable by the time the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)' game against the Atlanta Falcons
was over. In short, I had to drive to Chicago after the game and then head to
the airport two hours later.


Long story short, I didn't watch this game as in-depth as usual, but I got
through it much more quickly than I had hoped. The fact this is up before Monday
became Tuesday is actually a major victory.</p>


But as always, help us out by filling in the gaps and giving us what you
saw.</p>


* * * *</p>


GAME BALLS</p>


QB Eli Manning. My wife is off from work today so when I got
home this morning, she was giving me her version of a game review. (I lead the
league in gassers in her reviews.) She’s a football novice but she’s learning
with each game during this run here. She told me, “Eli doesn’t run very much.
Not like Aaron Rodgers. He runs all the time.” Three plays into the game review,
I rewound his throw to WR Mario Manningham when he had LB Desmond Bishop coming
right at him and said, “No, he doesn’t run much. But this is how he uses his
feet, to slide just enough in the pocket to buy time for the receiver to
complete the route. He’s done that better this year than ever.” <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/eli_manning_giants_quarterback.html">QBs
coach Mike Sullivan and his unorthodox drills </a>are a big reason why. Also,
we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention, “The Block” on RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s run in
the fourth quarter. “We had to hear about the scramble and now we’ll have to
hear about ‘The Block,’” RG Chris Snee said. “It’ll be called ‘The Block.’” One
minor, minor qualm, though: Manning could’ve run for the first down on
third-and-5 on the opening drive. The presence of LB A.J. Hawk made him rethink
that one at the last minute and the pass fell incomplete.</p>


Coach Tom Coughlin. “We must be what, 0-for-100 by now?”
Coughlin said of replay challenges. Close. They’ve lost eight in a row. But
frankly, it’s the only area of Coughlin’s jurisdiction that’s been slipping of
late. He’s got this team believing and the way guys like S Antrel Rolle have
bought in is kind of incredible.</p>


Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The players said
afterward the game plan was to defend the edges of the field and keep everything
the Packers did to the inside and underneath. You could see the way the
cornerbacks took their drops that’s exactly what they were doing. It was a
smart, smart plan because Rodgers had killed the Giants near the sideline in
their first meeting. Not so much Sunday. Take a look at the difference between
the first and second meeting of these teams in Rodgers’ passes outside the
numbers, <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=320115009">per an
ESPN stat</a> (on the right side of the page): 21-for-25 and three touchdowns in
Week 13, 11-for-23 and zero touchdowns on Sunday. </p>


Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn. Rookie LB Greg Jones
and S Derrick Martin didn’t budge on the surprise onside kick after the 49ers
were successful in <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/11/giants_fooled_again_by_david_a.html">catching
the Giants napping earlier this season</a>. Quinn took a lot of heat last
season, but Coughlin stood by him and was quick to praise him and assistant
special teams coach Larry Izzo on Sunday. I’m not sure what happened on the
blocked field goal. It looked like OT Tony Ugoh stumbled a bit.</p>


Manningham. I mean, is anybody watching film of the
Giants inside the 10-yard line? How can you not guard against that play-action
quick slant behind the linebackers by now? Anyway, nice job by Manningham, who
had three catches – two for third-down conversions and one for a touchdown.</p>


WR Victor Cruz. Speaking of third-down conversions, he
caught three of them. But get this: today, he was asked where the onside-kick
recovery ranks on his list of plays this year and said, “Probably No. 1.” His
point was it helped seal a divisional-round game over the defending champs, but
I think he’s too quickly forgetting any of the five touchdowns of 65 yards or
more he had this season.</p>


Martin. He’s flown under the radar this year because he’s a
special-teamer but he’s a popular guy with his teammates and a heady player,
according to those who line up next to him.</p>


Jones. As I said, he didn't budge. He also nearly forced a
fumble on that kickoff in the first quarter. He's been very good on
specials.</p>


WR Hakeem Nicks. You need only to watch Packers CB Jarrett
Bush’s reaction to his Hail Mary catch to see how it “broke their backs,” <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_ahmad_bradshaw_says_med.html">as
Brandon Jacobs put it</a>. And speaking of the Hail Mary, I had a guy mention to
me on Twitter he objects to that term being used because that was a great throw
and catch. I wouldn’t go that far, but it wasn’t a Hail Mary like <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlvOUG8nuZ4">the Jaguars’ catch nearly
making Gus Johnson’s head explode</a> was a Hail Mary. This wasn’t luck. It was
skill. And it was badly misplayed by Bush and outside CB Sam Shields, who
trailed the play and didn’t hustle toward Nicks in the end zone. There was no
threat underneath them and even if there was, there was no time left on the
clock, so a tackle in the field of play ends the half. As for S Charlie Peprah,
I wonder if he thought the ball was going to carry a bit more in the wind. The
only quote I saw from him was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He said he "<a href="http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/defense-still-nowhere-near-super-t53qao8-137400853.html">didn’t
get off the ground the way I wanted to</a>. He just made a better play on the
ball than I did.”</p>


RT Kareem McKenzie. <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants-packers_game_preview_ca.html">I
mentioned in my game preview</a> the Giants would keep a close eye on LB Clay
Matthews, especially when they wanted to take their shots downfield. They did
just that. It’s obvious the Packers early on were trying to use Matthews as a
bit of a decoy at times by sending him up the field and then bringing a blitzer
underneath him. The Giants’ backs, tight ends and McKenzie did a very good job
for the most part of staying composed and picking up the right players.</p>


