PDA

View Full Version : NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SUPERBOWL SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012 - 10:51 A.M.



RoanokeFan
02-05-2012, 10:51 AM
<u><font color="#ff0000" size="4"><font face="Verdana" size="6"><font color="#0000FF">H</font>E</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">R</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">E </font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">N</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">O</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">W</font><font face="Verdana" size="6"> T</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">H</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">E </font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">N</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">E</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">W</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">S</font>

</font></u><u><font color="#ff0000" size="4">THE DATA WILL UPDATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND SHOW THE UPDATE TIME IN THE HEADER</font><font color="#ff0000" size="4">. </font></u><font size="4">

</font><font size="4"><font size="6"><font size="4"><font color="#FF0000"><u><font size="6">NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS
NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
<font color="#0000FF">
PLAYOFFS 3 - 0: ON TO INDIANAPOLIS!
</font></font></u></font></font></font><u><font face="Verdana">
</font></u></font><font size="4"><u>NEWARK STAR LEDGER</u></font>
<div><div><div><div><div class="entry-content"><div class="entry-content">
JETS' OWNER WOODY JOHNSON CONGRATULATES NY GIANTS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/jets_owner_woody_johnson_congr.html)

"Shortly after the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) beat the
New England Patriots, 21-17, tonight in Super Bowl XLVI, Jets (http://www.nj.com/jets/) owner Woody Johnson released a statement
congratulating their crosstown rivals:



“On behalf of the New York
Jets, I would like to congratulate the Mara and Tisch families, Coach Coughlin
and the entire New York Giants organization. It was a closely contested game
that showcased all of the best elements that our sport has to offer. The Giants
demonstrated poise and resolve in earning a hard-fought victory in Super Bowl
XLVI. Also, I want to congratulate the Kraft family, Coach Belichick and the New
England Patriots on a tremendous effort and an excellent season.”</p>GIANTS WIN SUPER BOWL XLVI OVER PATRIOTS: GIANTS' CELEBRATION VIA TWITTER (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/giants_win_super_bowl_xlvi_ove.html)

RExcerpt: "As the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) celebrate their <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/eli_manning_giants_beat_tom_br.html">21-17
victory over the New England Patriots</a> in Super Bowl XLVI tonight,
Star-Ledger's staff reporters are tweeting what they see and hear among the
jubilation:" Read more...

ELI MANNING, GIANTS, BEAT TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS IN SUPER BOWL AGAIN 21-17 (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/eli_manning_giants_beat_tom_br.html)

"The final prayer from Tom Brady's right arm sailed through the still air at
Lucas Oil Stadium and drained the final seconds from the clock.


On the sideline to their left, a sea of white shirts began to stir as it
became clear the ball would not land in any of the New England Patriots' hands
tonight. They waited for the bellowing audience to confirm what they'd hoped
before spilling out onto the field. </p>


Capping a thrilling 21-17 victory as the confetti poured from all sides,
engulfing them in purple and silver dust, the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) became Super Bowl champions for the
second time in four years. </p>


The win in Super Bowl XLVI gives the Giants their fourth Lombardi Trophy in
franchise history in what was perhaps the most unexpected run of them all. Once
struggling at 7-7, a remarkable win streak to close out the season gave them a
playoff berth and a momentum they would never relinquish. </p>


Through a near-perfect offense in Green Bay and a daunting defense in San
Francisco, the Giants traversed a playoff road that led them back to the Super
Bowl to face the Patriots, whom they beat in similar, stunning fashion four
years ago. </p>


This time, it was led by stellar performances from quarterback Eli Manning
and wideout Hakeem Nicks. Manning finished 30-for-40 for 296 yards and one
touchdown, while Nicks abused the Patriots' secondary, hauling in 10 catches for
109 yards. </p>


Manning was named the Super Bowl MVP — the same award he won five years ago.
</p>The Giants' 'defense held quarterback Tom Brady to 276 yards and two
touchdowns, with one interception.


The momentum shifted in the Giants favor for good thanks to a stunning catch
by Mario Manningham that took the Giants 38 yards, from their own 12 to midfield
with 3:46 remaining. Still trailing by two, 17-15, it set up a 14-yard post play
to Hakeem Nicks that put the Giants into comfortable field goal range and
eventually a 6-yard touchdown run from Ahmad Bradshaw that gave them a
four-point lead. </p>


Brady and the Patriots had just 57 seconds to try and burn back down the
field and score, but the mechanical offense faltered as a white-knuckle Giants
defense clamped down for one final time.</p>


They did not make it past midfield. </p>


The game began with less than ideal circumstances for the Patriots, who found
themselves trailing by two point after their first offensive play. With strong
pressure from Justin Tuck, Brady tried to avoid a sack in the end zone by
hurling the ball downfield. </p>


But with no receivers around, he was flagged for intentional grounding in the
end zone, a penalty that warrants a safety anyway. </p>


From there, the Giants' offense flexed the same efficiency it has throughout
the playoffs, complemented by a punchy run game that gave the Patriots' front
seven fits throughout the half.
</p>

Capping a nine-play, 78-yard drive in 5:28, Manning zipped one into wideout
Victor Cruz, who snuck underneath some poor zone coverage by New England
linebacker Jerod Mayo. </p>


Cruz's trademark salsa was in full swing, and it appeared the Giants were
prepared to run away with their second Super Bowl win since 2007-08 with an
early 9-0 lead. </p>


Brady, though, would not allow the Patriots to be down for long,
orchestrating a seamless 14-play, 96 yard drive to end the half. He began to
pick on the Giants linebackers that struggled heavily with Aaron Hernandez and
Wes Welker over the middle throughout the night. </p>


He would repeat the same, carving drive to open the second half on just eight
plays. Seventy-nine yards later, the Patriots had the Giants pinned on their
heels for the first time all night.</p>


They would answer with two straight field goals to pull within two, 17-15."</p>

SUPER BOWL XLVI FAN REPORT CARD: YOU GRADE 'EM (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/super_bowl_xlvi_you_grade_em_g.html)</p>

Excerpt: "Giants fans, here's your chance to grade Big Blue in Super Bowl XLVI against
the New England Patriots. Assign your grades in the polls below, and then drop
down and leave a comment explaining your thinking." Read more...VOTE</p>GIANTS' SUPER BOWL VICTORY PARADE: WHERE AND WHEN (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/giants_super_bowl_victory_para.html)

"New York City will host a ticker-tape parade Tuesday at 11 a.m. in honor of
the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)' victory over the New England
Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&amp;catID=1194&amp;do c_name=http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2012a/pr044-12.html&amp;cc=unused1978&amp;rc=1194&amp;ndi=1">the
mayor's office announced.</a>


The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) won their second Super
Bowl in five years over the Patriots, beating them tonight in Indianapolis,
21-17. </p>


“Big Blue gave us a game to remember, and on Tuesday we're going to give them
a parade to remember,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement tonight.</p>


The parade will begin at Battery Place and Washington Street at 11 and
continue northbound up the Canyon of Heroes to Wall Street.
</p>

The mayor will then present the Giants with the keys to the city at City
Hall.</p>


