View Full Version : NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2012 - 11:15 A.M.

01-21-2012, 11:15 AM
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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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</u><u><font face="Verdana">
</font></u></font><font size="4"><u>NEWARK STAR LEDGER</u></font>

49ERS FRANK GORE STILL MOTIVATED BY NFL DRAFT SNUB (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_frank_gore_sti.html)

Excerpt: "Frank Gore can still, very easily, name each and every running back who was
selected before him in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Two major surgeries during his years at the University of Miami had called
his knees into question, of course. At just 22, he was on a limited warranty
with low expectations, which made the exercise Friday all the more satisfying.

Six years later, he could prop himself up with one of those sewn-up knees
resting firmly on a stool in front of his 49ers locker and rattle off those five
running backs.</p>

“First was Ronnie Brown, second was Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, then
J.J Arrington, then the boy who went to Carolina from Louisville, (Eric)
Shelton, then me,” said Gore, who wasn’t selected until the third round, as the
65th pick. </p>

Not one of those five running backs is within 1,500 career rushing yards of
Gore. Arrington and Shelton are no longer in the NFL. </p>

“Still, right now, today, I got that chip on my shoulder,” said Gore, who, at
28, had the fifth-most carries in football this season (282)." Read more...</p>GIANTS VS. 49ERS: VERNON DAVIS, ROB GRONKOWSKI SHOW HOW TIGHT ENDS HAVE EVOLVED INTO BIG, FAST TARGETS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_vernon_davis_r.html)

Excerpt: "Antonio Pierce, a rookie with the Washington Redskins in 2001, couldn’t help
but laugh when he watched Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) tight
end Howard Cross. Like most tight ends in the league at the time, Cross was a
blocker first and receiver second. A distant second.

“He was basically a lineman,” the former Redskins and Giants linebacker said.
“He was 280 pounds and he’s running routes and you laugh. You wanted them to
throw it there so you could try to get a pick because you knew you were faster
and reacted quicker than him.”</p>

A decade later, the Howard Crosses of the world are an endangered species —
as the NFL has rapidly evolved into a pass-happy entity, so too has the tight
end position. </p>

Yes, bulky blockers in the mold of Cross still have a place in the NFL, but
today’s premier tight ends — Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez of the New
England Patriots, <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_vs_49ers_vernon_davis_p.html">Vernon
Davis of the San Francisco 49ers</a> among them — are world-class athletes with
track speed, basketball-player hops and sculpted physiques. They are hybrids,
able to block when necessary and catch passes from a variety of spots, from
split out on the outside or in the slot as wide receivers to their traditional
spot on the line.</p>

“It’s night and day,” Pierce said. “The tight end before was just a mauler,
he was just the sixth offensive lineman. Now this guy is your leading receiver,
your first option, your No. 1 threat and the toughest matchup for most
defenders.”
</p>GIANTS' DEFENSIVE BACKS GET IT TOGETHER WITH THE HELP OF WEEKLY GET-TOGETHERS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_cornerbacks_get_it_toge.html)

"Aaron Ross was in a hurry to leave the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)’ practice facility the other day,
though he took time to answer a question about the meetings the defensive backs
have held on their own.

In fact, that’s why he was scrambling to get out of the Timex Performance
Center in East Rutherford.</p>

“We’re going right now to go do ’em,” the Giants cornerback said. “It’s been
helping us a lot. We get a chance to go through the film and go over with the
coaches the next morning. We might see something we don’t like and ask the
coaches if we can change it.”</p>

The defensive backs started these meetings earlier in the season, once per
week at the players’ houses, about an hour in length. It was a way of conducting
the meetings at their own pace and with them taking the lead.</p>

It wasn’t a mutiny against the coaching staff by any means, but rather a
chance to take control of the remote and talk about what they see on film — not
only what they’re supposed to see.</p>

Before the game against the Washington Redskins, in which Corey Webster and
Kenny Phillips grabbed interceptions early on, the frequency of the
get-togethers increased. Now, as the players prepare for Sunday NFC Championship
Game against the San Francisco 49ers, they’re up to three sessions per week.</p>

And the fact they even have the chance to get ready for this game is a
testament to what the meetings have done for their on-field communication since
a few communication breakdowns earlier in the season against the Niners, Dallas
Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.</p>

“It’s crisp. Everything is coming out fast, it’s coming out loud,” said
linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who can hear the chatter behind him. “There are no
questions about who is saying what or who has what. The communication has been

“If you watch how they played (on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers),
there was obviously a difference. You could see it, and you could hear it on the
field, too.”</p>

Instead of Dez Bryant running free, Laurent Robinson breaking up the seam or
Jabar Gaffney catching an uncontested touchdown, the Giants have often seen Tony
Romo, Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers holding the ball longer while
looking for an open receiver — and many times, not finding one.</p>

In the 13 games before the meetings were increased, the Giants allowed 263.7
passing yards per game and a 61.4 percent completion rate. In the five games
since, they’re allowing 215.6 yards per game and a completion percentage of 59.9
</p>“The chemistry is just crazy right now,” Phillips said. “I don’t want to say
it’s just the meetings, but guys are just dialing in to what we’re doing.”

