View Full Version : NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2012 - 4:10 P.M.

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</font><font size="4"><font size="6"><font size="4"><font color="#FF0000"><u><font size="6">NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS
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</font></u></font><font size="4"><u>NEWARK STAR LEDGER</u></font><font size="4"><font size="3">
<div><div><div><div><div>GIANTS-49ERS GAME PREVIEW: A LOOK AHEAD TO THE N FC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants-49ers_game_preview_a_lo_1.html)

"This has been the longest week of Jason Pierre-Paul’s NFL career.

At least that’s the way it sounds.</p>

“It felt like a long week,” the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)’ defensive end said today of the
buildup to Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the 49ers. “We came in and we
were ready to go. After Green Bay, we were ready to go. It just feels like it’s
been a long wait and tomorrow’s Saturday, get on a plane and head out

If he thinks this was a long wait and some serious buildup, wait’ll he sees
what it’s like if they win this game and spend the next two weeks talking about
the Super Bowl.</p>

“Yeah, we’re going to be ready for that,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a great
thing. We’re just ready to go out and play great football. I’m excited, the
whole team is excited, just ready to get on the plane. If we could get on the
plane now we would. We just gotta wait.”</p>

It was pointed out to Pierre-Paul a victory on Sunday could cost him a trip
to the Pro Bowl.</p>

He doesn’t care.</p>

“Nah, I’m not thinking about Hawaii,” he said. “I’m thinking about the Super
Bowl right now and just going to take care of this team.”
</p>* * * *

SUNDAY’S GAME: at San Francisco 49ers, Candlestick Park, NFC
Championship Game, 6:30 p.m., Fox</p>


Offense: Again, we’ve broken this thing down every which way
possible, so just a brief rundown here to tie up some loose ends.</p>

Offensively, I was wondering what kind of coverage the Giants expect to see
from the Niners. TE Travis Beckum, talking today, said he’s
anticipating man looks from San Fran.</p>

“A lot of man coverage,” Beckum said. “Last week, they manned up (LB)
Patrick Willis with Jimmy Graham. So it looks like it’s going
to be a lot of man coverage, as far as what they did last week.”</p>

The Giants don’t have a Graham. <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_te_jake_ballard_says_he.html">They
barely have Jake Ballard at this point.</a> But they do have a very good slot
presence in WR Victor Cruz. Much as CB Carlos
Rogers <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_victor_cruz_ea.html">did
the salsa after his interception</a>, I thought Cruz did a fine job that day,
especially in his releases off the line. If the Niners play man coverage, they’d
better do it in spurts because if Cruz gets enough chances, he’ll beat Rogers
again. I’m wondering if the Niners throw more zone coverage at the Giants than
they expect right now.</p>

Defense: The other day <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_weather_for_nf.html">we
wrote about the rain </a>and what it would to do the passing games and running
games. Well, it’ll also have an effect on the pass rushers, specifically the
Giants’ speed rushers.
</p>DE Osi Umenyiora likes to take that edge on the speed rush,
so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles things against Niners LT
Joe Staley should the field be slick. (Current forecasts
indicate rain on and off for the next few days, with a 40 percent chance of
showers on Sunday.)

“You gotta hold your balance, plant right,” Pierre-Paul said of dealing with
the slick grass. “It’s frustrating but you still have to play the game of
football, no matter how it feels.”</p>

THE LINE: 49ers by 2½. Over-under 42.</p>

THE PICK: As you’ll see in the vid, I’m going Giants 21,
Niners 20.</p>

ONE MORE THING: That Niners running game attempts to go
right down your throat at times but DT Chris Canty says to watch the edges as

“They can run it inside, no question about it, but you’d be surprised, there
is a lot of yardage on the perimeter with their offensive running game,” Canty
said. “So you have to be cognizant of that, pursuit angles, guys pursuing,
getting to the football, beating blocks and getting to the football and making
sure we leverage the football so we can make the proper tackles. There is a lot
of yards they gain on the perimeter.”
</p>REX RYAN PREDICTS GIANTS-RAVENS SUPER BOWL (http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/2012/01/rex_ryan_predicts_giants-raven.html)

Excerpt: "Rex Ryan isn't exactly batting 1.000 in his predictions for New York-area
sports teams. But the Jets (http://www.nj.com/jets/) coach — for
what it's worth — believes the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)
and Baltimore Ravens will advance to the Super Bowl this year, a rematch of
Super Bowl XXXV.

"I can tell you this: There isn’t one Giants fan that wants me to say the
Giants are going to win this game," Ryan, who has annually guaranteed Super
Bowls for his Jets team but has not yet delivered, said on WFAN radio today.</p>

Ryan favors the Giants over the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC
Championship Game, particularly because of how the Giants defense is playing.
Despite being ranked 27th in the regular season, the Giants defense has found a
groove over the past several weeks, helped by a healthy Osi Umenyiora.</p>

"I think San Francisco is playing great defensively. (49ers defensive
coordinator) Vic Fangio is a guy that worked with me for two years in Baltimore;
he's done a great job with that defense," Ryan said. "But I think when you look
at them ... the Giants can throw the football, can move the football better
against San Francisco than San Francisco is going to be able to move it against
the Giants."</p>

Ryan added: "(Umenyiora healthy) makes a huge difference. I just think that
pass rush -- when you watched the 49ers play the Ravens, that pass rush of the
Ravens ate San Francisco alive. I think the giants are going to take this game.
I think Eli (Manning) is hot, I like the fact that both their running backs are
healthy. So it’s going to be interesting, but I think you could be looking at
the Giants and Ravens rematch."</p>

The Ravens won that Super Bowl in the 2000 season, and Ryan won a ring as the
team's defensive line coach. He admitted he is rooting for his former team in
the AFC Championship Game against the Jets' rival New England Patriots." Read more...
</p>TOM COUGHLIN "MISSES" RICH SEUBERT, WHO WILL BE AN HONORARY CAPTAIN ON SUNDAY (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/tom_coughlin_misses_rich_seube.html)

"Tom Coughlin was in rare form with the media today, offering stories and
jokes without hesitation. One such time was when he was asked about Rich
Seubert, the former Giants guard who was cut during the offseason, being one of
three honorary Giants captains at Sunday's game in San Francisco.