New York will give two tickets to 250 winners to the City Hall ceremony. You
can visit www.nyc.gov (http://www.nyc.gov/html/index.html) or call
311 or send a text message to 311-862 to enter from 9-11 a.m. Monday. You can
also enter through the mayor's Twitter page: @NYCMayorsOffice. (https://twitter.com/#%21/NYCMayorsOffice)</p>


Tri-state area residents 18 years or older are eligible. You can enter only
once. Winners will be notified at 2 p.m. and must pick up their tickets at a
location in in midtown Manhattan by 8 p.m. Monday.</p>


For Tuesday's parade, the sidewalks lining the Canyon of Heroes along
Broadway from the Battery to City Hall are open to the public. </p>


Complete information <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&amp;catID=1194&amp;do c_name=http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2012a/pr044-12.html&amp;cc=unused1978&amp;rc=1194&amp;ndi=1">can
be found here.</a>"</p>##

GIANTS' TOM COUGHLIN USED KURT WARNER'S ADVICE TO HELP CONNECT WITH PLAYERS, BECOME A CHAMPION (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/giants_tom_coughlin_used_kurt.html)

"In 2004, when his players revolted during his first season with the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/), coach Tom Coughlin had only one
real friend in the locker room — veteran quarterback Kurt Warner, a former
superstar who paused in New Jersey before starting the second chapter of a
storied career.


Several times a week, unbeknownst to his teammates, Warner would sneak into
Coughlin’s office to hang out with the man most Giants believed was too rigid,
too angry and too hell-bent on making football miserable for them with childish
rules and ridiculous fines.</p>


Warner — risking being labeled a locker room mole, or worse — would talk to
Coughlin, sometimes about football, but often not. In those off hours, when
other players had gone home, Warner sat on the coach’s couch and watched the
most despised man in East Rutherford dote on his wife and grown children, and
melt whenever his grandkids visited.</p>


In those secret moments, Warner recalled this past week, “I saw a great man,
a great coach, but I also saw a man who, for some reason, didn’t know how to
combine those parts of his personality when it came to football. He could
connect with his family on such an intimate level, but had no idea how to
connect with his players. He was struggling badly. </p>


“Tom was searching for the right way to lead without compromising his
principles. I wanted to help. I thought I could help. I tried to help.”</p>


Today, as the Giants meet the Patriots in Super Bowl XVLI, Coughlin is on the
verge of football immortality — winning a second Super Bowl would make him a
no-doubt Hall of Famer. With a locker room filled with players who now speak
openly about the positive impact he has had on their lives, it has been a
remarkable journey. The Warner letter was one of the first steps.</p>


Warner spent that one season with the Giants, a former Most Valuable Player
rented for one year to buy time for first-round draft pick Eli Manning, the
future of the franchise. Manning claimed his inheritance midway through the 2004
season, and when the season ended, Warner was off to find his next team.</p>


A FATEFUL FAVOR</p>


But before Warner left, Coughlin asked him for a favor: “Go home and make a
list of all the things you think I need to do better as a coach,” Warner
recalled Coughlin saying, “and don’t hold back.”</p>


Warner did as he was asked, scribbling “page after page after page,” he said.
“There were times when I was worried that I would hurt his feelings or damage
our friendship,” Warner said. “But deep down I knew he’d never hold it against
me as long as I did it with his best interests at heart.”
</p>On Friday, Coughlin acknowledged he had reached out to Warner for help.


“I have such great respect for Kurt because of how he earned everything he
got and because of the professionalism he showed as we transitioned to Eli,”
Coughlin said. “I welcomed any thoughts he had on how we might improve.”</p>


Although Warner wouldn’t reveal the specific items, he said most of his
criticisms exhorted Coughlin to “swallow his pride and find a way to connect
with his players — each player, from the biggest star to the guys on the
practice squad.”</p>


On Thursday, when the two ran into each other after the Giants’ media
availability, Warner reminded Coughlin of the list, compiled eight years ago. He
wasn’t sure the coach would remember it. Coughlin’s response shocked him:
“Kurt,” he said, “I still have that list, and I still refer to it.”</p>


Warner smiled when replaying that conversation, touched by the impact the
list had on Coughlin.</p>


“In the list, I told him that rather than just make rules and enforce them,
he had to show the players why a certain rule is important to him,” Warner said.
“Look, if you tell me that I have to be at a meeting five minutes early, Kurt
Warner is going to be there, because that’s the way I was as a player. I did it
for my pride. I didn’t ask any questions.</p>


“But some players aren’t like that. They want to know why. So, Tom had to
tell them why: ‘Because if you come to meetings early, it means you’re fully
committed to this team. It means you want to be better. It means you want to be
great. It means you’re willing to get here early for your teammates.’?”</p>


Warner added: “If he had just told them that from the start, there wouldn’t
have been a problem with 99 percent of the players in that locker room. Some
would have still thought the rules were silly, but they would have said, ‘Okay,
he wants us five minutes early because it’s important to him. No big deal.’?”
</p>


Coughlin’s turnaround has been well chronicled, but this is the first public
disclosure of the coach’s first plea to a player for help. In that offseason,
Coughlin’s wife and grown children counseled him to retire and escape the
pettiness. Coughlin, however, decided to stay. He vowed to soften a bit and be
more patient — not an easy task for a coach who had been successful for decades,
doing it his way.</p>


An 11-5 record in 2005 kept the critics at bay, but an 8-8 backslide the
following season had media detractors and unhappy players chirping again, and
Coughlin’s job was in jeopardy. The Giants extended his contract for a year, but
it came with stipulations. Some were obvious: Win now. Some were subtle: Reflect
better on the organization and make peace with players and the media.</p>


Coughlin vowed, but admitted it wouldn’t be easy: “When something isn’t
right, I can’t disguise my demeanor,” he told The Star-Ledger in 2005. “That’s a
fault of mine. I’m upset, and the players know I’m upset, but I don’t want them
to forget the mistake. Kids coming up haven’t had the back of their hands
slapped, but when you do it …”</p>


Judy Coughlin recalled taking her husband by the hand, looking into his eyes
and saying, “Tom, the media doesn’t just dislike you, they hate you. They hate
you. So I’m telling you right now, do something to help yourself.” </p>


He started calling beat reporters by name. He padded answers to their
questions. He vowed to soften a bit and be more patient with players — not an
easy task for a coach who had been successful for decades, doing it his way.
</p>But Coughlin had an inkling of what to do, thanks to Warner’s cheat sheet,
which, Warner said, included the idea of a players committee — a panel of
established players who wouldn’t be afraid to speak up to Coughlin, like Warner
had.


The next season, with locker room leaders like defensive end Michael Strahan
buying into Coughlin’s kinder coaching methods, the Giants shocked the NFL by
beating the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.</p>


“When Tom Coughlin got here, I wanted to play for anybody else,” Strahan said
at the time. “And now I don’t want to play for anybody but him.”</p>


TRUE BELIEVERS</p>


Today, four years later, Coughlin has a roster full of ardent disciples in
another championship game. If you believe him, all it took was a little more
forbearance.</p>


“Have I changed?” Coughlin said this past week. “Probably, but it’s important
as part of the process of learning. You learn, develop and change every year.
I’ve become more patient.”
</p>Manning, the quarterback whose legacy is linked to the coach, respects the
fighter in Coughlin, who, amid rumors of imminent firings, twice has led his
team to title games.