He continued: “It’s knowing what the other guy’s going to do. You don’t have
to talk on every play. If I see something, I just come off and go get it and
somebody will cover me up. There’s been a lot of that going on.”</p>

Phillips’ house is the closest to the stadium, so he’s often the host for the
meetings. Sometimes, they’ll order pizza or wings, though the sessions often go

Everyone gets a chance to work the remote and go through the calls based on
the looks the offense is given — even the rookies.</p>

“Everybody has their opinion,” rookie safety Tyler Sash said, adding with a
wry smile: “Even though some people’s opinions are respected more than

The opinions of veterans Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle mean a ton to defensive
coordinator Perry Fewell, who admits he has gotten better at accepting

“Because I know the players a lot better, definitely,” said Fewell, in his
second year with the Giants. “I think that as a coordinator, and as a leader,
you’re most effective when you’re listening, not talking.”</p>

Fewell simplified the game plan a bit before the victory over the Jets, in
part because of the suggestions that came from the players’ off-site

“We jot it down and say, ‘We think it’ll be a lot easier for us to play it
like this,’” Grant said, “and he has an open ear when it comes to that.”</p>GIANTS' DAVID TYREE LIGHTS UP EMPIRE STATE BUILDING (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_david_tyree_lights_up_e.html)

"David Tyree, one of the Giants heroes from Super Bowl XLII, helped light up
the Empire State Building tonight —supposedly to commemorate the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)' trip to San Francisco for the NFC
Championship Game.

The problem was that when Tyree threw the switch, the
landmark wasn't blue but rather red and gold — awfully close to the San
Francisco 49ers' colors, in fact.

That color scheme was related to the
Lunar New Year, according to Matt McCullough of Matter, Edelman Sports and
Entertainment Marketing, who promoted the lighting. The company had sent a press
release on Thursday saying Tyree would light up the building blue, as tight end
Jake Ballard did before last week's game against the Green Bay Packers.</p>

McCullough was quick to note that the Empire State Building would feature
Giants blue on Saturday and Sunday. Tyree was not available for a ceremony on
</p>GIANTS-49ERS GAME PREVIEW: A LOOK AHEAD TO THE NFC 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>http://www.nj.com/giants/
<font size="4"><u>NY DAILY NEWS
[url="http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/osi-umenyiora-justin-tuck-eli-manning-hot-time-ny-giants-meet-san-francisco-giants-article-1.1009737"]OSI UMENYIORA, JUSTIN TUCK AND ELI MANNING GET HOT AT RIGHT TIME AS GIANTS MEET 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)

"Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) has played
well enough all season to get the Giants to their second Super Bowl in the last
five seasons. Now the rest of the team has finally caught up to him.
<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">

When the NFL awarded Super Bowl XLVI to the House That Peyton Built in
Indianapolis, it appeared the Colts had a good chance to be the first team to
play the Super Bowl on their home field. It was easy to envision Peyton Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Peyton+Manning)
driving down the field in the closing minutes for the winning

Well, Manning could still provide last-minute drama in Indy —
it would just be the Manning who is no longer the other Manning. If the Giants
beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night at Candlestick Park,
then Eli Manning gets to play the Super Bowl in the town where Peyton has been
king since 1998. That would be a pretty neat story. If he wins the game, he
leads Peyton 2-1 in Super Bowl victories.

“We have to go out and play a
great game,” Manning said. “It’s whatever it takes.”

The Giants and 49ers
have met seven times in the playoffs since 1981 and four times the winner has
gone on to win the Super Bowl: The 49ers in 1981 and 1984 and the Giants in 1986
and then in 1990 in the NFC Championship Game. And now, the Giants and Niners
are playing well enough to beat the Patriots or Ravens.

Even though Eli
already is a Super Bowl MVP — he won the award one year after his brother — this
has been his breakout season. He has taken his game to a different level — yes,
an elite level — and has been even better in the Giants playoff victories over
the Falcons and Packers. He has thrown for a combined 607 yards with six TDs and
only one INT.

He threw for nearly 5,000 yards during the regular season
with 29 TDs and 16 INTs, but the Giants were just a 9-7 team. They played like a
9-7 team. But they are no longer playing like a 9-7 team. This is the team they
thought they would be all season: A quick strike offense and an aggressive
playmaking defense.

When they started the season 6-2, it gave the Giants
a false sense of security. The Patriots were the only team they beat in the
first half that made the playoffs. In fact, the Patriots are the only team they
defeated during the regular season that finished over .500. But starting with
the 15th game against the Jets in the grudge match, Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck) caught his
second wind. Osi Umenyiora (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Osi+Umenyiora)
returned the next week against the Cowboys and the two are dominating like they
did in the 2007 Super Bowl run.