Bradshaw. While we’re talking about blitz pickups, how about
the one he had when he went low on Bishop on TE Travis Beckum’s 10-yard catch on
the opening drive? A big reason why that’s effective is Bradshaw doesn’t always
rely on the cut block. He’ll go toe-to-toe with a linebacker without even
blinking. When you dive at ankles too often, blitzers will know it’s coming.
Bradshaw has the guts to stick his face mask in there, so it was effective
there. Oh, and he also had that 23-yard cutback run we were gushing about last
night. You know, the one that made the Hail Mary to Nicks possible. Even Snee
said it was a “shock” to see Bradshaw suddenly on his right after taking a pitch
to the left. Terrific, big-time play.</p>


LB Michael Boley. I want to give Fewell and his assistants
more props on this one because they helped make Boley’s first sack possible with
great design up front. DE Osi Umenyiora ran a twist with a standing DE Justin
Tuck to Boley’s right and that forced RT Bryan Bulaga to slide down inside a bit
before he picked up Tuck looping toward him. At that point, Boley has a ton of
room inside of him. Now, time to credit Boley for being physical with RB James
Starks to take away Rodgers’ escape hatch to his right. That left him only to
step up into the pocket. Once Boley shed Starks and crashed down on Rodgers,
that outlet was gone, too. I’ll have more on Boley’s crucial sack on
fourth-and-5 down below. Boley now has three sacks in the regular season and
playoffs combined: two of Rodgers and one of Tom Brady. Not too shabby right
there.</p>


S Kenny Phillips. I thought he just got lucky when he
knocked the ball from RB Ryan Grant to set up a touchdown that gave the Giants a
17-point lead.</p>


S Deon Grant. He came down on Grant to knock a ball out of
his hands on a short hook. He also had an interception in the fourth quarter.
But most importantly and impressively, he fell on his sword after the game when
<a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_chris_canty_says_his_kn.html">asked
about a shoving match with TE Jermichael Finley</a> and said it was absolutely
his fault for overreacting. Very, very admirable right there.</p>


Rolle. See the under-the-radar play. </p>


Umenyiora. He's absolutely right when he says he'd be among
the sack leaders had he played 16 games.</p>


CB Aaron Ross. If Umenyiora doesn’t come through with a
strip sack, we might be writing much different stories today. (See below.) But
he did and Ross had an otherwise solid game. He just needs to remember to
hydrate well, which has been an issue for him in the past.</p>

CB Corey Webster. He didn't show up much. That's a good
thing.</p>


Packers WR Donald Driver. He made an outstanding catch with
Phillips reaching into the “basket” (that’s what Herm Edwards called the
receivers’ hands in <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/aaron_rodgers_eli_manning_both.html%5C">my
Sunday story</a>) in the third quarter. While watching that play live, I saw
Phillips crashing down and didn’t think Driver had a prayer of catching that.
Later, he made an outstanding leaping catch with LB Jacquian Williams all over
him and I starred that play as a potential turning point for Green Bay’s
offense. It wasn’t, though Driver isn’t to blame for that.</p>


Bishop. He was not one of the Packers I’d describe as rusty
and played an outstanding game, particularly with his pressures up the
middle.</p>


Packers LB Brad Jones. Blocked field goal and a sack in the
fourth quarter.</p>


* * * *</p>


FREE-PASS PURGATORY</p>


Rodgers. He and his targets were definitely out of synch,
though his reactions told me he believed it was more them than him. Early in the
third quarter, on a misfire to WR Greg Jennings, who got behind Ross in man
coverage, Rodgers seemed to want Jennings to continue up the seam instead of
bending his route a bit to the middle. Jennings adjusted because Phillips was
deep to the outside, presumably as part of that contain coverage the Giants were
playing. The big miss was on the third-and-5 to start the fourth quarter. It
looked like he either wanted Finley to flatten his route out a bit or not sit
down like it appeared Finley did. Troy Aikman said it’s more on Rodgers. I don’t
know about that one.</p>


* * * *</p>


GASSERS</p>


Peprah. “You have to tackle in the playoffs,” he said. Yes,
and you have to wrap to tackle. In all, I counted nine missed tackles for 92
extra yards for the Packers through two-plus quarters. I stopped counting at
some point late in the third quarter.</p>


Bush and Shields. See above.</p>


Finley, Grant, Starks,
Packers FB John Kuhn, TE Tom Crabtree. Drops
and fumbles from this bunch.</p>


Referee Bill Leavy and his crew. Between the botched replay,
the helmet-to-helmet hit by Umenyiora that never came close to happening, the
helmet-to-helmet hit by Bishop on Manning that actually did happen but wasn’t
called and a few other missed calls, that was a bad job by that crew.</p>


* * * *</p>


UNDER-THE-RADAR PLAY</p>


Maybe I’m trying to be a bit too smart for the room again, but the open-field
tackle by Rolle on Starks at the end of his 29-yard run turned out to be a big
one. When I saw Starks get the edge, I thought he was gone. Rolle came down to
cut the angle and get a piece of Starks as he tried to cut back. It was Rolle or
the end zone there and Rolle won.</p>


The Packers wound up settling for a field goal that made it 20-13. If they
get a touchdown there, the game takes on a new feel. Plus, when the Giants kick
a field goal midway through the fourth quarter, it’s still a one-possession game
and the Packers can take the lead with a field goal.</p>


But that’s not the way it played out, thanks to an unheralded play by Rolle,
which was followed by his excellent pass defensed on a fade in the end zone a
few plays later. That was a dandy because he avoided Driver when he crossed with
Jennings in an attempt to rub him off the route.</p>