“He still is very disciplined,” Manning said. “Everything is still five
minutes early. But he has shown more of his passion for football and the guys
respect that and play hard for him.” </p>


Adds defensive tackle Chris Canty: “Coach has a good feel for our football
team. He has the pulse of our locker room.”</p>


A finger on the pulse? Who would’ve guessed that eight years ago, Warner
asked.</p>


“Tom probably would have figured it out by himself,” he said. “If I helped,
I’m glad. He’s a great coach. He just needed to show his players that he cared
about them and that there’s a method to his madness.”</p>


Warner paused and smirked.</p>


“Let me ask you this: Do you think they question him for a second now?”</p>SUPER BOWL GAMEDAY: GIANTS POSITION BY POSITION (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/super_bowl_xlvi_gameday_a_look.html)

"<big>QUARTERBACK</big>


The Breakdown
It’s amazing how easily we can blow three
letters and five letters out of proportion. During a radio interview this past
summer, <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/08/eli_manning_compares_himself_t.html">Eli
Manning said he felt</a> he was in the same “elite” class as New England
Patriots QB Tom Brady. For the past six months, we’ve been bombarded with “ELI
ELITE” story lines. Fact is, there really isn’t the need for an answer today.
Peyton Manning’s little bro has been outstanding this season, making a rather
ordinary group of wide receivers into some of the best in the league. Eli has
been precise (61 percent completion percentage), and most of all, clutch.
Manning has led the Giants to six fourth-quarter comebacks this season,
including in Week 9 win against the Patriots. Throwing 29 touchdowns and only 16
interceptions (nine fewer than last year) has made Manning one of the elite
quarterbacks in the game.</p>


The Number
8.4
Want to know
how Manning has turned into one of the best passers in the game? Look no further
than his 8.4 yards per attempt this season. The only quarterbacks with more than
300 attempts who were better? The Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers (9.2 ypa) and
Brady (8.6).</p>


<big>RUNNING BACKS</big></p>


The Breakdown
Everyone likes to think this latest duo of
Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) running backs is the new
combination of “Thunder and Lightning.” Only it’s not. The No. 2 back, Brandon
Jacobs (152 attempts, 571 yards, seven TDs), still provides the thunder portion,
but starter Ahmad Bradshaw ain’t no lightning. Compared to Jacobs, Bradshaw is
small, but anything but shifty. Bradshaw — a stealthy dual threat — has had 205
touches for 926 total yards and 11 touchdowns. He is a power runner as well, but
because he’s not the size of Jacobs, everyone tends to play Bradshaw like a
quick, cut-back runner. Even with a foot injury that was discovered back in
November, Bradshaw has played through it by limiting his practice time during
the week. That has allowed him to actually remain fresher during this playoff
run.</p>


The Number
382
Chances are
if the Giants running backs are ripping off big runs or scoring touchdowns,
they’re doing it from the right side. In the 108 combined runs to the wide right
side this season, Bradshaw and Jacobs have combined for 382 yards and six
touchdowns.</p>


<big>WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS</big></p>


The Breakdown
When the season began, most people thought
this would be one the most rag-tag groups in the NFL. Only third-year receiver
Hakeem Nicks posed any real threat as a game-breaking wideout. And while a
76-catch, 1,192-yard, seven-touchdown season only served to solidify that, it
wasn’t the best season of the group. That came from Paterson native Victor Cruz,
who salsaed his way to a breakout season, setting a franchise record for
receiving yards, with 1,536. Cruz was a dynamic playmaker, with numerous
highlight-reel catches (the wild one-hander against the Seahawks) and
at-the-right-moment plays (the 99-yard TD against the Jets (http://www.nj.com/jets/)). Tight end Jake Ballard has been
hampered by a right knee issue, but has developed into a serviceable target in
the red zone for Manning.</p>


The Number
$405,000
That’s
how much Cruz is earning this season. Only two players — Detroit’s Calvin
Johnson and New England’s Wes Welker — had more receiving yards in the NFL.
Think about that bargain.</p>


<big>OFFENSIVE LINE</big></p>


The Breakdown
In the offseason, the Giants parted ways
with offensive line staples Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert. Everyone seemed to
think that would be a disaster for Manning’s security. Instead, Manning was one
of the best-protected quarterbacks in the NFL. The Giants’ 28 sacks allowed was
the seventh-fewest in the league this year and Manning was only hit 72 times.
David Diehl has been solid at the left tackle spot and veteran Kareem McKenzie
the same on the other side. On the inside, guards Chris Snee and Kevin Boothe
have opened big holes for the running backs and center David Baas has provided a
seamless transition for Manning from O’Hara. The results have been hard to argue
with, as the Giants have kept Manning upright and allowed him the time to hit
his receivers downfield.</p>


The Number
6
Pressure on
Manning have been almost non-existent this season, especially on first down. He
has attempted 254 passes on first down this season and has only been sacked six
times.
</p><big>DEFENSIVE LINE</big>


The Breakdown
Want to sum up how the Giants have been
able to make this run at the back end of the season and throughout the playoffs?
Pressure. Once again, the M.O. that won Big Blue its last title four years ago
has worked again. The pass rush up front by Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi
Umenyiora, Dave Tollefson and Chris Canty has been tremendous. So far, six of
the eight sacks this postseason have come from the combination of those five
players. No longer is Pierre-Paul being treated as a breakout star — he’s
getting double- and triple-teamed. That’s the respect that the best players in
the league get. Quite heady praise for a guy who didn’t play football until
midway through high school.</p>


The Number
39½
During the
regular season, the Giants tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the third-most
sacks in the NFL with 48. Of those, 39½ came from the five players who make up
the Giants’ front line. That’s incredible production from one group.</p>


<big>LINEBACKERS</big></p>


The Breakdown
How many pass-rushers do the Giants have?
Enough to the point where head coach Tom Coughlin gets the luxury of sticking
one in his linebackers as a stand-up edge-rusher. Mathias Kiwanuka had 3½ sacks
in the regular season and a half-sack so far in the playoffs. But this unit is
more than one player. Michael Boley has been a steadying force in the middle.
Don’t believe us? The two games he missed after being injured in Week 10 against
San Francisco were arguably two of the worst defensive showings for the Giants,
who were thumped by the Saints and Mike Vick-less Eagles. Add Chase Blackburn
into the mix on the outside — who the Giants picked out of a substitute teaching
job on Dec. 4 —and the Giants turned a once black eye into a strength.</p>


The Number
108.2
Despite the
linebacking group becoming a better one than the unit that started the season,
stopping the run has been an issue. In the past eight games, the Giants have
allowed 108.2 yards a game. Only three times have they held an opponent to under
100 yards over that time.
</p><big>DEFENSIVE BACKS</big>