When the pass rush is overwhelming, it
covers up for the secondary, which in a three-game stretch in late November to
early December was ripped apart by Drew Brees (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Drew+Brees), Aaron Rodgers (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Aaron+Rodgers) and <a title="Tony Romo" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tony+Romo">Tony
Romo</a>. They tortured the Giants with 12 TD passes — four apiece — and 1,037
passing yards. But now the Giants have held Matt Ryan (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Matt+Ryan+%28Football%29) and
Rodgers to 424 yards passing and one touchdown in the playoffs. One month later,
Rodgers threw for 119 fewer yards and three fewer TDs against the

The Giants are on a four-game winning streak. They are not only
winning. They are dominating. They beat the Jets by 15, the Cowboys by 14, the
Falcons by 22 and the Packers by 17. When their season was stalled at 7-7, their
first two victories were by more than 10 points, but the next five were by a
total of just 17 points.

Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin)’s talk
with Tuck before the Jets game was the turning point of an injury-plagued season
for him. Tuck was at the point he could either put the injuries to the side or
he could let them drag him all the way down. He has been a force in the last
four games — he had a sack against the Jets and the Cowboys and although he
didn’t get one against the Falcons or Packers, he has been disruptive. He is
playing with fresh legs.

“It’s been one of those years where when it just
seems like you have it right and your body is starting to feel good, something
else happens,” Tuck said. “When that happens, obviously there are going to be
people questioning you about where your heart is and things like that. My
teammates know where my heart is, my coaches know where my heart

Only the physically gifted can play in the NFL. Only the mentally
strong survive.

“I just came to the realization that I’m not going to be
healthy this year, I’m not going to put up the stats that I’ve put up. But that
doesn’t mean that I can’t help this football team win games,” Tuck said. “At the
end of the day, that’s the end goal. That’s what I mean about blocking all the
other stuff out.”</p>

Umenyiora came back against the Cowboys after missing four games with an
ankle injury. He had two sacks against the Cowboys, one against the Falcons and
two against the Packers with a forced fumble. He has perfected the strip sack -
a Lawrence Taylor (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Lawrence+Taylor)
specialty. His arm comes down like a hammer on the ball.</p>

“He is always going 100%,” Coughlin said. “He is always, always looking to
make a play.”
The Giants were virtually a two-man team this season: Manning
on offense and Jason Pierre-Paul (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Pierre-Paul)
on defense. Now they are a complete team.

They’re one game from the Super
Bowl in Indianapolis. Maybe Peyton will have them over for
WITH UP AND DOWN SEASON BEHIND THEM, GIANTS VIEW 49ERS AS ROAD BLOCK IN QUEST FOR SUPER BOWL (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/up-and-down-season-behind-ny-giants-view-san-francisco-49ers-road-block-quest-super-bowl-article-1.1009751)

"The Giants didn’t set out on this journey hoping to find redemption. They’re
not flying across the country looking for revenge

<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 game, to the
Giants, is not about evening the score with the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, it
has nothing to do with the 49ers at all.

“They’re just in the way of
where we want to be,” said <a title="Michael Boley" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Boley">linebacker Michael
Boley</a>. “Obviously, that’s the Super Bowl.”

Incredibly, the Giants,
who were once hanging on the edge of what Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck) called a
“historical” collapse, are now just one win away from a chance to make a
different kind of history. They will play the 49ers Sunday night in the NFC
Championship Game at rainy, wind-swept Candlestick Park.

The winner will
represent the NFC in Indianapolis on Feb. 5 in Super Bowl XLVI.

Try to
remember how improbable that seemed in the heat of the summer, when the lockout
ended in late July and the Giants looked like they were standing still. When
Giants GM Jerry Reese (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jerry+Reese) made his
vow that Big Blue would make the playoffs “and make a run,” the laughter was
everywhere. He insisted the team was building — not rebuilding — and nobody
believed that was true.

Then came the injuries that ravaged the Giants,
the failures of the defense, the start of the “historical” second-half collapse
when they ruined a 6-2 start with five losses in their next six games. They were
on the brink of elimination, facing an uncertain future, and nobody considered
them a contender at all.

Yet, here they are, in their second conference
championship game in the Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin)/<a title="Eli Manning" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning">Eli
Manning</a> era. The Giants (11-7) have won four straight games, are fresh off
an upset of the 15-1 Green Bay Packers (now 15-2) at frigid Lambeau Field. They
have channeled the “Road Warriors” that won that miracle Super Bowl four years

And, while this may not have been their primary goal, they’ve done
exactly what that famous 2007 team kept doing: The Giants really have proven
everybody wrong.

“That says a lot,” said breakout receiver <a title="Victor Cruz" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz">Victor
Cruz</a>. “We had to battle through a lot of injuries early on this year and a
lot of question marks. Just to overcome that and for guys to shine and step up
and play well has been tremendous for our confidence. We’ve been building off
that ever since.”

“The ride didn’t go the way you wanted it to go, but we
did what we set out to do this season,” said safety Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle). “That
was to win our division and have a chance to play in the postseason. We granted
ourselves that wish.”