* * * *</p>


SECOND GUESSES</p>


I was telling someone recently the NFL should just do what the NHL does with
its replay system and have everything reviewed in the “War Room” (though not the
one in Toronto). PFT’s Mike Florio, a hockey buff, <a href="http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/01/15/league-needs-to-take-replay-review-out-of-referees-hands/">mentioned
that same concept on Sunday night</a>. I’m waiting to hear back from the league
on the fumble by Jennings that was twice ruled down by contact, but Fox’s
Mike Pereira agreed it should’ve been ruled a fumble. Bad job
by Leavy and the replay official there. It’s clear they thought Jennings’ calf
was down before the ball started to move but that’s not the way I saw it. There
has to be a way to make these rulings more consistent and accurate. To me, if
there’s a way to bump this up the chain of command to a more centralized
decision-maker, I’m all for it.</p>


DE Jason Pierre-Paul badly wanted a holding call on Packers
LT Chad Clifton on a second-and-9 late in the second quarter.
Of all the holding calls the players and coaches were begging for, that one
brought with it the best case because Clifton prevented him from working back to
the line of scrimmage after getting a good push upfield. Still, he was
complaining about it far too long. After the next play, in fact.</p>


The other holding complaint that had some juice to it was when Tuck got
tackled by Bulaga on the next-to-last play of the third quarter.</p>


I know the Packers wanted the wind and that’s why they deferred after winning
the opening toss. I’m not second guessing that decision at all. I just wonder if
this game was played over again today, would they decide to put their offense on
the field first? That long Giants drive to open the game, even though it only
netted a field goal, did exactly what they wanted it to do: play keep-away from
Rodgers &amp; Co.</p>


Pereira tweeted the spot on RB D.J. Ware’s run on
third-and-2 after Umenyiora’s strip sack <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/MikePereira/status/158695223030071296">was a good
one</a>. I don’t know what angle he saw but I’ve watched the broadcast view a
few times now and Ware certainly doesn’t look a half-yard short of the stick. I
mean, he might be short by inches but I don’t see it from the high sideline
view, which didn’t show the ball because it was obstructed by Ware’s body. Maybe
Pereira had a different angle in the studio. In any event, that was a pretty
powerful run by Ware to spin off Bishop and even come close to the stick. It was
reminiscent to a run by Jacobs against Atlanta to pick up a first down.</p>


One good call by the officials was when they didn’t flag CB Charles
Woodson for pass interference when he jammed Beckum in the fourth
quarter. It looked like the contact happened before the ball left Manning’s
hand. And that’s after I slowed it down to watch it. They got it correct
live.</p>


* * * *</p>


ODDS AND (TIGHT) ENDS</p>


I ran out of room in Boley’s game ball so I’ll tackle it here because there’s
an interesting moment right before his sack on fourth-and-5 that was pretty much
the defensive play of the game. Tuck is standing and signaling to Umenyiora.
They were obviously working out some kind of twist there. But then, Tuck says
what sounded like, “(Forget) it,” and puts his hand in the dirt. From the look
of things, Umenyiora might’ve missed Tuck nixing whatever they were planning
because he tries to loop into the “A” gap only to see Tuck has rushed there. If
Boley doesn’t get his outstanding rush from the outside to get around RB
Brandon Saine and get a hand on Rodgers, there’s a big hole for
Rodgers to step up, escape and either run for the first down or buy time to
throw to the crossing WR Jordy Nelson. But Boley got there and
held on for a big, big play.</p>


Joe Buck and Aikman were trying to figure out why the Giants
called a timeout before their third play from scrimmage. They guessed there was
a substitution issue and that’s exactly what it was. You hate to burn a timeout
that early, but the Giants had an extra guy on the field. Bradshaw was in the
slot in a six-receiver set. As you know, that’s impossible because five linemen
plus a quarterback and six receivers is too many on the field. The Packers
wanted a 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty and I’m not sure how the Giants weren’t
nailed for that one because you can’t see the huddle on the broadcast. Had they
been backed up another 5 yards there, maybe they don’t convert the third-down
pass to Manningham (It went for 19 yards, but who knows how the extra 5 would’ve
changed the calls on both sides) and that important long first drive doesn’t
happen.</p>


Speaking of Aikman and Fox, good job by them immediately identifying
Umenyiora had saved a TD with his strip sack because Jennings had gotten past
Ross. Aikman saw it right away and they had the replay ready when they came back
from break. Now, one I thought they might’ve missed while watching live was a
second-and-7 check-down pass from Rodgers to Starks. I would’ve loved to see a
wide-angle replay there because <a href="http://www.sulia.com/channel/new-york-giants-vs-green-bay-packers/f/ba9cc970-d3dc-459c-b24f-1e7e7e338e66/?source=twitter">Driver
had gotten past Rolle</a> and appeared to be open enough for Rodgers to take a
shot. It seems like he’s looking in Driver’s general direction but never takes
the shot. Live, I thought it was there for the taking. </p>


One more note about the touchdown Umenyiora saved: that was probably set up
in the Packers’ minds by Ross’ breaking on an earlier pass that could’ve been a
pick six had Rodgers not delivered it close to the sideline. The coaches
probably thought Ross couldn’t wait to get his hands on another one. If so, they
timed the double-move call perfectly. The only problem was Clifton and
LG T.J. Lang didn’t stop Umenyiora on a swim move between
them.</p>


The Packers have a go-to play for them they tried in the third quarter on a
deep ball to Nelson Ross knocked down. It’s a fake stretch play to the right and
a throwback deep to the left. The Giants obviously scouted that one well.</p>


Packers S Morgan Burnett had a pretty good game. He got his
hand on a pass for TE Jake Ballard in the end zone and also
made a very nice tackle on Jacobs in the fourth quarter. Burnett avoided a stiff
arm and got to Jacobs’ body. That’s not easy to do.</p>