"Last year he takes a picture, writes ‘Happy Holidays to me’," Coughlin
narrated. "So he gives me a picture and I’m thinking, 'What am I gonna do with
this thing?' And he writes it in red pen. So I put it in my locker and I forgot
about it. Right around Christmas time I find this picture so I said, ‘Son of a
gun.’ I got this picture sitting right in front of me, it’s been there for like
a month and a half so I can look right at Richie, ‘Happy Holidays.’</p>

He also reminisced about his seven seasons with Seubert.</p>

"Feisty. Loves to play. Loves to be a part of this team. Loves the New York
Giants. Plays with every ounce of fiber that he has," Coughlin said. "Gives it
all, shares it all. Not afraid to get on teammates, not afraid to be the
rambunctious one in the locker room, he stirs it up better than anybody that I
have probably ever been around. Sometimes to the point you have to step in

"But we love this guy. And we miss him. I miss him."</p>

Eli Manning also recalled his years with Seubert, who went undrafted out of
Western Illinois two years before Manning arrived in 2001 and spent 10 seasons
with the Giants.</p>

"I’m just excited to see Richie out on the field with us. He was a great
teammate," Manning said. "A guy that when I first came in my rookie year, he was
around, he was injured. I thought he was 35 years old when I first got here. I
thought the guy had been here forever but he had only been here a couple years.
It was an honor to play with him. He was a great leader, a great teammate. A
great guy around the locker room so I’m excited that he’ll be a part of the game
on Sunday.</p>

Seubert has moved with his family to California and has said he looks to
continue his NFL career next season. He will be joined by Michael Strahan and
Mark Bavaro as the Giants' honorary captains on Sunday."</p>GIANTS' HAKEEM NICKS ADDED TO THE INJURY LIST AS PROBABLE AFTER ROLLING ANKLE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hakeem_nicks_added_to_t.html)

"The surprises on the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants)’ injury
front didn’t stop with<a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_david_baas_jake_ballard.html">
the portion of practice open to the media</a>.

Afterward, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was added to the report after rolling
his ankle. The team listed him as limited today but he’s down as probable for
Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.</p>

“Rolled it a little bit,” Nicks said. “Same one. Same one I rolled earlier in
the season. Same one I always roll.”</p>

Tom Coughlin called it “basketball ankle.” Nicks said he’s been dealing with
it for a few years now and rolls it twice per season. He said it happened while
running an in cut today.</p>

Still, Nicks isn’t concerned.</p>

“No, got no reason to be concerned about it. It’s an important game,” he
said. “I’ll put it out of my mind and won’t think about it.”</p>

Asked about dealing with the ankle on a potentially slick field, Nicks
replied, “Just tape it up, wrap it up real good. I’ll be all right.”</p>

At least it's not a new injury for Nicks.</p>

"Yeah that’s the good thing about it," he said. "Same one I’m used to dealing
with. Nothing new."</p>

* * * *</p>

TE Jake Ballard (knee) is listed as questionable after undergoing what
Coughlin termed a “procedure” on Thursday.</p>

Coughlin wouldn’t say what was done to Ballard except to clarify it wasn’t
surgery. It’s likely he received a shot or had fluid drained. Ballard said the
procedure took only a few minutes.</p>

Asked if the team knew the “procedure” would make Ballard feel worse in the
short term, Coughlin replied sarcastically, “We actually thought it wouldn’t.
Naturally, we did. What do you think those people do in there? Play cards.”</p>

* * * *</p>

Don’t read that last quote the wrong way. Coughlin wasn’t being nasty. He was
actually on a roll today in what was one of his most humorous press conferences
of all time.</p>

He was really on fire when asked if precautions were being taken to stop the
stomach bug that’s now hit C David Baas, who missed practice today but is listed
as probable.</p>

“Like what? Everybody’s wearing masks, everybody’s washing their hands,
everybody’s doing everything they can,” Coughlin said. “Like when your sister
came home with whatever and you got it. So there’s where we are.”</p>

* * * *</p>

Baas is struggling but QB Eli Manning (illness) is fine. He’s listed as
probable after practicing fully.</p>

Also probable: DEs Justin Tuck (shouler) and Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), RB
Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), CB Corey Webster (hamstring) and LB Mark Herzlich
(ankle). All were limited today."</p>

GIANTS' TE JAKE BALLARD SAYS HE'LL "BE READY TO GO" AFTER MISSING PRACTICE FOLLOWING PROCEDURE ON LEFT KNEE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_te_jake_ballard_says_he.html)</p>

Excerpt: "Once again, Jake Ballard's right knee is a source of concern for the

The tight end was held out of Friday's practice after having a brief
procedure done on his knee Thursday night. Ballard told reporters that the
procedure took "a couple of minutes."</p>

While both Ballard and head coach Tom Coughlin refused to go into further
details, neither anticipated it being an issue for Sunday's NFC Championship
Game against the San Francisco 49ers.</p>

"Not at all," Ballard said when asked if the knee would be a problem. "I mean,
they told me they didn't want to go into detail. They just did a little
something and the knee was a little sore today, so I should be ready to go for
the game." Read more...</p>##

GIANTS' DEON GRANT LEARNS FIRST HAND HOW NFL'S CONCUSSION TESTS PUT SAFETY AHEAD OF WINNING (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_deon_grant_learns_first.html)

"Giants' DB Deon Grant lowered his aiming point as Ryan Grant leaped to catch a short
check-down pass and began to spin around. He didn't want to make
helmet-to-helmet contact on this Grant-on-Grant hit.

It only served to mush Deon's helmet into the top of his nose as Ryan's
midsection came down on him, thus dazing the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) safety and causing momentarily
blurred vision.</p>

Minutes later, Grant was back in the visiting locker room at Lambeau Field,
begging the Giants' doctors to hurry through the concussion test so he could
help finish off the upset of the defending champion Green Bay Packers.</p>

"I kept on saying, 'Let's go. Come on, we've got to get the defense back,'?"
Grant recalled this week after a practice in preparation for Sunday's NFC
Championship Game against the 49ers. "And they're like, 'No, you're not going
back in the game. They're going to be all right.'</p>

"They would not let me go back out there until they took me through the whole

There were days earlier in Grant's 12-year career when a player could win
such arguments, especially at this time of the year. The former Seattle Seahawk,
Carolina Panther and Jacksonville Jaguar recalls when "if you said you could go,
you could go."</p>

Not so in today's NFL.</p>

In response to research about the effects of repeat concussions, the league
has taken steps to diagnose in-game head injuries by putting players through
comprehensive tests before they're cleared to return to the game and recently
installing sideline monitors to review footage of players who might've sustained
a concussion.</p>

So far this postseason, the Giants have put three players through concussion
tests: Grant, Aaron Ross and D.J. Ware. Despite the elevated stakes and the
short-handed secondary, they followed proper protocol and held Ross out of the
game against the Falcons when they were uncertain he had even suffered a

Grant eventually got back in the game and recorded an interception to help
seal the upset -- but not before proving without a doubt he was only temporarily

"At the Giants," senior vice president of communications Pat Hanlon said, "if
there's doubt, they are pulled."</p>

This Sunday, in what's expected to be a physical matchup in San Francisco to
determine which team goes to Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants' players can expect the
medical staff to be just as cautious.</p>

"I wanted to go in as soon as I came to the sideline but they made me go
inside for the tests," Ross said. "They said they still didn't know; I said I
didn't have a concussion because I could remember everything.</p>

"But it's somebody's life so they really have to take those kinds of

This past offseason, after the Eagles' Stewart Bradley stumbled off the field
and then returned to the game, the NFL introduced a standardized test to be
conducted in all cases where a concussion is suspected. The test includes:</p>

•?A rundown of physical symptoms visible to the medical staff, as well as
those only the player can detect, such as double vision or nausea.</p>

•?A series of questions to check orientation ("What month is it?" "What is
the day of the week?") plus Maddocks' Questions, developed by physician D.L.
Maddocks, which apply to the sport being played ("What quarter is it right now?"
"Who scored last in the game?").</p>

•?Word recall of a list of five words, three trials of the same words. Then,
two concentration tests: repeating strings of numbers (from three to six) and
the months of the year -- both backward.</p>

•?Balance testing inside the locker room, with motions performed while
standing with feet together, on one (non-dominant) foot and in a tandem stance
(with the non-dominant foot in the back).</p>

•?The final score is calculated and compared to a "baseline" score conducted
in training camp. If it doesn't match up, the player is held out.</p>

It all sounds simple, which is why these finely tuned athletes are sometimes
overcome when they realize their brain isn't operating properly.</p>

"That's the scary part and that's why some guys get emotional. At the time, I
did, too," said guard Chris Snee, who left the Week 5 game against the Seahawks
with a concussion that sent him to the hospital and kept him out the following
week. "When you can't think of something, it's scary."</p>

A 300-pound lineman who is arguably the strongest player in the Giants'
locker room wasn't shy to admit he cried after failing the test.
"Yeah," Snee
said, "I lost it a little bit."</p>

Snee fell onto an official that day and told him, "Get me off the field." Two
weeks ago, umpire Undrey Walsh saw Ware fall over as he tried getting up and
then lean to the left while walking.</p>

"Come on, son," Ware recalls Walsh saying. "You gotta go."</p>

Ware tried to convince the medical staff he had merely gotten his "bell
rung," but they saw the footage. Plus, he failed the computerized ImPACT test
later in the week because his reaction time was slow.</p>

Despite the importance of the game, and the fact rookie Prince Amukamara had
to go in for Ross, the Giants took no chances with either Ross or Ware. Just
like earlier in the season when they hid long snapper Zak DeOssie's helmet so he
couldn't run back into the game.</p>

"They're smart about it," DeOssie said.</p>

And the test is a smart one that can't be beat. Grant said after Sunday's
game, "I'll pass that test every time." That seemed to suggest he knows ways to
get around it, but he clarified later in the week he was an engineering major
who's good in recalling numbers.</p>

Which is why the baseline test is vital, unless a player intentionally
botches it.</p>

"We always joke about that, but we know how serious it is. No one throws it,"
DeOssie said. "You're risking too much."</p>

It's all still a bit of science on the fly with an injury that's tougher to
quantify than, say, a broken bone. But unlike the early stages of Grant's
career, they're getting closer to doing so.</p>

"The good thing is now I know what it feels like," Snee said. "Everyone
always asked me if I ever had (a concussion) and I said, 'I don't think so.' And
now I can confirm, this is what I went through.</p>

"I've had my bell rung, I've seen stars. I think that's normal. But this is
different."</p>D'ALESSSANDRO: GIANTS' OSI UMENYIORA PUTS ASIDE CONTRACT TALK TO ENJOY PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_giants_osi_umenyio_1.html)

Excerpt: "Time flies, eh? And sometimes, cogent football opinions also sprout wings and
flee for cover like frightened fruit bats.

Here’s one example: It was just five months ago that some geniuses (hello)
were suggesting that Osi Umenyiora might be a distraction this season, while
other geniuses (hello again) suggested that the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) would be wise to give the player’s
agent enough leash to broker a deal for draft picks. </p>

Yep, it’s Mea Culpa Week around here — headquarters of the crack Lucky To Go
8-8 Committee — and the livin’ ain’t easy. We thought it would be a good time to
give Osi the opportunity to address the (ahem) outstanding football intellects
about their keen August judgment, but the primary ground rules were quickly laid
out Thursday:</p>

No <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_osi_umenyiora_says_he_a.html">contract
talk.</a> </p>

Forward, march. </p>

Because nothing will detract from the visible joy this defensive end gets
from this experience, or keep him from his appointed rounds, which we’ll guess
is located somewhere north of Alex Smith’s solar plexus. </p>

“Whatever happens at the end of this year happens,” Umenyiora said in front
of his locker, surrounded by a four-deep horde. “I’m just focused on playing
football — this is pleasure, and you don’t want to mix business with pleasure.
It’s fun for me, I’m enjoying it. The business part of it will be taken care of
later.”
</p>GIANTS' TOM COUGHLIN, PERRY FEWELL NOT FAZED BY PUBLIC OPINION (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_tom_coughlin_perry_fewe.html)

"It seemed like it was yesterday when Tom Coughlin and Perry Fewell were being
run out of town — again. What a difference a four-game winning streak and a trip
to the NFC Championship Game make.

Today, the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) head coach is being
discussed as a Hall of Fame candidate and his defensive coordinator Fewell could
again become a leading head coaching candidate.</p>

Less than a month ago, before the Giants’ win over the Jets (http://www.nj.com/jets/) on Christmas Eve, the news media called
for Coughlin’s head for the umpteenth time as the Giants seemed to be on their
way to missing the postseason for the third straight year.</p>

Coughlin understands the fluctuating state that is the court of public
opinion comes with the territory.</p>

“I just keep the blinders on and go straight ahead,” Coughlin said. “I don’t
have anything to do with what is being said on the outside. The priority and
what I think about it, I don’t let it affect me in any way. I do believe in the
John Wooden statement: We like praise, we don’t like criticism but if you let
either one affect your preparation, you have a problem.</p>

If there’s anyone who can relate with Coughlin about the constantly shifting
of public opinion in a league focused on recent results it’s his defensive

This time last year, the Giants had missed the playoffs despite finishing
with 10 wins and the NFL’s seventh-ranked defense. The unit’s success made
Fewell, who took over as the Bills’ interim head coach during the 2009 season, a
hot head coaching candidate and he made his rounds around the league for
interviews. </p>

And though his defense is now arguably playing better than ever, its notable
struggles during the regular season may have scared franchises with head
coaching vacancies away from making him a top candidate. But that’s the last
thing on Fewell’s mind right now. </p>

“I’m just trying to keep the job I have,” said Fewell, who is in his second
year as the Giants’ defensive coordinator. “I’m happy not to see my name in
print sometimes, so I don’t know. I’ve been focusing on the job at hand and that
hasn’t been a concern for me.”</p>

49ERS OWNER SAYS MORE SECURITY IN PLACE FOR GIANTS' GAME AFTER 23 ARREST LAST SUNDAY (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/49ers_owner_jed_york_says_more.html)</p>

Excerpt: "San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York promised a safe environment for fans on
Sunday following what appeared to be a rowdy and hostile 49er base after an
upset victory over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. </p>

According to The San Jose Mercury News, there were 23 arrests made, including
one for felony battery where the victim broke their nose. Another fan told the
paper that they were showered in broken peanut shells after they asked a group
of drunk 49ers fans to stop shouting so loudly near them.</p>

York said that there is an increase in undercover police planned, who can
work to neutralize such incidents. </p>

"I think that was a very small segment from Saints fans and I apologize for
any rudeness that happened," York said. "We didn't see a spike in incidents, I
think you saw a lot of 49er fans that were excited to be hosting a playoff game
for the first time in a long time. </p>

"We have some messaging going out to season-ticket holders and we want to
make sure that folks understand that that type of behavior is not tolerated. We
will definitely have more undercover PD in the stadium this week so if they do
see that -- we obviously don't want to kick any of our fans out but that's
what's going to happen if that's the behavior the undercover PD see." Read more...
</p>49ERS DAVID AKERS CREDITS HIS RECORD YEAR TO THE POWER OF HIS FAITH IN THE WAKE OF PERSONAL STRIFE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/49ers_david_akers_credits_his.html)

Excerpt: "When the San Francisco 49ers head into the locker room after pregame warm-ups
every Sunday, they huddle together, quiet down and allow their spiritual leader
to take the lectern.

David Akers knows heartbreak — shortly before a wild-card game last season,
then with the Philadelphia Eagles, he found out that his 6-year-old daughter,
Halley, had a tumor on her ovary. He missed two field goals amid the
distractions, and the Eagles lost by 5. </p>

Akers knows that life can be unfair — a trusted business partner and friend
nearly bankrupted his family when the man swindled them out of $3.7 million in a
Ponzi scheme between 2007 and ’09. Akers was in court during the preseason,
testifying in front of a federal jury. </p>

And so Akers knows the unwavering power of faith, which is why his teammates
listen in silence and allow him to set the floor for head coach Jim Harbaugh’s
speech that comes shortly after."
</p>GIANTS' HOT TOPIC: VICTOR CRUZ'S INCREDIBLE EMERGENCE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hot_topic_victor_cruzs.html)

"Victor Cruz had 82 catches, 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns in his first real
season of meaningful action with the Giants. He now owns the team's all-time
single-season receiving record for yards, and his year was often defined by huge
plays -- catching a 99-yard touchdown, beating Nnamdi Asomugha for touchdowns,
making juggling catches and plenty more.<div class="entry-content">

Oh, and <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hot_topic_upload_your_e.html">his
salsa dance has become known</a> throughout the league and metropolitan area,
and even got him an invite to "Dancing with the Stars."</p>

Whether it has been feature stories, columns or game-day stories, plenty has
been written about him, as his success and emergence have been well-documented
by The Star-Ledger. </p>

So now, we thought we'd go back in time to give you a sense of just how the
second-year receiver from Paterson has evolved this season. Check out some of
the articles written about him and then drop down to the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hot_topic_victor_cruzs.html#comments">comments
section</a> to talk about Cruz. What we want to know, Giants fans, besides your
thoughts on Cruz, is if you can think of an undrafted, possible sparkle to
record-setting star in such little time like Cruz has?</p>

• Aug. 17, 2010 (preseason): <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2010/08/giants_rookie_victor_cruz_livi.html">Rookie
Victor Cruz living a dream after catching three touchdowns against Jets</a></p>

• Oct. 30, 2010: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2010/10/giants_wr_victor_cruz_staying.html">Victor
Cruz staying positive despite season-ending hamstring injury</a></p>

• May 10, 2011: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/05/giants_qb_eli_manning_hosts_se.html">Victor
Cruz joins Eli Manning as QB hosts second week of workouts at Hoboken High

• Aug. 13: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/08/giants_victor_cruz_is_ready_to.html">Victor
Cruz is ready to shine at receiver with Steve Smith gone</a></p>

• Aug. 26: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/08/giants_victor_cruz_aiming_to_c.html">Victor
Cruz aiming to make progress in critical role at wide receiver</a></p>

• Sept. 21: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/09/giants_victor_cruz_learning_to.html">Victor
Cruz learning to get Eli Manning out of 'hot' water</a></p>

• Sept. 25: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/09/politi_with_two_touchdowns_vic.html">Politi:
With two touchdowns, Victor Cruz energizes Giants, stuns 'Dream Team'</a></p>

• Sept. 27: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/09/giants_victor_cruz_makes_waves.html">Victor
Cruz makes waves with big plays against Eagles</a></p>

• Oct. 10: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/10/dalessandro_big_plays_--_both.html">D'Alessandro:
Big plays, both good and bad, continue to define Giants wideout Victor Cruz's

• Oct. 16: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/10/dalessandro_giants_victor_cruz.html">D'Alessandro:
Victor Cruz has risen from Paterson to the NFL, driven by his father's memory
and mother's strength</a></p>