They’ve had other wishes granted lately, too, which
has been part of the fun of this unexpected ride. They were desperately hoping
for another shot at the Packers after they nearly spoiled Green Bay’s attempt at
an unbeaten season on Dec. 4, before losing 38-35 on a last-second field goal.
They got that wish last Sunday and they took advantage, hammering the Packers
37-20 in an NFC divisional playoff game.

That earned them a second wish:
A rematch with a 49ers team that beat them 27-20 in San Francisco on Nov. 13 by
the narrowest of margins — the fingertip of <a title="Justin Smith (Football)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Smith+%28Football%29">defensive end
Justin Smith</a>, who batted what likely would’ve been a game-tying touchdown
pass by Eli Manning out of the air.

When that game was over, Giants <a title="Brandon Jacobs" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brandon+Jacobs">running back Brandon
Jacobs</a> predicted “We will see them again.” And when the 49ers (14-3) stunned
the New Orleans Saints last Saturday, as soon as the Giants held up their end in
Green Bay the rematch was assured.

The first 49ers game was a brutal,
physical game, which is one reason why Giants defensive tackle <a title="Chris Canty" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Chris+Canty">Chris
Canty</a> said he’s expecting a “bloodbath” in what could be terrible weather
conditions. The 49ers, behind Frank Gore (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Frank+Gore) — who played
with an injured ankle against the Giants in November and had only six carries
for zero yards — have the NFL’s eighth-ranked rushing attack (127.8 yards per
game). They also have the No. 4-ranked defense and the best rushing defense,
which has given up an average of just 77.2 yards on the ground.

and defense weren’t the Giants’ strengths for much of the season, but they might
be now. The Giants’ defense has been brilliant for the last month, especially
their revived pass rush that has totaled 17 sacks in the last four games.
Meanwhile, the Giants have averaged 112.7 yards per game on the ground since the
start of December, including 267 yards in two playoff games.</p>

So yes, a “bloodbath” is exactly what the Giants expect.

“I heard
that,” said linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka).
“That’s this kind of football. You get two teams like this who want to run the
ball and want to stick to their game plans as much as possible, which is line up
man to man and see who is a tougher guy at the end of the day. These are the
kinds of games I live for.”

It’s what they used to call “Giants football”
before they spent the first 3-1/2 months with their fortunes riding on Manning.
They were still that team on Nov. 13, when Manning’s attempt at more last-second
heroics was tipped away. The Giants can still see that deflection and Cruz
running free toward the end zone. They still think about that golden opportunity
they let slip away. Would revenge be sweet for the Giants?Absolutely it would,
even if it’s not the most important thing they seek.

“It’s very
motivating,” Cruz said. “We understand that game came down to the wire and we
were one play away from potentially winning that ballgame. 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 with them.”

Put another way, it’s about unfinished
business. And if there has been one consistent theme to this surprising season,
it’s been that the Giants want none of that.

“Never quit. We have to
finish what we started,” Boley said. “We started the season on a good note. It’s
not how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s been one of the things that Tom
(Coughlin) has said to us from Day 1, as soon as we stepped in here for training
camp. Finish. Make sure we finish everything we do.”

Now they have a
chance to do exactly that. They can back up all the guarantees from Reese and
Rolle and Cruz and so many others by going back one more time to make right what
once went wrong.

They’ve already taken a quantum leap from the
struggling, injury-plagued team that was falling apart in Week 15 when they
bottomed out at 7-7. The Giants have no doubt they will prove to the 49ers and
the world that they have become a much different – and much improved –

“I think we are a team that is ascending,” Tuck said. “Obviously
the last couple of weeks we have played pretty well in just about every phase of
the game. Momentum for us right now is sky high. It’s something that we
hopefully can continue to ride into the Super Bowl.”

“We’re not going to
be denied at this point,” Rolle added. “We understand what we have as a team.
It’s not all about talent. It’s about chemistry. We’re gelling at this point.
Coaches and players are on the same page at the same time.

“We have one
goal in mind, which is to win the championship.”

And that would be the
greatest redemption of all."</p></div>
GIANTS' RUN TO NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME VS. 49ERS FUELED BY RETURN OF AHMAD BRADSHAW (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-run-nfc-championship-game-san-francisco-49ers-fueled-ahmahd-bradshaw-comeback-article-1.1009766)

"Ahmad Bradshaw (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ahmad+Bradshaw) was
supposed to be blocking, but he had his own ideas.