</p><div class="entry-content">

I thought Bradshaw was going to rip apart at the knees when Matthews chased
him down from behind on first-and-goal two plays after Kuhn fumbled. Good hustle
by Matthews, as always, and good flexibility on Bradshaw’s part because that
could’ve been ugly. It looked like he might’ve slid a bid on the turf, which
surely helped.</p>


I didn’t see when Kuhn got injured while watching live. Now I see when. And
now I see why. LB Mathias Kiwanuka absolutely crushed him while
Kuhn tried to stick him on a lead block. That wasn’t what caused the injury. The
problem was Crabtree threw Rolle down into his legs. But the only reason he was
in position for that to happen was Kiwanuka blasted him backward. Another
outstanding physical play for him that didn’t make the stat sheet.</p>


Ross said a big reason for the secondary’s improved play of late is “the
after-work studying is really helping us a lot. About a month and a half now at
my house, Kenny’s house and Corey’s house.” They used to do one night of group
studying a week. “Now, we do like three nights,” Ross said.</p>


Snee said Packers DL B.J. Raji came up to him to talk about Raji’s saying the
Giants’ offensive line isn’t as “physical” as other units. “First of all, me and
B.J. are cool and he immediately said at the beginning of the game that was
blown out of proportion. And I believe him,” Snee said. “He’s a heckuva player.
They’ve got a bunch of big bodies inside. It was tough sledding for the running
game.”</p>


The Packers should’ve seen the Giants’ draw play when they called a timeout
right before Bradshaw’s run and realized the Giants were content with running
the ball and heading into halftime with a 3-point lead. In fact, they did the
Giants a favor by calling that timeout. You’d have to figure the draw up the
middle wasn’t going to allow Bradshaw to get out of bounds, even though
LT David Diehl said the linemen thought they were going to gash
the Packers’ three-man front there. On the next play, Green Bay was still in a
three-down front and Bradshaw was able to work his magic.</p>


And finally, at the end of Bradshaw’s 23-yard run, who was waiting with open
arms on the sideline for him? Mitch Petrus. <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_ahmad_bradshaw_says_med.html">No
apology necessary this time.</a> Oh, and I finally got to Petrus to ask him what
the heck he was saying and why in that clip from the Falcons game. He insists he
was talking about a play from much later in the game and not the safety. Plus,
he said he was out of breath at the time so that’s why he was tough to
understand. … Sigh … I liked our version so much better."</p></div><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS' TOM COUGHLIN DOESN'T AGREE WITH TWO QUESTIONABLE RULINGS IN WIN OVER PACKERS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_tom_coughlin_doesnt_agr.html)

"</font></font>Tom Coughlin, like basically everyone who has seen the replays, doesn't have
an explanation for two calls officials made that ultimately allowed the Packers
to go on to score their two touchdowns in the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_beat_green_bay_packers.html">Giants'
37-20 win Sunday</a>.


First there was the apparent fumble by Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings.
Giants safety Deon Grant stripped Jennings late in the first quarter and replays
showed that Jennings' knee was not down prior to the ball coming out as ruled on
the field. Yet, even after going under the hood when Coughlin challenged the
play, referee Bill Leavy did not overturn the ruling.</p>
<div class="embeddedMedia entry_widget_large entry_widget_right"><span class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-photo"><span class="adv-video"><a class="bc_video"><span class="bc_video_overlay"></span></a> <span class="video-data"><span class="title"></span></span><span class="photo-bottom-left"></span><span class="photo-bottom-right"></span></span></span>

</div>Five plays later, Aaron Rodgers connected with fullback John Kuhn for an
eight-yard touchdown, which tied the game at 10 early in the second quarter.



When asked about the play, Coughlin said he "doubts" he will receive an
explanation from the league.</p>


"There is, but I won't get into it," Coughlin said when asked if he saw
something on film that made the ruling any clearer one way or another, an
indication that he didn't agree with the call. </p>


NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, citing Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL
Rule Book, told the Star-Ledger in an email that Leavy ruled Jennings' calf to
be down on the play and didn't need his knee to be down. </p>


"Referee Bill Leavy conducted the instant replay video review and determined
that there was no indisputable visual evidence to warrant reversing the on-field
ruling of down by contact." Aiello wrote. "As a result, the ruling on the field
stood."</p>


On 3rd-and-10 with 6:28 remaining in the game and the Giants leading 30-13,
Rodgers' pass to Donald Driver fell incomplete setting up an all-or-nothing
fourth down. But Rodgers was hit by Osi Umenyiora as he released the pass and an
official threw a flag, ruling the hit to be helmet-to-helmet.</p>


Once again, replays prove otherwise. The Packers capitalized scoring a
touchdown six plays later when Rodgers found Driver for a 16-yard score to give
them some semblance of life.</p>


When asked why he thought the penalty was called Coughlin said, "I have no
idea."</p>


What he does know is that it was a legal play and one that he won't
discourage his players from doing. </p>


"Aggressive football play," Coughlin described it as. "The quarterback is
following through as he releases the ball. The hit is from the side, there’s not
helmet involved, it’s from shoulders to waist. We’ll coach that one
forever."</p><font size="4"><font size="3">NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: OSI UMENYIORA WITH GIANTS TODAY DUE TO ERNIE ARCORSI'S STUBBORNNESS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/nfc_championship_game_osi_umen.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) defense has been a
stubborn unit this postseason, conceding 22 points in two games. Sunday, <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_beat_green_bay_packers.html">the
unit smothered the NFL's No. 3 offense this season</a>, by means of <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/aaron_rodgers_stymied_by_giant.html">forcing
timely turnovers and consistent pressure on Aaron Rodgers</a>, the Green Bay
Packers quarterback.