The Breakdown
Seriously, if we told you at the beginning
of the season that the Giants would lose five players in the secondary and make
the Super Bowl, you’d call us crazy, right? Of course you would. But what the
Giants have been able to do without depth has been nothing short of incredible.
Aaron Ross and Corey Webster have been solid and the Giants’ safety play from
Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant has been at a high level during the
playoff run. While Grant has the Giants’ only interception in the playoffs, the
secondary was responsible for 17 picks during the regular season — with Webster
leading the way with six. Given the blanket some members of this unit threw over
Brady four years ago in the Super Bowl, the Patriots QB might be studying that
game tape extra hard.</p>


The Number
2
This season
Brady has had only four games with multiple interceptions — Week 3 against
Buffalo, Week 6 against Dallas and the AFC Championship Game against Baltimore.
The fourth? That was the Week 9 meeting with the Giants, where Tom Terrific was
picked twice.</p>


<big><big>SPECIAL TEAMS</big></big></p>


The Breakdown
Did you think we’d start somewhere else
other than kicker Lawrence Tynes? It’s not a coincidence that the two Super Bowl
trips the Giants have made over the past four years have come on the foot of
Tynes. He’s been pretty good this season on field goals. Tynes has converted 19
of his 24 attempts (79.2 percent), with a long of 50 yards. Punter Steve
Weatherford has been just as steady in his first season coming over from the
Jets. The returners haven’t wowed anybody, but Devin Thomas (kicks) and Will
Blackmon (punts) have been solid bringing the balls out this season.</p>


The Number
168
It’s gone
relatively unnoticed, but Tynes is on a remarkable extra-point conversion
streak. He has made his last 168 extra-point attempts and hasn’t missed one
since the first quarter on Oct. 21, 2007 against the San Francisco 49ers."</p>

SUPER BOWL GAMEDAY: PATRIOTS POSITION BY POSITION (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/super_bowl_xlvi_gameday_a_look_1.html)</p>

"<big>QUARTERBACK</big></p>


The Breakdown
Clichéd, yes, but Tom Brady is like a
delicious wine — getting better as he gets older. Brady’s 2011 regular season
was like a nice Pinot Noir: Smooth, rich and really hard to duplicated. He threw
for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns. If you’re counting, that’s the seventh time
in his 12-year career Brady has thrown more than 25 touchdowns in a season. And
amazingly, he has done it without a true deep threat. Deion Branch is the
closest thing, but there isn’t a defense in the NFL that is game-planning for
Branch. Instead, Brady has turned Wes Welker into a pass-catching machine and
TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez into monsters across the middle.</p>


The Number
1
Ever try
picking off Brady in a Super Bowl? Good luck. The only guy to do that was
Carolina Panthers defensive back Reggie Howard, who intercepted Brady in the
fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXVIII.</p>


<big>RUNNING BACKS </big></p>


The Breakdown
New England’s running game begins and ends
with “The Law Firm” — BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Amazing to think Green-Ellis was an
undrafted free agent coming out of Ole Miss. He’s about as steady as they come,
rushing for 667 yards this season and 11 touchdowns. Every now and then coach
Bill Belichick will splice in some Stevan Ridley, who many think might be the
more talented of the two backs. Ridley had 441 rushing yards on 87 carries this
season. The Patriots don’t always turn to the running backs in their offense —
opting to let Brady move the ball downfield via his receivers and tight ends.
But when their numbers are called, they are often effective.</p>


The Number
0
Ever hear of a
running back who doesn’t fumble? Us, either. Well, except Green-Ellis. Not only
has he not fumbled in 181 rushing attempts this season, he’s never put the ball
on the turf once in his four-year career. That’s 510 carries and 26 receptions
without a fumble. Incredible.</p>


<big>WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS</big></p>


The Breakdown
As we said, the lack of a true deep threat
is what makes this offense so mesmerizing. Branch has caught 51 passes for 702
yards and five touchdowns. At 32, the former Super Bowl MVP is a Brady favorite,
but not the caliber of receiver Brady had the last time these teams met in the
Super Bowl. (Anyone hear from Randy Moss these days?) Instead, this is all about
Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. A total of 33 of Brady’s 39
touchdowns have gone to this trio. Welker is a nightmare in the slot, and Gronk
and Hernandez give teams match-up fits because of their combination of size and
speed against smaller defensive backs.</p>


The Number
418
You really
have no idea how big a part of the passing attack Welker, Gronkowski and
Hernandez are until you look at their target numbers. Welker led the league with
181, but Gronkowski had 124 and Hernandez 113. That’s an absurd amount of
attempts by Brady.</p>


<big>OFFENSIVE LINE</big></p>


The Breakdown
This is a monster group of men, who — for
the most part — have played together for much of their careers. The only newbies
are rookie RT Nate Solder (a 6-8, 319-pound specimen) and 13-year veteran RG
Brian Waters. The rest, C Dan Connolly, LG Logan Mankins and LT Matt Light have
been Brady’s bodyguards for what seems like forever. And the consistency shows:
Brady was sacked only 32 times this season, ninth-lowest total in the NFL. The
protection has been even more ridiculous in the postseason. In both playoff
games, Brady has been sacked just once and hit only five times.</p>


The Number
11
How is Brady
able to stay on his feet so well? Consistency. He and Matt Light have been a
left tackle-quarterback combination for 11 years. Coach Bill Belichick summed it
up perfectly last week: “He’s gone up against a lot of great players playing on
that left side. He’s battled them. He’s tough and he’s smart.”
</p>

<big>DEFENSIVE LINE</big></p>


The Breakdown
When someone like Brandon Jacobs labels
another football player a “freak of nature” in a complimentary way, you know the
guy is legit. That’s the case with man-mountain defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
The team’s media guide lists him at 6-2, 325 pounds, but one look at him tells
you that’s an understatement. And then when you watch Wilfork plow through
offensive lines with ease and speed, you know there’s something special about
this guy. He has put the rest of the defensive line on his back this postseason,
registering 2½ sacks in the Patriots’ two games. That’s doing work. That’s also
a nightmare for the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)’ offensive
line to have to contend with for 60 minutes.</p>


The Number
11
It’s almost
unfair that opposing teams have to deal with Wilfork, because he eats up so much
space for the rest of the defensive line to work through. One of those
beneficiaries? Defensive end Mark Anderson, who has 11 sacks this season.</p>


<big>LINEBACKERS</big></p>


The Breakdown
This group of linebackers is coach Bill
Belichick to a tee: Tough, hard-nosed players who come through those enormous
holes opened up by the defensive line and get after the quarterback. Jerod Mayo
is a tackling machine, with 95 on the season. Rob Ninkovich has been a find off
the scrap heap the past three years, working his way into a starting position
and getting 6½ sacks during the regular season. And Brandon Spikes is an
extremely athletic defender who can get all over a tight end coming across the
middle. Belichick likes to insert players such as Gary Guyton and Tracy White to
give his teams different looks.</p>


The Number
2
It gets to the
point sometimes where you wonder where the Patriots find these guys. Only two of
the seven linebackers on the depth chart were drafted in the first two rounds.
Niko Koutouvides was a fourth-round pick, Ninkovich a fifth-rounder, while three
guys were undrafted.</p>