<div id="story"><div class="story-body">

So on this critical
first-and-10 from the Giants’ 49 two weeks ago in a wild-card playoff game vs.
the Falcons, Bradshaw did what he does best. As two pass-rushers flew toward
him, taking aim at Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning), Bradshaw
threw a quick, almost half-hearted block, then turned around, clapping for the

Just before the Falcons drove Manning to the ground, the
quarterback released an underhanded pass. Bradshaw caught it and tried to juke a
pair of defenders. Eventually, he settled for a one-yard loss, but it was better
than the seven-yard sack Manning was destined to take, and it kept the drive

Five plays later, the Giants scored the only touchdown they would
need to beat Atlanta. And two weeks later, backup QB David Carr (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Carr) still
marvels at Bradshaw’s headiness on a play that hardly jumped out on the stat

“Ahmad was supposed to be blocking the whole time, but he sees
it’s not there,” recalls Carr. “Eli can underhand toss it. So you get two or
three yards (farther) instead of losing eight. That’s a plus-six-yard
And those are the kinds of plays that Ahmad Bradshaw has routinely
made this season, a key reason that the Giants can feel confident in today’s NFC
Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

The last time they
faced the 49ers, they fell, 27-20, and Bradshaw, who was nursing a broken foot,
did not even make the trip West, and a punchless Giants rushing attack scratched
and clawed its way to just 3.2 yards per carry against the league’s finest
rushing defense.

On Sunday, however, Big Blue will have its most
versatile tailback in uniform, completing its dangerous offense.

ready to make plays,” says Bradshaw, who practiced just once last week. “I’m
feeling healthy, and I’m feeling good.”

Bradshaw spent the entire season
making heady plays and functioning as Eli Manning’s safety valve in the passing
game, while simultaneously cutting down on his own errors. A season ago, he
nearly lost his grip on the starting job, literally. Bradshaw put the ball on
the ground seven times in 276 carries last year, with the Giants losing all but
one of them But this year he’s seen a marked improvement fumbling only once in
171 carries and none so far in the playoffs. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kevin+Gilbride) no
longer fears putting the ball in Bradshaw’s hands, and that has allowed the
fifth-year tailback to quietly replace departed wideout <a title="Steve Smith (New York Giants)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Steve+Smith+%28New+York+Giants%29">Steve
Smith</a> and tight end Kevin Boss (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kevin+Boss) in the
passing game.

“Ahmad’s done a great job catching little passes and
getting yardage, getting big plays,” says Manning. “He’s just one of those
players where you want to try to create touches for him, whether it’s the run
game or screens, little check-downs where good things seem to happen. He makes
guys miss. If you can get the ball in his hands, good things usually

And when you get Bradshaw on the field, the Giants win. Want to
know how a 7-6 team just praying to make the postseason has climbed to the brink
of the Super Bowl? Look no further than Bradshaw’s return from a broken foot
against the Green Bay Packers at the start of December.

Including the
postseason, the Giants have gone 5-2 since he re-entered the lineup, continuing
a run of solid play with Bradshaw on the field. They are 10-4 with Bradshaw in
action this season, just 1-3 without him, and their explosive offense cranks out
26.9 points per game when Bradshaw suits up, 7.4 points per game better than
their average without him.

Even in an injury-plagued campaign that saw
him post a career-low 3.9 yards per carry, Bradshaw has remained one of the most
indispensable pieces of the Giants offense.

“Whenever you can add
somebody with Ahmad’s skills to an offense, we’re gonna progress, period,” says
offensive lineman Kevin Boothe (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kevin+Boothe). “We were
just fortunate enough to get him back. In whatever capacity we could have him,
we need him.”

The Giants cannot replace Bradshaw as a runner or receiver.
As a runner, he is the team’s most effective short-yardage runner, a tailback so
slight that Boothe says “you lose him in the pile.” He stretches defenses
sideline-to-sideline in a way that neither Brandon Jacobs (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brandon+Jacobs) nor
D.J. Ware can, and, even on a broken foot, he remains the team’s most reliable
blocking back.

“The way he chips (on blocks) is amazing,” says Carr. “One
of the best blocking backs I’ve been around.”
His return has also bolstered
the shaky rushing attack. The Giants struggled to run the ball all season, but
when Bradshaw returned, Boothe says, blocking became a little bit easier. Even
if the results did not consistently show on the stat sheet, linebackers were a
half-step slower to attack the offensive line, and the versatility of the
Giants’ playbook practically doubled.

“Him and Brandon, they’re so
different,” says Boothe. “You can run plays over and over again, and it’s a
different look, you’re getting a different running back. You’re getting a
compact guy one play, then you’re getting a big bull the other. They balance
each other out.”

But that all pales in comparison to how important he has
become to Manning. For years, the quarterback routinely dumped the ball off to
Smith and Boss when he was in trouble, subliminally trusting both veterans to
get open.

When GM Jerry Reese (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jerry+Reese) let that
pair go in the offseason, Manning was forced to learn to work with receiver <a title="Victor Cruz" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz">Victor
Cruz</a> and tight end Jake Ballard (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jake+Ballard).
Eventually, the quarterback learned to do that, and both second-year players
outperformed the veterans they replaced.

But neither Ballard nor the
salsa-dancing Cruz has proven to be an underneath target. Both players - and
explosive receiver Hakeem Nicks (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Hakeem+Nicks) - excel
at making things happen down the field in the Giants’ pass-happy offense. Thus
Bradshaw has become Manning’s trusted bailout target.