<a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/peter_king/01/16/divisionals/index.html?eref=sihp&amp;sct=hp_t11_a1">SI.com's
Peter King wrote today</a> that the stubbornness of former Giants general
manager Ernie Accorsi benefited the Giants once again Sunday.</p>


In the trade that landed Eli Manning with the Giants, on draft day in 2004,
the San Diego Chargers would not relinquish the soon-to-be Giants quarterback
without acquiring defensive end Osi Umenyiora as part of the compensation, King
writes.</p>


Accorsi refused to yield, even though Umenyiora was a little known player at
the time. The dividends were once again felt by the Giants Sunday, when
Umenyiora's strip-sack of Rodgers (the 32nd forced fumble of Umenyiora's career)
proved a pivotal moment in the second half of the Giants' victory." Read more...</p><font size="4"><font size="3">NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: ELI MANNING, GIANTS, WILL FACE HISTORICAL DISADVANTAGE AT CANDLESTICK PARK (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/nfc_championship_game_eli_mann.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) face the San Francisco
49ers Sunday in the NFC Championship Game with a trip to the Super Bowl at
stake. The following pieces tell the 49ers' side of the story leading up the
game.


<a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/01/15/49ers-get-a-rematch-with-the-giants-in-the-nfc-title-game/">Kevin
Lynch, San Francisco Chronicle</a>: Unlike the Giants, who have won four road
playoff games under Tom Coughlin, the 49ers have historically struggled --
they're only won twice on the road in the postseason since 1957. Luckily, with
the Giants' victory, the 49ers will play Sunday at Candlestick Park, where they
are 18-4 since 1980, including Saturday's victory over the New Orleans
Saints.</p>


<a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/01/16/49ers-to-host-giants-for-super-bowl-berth/">Vittorio
Tafur, Chronicle</a>: 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, who intercepted Eli
Manning twice when the teams met in San Francisco on Nov. 13, watched <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_beat_green_bay_packers.html">Sunday's
game between the Giants and Green Bay Packers</a> in bed. "We got the turnovers
and were able to get to Eli,” Rogers told the Chronicle of the Nov. 13 game.
“The team has gotten better since we played them. They’re familiar with us just
as we’re familiar with them.” Read more...</p>http://www.nj.com/giants/
<font size="4"><font size="3">
</font></font><font size="4"><u>NY DAILY NEWS
</u></font><div>
GIANTS' COACH TOM COUGHLIN WELL ON HIS WAY TO BEING SECOND ONLY TO BILL PARCELLS AMONG BIG BLUE COACHES (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/tom-coughlin-bill-parcells-ny-giants-coaches-article-1.1007318)

Excerpt: "Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin), great
football coach, moved around in a hallway as crowded as a rush-hour train
between the interview room at Lambeau and the first open doors to the Giants’
locker room, hugging his son Brian and smiling and laughing every time somebody
new would pound him on the back, in no hurry to go anywhere.<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">


This was one of those nights in sports, one of those moments. You play for
nights like this. And sometimes they make a coach who has been at this,
honorably, for 40 years look and feel and act young.</p>


Archie Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Archie+Manning) was
there to shake Coughlin’s hand, and Olivia Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Olivia+Manning), and
Eli, getting bounced around himself in this small, confined, happy space more
than the Packers had bounced him around. John Mara (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/John+Mara) was maybe 50
feet up the hall, taking it all in, mostly watching a coach he has backed when
Mara was all the backing Tom Coughlin had.</p>


There was plenty of time to start thinking about next week. This was about
Sunday night. One of those nights, one of the best the Giants have ever had,
going all the way back, whatever happens next week against an opponent out of
their playoff past. This was Coughlin, such a good man, letting his guard down
in front of family and friends and letting himself look happy and not caring who
saw at Lambeau.</p>


“I’m good,” he kept saying, “I’m good,” and one time he said, “Yeah, that was
pretty great, wasn’t it?”</p>


Yeah. Yeah, it was. Good man. Great win for the Giants, an improbable season
for them that goes on to San Francisco. Packers gone. Saints gone. At 7-7, what
Giant fan and what Giant players and what Giant coach don’t sign up for
that?</p>


And how does everybody like Tom Coughlin now?</p>


You know who everybody wants the next Giants coach to be? Him.</p>


A guy that hard guys couldn’t wait to get rid of when the Giants lost five of
six in the second half of the season before finding themselves — maybe finding
the kind of greatness in them their quarterback has — will righteously hear
people begging him to stay if he wins another Super Bowl and even hints that he
might be ready to ride off into the sunset.</p>


Coughlin was supposed to be gone after the Giants blew that lead at home to
the Eagles and he blew up at his punter, and they missed the playoffs even at
10-6. And when the Giants started to get wobbly again in the second half of the
season, people were lining up to fire him again.</p>


But how does everybody like him now, now that the only Giants season worth
talking about has become these four straight wins against the Jets, Cowboys,
Falcons, 15-1 Packers? Maybe they see all over again why Bill Parcells (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Bill+Parcells) once
said Tom Coughlin was as good a football coach as he ever worked with
anywhere." Read more...
</p></div>GIANTS' ALL TIME NFC CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM: OFFENSE (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-all-time-nfc-championship-team-named-daily-news-offense-article-1.1007315) - VOTE


"The Giants have played in four NFC Championship Games.
<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">


They have won
all of them.

From their wind-swept victory over Washington in 1987 to the
Ice Bowl in 2008, all four games have been filled with remarkable moments and
performances.

It’s nearly an impossible task to choose the
best.