• Nov. 8: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/11/giants_victor_cruz_jake_ballar.html">Victor
Cruz, Jake Ballard developing into key players on offense</a></p>

• Nov. 16: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/11/giants_victor_cruz_learns_from.html">Victor
Cruz learns from night-club shooting he's far from anonymous</a></p>

• Dec. 14: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_wr_victor_cruz_becomes.html">Victor
Cruz becomes household name as he nears single-season receiving record </a></p>

• Dec. 25: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_vs_jets_victor_cruzs_99.html">Victor
Cruz's 99-yard TD vs. Jets gives Giants momentum</a></p>

• Dec. 25: <a href="http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/2011/12/jets_know_all_about_giants_vic.html">Jets
know all about Victor Cruz after loss</a></p>

• Dec. 28: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_victor_cruz_doesnt_thin.html">Victor
Cruz doesn't think he's a Pro Bowl snub</a></p>

• Jan. 1, 2012: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/as_giants_play_cowboys_for_nfc.html">As
Giants prep for Cowboys, Victor Cruz draws unprecedented attention</a></p>

• Jan 2: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/new_york_giants_victor_cruz_to.html">Victor
Cruz torches Dallas Cowboys' secondary</a></p>

• Jan. 3: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_victor_cruz_puts_g.html">D'Alessandro:
Victor Cruz puts Giants one step closer to their goal with his astonishing

• Jan. 4: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/falcons_wr_roddy_white_says_vi.html">Falcons
WR Roddy White says Victor Cruz is in for 'rude awakening' and 'good pay day'
next year</a></p>

• Jan. 5: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/victor_cruzs_breakout_season_d.html">Victor
Cruz's breakout season doesn't surprise Giants</a></p>

• Jan. 6: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_wr_victor_cruz_turns_do.html">Victor
Cruz turns down 'Dancing With The Stars' offer, says maybe in the future</a></p>

• Jan. 8: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/victor_cruz_tony_gonzalez_high.html">Victor
Cruz, Tony Gonzalez highlight growth of Hispanic players in NFL</a></p>

• Jan. 8: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_victor_cruz_is_a_walkin.html">Politi:
Giants' Victor Cruz is a walking, breathing 'message of hope' for

• Jan. 16: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_victor_cruz_ea.html">Victor
Cruz eager for another dance with San Francisco's Carlos Rogers</a></p>

We posed the question earlier, and we'll ask it again: Can you think of
another player who has gone from undrafted, possible sparkle to record-setting
star in such little time?</p></div>ELI MANNING RETURNS TO PRACTICE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/eli_manning_is_back_at_practic.html)

"Tom Coughlin said he hoped it was just a 24-hour bug and Victor Cruz
dismissed any concern about it. All in all, the Giants weren't worried when
their Eli Manning couldn't finish yesterday's practice because of a stomach
illness and for good reason. Manning was back out on the field today during the
portion of practice open to the media and looked fine, doing his normal routine.

For the second day in a row, Ahmad Bradshaw is the only Giant not practicing.

Bradshaw, who has not practiced more than once a week since his return from a
foot injury, is expected to participate tomorrow.</p>

The other five players on yesterday's injury report -- LB Mark Herzlich
(ankle), Justin Tuck (shoulder), Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) and Corey Webster
(hamstring) -- are practicing today after being limited yesterday."</p>49ERS VS. GIANTS IS MATCHUP STEEPED IN HISTORY AND SUPER BOWL IMPLICATIONS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/49ers_vs_giants_is_matchup_ste.html)

"<a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/don_banks/01/18/giants.49ers.history/index.html?eref=sihp&amp;sct=hp_t13_a2">Don
Banks, SI.com</a>: If you had wagered Nov. 13 that the matchup between the
Giants and San Francisco 49ers would be a dress rehearsal for the NFC
Championship Game, your recollection is strong. No teams have met more in the
postseason -- Sunday's game with tie an NFL record with the eighth meeting
between the teams, all since 1981. T<a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_trey_junkin_not_th.html">he
matchups have produced agony and ecstasy for both sides</a> -- and success in
the Super Bowl. Between 1981 and 1990, four times the winner of the postseason
brawl between the clubs lifted the Lombardi Trophy. "There are a lot of memories
[of this rivalry], and they went from maybe the great, to the greatest, to the
worst," former Giants quarterback Phil Simms told SI.com. "I remember our
playoff victories in our stadium, and of course, I remember the playoff losses
out there, too. The games were awesome, and there was something very good about
it. We always knew somewhere along the line, it was going to be about us and
them there in the mid-to-late '80s.''<div class="entry-content">

SI.com (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/1201/nfl-giants-49ers-playoff-history/content.1.html):
As an accompaniment to its Giants-49ers coverage, Sports Illustrated put
together a photo gallery depicting the postseason matchups between the teams
since 1981. A retrospective was also <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants-49ers_hot_topic_flashin.html">posted
earlier this week on NJ.com</a>.</p>

<a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/49ers/ci_19771333">Jerry McDonald, San
Jose Mercury News</a>: The 49ers secondary has received praise all week. The
unit leads the 49ers' determined defense from the back, with assured coverage
and a knack for creating turnovers. The unit will be tested by Eli Manning
Sunday, and safety Dashon Goldson will be hobbled. He <a href="http://www.csnbayarea.com/blog/niners-talk/post/Goldson-held-out-of-practice-with-ankle-?blockID=633842&amp;feedID=2800">sat
out Wednesday's practice</a> with an ankle injury. </p>

<a href="http://www.csnbayarea.com/blog/niners-talk/post/Walker-returns-Goldson-Ginn-Goodwin-sit?blockID=633774&amp;feedID=2800">Matt
Maiocco, CSNBayArea.com</a>: Delanie Walker, a valued blocker from the tight end
position, returned to practice Wednesday in a limited capacity. <a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/01/18/te-walker-returns-to-practice-ginn-goodwin-sidelined/">Walker
is wearing special padding to help protect his jaw</a>, which he broke in two
places on Christmas Eve. Ted Ginn, who has an injured knee, and Jonathan
Goodwin, who has an injured left leg, sat out.</p>

<a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/mark-purdy/ci_19771263">Mark Purdy, San
Jose Mercury News</a>: Alex Smith, the 49ers quarterback who led his team down
the field twice in the fourth quarter to beat the New Orleans Saints last
weekend, has been profiled ad nauseum. The Mercury News quotes former 49ers
quarterback Steve Young outlining Smith's progress. The San Francisco Chronicle
presents Smith <a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/01/18/alex-smiths-career-couldve-been-far-different/">through
the analysis of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman</a>, like Young a
Hall of Famer. </p>

<a href="http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2012/01/18/under-pressure-alex-says-eli-is-no-1-in-terms-of-scrutiny/">Eric
Branch, San Francisco Chronicle</a>: Smith and Manning are both former No. 1
overall draft picks, and Sunday's game will mark only the second time
quarterback's picked No. 1 will face off in a conference title game. Smith said,
though, that Manning faced a set of unique circumstances that he did not even
though they share a draft slot.</p>

<a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/49ers/ci_19769433">Mike Taugher, San Jose
Mercury News</a>: Since a power outage cut the lights at Candlestick Park during
a Monday Night Football game between the 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers a month
ago, the city and PG&amp;E, the local power provider, have spent nearly a
million dollars to assure the incident will not be replicated.</p>

CSNBayArea.com (http://www.csnbayarea.com/blog/niners-talk/post/Harbaugh-Giants-are-a-cruel-team?blockID=633926&amp;feedID=2800):
In his press conference Wednesday, Jim Harbaugh gave this assessment of his
opponents Sunday: "Class, class team that also is a cruel team. They don't give
you things. They don't let you have what you want."
</p></div>GIANTS-49ERS HOT TOPIC: GIVE US THREE REASONS BIG BLUE WILL WIN SUNDAY (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants-49ers_hot_topic_give_us.html)

"Star-Ledger writers have been breaking down the X's and O's of this Giants-49ers matchup (http://www.nj.com/giants/) all week and will
continue to do so leading up to Sunday's NFC Championship. So you know about key
players and battles on both teams, but that doesn't always cover all of the
possible intangibles you might be thinking about: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_weather_for_nf.html">the
weather</a>, the Giants' road-warrior mindset; the revenge tour, etc.<div class="entry-content">

So taking all things into consideration, it's time to get the good vibes
going, Giants fans. Here's your chance to turn the non-believers into believers.

It's simple: Tell us your top three reasons why the Giants will beat the
49ers on Sunday. Could be related to X's and O's; could be a trend; could
something involving a superstition; could be because NJ.com user Carbo (http://connect.nj.com/user/carbo/index.html) will pick the
Niners! Point is, it could be anything. Drop down to the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants-49ers_hot_topic_give_us.html#comments">comments
section and start talkin'."</a></p>GIANTS VS. 49ERS: DAVID AKERS, ANDY LEE GIVE 49ERS A SPECIAL EDGE ON THE FIELD (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_david_akers_an.html)

Excerpt: "Spencer Paysinger had a hunch the kick was coming their way and let Victor
Cruz, standing behind him as part of the hands team on kick return, know right

“I told him, ‘Vic, it’s coming our way, I’m 100 percent sure,’?” the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) rookie linebacker recalled of the
play in Sunday’s divisional-round game against the Green Bay Packers. “He was
like, ‘Are you serious?’ And I said, ‘I can bet you right now it’s going our

Sure enough, although Green Bay lined up one more player on the opposite
side, Mason Crosby shifted the direction of his on-side kick to Paysinger at the
last second. </p>

The ball rolled through Paysinger’s legs, but Cruz pounced on it with the
Giants leading 30-20 and 4:46 remaining. The Giants then used the short field to
seal the 37-20 win with a 14-yard Brandon Jacobs touchdown run. </p>

It was the second on-side kick the Giants recovered Sunday — the first was a
surprise attempt to steal a possession early in the second quarter when, again,
the Giants weren’t fooled. </p>

But the Giants weren’t foolproof in a similar situation against the 49ers
back in Week 10 of the regular season, when <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/11/giants_fooled_again_by_david_a.html">David
Akers caught the Giants napping</a> late in the first half, perfectly chipping
an on-side kick to his left where Paysinger and wide receiver Ramses Barden were
lined up. Both players were caught off guard, taking three steps back before
realizing Akers’ trickery."
</div></div></div></div></div></div><font size="4"><font size="3">
</font></font><font size="4"><u>NY DAILY NEWS
STOPPING FRANK GORE AND NOT WAITING FOR ELI MANNING TO BAIL THE TEAM OUT AMONG WAYS GIANTS CAN TOP 49ERS (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/stopping-frank-gore-waiting-eli-manning-bail-team-ways-ny-giants-top-san-francisco-49ers-article-1.1008887)

Excerpt: "No one thought much of the Giants’ loss in San Francisco on Nov. 13. It was
dismissed by most as nothing more than the start of another Big Blue second-half
<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 the Giants knew better. They knew everyone was underrating
the 49ers. They knew how tough the Niners really were. That’s why Brandon Jacobs (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brandon+Jacobs)
promised, “We will see them again.” Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin) refused
to accept that it was a bad loss.

“This is a game against a team that was
7-1 in the NFC,” Coughlin said after the 49ers beat the Giants, 27-20. “It’s not
that we played poorly. We didn’t play well enough to win. That’s

That really sums it up. The Giants played a good game against a team
that would prove to be one of the best in the NFL this season. It went down to
the final seconds, when a potential game-tying pass from Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) — in the
direction of a possibly open Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz) — was
batted down at the line of scrimmage by 49ers DT <a title="Justin Smith" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Smith">Justin

“We understand that game came down to the wire and we were one
play away from potentially winning that ballgame,” said Cruz. “It’s a little
sweet to go out there and play a team that we’ve already played and know that
we’ve fought tooth-and-nail.”

Added safety Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle): “I think
we played a pretty good game all around. But I think it could definitely get

That’s the good news for the Giants, as they head into their
rematch in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on Sunday night — there
is definite room for improvement. Manning threw for 311 yards in the first game,
nearly led a spectacular fourth-quarter comeback, and was backed by a battered
defense that yielded only 305 yards, but there were still plenty of things that
went wrong.

Here are five of those problems that the Giants need to avoid
in the rematch. If they do, their next stop could be Super Bowl XLVI:</p>

The 49ers don’t make a lot of
mistakes, which is a big reason they’ve been so successful with Alex Smith (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Alex+Smith+%28Quarterback%29)
at quarterback this season. They are a plus-28 in turnover ratio, “which is
amazing,” Tom Coughlin said, and they play strong defense. That means their
opponents won’t get many opportunities to score, so they have to take advantage
when they do.