“He’s that guy now,
the underneath,” Nicks says of Bradshaw. “You put the ball in his hands on a
short pass and he can get you a few yards or he can bust a big

Often, Bradshaw makes his plays in the passing game by carefully
reading the defense, then deviating from the scripted play. Carr says he often
sees Bradshaw break off a route as soon as he sees an opening - much like a
traditional slot receiver might do - and he often watches the tailback do as he
did against Atlanta, throwing a quick block then sliding to an unguarded section
of grass.

“I just try to give Eli a target,” Bradshaw says. “That’s all
I’m trying to do. I’ve been doing this stuff my whole career; it’s nothing

Carr disagrees.

“He’s probably one of the best around
when it comes to finding the soft spot in the defense,” says Carr. “Even if he’s
not supposed to be around the ball or be a receiver, he finds a soft spot and
gets it done.”

For better or worse, that has allowed Manning to play at
his best with Bradshaw on the field, sitting in the pocket longer to search for
big plays downfield, all the while knowing that he has a reliable checkdown
option likely clapping for the ball if nothing is available. It’s no wonder
Manning has a solid 2.3:1 TD-to-INT ratio with Bradshaw in the lineup. In the
four games Bradshaw missed, however, Manning threw seven TDs and five

And it’s little surprise that the Giants suddenly feel confident
in their rushing attack. The fearsome San Francisco defense can throw everything
it can at these Giants.

Bradshaw is hardly worried.

“It’s just
about making plays man,” he says. “That’s it.”</p></div></div>

NEVERMIND STOMACH BUG, ELI MANNING A CONSTANT FOR TOM COUGHLIN'S GIANTS AS USUAL (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/mind-stomach-bug-eli-manning-a-constant-ny-giants-usual-article-1.1009604)

Excerpt: "The stomach bug was easy to beat, a snap. It went away by itself this week
after 24 hours, without the slightest need for physical therapy. Fluids and
rest. Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) has been
through much worse and still suited up for the next game. Always, for the next
game.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

He battled through a chronic, stubborn case of plantar fasciitis in 2009 when
he couldn’t put pressure on his back heel while throwing. He was bloodied by the
Jets in a 2010 exhibition. None of that halted Manning’s ironman streak, which
will reach 129 straight games, including playoffs, when he starts on Sunday in
San Francisco.</p>

He has not missed a game since being named the starter in 2004. It is the
third-longest streak for a quarterback in NFL history and it says much more
about Manning than his quarterback rating. It says that he is rugged, and that
he is ready. He doesn’t look that tough, not really. Manning still appears about
20 years old, shoulders drooping and hair mussed. He doesn’t own the
hard-broken-nosed silhouette of his brother, Peyton. But clearly he’s made of
durable stuff. Eli bends, yet doesn’t break.

“I work hard during the
offseason, during the season,” Manning was saying on Friday, preparing to travel
through the snow on Saturday to the West Coast. “There are things that are
preventable, like muscle strains. And you know when the blitzes are coming so
you don’t take a hit when you don’t have to. Part of it is luck. Then there’s
eating right, getting sleep, conditioning, things you can control.”</p>

Manning knows you can get hit the wrong way and none of the groundwork
matters. His own brother came back hard to earth, missing the whole season after
his own streak of 227 straight games. Peyton Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Peyton+Manning) is an
object lesson to his younger brother, in more than one way.</p>

You do what you can do, plan for the hit and hope for the best. When Eli was
growing up in New Orleans, the kids at Isidore Newman School were still talking
about how Peyton was always uncannily ready for anything. When the team bus
broke down and a new driver came on, it was Peyton who sat up front and gave
directions to the game.</p>

Eli learned from that, became the best sort of Boy Scout. “Be prepared.”</p>

“As a quarterback and a teammate, you want to show teammates you’re gonna be
here,” Manning said. “You try not to walk through anything. You practice how you
play. I enjoy practice. Let’s compete. Let’s learn things.”</p>

Here he is now in his eighth season, still learning, somehow still looking
forward to the next time another defensive lineman runs straight for his upper
body. His performances in the postseason have been a mixed bag over the years,
dependent in part on the protection afforded him at the time. One thing is
clear: As goes Manning, so goes the team.</p>

He posted a horrid 35.0 rating in 2006 against Carolina, in a blowout defeat.
Manning was at 85.6 in another loss in 2007 to Philadelphia. During the Super
Bowl run of 2008, Manning’s quarterback ratings were 117.1 vs.Tampa, 132.4
against Dallas, 72.0 against Green Bay and 87.3 in the Super Bowl win over New
England. He was a miserable 40.7 in a loss to the Eagles in 2008. So far this
month, he has a 129.3 rating in the victory over Atlanta and 114.5 versus the

Manning will never say this game on Sunday is all about him, but more likely
than not it will be just that. The running game is merely a complementary weapon
this season in the NFL, regardless of conditions.</p>

“The guys are ready,” Manning said, looking ahead to Sunday. “They’re amped
up, but they’ve done a good job keeping their cool."</p>

Not as cool as Manning,
tough guy. Speak softly, throw a big spiral."</p></div>GIANTS' COACH TOM COUGHLIN APPEARS LOOSE AND CONFIDENT AS HE LEADS BIG BLUE INTO SHOWDON WITH 49ERS IN NFC TITLE GAME (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-coach-tom-coughlin-appears-loose-confident-leads-big-blue-showdown-san-francisco-49ers-nfc-championship-game-article-1.1009578)

"Chris Canty (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Chris+Canty) said
Sunday’s NFC Championship Game will be a “bloodbath,” but the Giants on Friday
were as loose and confident as they’ve been all season.<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">

Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin) played
the role of comedian through his press conference. Travis Beckum (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Travis+Beckum) joked
that he had read Jake Ballard (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jake+Ballard)’s MRI. Brandon Jacobs (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brandon+Jacobs) and
Ahmad Bradshaw (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ahmad+Bradshaw)
signed shoes for a teammate.</p>

No, the Giants weren’t ****y, Jason Pierre-Paul (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Pierre-Paul)
didn’t toss around casual guarantees and Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle) didn’t
pound his chest, but a four-game winning streak — including postseason
demolitions of the Atlanta Falcons and the powerful Green Bay Packers — has bred
a confidence in the NFC East champs.</p>

It is an attitude that has been spearheaded throughout the week by the
normally reserved Coughlin. The coach’s answers are usually terse, but on Friday
he was unusually effusive and jovial.</p>

When asked if he’d done anything to prevent Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning)’s “24-hour
bug” from spreading to the rest of the team, Coughlin joked that the entire team
was wearing masks and washing their hands, just like a family might do if a
sibling came home sick.</p>

Asked if the “procedure” done on Ballard’s injured knee would help on Sunday,
Coughlin smiled and said: “What do you think (the medical staff does) in there?
Play cards?”</p>

Defensive end Dave Tollefson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Dave+Tollefson)
attributed the shift in Coughlin’s demeanor to how the Giants have

“He’s comfortable with where we’re at mentally as a team,” Tollefson said. “I
think he’s just as excited. For a 65-year-old man to be jacked up for a game
like this, I think it speaks for what this franchise is about.”</p>

The Giants all seem excited about the chance they will have on Sunday. Back
in mid-December, at 7-7, they desperately held on to slim playoff hopes after a
stunning loss to the Redskins.</p>

Things have changed dramatically since. Excitement has engulfed the locker

“I think it’s a product of the way that we’ve been playing and the results
that we’ve been getting,” said linebacker <a title="Mathias Kiwanuka" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka">Mathias

“It comes to the point where you believe 100% the other 10 guys on the field
are going to do exactly what they need to do. So I think it makes us all very

Added Pierre-Paul: “We’re excited just to go out there and play this football
game and see where it takes us. We’re fired up and ready to play.”</p>

Between practice snaps on Friday, Tollefson and Canty savored what they have
accomplished already.</p>

“Hey, man, we’re on the cusp,” Tollefson told Canty. “It’s all going down.
It’s go time.”</p></div>ROLLE MAKES GIANTS' MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-antrel-rolle-quiet-justin-tuck-speaks-time-big-blue-advance-nfc-championship-game-article-1.1009632)

"Somebody needed to speak up. Anybody.<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">

It was late November, days after the Giants had been demolished by the Saints
in New Orleans, their third straight loss in a season that was rapidly
unraveling. A beleaguered Giants defense had just watched video of how it had
been dissected by Drew Brees (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Drew+Brees) in an
embarrassing 49-24 defeat.</p>

Now, there was only silence.</p>

That’s when Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle) made his
move. The outspoken safety stood up and started pointing out mistakes and
lackadaisical play by his teammates.</p>

His tirade left an impression: As the Giants head into San Francisco for the
NFC Championship Game, many of Rolle’s teammates recall the moment as a key
turning point of the season.</p>

“I remember it,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka)
says. “I remember the emotion that he had, the fervor he had. The things he said
were right on point, and they all needed to be said.</p>

“(Rolle) is really quiet,” Kiwanuka adds. “Quiet until you turn on that

This is the Antrel Rolle that people don’t often see. He has yapped plenty
this season, talked about beating the Redskins “99 times out of 100,” about how
his heart “doesn’t pump Kool-Aid,” about how he fears no man and expects to win
every game. In his second season with the Giants, Rolle has oozed confidence and
swagger, routinely delivering sound bites to anyone within earshot of his

Teammates say they feed off his endless well of confidence, but it is this
other, far more subtle Rolle who has helped propel the Giants to within one win
of the Super Bowl. For as much as he has burnished a reputation as a loudmouth
trash talker, when he is around his teammates, the 29-year-old safety picks his
spots, making his words far more meaningful.</p>

“He’s actually kind of quiet,” says defensive end Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck). “He
doesn’t talk much in the locker room. I know (the media) would be surprised by
that. For the most part, he’s just a cool, calm guy. You don’t see much.”</p>

It is this Rolle who has endeared himself to the Giants, earning the respect
that allows his words to carry weight. A season ago, teammates say, they had
little understanding of the player who routinely clashed with disciplinarian <a title="Tom Coughlin" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin">coach
Tom Coughlin</a>.</p>

He hadn’t proven anything then, but this season, he has. Due to a rash of
injuries to the Giants defense, Rolle has played all over the field, lining up
as a deep safety, a run-stopping safety close to the line of scrimmage, a
cornerback and a nickel back.</p>

He has guarded wide receivers, tailbacks, fullbacks and tight ends, and while
he has made mistakes on the field, he has not bristled over his
jack-of-all-trades usage. Instead, he turned the opportunities into a
career-high 96 tackles in the regular season.</p>

“We’ve asked him to do a lot of things, moving to positions, playing nickel
corner,” says Kiwanuka. “He’s never once complained. That’s a big thing. You see
a guy who’s maybe not the biggest guy, but he’s hitting harder than everybody,
working harder.”</p>

And he’s run nearly every defensive video session. Most weeks, the defense
gets together at a player’s house for extra video work, and in those sessions,
said rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mark+Herzlich), Rolle
is often the player leading the session. He has also met privately with rookie
Prince Amukamara (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Prince+Amukamara)
to help the first-year corner through the playbook, and often gives <a title="Kenny Phillips (Football)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kenny+Phillips+%28Football%29">safety Kenny
Phillips</a> tips on offensive players.</p>

“He says what you need to hear,” Phillips says. “Not much more than that. And
it helps.</p>

Meanwhile, Rolle has helped the secondary work through its early-season
struggles. The Giants have held two star quarterbacks — the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Matt+Ryan+%28Football%29) and
Packers MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Aaron+Rodgers) — in
check the last two weeks, largely because Rolle kept the unit afloat while it
was being shredded earlier in the season by the likes of Brees and <a title="Tom Brady" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Brady">Tom
Brady</a>.</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"><div class="story-body">

“He never let the DBs get down on themselves,” says backup quarterback David Carr (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Carr),
who has watched Rolle inspire the secondary on the sidelines. “He always gets
their spirits up. You see a guy when they get beat on a play, (Rolle) is always
over there. In those points where we struggled, he was always like, ‘Let’s
tighten up the coverage even more. Let’s make those guys make plays.’ It’s nice
to watch.”</p>

That’s why the Giants listen when Rolle speaks. That tirade following the
Saints game spawned a renewed pass rush against the Packers at MetLife Stadium
the following week. Two weeks later, after an awful loss to the Redskins, a
frustrated Rolle chose to lash out in public, begging teammates to get out on
the practice field, even if they had a few nicks and bruises.</p>

Coughlin later said he did not agree with Rolle’s handling of the situation,
but the words still fueled Tuck and other players. In the first practice after
Rolle’s public jabs, nearly every Giant was on the field. So was Rolle, who has
not missed a practice all season.</p>

“That’s one thing I like about (Rolle),” Tuck says. “In regards to what he’s
said, he backs it up. That’s all we ask in this locker room: that if you say
something, you back it up.”</p></div></div></div></div>GIANTS' HAKEEM NICKS ROLLS ANKLE IN PRACTICE, BUT SAYS HE'S NOT WORRIED ABOUT STATUS FOR NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-wr-hakeem-nicks-rolls-ankle-practice-worried-status-sunday-nfc-title-game-article-1.1009443)

"Two key components of the Giants' aerial attack were added to the injury list
Friday, but both pass-catchers said it will take a lot more than their recurrent
ailments to keep them out of Sunday's NFC Championship Game against San
Francisco.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-CO

01-21-2012, 12:00 PM
Appreciate it RF! That's a lot of work my man.

Blood & Mud at the Stick. Love it.

Go Big Blue!

01-21-2012, 12:03 PM
Thanks RF! I'm positively pumped up for the game tomorrow! Go gmen!

01-21-2012, 12:15 PM
Thanks RF! I'm positively pumped up for the game tomorrow! Go gmen!


01-21-2012, 12:15 PM
Appreciate it RF! That's a lot of work my man.

Blood &amp; Mud at the Stick. Love it.

Go Big Blue!


G-Men Surg.
01-21-2012, 01:42 PM
Thanks RF !

01-21-2012, 01:51 PM
Thanks RF !


01-21-2012, 02:01 PM
That's for the info,great reads all Thanks!

01-21-2012, 02:06 PM
That's for the info,great reads all Thanks!


01-21-2012, 05:04 PM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</P>

one more step to the dance! we should make it!</P>


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

01-21-2012, 07:24 PM
thanks Ro....</P>

less than 24 hours to go.....</P>



01-22-2012, 11:07 AM
thanks Ro....</p>

less than 24 hours to go.....</p>



Nail biting starts soon [;)]