<big>DEFENSIVE BACKS</big></p>


The Breakdown
One of the most beleaguered units in the
NFL this season, the Patriots secondary has been a patchwork job for nearly the
entire year. Belichick and defensive backs coach Josh Boyer have been moving
guys around with mixed results. Former Rutgers standout Devin McCourty seemed
like a steal in the back end of the first round last year, nabbing seven
interceptions and forcing two fumbles. But he’s taken a step back in his
sophomore season, with only two picks and at times was moved to safety because
of coverage problems. The biggest buzz last week has been about wide receiver
Julian Edelman moving to corner back. The former Kent State QB saw time against
the Ravens at the right corner spot in the AFC Championship Game two weeks
ago.</p>


The Number
3.6
Like much of
the New England defense, this is a young group. The most tenured NFL player is
backup right cornerback and Rutgers standout from Scotch Plains Nate Jones, who
has been in the league eight seasons. The average experience in the secondary is
3.6 years.</p>


<big>SPECIAL TEAMS</big></p>


The Breakdown
For years, it seemed as if playoff games —
especially Super Bowls — began and ended on the leg of Adam Vinatieri. Now, it’s
Stephen Gostkowski, who will be kicking in his second Super Bowl. The six-year
vet from Memphis has developed into just as good of a kicker. This season, he
was perfect on extra-point attempts, going 59-for-59. Field goals were nearly as
automatic, as he went 28-for-33, with a long of 50 yards. On the other side, New
England has a pair of shifty returners in Julian Edelman (punts) and former Jet
Danny Woodhead (kicks).</p>


The Number
97 percent
Might
not want to go up against Gostkowski in the fourth quarter when the Patriots
need a field goal. In the past five years, the Patriots’ kicker is 33-of-34 in
the final quarter, a 97 percent clip."</p>IZENBERG: SUPER BOWL MACTHUP BETWEEN GIANTS AND PATRIOTS IS A GREAT ONE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/izenberg_super_bowl_matchup_be.html)

"All right, pay close attention because you are going to thank me for the advice
that follows here. Try to forget all the breathless refugees from the fashion
runways turned faux “reporters” gushing, “I am actually coming to you from the
Super Bowl!”


Ignore news shows that feature barnyard chickens allegedly picking the Super
Bowl winner. Line your garbage pail with every newspaper page in which the
“stars” pick the Super Bowl winners. And if you are watching on television,
understand that this time the football action is not there so you can get to the
bathroom without interrupting the halftime show.</p>


In short, what we have here at Super XLVI today is something you don’t always
get. What we have — at least on paper — is one hell of a match-up. For example,
how often out in Vegas do you get three points if you bet on the underdog but
then it’s you and not The House that still has to lay 6-5? </p>


The Pats and Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/): A match that is
the direct residue of the late Pete Rozelle’s determination to find the ultimate
100-yard wall-to-wall parity. Forget the fact that the Patriots sort of backed
in after Baltimore missed a short field-goal that would have tied the game.
That, after all, is football. But eye to eye and belly to belly this is one of
those rare times that the two best teams in all of football have made it to what
is always overbilled as the season’s ultimate game.</p>


So throw the hype in the nearest garbage can and do not recycle. With
football salaries today, everything else surrounding this may be about the money
and glitz — but not for the players.</p>


For them it’s about the rings. Gone are the days when Super Bowl players went
to bed the night before with visions of having to win to make up for the
winners’ share their wives had already spent. They make too much money these
days for that.</p>


And gone are mornings like the day before Super Bowl I in Los Angeles, when I
had breakfast with a Kansas City linebacker named E.J. “The Beast” Holub, whose
palms were sweating because “I can’t believe if we win, I get $15,000.”
</p>This game over the years has morphed into a definitive bookmark by which
players and coaches measure each other and measure themselves.


They know it
is special.</p>


Listen to the way Bill Parcells describes that incredible moment just before
the Giants ran onto the field at the Rose Bowl before Super Bowl XXI in 1987:
</p>


“I remember it’s just so different. I can’t tell you what it’s like to run
out of that tunnel. One moment you are standing there and you can see out and
it’s a beautiful sunny day, and it looked like a million people out there
waiting ... waiting for you. </p>


“I remember standing there and looking out at the colors in the sunlight and
then we start to run out and it was ... it was ... it was ... all I can say is
that it was a great thing.” </p>


And most players never get there.</p>


The Patriots and Giants — the former favored to get here even before the
season started, the latter a sinking ship late in the season but a brilliant
football team down the stretch.</p>


Two teams with well-qualified coaches; two clearly credentialed quarterbacks;
two well-stocked groups of receivers; two teams that can and do run the ball;
two sides with good special teams, although the Pats have a slight edge in
return men; two teams with good punting games and one team (the Pats) with a
slightly better kicking game.</p>


And beyond that?
</p>Well, beyond that is the oldest of professional football clichés:


“Offense wins football games but defense wins championships.” </p>


So there you have it. It is the reason I think the Giants will win. When the
other teams have the ball, there is no edge here in coaching. In raw talent I
think the Giants are simply better at playing without the ball than are the
Pats.</p>


They proved that down the playoff stretch run. And since Eli is the league’s
best fourth-quarter comeback quarterback, the defense can get him where he needs
to be.</p>


Defensive pressure will win this game. George Foreman once told me that
styles make fights. “I could fight Ali 100 times, “ he said, “and Ali would win
100. I could fight Frazier 100 times and I would win 100. But Ali and Frazier
could fight 100 and each one would go life and death. Styles, that’s what it’s
all about.” </p>


It’s that way in football as well. It’s not about records. It’s about
head-to-head styles. </p>


Defense figures to give the Giants the style to win."</p>

JOHN MARA, ROBERT KRAFT MT IN SUPER BOWL AFTER SAVING NFL SEASON (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/giants_vs_patriots_john_mara_r.html)</p>

"Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVI will end with elation for either the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) or New England Patriots. Months ago,
there was instead frustration and tension in the league, during the drawn-out
labor negotiations.</p>


John Mara recalled one such moment last week, when a disagreement ratcheted
up the discord between the NFL and the players.</p>


“We’re the reasonable ones on this side,” burst out Mike Vrabel, a member of
the players union’s executive committee.</p>


Mara, the Giants owner, looked directly at the retired linebacker.</p>


“What the hell do you think you’re dealing with here?” replied Mara,
referencing a core of owners that included the Patriots’ Robert Kraft. “If you
want to deal with some of the other owners, just give me a list of names.” </p>


With a smile, Mara finished the story last week: “They never came back with
that list.”</p>


Months later, Mara and Kraft’s teams will meet in the Super Bowl on Sunday, a
fitting finish to the season they helped save.</p>


Mara was a constant presence at the negotiating table last spring and summer,
missing sessions only when called to jury duty. </p>


He had an ally in Kraft, who would not have left his dying wife’s bedside had
she not told him to help save America’s game.</p>