In the first meeting, the Giants’ didn’t. There was Mario Manningham (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mario+Manningham)’s
drop of a potential, game-tying, 42-yard touchdown catch on the final drive.
Late in the first half there was an even worse drop by Victor Cruz, one play
before Manning threw an interception.

Here was the worst, though: The
Giants’ first two drives got them inside the 49ers’ 10, and both times they left
with field goals. They compounded that on their final drive when they had three
shots from the 49ers’ 2 and came away with nothing.

In all, they ran 15
plays on four trips into the red zone, took only two shots at the end zone and
came away with 13 points. In a game where points will be at a premium, that
simply won’t do.</p>

The Giants knew going into that first
meeting that they had to stop Frank Gore (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Frank+Gore), arguably the
best running back they faced all season. They had help, though, because he hurt
his ankle a week earlier and wasn’t 100% healthy. He tried, but the Giants
stoned him. He carried six times for zero yards.

Then Gore reinjured his
ankle and left the game. His backup, Kendall Hunter (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kendall+Hunter), came
in and averaged 6.7 yards per carry.

It’s hard not to wonder how much
damage Gore (1,211 yards this season) could’ve done considering Hunter gained 40
yards on just six touches — all in the second half. Hunter’s first carry went
for 11 yards and he later added a 17-yard touchdown on a play where he should’ve
been stopped at the line of scrimmage.

The Giants have been much better
against the run lately, giving up only 194 rushing yards total over the last
three games, if you take away the 66 gained by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Aaron+Rodgers). Smith
can run a little, however, and he had 27 yards on six carries against the

Regardless, with Gore healthy, the Giants’ task is tough. “We
expect to see a healthy Frank Gore,” said Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck). “Obviously
it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”</p>

That big touchdown run by Hunter was
the second of two alarmingly bad miscues that took place over the course of 65
seconds early in the fourth quarter. Rookie linebacker Greg Jones (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Greg+Jones)
was right in the middle of both of them.

Jones was forced into unfamiliar
situations because veteran Michael Boley (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Boley)
suffered a hamstring injury at the end of the first half, which, as <a title="Deon Grant" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Deon+Grant">safety
Deon Grant</a> explained, threw the entire defense off. “Guys were just out
there guessing, just switching around,” Grant said. “Guys were getting more
playing time than they expected.”
That was first evident on <a title="Vernon Davis" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Vernon+Davis">tight
end Vernon Davis</a>’ go-ahead, 31-yard touchdown catch on a simple crossing
route. It was easy to defend, but a confused Jones let Davis run by unabated.
Jones also appeared to be the one late to the hole at the line of scrimmage a
minute or so later, when Hunter cut through the opening for his 17-yard
touchdown run.

What the Giants learned there is that though the 49ers’
offense is underwhelming, they have the talent to make you pay for mistakes.
That’s especially true of Davis, who must be constantly watched.

very explosive, a deep threat,” said Rolle. “Once he gets the ball he can get up
field. He can make defenders miss. I think that’s what makes him pretty special
at his position.”</p>

Linval Joseph (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Linval+Joseph) had a
sack in the second quarter, and Osi Umenyiora (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Osi+Umenyiora) had a
big fourth-quarter sack that allowed the Giants to get the ball back with 6:35
remaining. But for the most part, the pressure on Smith was inconsistent, if not
non-existent. There might not have been a game all season in which Jason Pierre-Paul (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Pierre-Paul)
had less of an impact, and he was more of a factor than the hobbled Justin

The result was that Smith, a quarterback that nobody was sure of at
that point in the season, was allowed to complete 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards
and threw only one interception. In other words, he wasn’t rushed into many
mistakes. The Giants were just beginning a terrible stretch in which they
recorded only 11 sacks in a seven games.

They’ve had 17 in their last
four games, meaning the pressure is likely to be turned up a lot more on Sunday
night."
</p></div>RAIN? GIANTS ONLY SEE BIG BLUE SKIES (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/rain-ny-giants-big-blue-skies-article-1.1009089)

Excerpt: "It’s raining already in San Francisco, and the forecast says it won’t stop
until Monday. That means the notoriously bad field at Candlestick Park has the
potential to be a big bowl of mud.<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">

Not that the Giants care — especially on defense. It won’t affect their game
plan one bit.</p>

“Not in this game,” said defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Perry+Fewell). “Doesn’t
matter. This is the championship game. It doesn’t matter. You fight all year to
get here. It can snow, it can hail, it can rain, whatever it wants to do. We’re
going to be there to play.”</p>

“Any weather,” added defensive end Osi Umenyiora (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Osi+Umenyiora). “It
doesn’t really matter whether it is cold, rainy, snow or sunshine, it is going
to be a good game regardless.”</p>

There has never been a middle ground
with Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin), and he’s
well-aware of that. A month ago some in the media were calling for him to be
fired. In the Daily News on Wednesday there was a story about the possibility of
him eventually being elected to the Hall of Fame.</p>

How does Coughlin deal with the seemingly constant reversals of his

“I just keep the blinders on and go straight ahead,” he said. “I don’t have
anything to do with what is being said on the outside.</p>

“The priorities and the way that I think about it, I don’t let it affect me
in any way.</p>

“I do believe in the John Wooden (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/John+Wooden) statement:
We like praise. We don’t like criticism. But if you let either one of those
things affect your preparation then you’ve got a problem.”</p>

Mark Bavaro (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mark+Bavaro), Michael Strahan (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Strahan) and
Rich Seubert (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Rich+Seubert), all of
whom appeared in NFC title games with the Giants, will serve as honorary
captains for their old team on Sunday night."
</p></div>GIANTS HOPE TO KEEP ROLLING ON ROAD AS THEY FACE THE 49ERS IN NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-hope-rolling-road-face-san-francisco-49ers-nfc-championship-article-1.1008918)

"The Giants will get on their charter flight to San Francisco on Saturday and
immediately transform into their alter ego: The Big Blue Road Warriors.<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">

If home is where the heart is, the road is where the victories are for the
Giants. They don’t plan to leave their season in San Francisco during Sunday’s
NFC Championship Game against the 49ers at Candlestick Park.

<a title="Tom Coughlin" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin">Tom
Coughlin</a> will take his customary seat in coach and leave first class to the
veterans and the big guys who need the extra leg room. It’s a business trip —
the standard cliché for coaches — and Coughlin sets the tone by requiring suits
and ties on the road.