After all, which was better, Kerry Collins (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kerry+Collins)’
lights-out performance in a 41-0 win over the Vikings in 2001 or <a title="Eli Manning" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning">Eli
Manning</a>’s brilliant game in minus-23 wind chills at Lambeau in 2008?</p>


Do you want steady Matt Bahr (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Matt+Bahr) lining up with
the game on the line?</p>


Or would you go with Lawrence Tynes (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Lawrence+Tynes) who
kicked a frozen cinderblock of a football through the uprights at frigid Lambeau
to send the Giants to Super Bowl XLII?

With those types of tough choices
in mind, we did our best to put together the Giants’ all-time NFC Championship
Game team.

The team was chosen, based not on the best players, but on the
best performances.</p>


Although, sometimes those obviously go hand-in-hand, there have been plenty
of Giants to step up big when a Super Bowl trip was on the line.

You can
vote in the reader polls to the right of this story and, after the votes are
tabulated, we will announce your all-time NFC Championship Giants offense (the
offensive line will be voted on as one collective unit, for wide receiver, the
top two vote getters will make the team).</p>


So don't take our word for it, but we will present it to you
anyway.

Here is a look at our all-time
offense:

<u>QUARTERBACK</u>

KERRY
COLLINS

Eli Manning’s game in frigid Green Bay in ’08 was unreal
under adverse conditions, but Collins’ 381-yard, five-touchdown performance
against the Vikings in ’01 was one of the best in playoff history.</p>



<u>WIDE RECEIVERS</u>

PLAXICO
BURRESS

Playing with several injuries, he caught 11 passes for
151 yards in minus-23 windchills in Green Bay in ’08 and had no problem diving
and pounding his body into the rock-hard turf.

IKE
HILLIARD

Less than two minutes into the ’01 game, he caught a
46-yard touchdown pass to set the tone. He ended up with 10 catches for 155
yards and two touchdowns.

<u>RUNNING
BACK</u>

<a title="Brandon Jacobs" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brandon+Jacobs">BRANDON
JACOBS</a>

Only 67 yards on 21 carries in ’08, but ask Packers
CB Charles Woodson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Charles+Woodson)
how significant his first carry
was.

<u>FULLBACK</u>

MAURICE
CARTHON

A punishing blocker on two NFC championship teams (’87,
’91) that were powered by the run, despite his two lost fumbles late in the ’87
games.

<u>TIGHT END</u>

<a title="Mark Bavaro" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mark+Bavaro">MARK
BAVARO</a>

Played in two title games (’87, ’91) and caught seven
passes for 90 yards, but chipped in with some powerful
blocking.

<u>OFFENSIVE
LINE</u>

<u>LEFT TACKLE</u>

BRAD
BENSON

The Pro Bowler dominated Redskins DE Dexter Manley in the
’87 game.

<u>LEFT GUARD</u>

WILLIAM
ROBERTS

Another from the ’91 line that bullied the 49ers in a
defensive struggle.

<u>CENTER</u>

BART
OATES

The center for two NFC champions (’87, ’91), and both were
run-oriented offenses.

<u>RIGHT
GUARD</u>

BILLY ARD

On a wind-swept day
at the Meadowlands in ‘87, the Giants had to run and barreled to 117 tough
yards.

<u>RIGHT TACKLE</u>

KARL
NELSON

That ’87 team rushed 46 times for only 2.5 yards per
carry, but the line was
relentless.

<u>KICKER</u>

MATT BAHR


Five field goals, two in the fourth quarter, and a game-winner
at the buzzer from 42 yards on the notoriously bad Candlestick Park turf/mud.
That’s clutch.

<u>COACH</u></p>


<a title="Bill Parcells" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Bill+Parcells">BILL
PARCELLS</a>

Winner of two NFC championship games, including the
first. For now he’s a step ahead of Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin) in
franchise history."
</p></div>GIANTS' ALL TIME NFC CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM: DEFENSE (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-all-time-nfc-championship-team-named-daily-news-defense-article-1.1007334) - VOTE


"The Giants have played in four NFC Championship Games and won all of
them.<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">


Big Blue will play another one Sunday night against the San Francisco
49ers.</p>


And this team has a red-hot defense that has helped shut down
opponents.

But for now, let's focus on the vaunted Big Blue defenses of the past in NFC
title games.</p>


After all, which was better, the image of Corey Webster (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Corey+Webster) picking
off Brett Favre (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brett+Favre) in Lambeau
in overtime or the Giants D throwing a shutout in the Meadowlands in a 41-0 rout
of the Vikings?

With those types of tough choices in mind, we did our
best to put together the Giants’ all-time NFC Championship Game team, based not
on the best players, but on the best performances.

We gave them a 3-4
defense, because there were more linebackers to choose from than defensive
tackles.

You can vote for each postion in the polls to the right and we
will tabulate the fans all-time Giants defense later in the week (defensive line
and linebacking corps are voted on as a single unit, top two vote-getters will
be taken for cornerbacks and safeties).

So, don't go and take our word
for it.

But, here's a look at our all-time
defense:

<u>DEFENSIVE ENDS</u>

LEONARD
MARSHALL

He had two sacks in the ’91 games and one of them left
a permanent mark on 49ers quarterback <a title="Joe Montana" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Joe+Montana">Joe
Montana</a>.

<a title="Michael Strahan" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Strahan">MICHAEL
STRAHAN</a>

An NFC champion in ’01 and ’08, he was the best
defender on the field both times and absorbed most of the double
teams.


<u>DEFENSIVE TACKLE</u>

ERIK
HOWARD

He forced the Roger Craig (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Roger+Craig+%28Football%29)
fumble that led to the game-winning field goal in the ’91
game.