These two men were linchpins in bringing the NFL a 300-page collective
bargaining agreement and 10 years of labor peace. While they were firm and
demanding on the points the owners would not yield, what Mara told Vrabel that
day was also true: He and Kraft were voices of reason on the owners’ side,
critical to overcoming the distrust and dissension that threatened the
season.</p>


“Those two individuals deserve a lot of respect and appreciation,” NFL
commissioner Roger Goodell said.
</p>

During the 136-day lockout, Mara and Kraft traveled from judge’s chambers in
Minnesota to a covert hotel in a Chicago suburb to a law firm in Manhattan, to
name a few. </p>


Mara had watched <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_giants_john_mara_h.html">his
father, Wellington Mara,</a> navigate labor disputes in another generation and
believed the only way to a deal was to show the other side respect. Kraft, a
shrewd businessman, operated the same way. </p>


He was known to look across the table at a particular player and ask, “What
do you think?” </p>


As the owners and players were summoned to locations so secretive they were
assigned aliases, and broke bread together, they soon grew to understand the
graveness of Myra Kraft’s condition.</p>


Mara recalled Kraft assuring his colleagues that attending the talks was
“therapeutic” for him. But they did not overlook his sacrifice. Often he flew
home after a long day of negotiations, then back early in the morning, simply to
spend a night with his wife.</p>


“It was the only thing I ever left her side for, and when things got a little
cuckoo with the lawyers, I went home,” Kraft said. </p>


“I wasn’t going to waste my time, and I think the players and (union
executive director) DeMaurice Smith understood that. I hope in a small way that
helped us to get resolution.”</p>


<a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/patriots_owner_robert_kraft_he.html">Kraft’s
“sweetheart” lost her battle</a> with cancer July 20, after 48 years of
marriage. </p>


Five days later, the sides announced that they had reached a deal.</p>


One of the lasting images of the lockout’s end was Colts center Jeff Saturday
warmly embracing Kraft on the steps of the NFL Players Association’s
headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was a moment “completely from the heart,”
Saturday said. The two later traded notes of appreciation.</p>


Kraft admits he “never thought I would grow to love and respect the guy that
Peyton Manning put his hands on his tush every day.” But he and Mara put aside
football rivalries and pride for the sake of a deal.</p>


“They wanted to come up with creative solutions,” said Saturday, one of the
most-involved players in negotiations. </p>


“Those guys were willing to examine options and different opportunities for
both sides, ownership and players, to get something that was fair. That took a
lot of time and a lot of effort.” </p>


Patriots guard Brian Waters, a member of the union’s executive committee,
said Mara and Kraft were effective because they operated without egos or
chest-pounding or an air of superiority. </p>


Quarterback Tom Brady, a plaintiff on the union’s antitrust lawsuit against
the NFL, said Kraft never uttered the phrase “what’s best for us” — instead, he
talked about a fair deal for both.</p>

The tide began to turn in June, when the negotiating parties were reduced to
five players and five owners. Mara and Kraft were on the short list. In a
rotating list of cities, the group debated during the day, and dined and drank
together at night.</p>


They listened and talked simply “as men” at the dinner table, Saturday
remembers, about how Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994, the lessons the Mara
family learned through past strikes and postponements, and Myra Kraft’s
conviction that football must be saved for the struggling economy. </p>


“We didn’t discuss business at all,” Mara said. “Once we started doing that,
it took a lot of the animosity and mistrust away.”</p>


Mara and Kraft’s players see similarities in the way they run their teams as
smart businesses with a keen eye for success.</p>


As allies, they found this was their strength: Kraft is still struck by how
close the league came to missing games, but each man knew the other would not
let that happen.</p>


To Mara, Kraft’s balance of personal and professional obligations was
“amazing.” He called Kraft as good a businessman as any owner in the league, and
said the Giants are simply trying to match the Patriots’ level of success. </p>


Kraft, meanwhile, knew Mara would not waver in his family’s legacy of putting
the NFL first through 87 years owning the team.</p>


The players in Mara and Kraft’s own locker rooms were not surprised at their
roles in settling the dispute, after years of doing personal business with
them.</p>


Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a plaintiff on the union’s antitrust lawsuit
against the NFL, said Kraft never uttered the phrase “what’s best for us,” but
only talked about “a fair deal.” </p>


Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka’s praise of Mara was just as high: “He’s
more of a protector of the game than he is of his business assets.” Mara and
Kraft speak proudly of the new CBA, for the extended labor peace it provides as
well as the long-term television deals that came after. They spoke even more
proudly last week of their teams, which will compete for a championship
ring.</p>


You could call Sunday night’s game the fruits of their labor. </p>


“It’s pretty cool that we didn’t miss any games, we both worked so hard on
it,” Kraft said, “and now we are playing Sunday.”</p>GIANTS' DEON GRANT AND PATRIOTS' SHAUN ELLIE ARE CLOSE FRIENDS AT A CROSSROADS AGAIN (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/new_york_giants_deon_grant_new.html)

Excerpt: "To this day, Shaun Ellis thinks Deon Grant wouldn’t have survived. Not with the
way the windshield and door on the passenger’s side were both smashed in after
Ellis fell asleep at the wheel on the way back to campus in the wee hours of
March 16, 1998.


After Ellis veered off the road, he somehow emerged from the Ford Taurus
lodged between two trees on a mountainside with a broken hip, a busted lip and
glass embedded in his face.</p>


Grant was supposed to be in the car with him. With spring practice
approaching at the University of Tennessee, he had planned to meet Ellis in
South Carolina to make the trek back. But because Grant needed to get back to
Knoxville a day earlier than planned, he caught a ride from someone else. </p>


“He wouldn’t have made it. That’s how close …” Ellis said, his voice trailing
off. “His life could’ve changed.”
Or ended.</p>


Ellis showed Grant the morbid photos of the wreckage, but Grant has a
different take on what would’ve happened. With some company on the ride, he’s
sure Ellis wouldn’t have fallen asleep at the wheel.</p>


“I might’ve been up when that happened and I could’ve been talking to him or
playing music or whatever,” Grant said. </p>


Instead, 12 years after the two left Tennessee together for the 2000 NFL
Draft, in which they were selected 45 picks from each other, they will be on
opposing sidelines today with their first Super Bowl ring on the line. </p>


The two talk often and see each other whenever possible — it was easier when
Grant joined the Giants last season and Ellis was close by as member of the Jets (http://www.nj.com/jets/) — but the past two weeks have been all
business. For Ellis, it’s his first Super Bowl after 11 years with the Jets, the
final two of which ended with losses in the AFC Championship Game. It will be
Grant’s second Super Bowl — he and the Panthers lost to the Patriots in Super
Bowl XXXVIII.</p>


“I figured I’d talk to him once the week is over with,” the 34-year-old Ellis
said. “Right now, my mindset is about going in and winning this game. It’s not
about personal relationships even though me and him are really close so it’s
just one of those things we’ll catch up in the offseason.”</p>


ALWAYS THERE FOR SUPPORT</p>


Ellis was a 20-year-old sophomore at the time of the accident and doctors
told him his football career was in jeopardy because they feared vascular
necrosis as a result of decreased blood supply. He faced a long, arduous
recovery if he hoped to step back on the field." Read more...
</p>PATRIOTS' GRONKOWSKI DOING BETTER, COACH SAYS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/patriots_rob_gronkowski_is_doi.html)

Excerpt: "Rob Gronkowski showed no signs of limping today as the New England Patriots
held a pre-Super Bowl outing at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, according to
a pool report.