His rules may be a bit suffocating, but they
clearly send the right message: Road trips are a bonding experience. They are a
team and it takes a team to get to the Super Bowl.

The Giants won three
playoff games on the road on the way to their Super Bowl XLII victory over the
Patriots four years ago. They were a wild-card team and beat the NFC South
champion Bucs in Tampa in the first round. Then they went into Dallas and
eliminated the Cowboys, the No. 1 seed. Then it was on to Green Bay, where they
beat the Packers, the No. 2 seed. That Giants team also won its last seven
regular-season road games.

This year, as the NFC East champs, the Giants
had a first-round home game against the Falcons. They beat them, 24-2. Then they
went back to Green Bay and beat the Packers, 37-20, again taking out the No. 1
seed in the divisional round. Now it’s on to San Francisco, where the 49ers are
the No. 2 seed.

Symmetry? Perhaps. The same results? We’ll

Coughlin has six road playoff victories in his NFL head coaching
career. One more and he ties Tom Landry (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Landry) for the most

Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) is tied for
the most road playoff victories, at four, with a group of quarterbacks. One more
and Manning will be first in NFL history.

“This guy on the road — he’s
phenomenal,” an NFL source said.

Manning has a laid-back personality and
doesn’t get rattled. That helps when 70,000 people are screaming.

“Eli is
tough. He’s sober in a storm. He gets it,” the source said. “The things that he
has, like his brother, is he breeds confidence to his teammates. When he’s under
center, they think they can win. It’s a very difficult dynamic for a quarterback
to have. It’s not just about him believing in himself, it’s about teammates
believing in him. It’s rare. All the great ones have it.”

So, what is it
about the road that brings about the best in the Giants?

“It’s just the
concept of us against the world, I guess. You don’t have anything else to fall
back on except your teammates,” Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck) said. “I
think that goes a long way with building trust, with building that belief in the
fact that, regardless of who we go face, if we just take that corps of guys,
those 53 guys and the coaching staff and owners on that plane going to wherever
we go, we can come out victorious. That’s just a mind-set that has been
instilled in us ever since Coach Coughlin has been here.”

The Jets found
out the last two years just how tough it is to win three road playoff games. But
it can be done. The Giants did it four years ago. The Packers did it last year,
winning in Philly, Atlanta and Chicago. The Steelers did it in 2005, going
through Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver.

The Giants made things just
a bit easier for themselves this season by winning the NFC East and reducing by
one the number of road playoff victories they needed to get to Super Bowl XLVI
in Indianapolis.

Teams either shrink with the pressure created by a
hostile environment or they create an us-against-the-world mentality and use it
as a unifying force. In the Super Bowl era, the Giants have never lost an NFC
Championship Game. They beat the Redskins (1986) and Vikings (2000) at home and
the 49ers (1990) and Packers (2007) on the road.

The game 21 years ago
against the Niners is something Coughlin will use in his pregame preparation. He
was on Bill Parcells (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Bill+Parcells)’ staff
as the wide receivers coach. The 49ers had won back-to-back Super Bowls and were
attempting to become the first team to three-peat. They had defeated the Giants,
7-3, at Candlestick during the regular season.

The Giants survived that
NFC title game, 15-13, without scoring a touchdown. They won on <a title="Matt Bahr" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Matt+Bahr">Matt
Bahr</a>’s 42-yard field goal on the final play. The 49ers, who had lost <a title="Joe Montana" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Joe+Montana">Joe
Montana</a> on the previous series when he was crushed by Leonard Marshall (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Leonard+Marshall),
had a first down at the Giants’ 40-yard line and were trying to run out the
clock with Steve Young (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Steve+Young+%28Football%29)
at quarterback.</p>

Young handed to Roger Craig (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Roger+Craig+%28Football%29),
who was hit by Erik Howard (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Erik+Howard), with Lawrence Taylor (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Lawrence+Taylor)
recovering the ball at the Giants’ 43. There was 2:36 left. The Giants moved 31
yards in six plays to position themselves for Bahr’s field goal.

knows there are lessons his team can learn by hearing about that game.

have thought about that and we will talk about some of the things that occurred
there, but only from the standpoint of the history and the tradition and what a
great event that was at that particular time,” he said. “That was a long time
ago and I think some of our players, because they are historians, will know a
little about that game and the great players that played in that

It was the game when the Giants first turned into road warriors.
Two decades later, they are back where that mentality started and trying to do
it again."</p>

FINALLY HEALTHY, MATHIAS KIWANUKA ENJOYING SECOND SHOT AT SUPER BOWL BERTH AGAINST 49ERS (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/giants-mathias-kiwanuka-recovers-broken-leg-dream-article-1.1009082)</p>

Excerpt: "The
last time the Giants made an incredible, improbable Super Bowl run in 2007, Mathias Kiwanuka (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka)
was on the team, but he wasn’t running with it.
</p><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">Kiwanuka was on injured
reserve with a fractured left fibula – an injury that occurred just as the
Giants were gathering steam for the stretch run. And just a season ago Kiwanuka
wasn’t even sure he would ever play football again after suffering a herniated
cervical disk three games into the season.

As the Giants prepare for the
NFC Championship Game at San Francisco on Sunday, it has been hard to find a
happier player in the Giants locker room this week than Kiwanuka. He is one step
away from playing in his first Super Bowl.
“It’s huge. There’s no place that
I’d rather be right now than right here with these guys,’’ Kiwanuka said at the
Giants’ training facility on Thursday afternoon.

There is nothing that
makes a player appreciate the kind of run that the Giants are on now than a
player who missed it the first time with an injury and who suffered another
injury that had him contemplating not just his career, but his life.

victory over the 49ers will give Kiwanuka the opportunity to play in a Super

01-20-2012, 12:52 PM
Howdydoo and Thank You.

01-20-2012, 01:32 PM
Howdydoo and Thank You.


01-20-2012, 01:37 PM
thanks Ro...</P>

the anxiety is starting to build....:)</P>



01-20-2012, 02:21 PM
thanks Ro...</p>

the anxiety is starting to build....:)</p>



Can't wait for the game to start

01-21-2012, 12:42 AM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</P>

we are almost there! all we need is a chance!</P>


01-21-2012, 09:29 AM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</p>

we are almost there! all we need is a chance!</p>


We are reaching the mountain top, one game at a time.