<u>LINEBACKERS</u>

<a title="Jessie Armstead" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jessie+Armstead">JESSIE
ARMSTEAD</a>

He was everywhere during the ’01 playoffs and had
seven tackles a sack and two tackles for a loss vs. the
Vikings.

<a title="Harry Carson" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Harry+Carson">HARRY
CARSON</a>

The fiercest player on the ’87 team that shutout the
Redskins and the leader of the Giants’ greatest-ever team.

GARY
REASONS

A two-time NFC champion (’87 and ’91) and had a
second-half interception in the ’87 game.

<a title="Lawrence Taylor" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Lawrence+Taylor">LAWRENCE
TAYLOR</a>

A two-time NFC champion (’87, ’91) and the player
that scared offenses more than any
other.


<u>CORNERBACKS</u>

JASON
SEHORN

He not only shut down Randy Moss (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Randy+Moss) in ’01, he
crushed his will and made him quit.

COREY
WEBSTER

His overtime interception of Brett Favre in ’08 is the
reason K Lawrence Tynes (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Lawrence+Tynes) got
his third chance.

<u>SAFETIES</u>

SHAUN
WILLIAMS

Contributed to the ’01 shutout with a sack and a forced
fumble.

SAM GARNES

Helped shut out the Vikings in
’01 with an interception and two passes
defensed.


<u>PUNTER</u>

SEAN
LANDETA

Two-time NFC champ (’87, ’91) and averaged 42.3 yards on
six punts in the wind-swept ’87
game.

<u>COACH</u>

BILL
PARCELLS

Winner of two NFC championship games, including the
first. For now he’s a step ahead of Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin) in
franchise history."</p></div></div>ANTREL ROLLE SAYS GIANTS "CAN'T BE BEATEN" HEADING INTO NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GMAE WITH 49ERS (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/antrel-rolle-ny-giants-t-beat-heading-sunday-nfc-championship-game-san-francisco-49ersy-giants-t-beat-article-1.1007269)

"The Giants are brimming — perhaps even Rolle-ing — with confidence after
their Sunday demolition of the Green Bay Packers.<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">


“We wouldn’t say we’re unstoppable, but our mindset is extreme at this point.
We’re not going to be denied. … I might be a little biased, but in our minds, we
can’t be beat,” safety Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle) declared
Monday at the Meadowlands as the Giants began to prepare for their return trip
to San Francisco with a Super Bowl trip on the line this weekend in the NFC
Championship Game. “We’re extremely confident and we’ve given ourselves the
reasons to feel that way. We have to continue to give ourselves those reasons,
and we will. We have no doubts. It’s right there at the tip of our
tongues.”

The outspoken Rolle clearly intended to use “fingertips” at the
end of that sentence, but “tongues” also suddenly seems appropriate based on the
continual swagger emanating from the Giants’ locker room — beginning with Jason Pierre-Paul (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Pierre-Paul)
guaranteeing a victory over Green Bay immediately after Big Blue had dispatched
Atlanta, 24-2, in the wild-card round two weeks ago.

“It don’t matter who
we play. You can put an All-Star team in front of us, and we’re going to go out
there and compete,” Rolle said. “We don’t fold. No matter what happens, if
there’s a bad call, or things aren’t going our way, we’re not going to
break.

“We’re not going to lose focus on what’s at stake and our ultimate
goal.”

That would be a return to the Super Bowl for the first time since
2008. But to get to Indianapolis on Feb. 5, the Giants will have to maintain the
“road warrior” mentality preached by Coughlin and outscore a balanced 49ers
squad that held on to beat them, 27-20 on Nov. 13 at Candlestick Park en route
to a 13-3 record and the NFC West title.

“It’s not going to be easy, I’m
telling you,” guard Chris Snee (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Chris+Snee) said.
“That’s as good a defense as we’ve seen all year, if not the best… I had a
feeling at some point we’d see them again.”

Rolle and other defensive
players similarly came away impressed with <a title="Alex Smith (Quarterback)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Alex+Smith+%28Quarterback%29">quarterback
Alex Smith</a> and the 49ers after their wild 36-32 win Saturday over New
Orleans, although the safety made sure to direct at least one tweak at this
week’s opposition.

“They weren’t playing against the Giants, but yeah, it
was a good game,” Rolle said.

Defensive end Dave Tollefson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Dave+Tollefson) noted
that several Giants already began reviewing tape of the Niners on their flight
home from Green Bay.

Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning), whose
potential game-tying pass on fourth down in the closing seconds was batted down
in the November loss out West, dubbed the 49ers’ linebacker corps – led by Pro
Bowler Patrick Willis (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Patrick+Willis) —
“about the best there is.”

But while Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz) called it
“very motivating” to get another crack at San Francisco — and preferable to
having to go to New Orleans — Manning stressed that avenging another
regular-season loss was not consuming the Giants as they hone in on
Sunday.

