01-28-2012, 07:25 PM
FIVE UNSUNG GIANTS WHO HELPED MAKE RUN TO SUPER BOWL POSSIBLE (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/unsung-ny-giants-helped-run-super-bowl-xlvi-article-1.1013394)

"Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) shattered
team passing records, and Jason Pierre-Paul (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Pierre-Paul)
became a feared force. Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz) broke out,
and Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck)
rediscovered his fury late in the season.

But when GM Jerry Reese (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jerry+Reese)
evaluates how his Giants made this stunning run to Super Bowl XLVI, he doesn't
always point to those obvious stars. The architect of Big Blue understands that
his team has also been buoyed by some unknown players thrust into quietly
important roles.

"Most championships, you've got to have a little bit of
luck, and somebody's got to come out of the shadows to make a play," he said
after the Giants won the NFC title last Sunday. "Somebody you don't expect to
make a play comes out of the shadows to make a couple plays. It happens every

That has happened for the Giants this season, allowing them to
overcome a grueling schedule and survive the losses of more than a half-dozen
key players to season-ending injuries.

Why are they in Indianapolis?
Sure, Eli, JPP and Cruuuuz have plenty to do with it. So do these five far
less-celebrated heroes:

<a title="Henry Hynoski" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Henry+Hynoski">HENRY

The rookie fullback from Pitt didn't have a carry
during the regular season and he caught only 12 passes. But when Hynoski was not
available, his absence was noted.

In the first five games of the season,
the 6-1, 266-pound rookie emerged as a solid run blocker, but he suffered a neck
injury against Seattle. He would miss the next five games before finally
returning in the Nov. 28 loss at New Orleans.

One week later, the
much-maligned run game finally enjoyed a solid performance, totaling 100 yards
and averaging 5.0 yards per carry in the loss to Green Bay. Offensive
coordinator Kevin Gilbride (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kevin+Gilbride) still
points to that game as the turning point for his struggling ground game, and
Hynoski had plenty to do with it.

"He's very important," said backup quarterback David Carr (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Carr).
"He's a bull of a blocker. And he can do more than that, too."

blocking has drawn loads of attention, but he has quietly emerged as a solid
receiving threat out of the backfield as well. Defenses must account for him; if
they don't, he can catch three passes for 20 yards, as he did last week in San

"A lot of people don't realize he was a third-down back at
Pitt," Carr said. "He's more than a bull. He can catch the

<a title="Devin Thomas" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Devin+Thomas">DEVIN

Even before he recovered a pair of fumbled punt
returns against the Niners (one was a muff), the unheralded Thomas was making
key contributions on special teams.

The former Redskins castoff began the
season as Big Blue's kick returner, but he was demoted in November. Initially,
he seemed to sulk, but by December, he had reinvented himself as a dangerous
gunner on special teams.

"It was frustrating," he says of his demotion.
"But I just have to use my athleticism to contribute any way I can. I'm starting
to get a little niche."

It was hardly glamorous, but the erstwhile
second-round pick embraced his new role. When the Giants played the Redskins in
December, Thomas had established himself as a kamikaze special teams force.
Twice in that game, he kept dangerous Washington return man Brandon Banks (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Brandon+Banks) from
breaking a big return. Thomas suffered a scary stinger at halftime of that game,
but he had already impressed his teammates. Thomas also started taking advantage
of his rare opportunities as a receiver; late in the first quarter of the
Giants' 31-14 win over the Cowboys, his gritty 14-yard catch on third-and-8 from
the Dallas 48 helped set up Big Blue's second TD. This new Devin Thomas can
catch passes, make defensive plays and return kicks when needed, and that has
given Big Blue's roster flexibility, allowing the Giants to deactivate
one-dimensional players such as KR Da'Rel Scott (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Da%27Rel+Scott) and
disappointing <a title="Ramses Barden" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ramses+Barden">WR Ramses

<a title="Kevin Boothe" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Kevin+Boothe">KEVIN

At the start of the season, Reese described the 6-5,
320-pound Boothe as an offseason "priority," a notion that made fans scoff at
the Giants' hopes for 2011.

Five months later, everyone understands. Once
a preseason punchline, the versatile lineman has become the ultimate
hole-plugger on a unit that has been hammered by injuries.

"Kevin's done
a great job for us, whether he has to play center, whether he has to play
guard," Manning said. "Sometimes he plays both of them in the same game for a
few plays."

Boothe began the year on the bench, but he ably filled in for
center David Baas (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Baas) when the
prized free agent battled neck and knee injuries early in the season. By Week 6
against the Buffalo Bills, Boothe was lining up alongside Baas at right guard,
clearing holes as Ahmad Bradshaw (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ahmad+Bradshaw)
recorded his lone 100-yard rushing effort of 2011.

A month later, when
left tackle Will Beatty (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Will+Beatty) landed on
injured reserve with a detached retina, Boothe moved to left guard, allowing <a title="David Diehl" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Diehl">David
Diehl</a> to slide to left tackle. It was the sixth-year lineman's final move in
a season that more than justified Reese's preseason excitement.

been very important to this team," said Manning, "and given us that comfort
knowing that whatever happens amongst the offensive line, if a guy gets banged
up a little bit or goes down, that Kevin can come in and play a number of

<a title="Linval Joseph" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Linval+Joseph">LINVAL

The Giants struggled to defend the run, surrendering
a whopping 121.3 yards on the ground this season. But as the season wore on,
they gradually improved, especially on gritty runs up the middle.

in large part to the maturation of Joseph, the Giants' interior run defense has
solidified in the postseason, because the massive Joseph, a second-round pick in
2010, has gradually asserted himself as a run-stopping force.

"I think
Linval's been playing good for us throughout the second half of the football
season," said defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Perry+Fewell). "I think
Linval's just growing up. He's really a rookie, so to speak."

played sparingly in just six games last season, but he has started regularly
this year. He's also slimmed down to 323 pounds, getting quicker and improving
his defensive footwork. He began the season slowly, but by the time the Giants
played Green Bay in the regular season, he had found his place.

recorded a career-high nine tackles in that game as the Giants limited the
Packers to 89 yards on the ground in a 38-35 loss. He has continued that hot
play through the postseason. Neither the Falcons nor the Packers cracked 100
rushing yards against the Giants, and while the 49ers managed 150 yards, 42 of
those came from scrambling <a title="Alex Smith (Quarterback)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Alex+Smith+%28Quarterback%29">QB Alex

"I think Linval's just growing up a little bit," Fewell said.
"He's just turned it loose, and he's really playing well right now with a lot of


Tollefson, 28, had
never started an NFL game in his career until this season. But with Justin Tuck
and Osi Umenyiora (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Osi+Umenyiora) nursing
injuries in the opener at Washington, he got his chance, and he made the most of
it, delivering two tackles and a sack.

"I could kind of feel it was
coming," Tollefson said. "I had a great offseason, and whenever I've ever
played, I've done a really good job."

Tuck and Umenyiora would eventually
get healthy, but Tollefson * all 266 pounds of him remained a fixture along
the Giants defensive line. He was a capable defensive end, but he was also
physical enough to line up at tackle, battling beefy offensive linemen

Tollefson finished the season with a career-high five sacks,
tying Tuck for third-best on the team, and his emergence allowed Fewell to
experiment more with his defensive linemen. By the postseason, the Giants were
occasionally lining Tollefson and dangerous linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka)
up at defensive tackle, setting Umenyiora and near-unstoppable JPP up at end,
and letting Tuck function as a giant-sized, stand-up linebacker in a
pass-rushing alignment that routinely flummoxed opposing

Tollefson rarely made plays in these settings he hasn't
recorded a single tackle in the playoffs but his fierce inside play still drew
offenses' attention, freeing up his more celebrated teammates for

"Anything to contribute, man," he said."</p>

01-28-2012, 07:29 PM
What about Williams,Kiwi,Ballard ?

01-28-2012, 07:30 PM
What about Williams,Kiwi,Ballard ?

All are sung [;)]

01-28-2012, 08:09 PM
No D.J. Ware and his 2 point conversions? wat up wit dat? lol :P

that was a nice read, thanks :)

01-28-2012, 08:12 PM
Weatherford? good punts, his punts led to 2 fumbles and managing to control that low snap on the game winning FG..imagine if he botched the snap and the kick was no good? SF probably would have won on momentum alone.

01-28-2012, 09:23 PM
yeah, i'd like to add to that weatherford and blackburn. not sure how unsung they are though at this point...along with williams.

01-28-2012, 09:32 PM
I love the Tollefson acknowledgement.

The guy plays hard and effectively all the time.

I'm kind of shocked another team hasn't signed him.........reminds me a bit of Chad Bratzke.

01-28-2012, 10:53 PM
D. Scott and barden being labeled. Handwriting on the wall?

01-28-2012, 10:57 PM
D. Scott and barden being labeled. Handwriting on the wall?Probably not, they both (Especially Scott) will get another year most likely.

Barden is annoyingly disappointing though.

01-29-2012, 05:04 AM
I think Chase Blackburn is a major piece and he's been playing his best football of his career and sparked this D early his first game back with his pick of Rodgers...

Kudos to him for keeping in shape and not missing a beat... He has really been tremendous... It's easy for an athlete to get lazy and unmotivated as he might've thought his career was over after he had no calls after the Giants cut him...

Guys were making sarcastic comments like "YEA BLACKBURN IS BACK!!! SUPERBOWL TINE BABY!!! on this forum myself included when he was signed after the New Orleans debacle... But he has been making a ton of plays nd is one of those guys that inspires the rest ofvhis team with hustle..

01-29-2012, 05:23 AM
D. Scott and barden being labeled. Handwriting on the wall?
I was thinking the EXACT same thing.... but Scott still has a chance...

01-29-2012, 07:38 AM
Nice to hear Linval getting some praise. Not bad for his first year. The guy is an animal and should be around a while.

Now they need to get Marvin in the mix next year and the Giants could have a nice interior duo for years to come.

01-29-2012, 07:57 AM
D. Scott and barden being labeled. Handwriting on the wall?Probably not, they both (Especially Scott) will get another year most likely.

Barden is annoyingly disappointing though.

No guarantees with Scott. He had 5 carries this year and put the ball on the ground 2 times. Knowing TC, he is in the doghouse encased in cement and dropped in the Atlantic with a bomb attached.

I do not think he is as safe as some think. Speed may not be coachable, but a fast fumbler just gets to the bench faster than a slow fumbler.

01-29-2012, 08:24 AM
This thread just goes to show what the coach and players have been saying all season. IT'S THE WHOLE TEAM, PLAYING TOGETGER THAT WINS GAMES.