The Patriots tight end has been recovering from a high ankle sprain he
suffered in the AFC Championship Game. He returned to practice Thursday and said
he is <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/patriots_rob_gronkowski_will_d.html">the
one who'll make the decision</a> whether he'll play Sunday against the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/). He was listed as "questionable" on
Friday's injury report.</p>


At the end of today's event, Gronkowski walked briskly from the field and up
the tunnel, heading for the buses outside, according to the pool report.</p>


“I think he’s doing better,” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “I think
he’s doing a little better each day. We’ll just have to see where things (are)
and get through tomorrow.” Read more...</p>GIANTS DON'T LET BROKEN DOWN BUS DISRUPT SATURDAY SCHEDULE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/super_bowl_giants_dont_let_bro.html)

"Tom Coughlin said on Friday of the Giants’ bandwagon, “Five weeks ago, there
wasn’t even a bus, and now there are no seats on anything.”<div class="entry-content">


Well, today’s bus to practice must’ve been carrying too much weight because
it broke down. According to the pool report, compiled by Yahoo’s Jason Cole,
some players arrived at practice 5 minutes late. (Great line by Newsday’s Tom
Rock: “Or as we say, ‘on time.’)</p>


But the jog-through ensued as planned and lasted 48 minutes. Cole reports
running back Ahmad Bradshaw “showed barely a hint of soreness in his foot as he
went through all the scripted situations for the offense.”</p>


Safety Tyler Sash (foot) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee/ankle), both
of whom are listed as probable, participated in the jog-through.</p>


“He looked fine, no soreness, nothing you could notice,” Tom Coughlin said of
Bradshaw. “This was all situational stuff, nothing unusual. It was a Saturday
morning jog-thru, all situations.”</p>


Tonight, the Giants’ players and coaches will meet from 7:30 to 9:15. After
that, they’ll be shown a 3- to 4-minute highlight video to, as Coughlin put it,
“get them in the right frame of mind.” After the video, Coughlin will address
the team. Then, per the pool report, they’ll have a “snack.” It’s unlikely the
snack will be similar to the one served by Rex Ryan at Jets camp last
year."</p></div>GIANTS' GM JERRY REESE RECOGNIZES THE FINE LINE IN THE NFL (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/giants_jerry_reese_recognizes.html)

"There is a fine line between success and failure in the “what have you done
lately” NFL and Giants general manager Jerry Reese knows it all too well. <div class="entry-content">


This time last year, questions about his football team were abundant and they
continued into training camp and until the Giants turned things around with
their season on the line against the Jets on Christmas Eve. </p>


“It’s kind of funny when you’re 10-6 last year and you don’t qualify for the
tournament and you go 9-7, you win the division, qualify for the tournament,”
Reese said. “That’s the difference between being a smart guy and a not-so-smart
guy. Last year I wasn’t so smart. This year we win 9 games [and] I’m smarter. Go
figure that.”</p>


Now, after constant criticism for making unpopular moves during the
offseason, Reese is back on the media’s and fans’ good side, one win away from
winning his second Super Bowl in five seasons. Just like that he can go from a
failure to one of the most successful general managers in league.</p>


“In 2009, we thought we had a pretty deep team and we ended up 8-8, because
we went out and got some free agents,” Reese said. “That isn’t always the way to
do it. Everybody has different ways of doing things. We had a good nucleus of
guys coming back and we just felt like we needed to make the best football
moves. Obviously, they’re not sexy moves. We signed a guard, we signed a center
and we signed a punter. That’s not really sexy, especially from a fan
perspective. Fans are fans and they like to see big names and see you look like
you’re stacking the deck, but we had good players already and we needed to fill
the holes we thought were there and we tried to do that.”</p></div>THE PATRIOTS MAY HAVE THE ANSWER TO THE GIANTS' PASS RUSH; NO HUDDLE OFFENSE (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/giants_will_have_to_defend_a_g.html)

"Over the last five weeks, opponents have unsuccessfully attempted to find a
way to neutralize the rejuvenated Giants pass rush.


They’ve tried to run the ball and complete short and quick passes, among
other strategies -- anything to keep their quarterbacks upright. Tomorrow, the
Patriots may finally have the antidote: an effective no-huddle offense.</p>


This season, New England ran the no-huddle offense more than any other team
in the league and with Tom Brady under center, they were successful. A no-huddle
offense against the Giants can keep them from substituting players in and out on
the defensive line, allowing them to take advantage packages. An obvious case
would be running the no-huddle when the Giants have all four of their defensive
ends on the line, an undersized group in the middle that can theoretically be
exploited against the run. </p>


The Giants have struggled at times against no-huddle offenses, but the
defense has improved dramatically in recent weeks, and the main reason has
simply been communication. And against the Falcons in the Wild Card round of the
playoffs, the Giants held their own when defending Atlanta’s successful
no-huddle offense. </p>


“We were battle-tested as far as the no-huddle offense throughout the
season,” Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “And I think that we
improved as the season went on with our form of communication. During the
season, that was definitely a challenge for us. Right now, I think that’s become
part of who we are and what we do because we’ve faced it so much.”</p>GIANTS' PRACTICE SQUAD MEMBERS ENJOYING SUPER BOWL RIDE, DESPITE NOT BEING ABLE TO PLAY IN BIG GAME (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/giants_practice_squad_players.html)

"This has been the week that Andre Brown has dreamed of since he was a kid. He's
been able to stay in the fancy hotel, go out to eat in the fancy restaurants,
sign autographs and sit down for interviews. This is how he thought Super Bowl
week would always play out.


Only there will be no game for him.</p>


"Bittersweet, that's a great way to put it," Brown said. "I would love to
play in the Super Bowl. But I understand my role right now. Every kid's dream
growing up — to play in the Super Bowl, be Super Bowl MVP. Those were my dreams.
I still want to be able to do it. But I'm here and I'm just glad to be
here."</p>


When Super Bowl XLVI kicks off on Sunday evening, Brown will be alongside the
other seven members of the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)'
practice squad. They will have the crisp, white jerseys on — Super Bowl patches
and all — but they will not dress for the game. They will have practiced just as
hard and just as often as the other 53 members of the active roster, but there
will be no payoff of paying in the big game.</p>


It's not the ideal or preferred way to try and win a championship, but for
now, the members of this group are content with it.</p>


"It's the game, it's just how the game is," said DT Dwayne Hendricks, a
Millville native. "There's a lot of people fighting for a very small amount of
spots. You can't get frustrated, you just have to understand that your time will
come if you keep putting the work in. It has to come when you have talent."</p>


Some players are waived and resigned numerous times throughout the season.
Some get the chance to dress for a handful of games. Some spend the entire year
on the practice squad.</p>


"It's an opportunity for those guys to show us, look, 'I'm worthy of being
here, of doing what you ask me to do,'" Giants general manager Jerry Reese said.
"Working on their craft, running cards for the offense. It's an opportunity — a
great opportunity — for them. You get to see them every day, you see their work
ethic, you see them catching balls or blocking. Doing the things that you need
to do to make a football team."</p>


Numerous players on the eight-man unit said that while nothing is technically
different on the field in their preparation, they know this week everyone is
held to a higher standard.</p>


"It's definitely different for us," said former Rutgers (http://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/) cornerback Brandon Bing.
"It's more responsibility, I'll tell you that. As far as the media and the time
that you have and where you are. The media is everywhere you go — in malls, in
restaurants. You have to carry yourself as a professional."</p>


But this week is not unlike the others during the season. The Giants coaching
staff encourages its practice squad players to eat in the cafeteria with the
rest of the players. To mingle away from the facilities and develop
relationships that aren't limited to position group or locker room positions. On
Wednesday night, Bing went out to eat with Deon Grant, Victor Cruz, Antrel
Rolle. As he said: "I don't think I've been out with practice squad guys."
</p>"We encourage guys not to blend in," Reese said. "If you blend in, you're
going to be gone. You better try to stand out in practice. I don't care if
you're on the practice squad running cards, you better stand out. We don't like
guys that blend in. If I don't notice you or our coaching and personnel staff
don't notice you, I'll ask, 'Coach Coughlin, what about this guy?' And he says,
'I don't even notice him, Jerry.' That's not a good report for me. We like for
guys to stand out, work hard and not blend in."


In addition to trying to prep the regular 53-man roster for Sunday's game,
players are often asked to fulfill different roles during the week. Brown is a
running back, but because of his versatility, he has played the role of Patriots
WR Wes Welker this week. He's also played some safety.</p>


"Hopefully this'll help me for a job next year," he said. "I look at it as
another working day. If I'm running wide receiver routes, it's going to do
nothing but help me. To show that I can do another thing add value."</p>


But with the magnitude of this being the Super Bowl, extra effort in
preparation might go a long way when offseason personnel decisions are made.
</p>


"You're supposed to do that every week," said OT Selvish Capers. "Coaches
look at every part of this week."</p>


Even with all of the pressure and distractions that make this week unlike the
others, the eight-man unit is enjoying themselves. They realize the rare
opportunity that they've been given this week. That hundreds of players — on
practice squads and not — don't get an opportunity to go to a Super Bowl.</p>


"It's the biggest game ever," Brown said. "We're still a part of it. We have
to go out there and give them great looks every day. Whatever I can do to help.
That's my mindset. We get rings, too. So I want one too."</p>VICTOR CRUZ STARRED ON COURTS OF PATERSON, N.J. LONG BEFORE CATCHING PASSES FOR GIANTS' SUPER BOWL RUN (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/02/victor_cruz_starred_on_courts.html)

"If you grew up in Paterson or had interest in playing for Paterson Catholic, you
played basketball. That's just the way it was. You would play for Jimmy Salmons'
AAU team, the Playaz. Then you would go on to play for Damon Wright's Cougars
team. Every kid did this. And if you were part of that neatly woven hoops
fabric, you knew players you didn't even play with. That's just the way it
was.


So when Jordan Theodore was in sixth grade, he would always find himself
hanging around the city's courts, waiting for pick-up games on the playgrounds.
He was testing himself for bigger and better things. There was a kid though,
three years older than he was, who was the talk of the courts.</p>


It was Victor Cruz. </p>


Yes, that Victor Cruz.</p>


"Just being around Paterson Catholic, I remember going there and watching th

dezzzR
02-05-2012, 11:07 AM
thank you for doing this all season RF.





ALL IN!!!!!

NY_Eli
02-05-2012, 11:16 AM
*thank you for doing this all season RF.





*ALL IN!!!!!


+1

<font color="#0000FF" size="4">[b]LET'S GO GIANTS!
</font>

RoanokeFan
02-05-2012, 11:21 AM
thank you for doing this all season RF.





ALL IN!!!!!


[B]

lttaylor56
02-05-2012, 12:16 PM
Let's do this!!! Thanks RF

RoanokeFan
02-05-2012, 12:20 PM
Let's do this!!! Thanks RF

I am so confident it's frightening lol

Voldamort
02-05-2012, 12:25 PM
GREAT JOB RF and Thanks always love the info!!

RoanokeFan
02-05-2012, 12:27 PM
GREAT JOB RF and Thanks always love the info!!

[Y]

lttaylor56
02-05-2012, 12:38 PM
Let's do this!!! Thanks RF

I am so confident it's frightening* lol
I'm with you on the confidence. I'm setting up for my after game fireworks on the deck now!!!

RoanokeFan
02-05-2012, 12:40 PM
Let's do this!!! Thanks RF

I am so confident it's frightening lol
I'm with you on the confidence. I'm setting up for my after game fireworks on the deck now!!!

Don't set anything or anyone on fire...unless they are Pats' fans [;)]

BigBlue1971
02-05-2012, 01:10 PM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</P>


wow! superbowl Sunday and the New York Giants are playing! just wow! [:D]</P>


all we need is a chance. lets get this done G-Men. hard and fast! [;)]</P>

RoanokeFan
02-05-2012, 02:03 PM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</p>


wow! superbowl Sunday and the New York Giants are playing! just wow! [:D]</p>


all we need is a chance. lets get this done G-Men. hard and fast! [;)]</p>

Hold on tight, this is going to be quite a ride tonight

BadBiatch
02-05-2012, 02:42 PM
Giants Fan Disses The **** Outta The Pats!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJMpX5khpu8

Cindy in INdy
02-05-2012, 03:00 PM
I can't believe it here FINALLY....thinking of all of you and thinking of my Gmen for sure...they are on their way to the stadium NOW</P>


A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY REPEATED....</P>

gmen46
02-05-2012, 03:13 PM
thanks Roanoke!* [B]</p>


wow!* superbowl Sunday and the New York Giants are playing!* just wow!* [:D]</p>


all we need is a chance.* lets get this done G-Men.* hard and fast!* [;)]</p>

Hold on tight, this is going to be quite a ride tonight


I want to echo the other thanks to you on this board, RF.

The NFL Awards show last night really screwed the pooch by not awarding you with the MVP of the GMB.

GO GIANTS

RoanokeFan
02-05-2012, 11:16 PM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</p>


wow! superbowl Sunday and the New York Giants are playing! just wow! [:D]</p>


all we need is a chance. lets get this done G-Men. hard and fast! [;)]</p>

Hold on tight, this is going to be quite a ride tonight


I want to echo the other thanks to you on this board, RF.

The NFL Awards show last night really screwed the pooch by not awarding you with the MVP of the GMB.

GO GIANTS

LOL Thanks.

lttaylor56
02-06-2012, 09:29 AM
Gracious in Victory.......but How do they like us now????? Great Day to be alive!

RoanokeFan
02-06-2012, 10:03 AM
Gracious in Victory.......but How do they like us now????? Great Day to be alive!

[Y]