“This is about the NFC championship. It’s an opportunity to get
this win and go on to the Super Bowl,” Manning said. “We played them once
before. We know they’re a good team. There’s no denying that. They’re playing
great football. They’re playing with great confidence. It’s going to be exciting
going out there and having another shot and seeing what we can
do.”</p></div></div>A GAME AWAY FROM SUPER BOWL, GIANTS FINALLY SACK INJURIES, STRUGGLES, AND DOUBTERS WITH BERTH IN NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/antrel-rolle-ny-giants-finally-sack-struggles-doubts-article-1.1007282)

Excerot: "After closing the book on the Green Bay, the NFL’s most dominant team this
season, Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle) was given
the opportunity to do a little chest thumping for the defense in the Giants’
locker room on Monday. But he was in a generous mood.<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">


“I think we played a pretty good game all around — offensively, defensively
and special teams,” he said.</p>


And all of that has created a special feeling for the Giants.</p>


“I may be a little biased, but in my mind we can’t be beat,” Rolle said.</p>


There was a time, not too long ago, that feeling couldn’t have been coursing
through the Giants defense. Injuries had sapped the unit of its invincibility
before the end of September as cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Terrell+Thomas), Bruce Johnson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Bruce+Johnson) and Brian Witherspoon (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brian+Witherspoon)
and linebackers Jonathan Goff (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jonathan+Goff) and <a title="Clint Sintim" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Clint+Sintim">Clint
Sintim</a> went down with season-ending injuries.</p>


Defensive end Osi Umenyiora (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Osi+Umenyiora) was
working his way back from knee surgery. Rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Prince+Amukamara)
was sidelined with a broken foot. Defensive end Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck) hurt his
neck and later his groin.</p>


As the losses mounted, the Giants begn to watch their season slip away. Then
something amazing happened: The defense began to get healthy. With that the Big
Blue defense stood up to reclaim the promise that was held out before the season
started. And just in time.</p>


Coming off a stifling performance against Aaron Rodgers (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Aaron+Rodgers) and
heading into the NFC title game at San Francisco Sunday, the defense is riding
high.</p>


“Everybody being on one accord, just one impenetrable unit,” <a title="Michael Boley" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Boley">linebacker Michael
Boley</a> said. "That’s the way we played.”</p>


If the Giants are to realize their Super Bowl dreams, they will do it with
this often-maligned, injury-plagued unit paving the way. The resurgence of the
defense is remarkable, considering the Giants have been playing a game of high
stakes poker — lose and go home — since they lost to Washington in the 15th game
of the season.</p>


In the past four games (the last two regular-season games and the two playoff
victories), the defense has recorded 13 sacks, four INTs, recovered three
fumbles and forced four.</p>


In the playoffs they have kicked into overdrive. The Giant defense has given
up just 11 points and recorded six sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble
recoveries and an interception.</p>


Defensive end Dave Tollefson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Dave+Tollefson) has
an explanation of why the Giants have been so dominant.</p>


“I think Boley coming back healthy. Maybe you can say that. Osi, having him
back,” Tollefson said. “It’s a number of little things that have lined up that
have allowed us to be aggressive and play with some fever that we wanted to play
with all year. The little things we’ve been practicing really well, paying
attention to the details because that’s what gets you beat this time of year.
It’s paid off.” Read more...
</p></div></div>VICTOR CRUZ ADMITS GIANTS ARE BETTER OFF FACING 49ERS OVER THE SAINTS IN NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/victor-cruz-admits-ny-giants-better-facing-san-francisco-49ers-saints-nfc-championship-article-1.1007181)
</div>
Excerpt: "One day after the Giants eliminated the Super Bowl champion Packers, wide
receiver Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz)
acknowledged Monday it works to their advantage that the 49ers beat the Saints,
which sends Big Blue to San Francisco for Sunday's NFC Championship Game rather
than New Orleans.<div>


Drew Brees (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Drew+Brees) and the
Saints have been kryptonite to the Giants defense on their last two visits to
the Superdome while the Giants nearly beat the 49ers at Candlestick Park in
November.</p>


Considering the Saints-Giants game was lopsided and the 49ers-Giants game
came down to the final minute, Cruz was asked Monday if the Giants are better
off that the Niners beat New Orleans.</p>


"I guess so," he said. "Just coming from our schedule and how it turned out
and how we played against New Orleans and how we played against San Fran, it
definitely works out in our favor a little bit that we're able to get San Fran
as opposed to New Orleans, just because of how we feel about them and we
understand we have a good chance of winning that game."</p>


Cruz was not being disrespectful to the 49ers. He was expressing how the
Giants felt about the potential of having to go back to New Orleans, where the
Saints turn games into track meets.</p>


The Giants’ 27-20 loss to the 49ers on Nov. 13 got them started on a
four-game losing streak. Down seven points and looking to send the game into
overtime, the Giants advanced to the San Francisco 10, but <a title="Eli Manning" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning">Eli
Manning</a>'s fourth down pass was knocked down at the line by All-Pro Justin Smith (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Smith) with 34
seconds remaining." Read more...
</p></div>http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants
<div><div class="story-body"><div><div class="story-body">
<u><font size="4">NY POST</font></u></div></div></div></div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div><div>
ANTREL ROLLE SAYS GIANTS WILL NOT BE DENIED (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/antrel_says_big_blue_will_not_be_r3yGc4areNRFFQWfx fFkjL)

"The Giants are one step from their ultimate goal and at this point they
believe they are more than ready to take that step.<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">


“We’re not going to be denied at this point,’’ safety Antrel Rolle said
yesterday. “We know what we have as a team. It’s not all about talent, it’s
about chemistry, gelling at this point. We have one goal in mind and that’s to
win a championship.”</p>


The Giants will try to take that next step Sunday, and they are confident
they will stomp out the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick
Park.</p>


“We wouldn’t say we’re unstoppable, but our mindset is extreme at this
point,” Rolle said. “We’re not gonna be denied, that’s our mindset. I may be a
little biased, but in our minds we can’t be beat.’’
</p>Beating the 49ers in San Francisco figures to be a different challenge — but
not likely a more difficult challenge — than knocking off the Saints in New
Orleans. Many of the Giants on Saturday were lounging in their hotel rooms in
Appleton, Wis., watching along with countless millions as the 49ers were taking
it to the favored Saints. The game was headed to a dramatic finish, but the
Giants had team meetings and dinner on the schedule.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLO