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    Excerpt: "The trainers and doctors were telling Jake Ballard on Sunday they thought he had
    a torn meniscus. That's a tough injury but not nearly as bad as could be.

    "And then (after) the MRI, the doc came in with a look on his face and I just
    knew it wasn't my meniscus," Ballard said today while signing helmets along with
    some teammates for Steiner Sports. "So it was pretty frustrating."

    The doctor's look was indicative of the true diagnosis: a torn anterior
    cruciate ligament. Ballard
    suffered one
    of the worst injuries at one of the worst times.

    The Giants' second-year tight end
    said he's hoping for an eight-month recovery, which would make him a candidate
    to be activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list. But there's a chance
    he could miss the entire 2012 season as well.

    "I definitely don't want to go out there too early and hurt it again," he
    said, "so if I get eight, nine months to prepare, I'm fine with that. ... Clint
    Sintim came back
    too early and he might not have been ready and he hurt it
    again. So we're going to play it by ear and I'm going to bust my butt to try and
    make it by the beginning of the season."


    "With every offseason come difficult decisions for an organization and
    possible standoffs between the team and players. They go both ways; sometimes
    the franchise believes the individual should take less money, other times it’s
    the player asking for a raise.

    Enter: Victor Cruz.

    The Giants' breakout wide receiver
    earned $450,000 this season as part of his three-year contract — a standard
    salary for an undrafted player who hadn’t proven anything coming into the
    season. He’s set to receive a $40,000 raise and earn $490,000 next season.

    But 1536 receiving yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season, and
    impressive production in the playoffs means he outplayed his contract, and he
    now believes he should be paid more, according to

    “I think I was paid, you know, relative to where I came in this year and, you
    know, I came in as a free agent so that’s the salary I was on, so I don’t feel
    like I was underpaid,” Cruz
    told Pro Football Talk Live today.
    “I mean, I feel like after my performance
    this year, you know, I feel like I deserve to be paid more money at this point.
    But that’s something I’ll let my agents and those people take care of and I’ll
    just go out there and play the game.”

    Giants general manager told reporters today that players asking for raises
    comes with the territory of Full Star-Ledger coverage of Super Bowl XLVI">winning
    a Super Bowl and wouldn’t divulge whether Cruz — or any other player’s —
    contract will be restructured. In addition to Cruz's situation, Mario Manningham
    is an unrestricted free agent.

    "We’re in the early stages of our evaluating the team as a whole,
    individually. We have not yet discussed anything with respect to salaries," he

    “It’s a good problem to have. You win a Super Bowl and everybody thinks
    they’re the reason we win. That’s a good problem to have. That means you won it.
    It’s just part of the offseason. There are always contract issues in the
    offseason and that’s what the offseason is. You have to deal with contracts with
    your roster — who’s going to stay, who’s going to go."

    Another player Reese and the front office will likely also have to deal with
    during the offseason is defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who briefly held out of
    training camp this past season over a contract dispute. Umenyiora accused Reese
    of lying to him; he claims Reese promised to restructure his contract if he
    outplayed it.

    The Giants didn’t budge and the 30-year-old Umenyiora played under the
    contract — he had signed a six-year contract extension for $41 million with $15
    million guaranteed in December 2005 — and was a key cog in the Giants’
    devastating pass rush.

    On Wednesday, fellow defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said the Giants should
    “give him what he wants,” whether that will happen is anyone’s guess.

    "Osi is under contract, but we’ll discuss everything as a staff and we’ll
    discuss all issues that could possibly come up for us," Reese said. "We’ll come
    up with a game plan and we’ll move on day-to-day and see how things work out for


    Excerpt: "Bear Pascoe was the final tight end standing for the Giants in Full Star-Ledger coverage of Super Bowl
    ">Super Bowl XLVI and it appears as though he’s the only tight
    end on the current active roster that will be in uniform for the team’s 2012

    With news that tight ends Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard — Ballard’s
    news came
    two days later — both suffered torn ACLs against the New England
    Patriots, general manager Jerry Reese anticipates both will be inactive for the
    start of the 2012 season.

    “I’m not a doctor, but from my perspective right now they’ll probably both be
    guys that’ll end up on PUP [physically unable to perform list] at the beginning
    of the season and see how healthy they are and how quickly they can recover from
    these injuries that they have,” Reese told reporters on a conference call

    If placed on PUP, they will both be inactive for at least the first six games
    of the season. After sitting out the six games, the team has three weeks to
    activate him. If he is not activated in that three-week window, he is placed on
    PUP for the remainder of the season.

    Last season, the Giants started with wide receiver Ramses Barden and center
    Adam Koets on PUP. Barden was activated against the Patriots in Week 9 — the
    Giants’ eighth game — and Koets was released after Week 9.

    It’s a difficult blow for two players that, along with Bear Pascoe, helped
    alleviate the loss of Kevin Boss — and then some. Ballard finished with 604
    receiving yards this season — better than any of Boss’ four seasons with the
    Giants despite missing two games.

    Beckum’s role increased later in the season and into the playoffs — partly in
    due to Ballard’s PCL injury and Beckum himself recovering from nagging injuries
    — and his highlight was a 67-yard touchdown against the Packers on Dec. 4.

    With Ballard and Beckum out, Pascoe stepped in and caught four balls for 33
    yards in the Super Bowl after recording his first career touchdown against the
    49ers in the NFC Championship game.

    Reese gave Pascoe high praise today and said the restricted free agent will
    be back.

    “He’s kind of a joker on offense for us,” Reese said. “We’re talking about
    Kiwi being a joker on defense — Bear plays tight end, he plays h-back, he can
    play fullback. He can do a little bit of everything.”

    Earlier in the conference call, Reese said he wouldn’t go into specific names
    in regards to who on his team he believes is lying under shadows and can make an
    impact. But when the subject of dealing with the tight end injuries came up, he
    offered a name voluntarily.

    “[Practice squad player] Christian Hopkins is a big kid that we like,” Reese
    said. “He practices hard everyday. Our coaches like [that] and think that he has
    the potential to come in and compete for a job as well. He’s a big kid. At least
    6-5, about 275 pounds and he works hard everyday at practice so he’s endeared
    himself to our coaches with how hard he works. He has soft hands, he catches the
    ball nice. So he’ll be a guy we’ll look at.”

    Hopkins, 26, has never appeared in a regular season game. Reese also said the
    Giants will look into free agency and the draft for possible solutions.

    The top tight ends in free agents this offseason will be Jermichael Finley,
    Fred Davis and John Carlson, but given how Reese decided to replace Boss it’ll
    be a surprise if he goes in that direction." Read more...



    "One is now a Super Bowl champion. The other is now the head coach of a Big
    East football program.

    Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz and new Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood
    were both in attendance at tonight's Rutgers-Seton Hall basketball game at the
    Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway.

    Cruz, a Paterson native, was three days removed from the
    Giants' victory over the New England Patriots
    in Super Bowl XLVI.

    Flood, a longtime assistant coach, took
    over the Scarlet Knights
    last Monday, after Greg Schiano left to become the
    coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Click the gallery from Star-Ledger staff photographer Saed Hindash to see
    pictures from the game."


    "At least one member of the Giants
    thinks the organization should open its wallets for defensive
    end Osi Umenyiora.

    “Personally, give him what he wants,” fellow defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul
    said during an appearance at a Manhattan Macy’s. “Osi’s a great player and I’d
    love to play with him for the rest of my career until he’s ready to leave.”

    With the help of Umenyiora attracting blockers in what became the NFL’s most
    feared offensive, Pierre-Paul emerged as one of the league’s premier defenders,
    earning a spot on the All-Pro First Team.

    And Pierre-Paul, who started playing football his senior year of high school,
    thinks there’s plenty of room for personal improvement; a scary notion for
    offenses around the league.

    “I’m still learning,” he said. “The sky’s the limit for me. I haven’t even
    scratched the surface yet. That’s a blessing for me. I got time.”

    Improving on 16.5 sacks (fourth in the NFL), 86 tackles (a rare total for a
    defensive lineman) and a number of game-changing plays? For now, Pierre-Paul is
    just enjoying reaching the pinnacle of a sport he just started playing and
    doesn’t plan on getting much sleep anytime soon. He plans on attending — and
    hosting — a few events before going home to Deerfield Beach, Fla. next week.

    Before looking ahead, he and the rest of his teammates are now reflecting on
    how exactly they were able to go from 7-7 to Super Bowl champions in six

    “It started with the Jets,” he
    asserted. “That was more than just a game. That was a game that showed the world
    that the Giants run MetLife Stadium. We were playing for respect and that’s what
    we did. It started with that game. Our backs were against the wall and we just
    kept on playing.”

    Logic would tell one that if he improves and the rest of the team can manage
    to stay healthy and remain intact, the Giants have a solid chance to repeat.
    It’s difficult to do, but possible. And that’s how Pierre-Paul is looking at

    “It’s up to the guys on the team,” he said. “I can’t say we’re going to
    repeat, but if we do the things we’re supposed to do like this year we should be
    able to.

    “Even when we were down and out, we still kept strong and Coach Coughlin
    preached finish, finish, finish and that’s what we did.”


    "It’s been non-stop for me since Sunday but there’s no way we weren’t going to
    get in a final game review.

    With nothing but this to do today (as opposed to the usual days on which I do
    game reviews), I took my time and tried to dive deeply into it. So let’s get

    * * * *


    Settle in. This could take a while.

    Quarterback Eli Manning. The New England Patriots' game plan
    was to give him everything underneath. It was all he could eat. They weren’t
    going to get beat up top. Each of his first three shots at a big play fell
    incomplete: a corner route to Hakeem Nicks that was well-defended, a deep post
    to Mario Manningham that was also covered well and a fake
    screen to D.J. Ware (after running it early in the game, which
    has been the way the Giants set up the big play, like on the TD by Manningham
    against the Falcons) with a go route to Nicks up the left sideline that was
    broken up by a monster hit from Pats S Patrick Chung. That’s
    what makes his 38-yard pass to Manningham so impressive. If that’s the first
    quarter, he doesn’t take that shot and looks for a check-down pass. But with
    3:46 to go, he had to squeeze it in there. That ball needed to be perfect, and
    it was. It’s why I immediately tweeted “What. A. Throw.” Of course, it was met
    with some resistance from those who thought I was overlooking Manningham’s grab.
    Naturally, I wasn’t. I just wanted to make sure no one overlooked just how
    perfect that throw was. Judging by the reaction I’ve seen in the past few days,
    Manning has gotten his rightful due. He squeezed some passes into extremely
    tight spots. Oh and, ho hum, he called an audible at the line (you could hear
    him yelling, “Alert! Alert!” on the broadcast) on Victor Cruz’s

    Manningham. Tremendous catch. No doubt about it. We’ll be talking about that
    one forever. … However, the ball he caught out of bounds because, as
    Cris Collinsworth accurately noted, he drifted too closely to
    the sideline was a huge mistake. He’s
    battled such issues in the past
    and it’s the finer points of his route
    running that have driven Manning and the Giants nuts in the past. He’s been
    better recently, no doubt, but he’s still a bit undisciplined in his routes at
    times. I honestly believe that’ll be a part of why the Giants won’t give him the
    huge money he probably will demand. Will another team give it to him? Maybe. As
    I said to someone in the press box, his 38-yard catch to spark the game-winning
    drive is why he’ll get paid; the miscommunication between him and Manning on the
    next play is why it won’t be the Giants who pay him. But that’s just an
    uneducated guess from me. For now, Manningham deserves all the kudos for that
    huge grab.

    Cruz. That touchdown was made possible by good timing between him and Manning
    (which we’ve said goes back to the lockout
    workouts Manning held in Hoboken
    ) and another outstanding release off the
    line. He gave a stutter step and then a quick move to the inside. If you get a
    chance to look at it again, watch the head fake. The entire release had S
    James Ihedigbo so discombobulated he looked wobbly-legged all
    the way to Cruz’s juggling the ball, at which point Ihedigbo could’ve still
    broken up the pass. No wonder the Cowboys
    were lining up two guys over Cruz
    when the teams met in December.

    Nicks. I didn’t realize until I rewatched the game the ball he caught on the
    quick throw for a first down on that last drive was tipped. Good concentration
    and good catch. Sure, he should’ve stayed in bounds but whatever.

    RB Ahmad Bradshaw. That looked like a walk-through in
    practice when the Pats’ defenders just held up the blockers. It was also the
    oddest celebration of a Super Bowl-winning touchdown you’ll ever see. Yes, that
    was RG Chris Snee shrugging and then pointing to the ground as
    if to say, “He should’ve gotten down.” And how about Wilfork pumping his
    in celebration? Crazy. Anyway, long story short, if you score the
    game-winning touchdown, you get a game ball. Especially at the end of an
    impressive performance by a tough runner who fought through a painful foot issue
    this season.

    Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and his staff. There
    was tremendous design on a 24-yard run by Bradshaw early midway through the
    first quarter. It came out of a formation in which they had just run a pitch to
    the right side. The formation and the early movement after the snap indicated a
    run that way again but then -- bam! -- a quick counter to the left.
    Yes, I just unleashed my inner John Madden. And here comes a
    whap! because Kevin Boothe flattened CB Kyle
    on the kick-out block. Henry Hynoski cut
    pursuing LB Brandon Spikes and then Bradshaw blocked for
    himself with a stiff arm (a little grab of Chung’s face mask) that allowed him
    to gain the last 19 yards of a 24-yard gain. I can’t tell you for sure the
    Giants’ coaching staff saw something on film that told them a play to the right
    and then a counter back left would allow for something like that to happen
    against the Pats’ D, but I’d say it’s a good bet they did.

    Boothe. Jerry Reese’s “priority”
    had a very good game
    . There was the block on Bradshaw’s run mentioned above
    and plenty of one-on-one matchups with Wilfork (see below). He was flagged for
    the hold on Wilfork in the second quarter, though I didn’t think much of that
    one. I understand why the flag was thrown but I didn’t think the fistful of
    jersey had much to do with Wilfork’s falling down. Wilfork told reporters
    afterward Wilfork winked
    at him after the play

    Reese and the front office. While we’re talking about the GM, another pat on
    the back for him and his crew for sticking to their plan.

    John Mara and Steve and Jon
    . For seeing the big picture and sticking with a darn good coach,
    even when many wanted him gone.

    Tom Coughlin. For being that darn good coach. I’ve had
    conversations with a few people saying, “Well, if he’d only been this way with
    the players from the beginning. …” But you know what, it was more fun this way.
    And it taught a lot of people a lot of things about how to persevere and about
    learning to be flexible and adaptable even in your senior years. The way he fell
    in “love” with this team and the way they responded to him was quite the

    S Antrel Rolle. He’s the guy who came around to Coughlin
    more than anybody. What a story.

    DE Justin Tuck. Talk about persevering. This season ended so
    very well for a guy
    who endured through a lot
    . Maybe someday he’ll get a chance to steal the
    Super Bowl MVP from Manning instead of vice versa. (Not saying he deserved it
    over Eli. Just referencing
    his quote

    C David Baas. Another guy who
    persevered through a tough, tough season that included injuries, learning the
    playbook on the fly and a personal life that was upended right before the season
    when he signed here and had to move within a few weeks. He might not get his
    feet under him until this offseason, but that didn’t stop him from plugging

    LT David Diehl. The fact he played
    with a broken hand
    was only another example of how much this guy puts the
    team first. Where will he play on the line next season? Right tackle? Who cares?
    He’ll give his all.

    RT Kareem McKenzie. If that was his last game as a Giant,
    that capped seven serviceable years for this guy who is anything but a

    Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. People had issues with
    his schemes on the Pats’ two touchdown drives. I even had a guy anticipating
    my defending Fewell against the masses after the second TD
    . I reminded that
    guy there was still plenty of game left because, at the time, I didn’t see many
    problems with the scheme or the way the defense was playing. It was just a
    matter of little plays by the Pats here and there. It happens. It’s football.
    Fewell had to believe eventually those plays would go in his favor. He didn’t
    panic and kept calling his game, which was to cover more than pressure. It was a
    good plan, and it worked out tremendously.

    Linebacker Chase Blackburn. What a reception he got at the
    rally on Tuesday. People are really connecting with his comeback story. And I
    hererby take back this
    ill-advised tweet
    , which I put out there after Aaron
    easily slipped past him on the touchdown. As for his
    interception, someone tried convincing me on Twitter it’s a touchdown if Brady
    throws a better ball and Collinsworth said Blackburn was “beaten and had to
    chase (TE Rob Gronkowski) down.” I don’t see that a little bit,
    and I also don’t think 54 yards in the air is an underthrown ball. Blackburn was
    on Grownkowski’s hip the whole way and showed great coverage and ball skills to
    box out Gronkowski.

    CB Aaron Ross. He picked a good time to play a complete
    game, with very good coverage and excellent physical play. When the Pats ran the
    end around his way and he avoided LT Matt Light to make a
    tackle for a 1-yard loss, I tweeted New England should be running that play CB
    Corey Webster’s way. They did in the second half and picked up
    17 yards when Webster’s attempt to duck under RT Sebastian
    didn’t work out nearly as well as Ross’ dodging Light.

    Webster. Okay, so he wasn’t great on the play I mentioned. Big deal. He
    covered very well once again, held WR Deion Branch to only two
    catches for 26 yards until that final drive and also made a big play to recover
    and break up the pass for Branch that allowed the Giants to get the ball back
    for the win.

    S Deon Grant. He’s been a very big help for us in the media
    this year, so from a personal standpoint, it’s nice to see a good guy rewarded
    after 12 years in the league. As for his game, he did the little things such as
    coming up to wrap up WR Wes Welker immediately on a short hook
    instead of allowing YAC and darting forward into traffic to contain the same run
    as the 17-yard pitch play I just mentioned. By containing that run, which came
    on the first play of the series after the big hitter, he forced it back inside
    to Blackburn, who was unable to make the stop earlier because he got cut while
    trying to chase.

    LB Michael Boley. Solid game for a guy who proved this
    season he was worth the $25-million deal he got in 2009.

    P Steve Weatherford. NBC just barely missed a great moment
    after his punt in the second half when he slapped the Pats’ Matthew
    on his derriere right after the ball was downed. Slater, to my
    surprise, didn’t do a thing. “I’m like a kid out there,” Weatherford said of his
    energy level in general. “It’s a game and that’s how I play it. When I’m able to
    have fun, I play well. I’ve had fun this entire year and I think it showed. …
    We’re enjoying the ride and that’s kind of an element I bring to the
    specialist’s group, that youthful joy of the game.” Yeah, that and consistency,
    which is why he’ll soon have a nice long-term deal to stay here."


    An extended game-balls section to highlight a few guys who didn’t get
    enough credit for big plays.

    Hynoski. Not only did he stone Spikes for much of the game, he pounced on
    Nicks’ fumble in the third quarter. What was most impressive was where he was
    when Nicks caught the ball -- at the line of scrimmage after getting a piece of
    LB Jerod Mayo, whom he thought might be blitzing. Good hustle
    by Mayo to get to Nicks, but great hustle by Hynoski to be in position to
    recover the fumble. Too many times you’ll see a guy quit on the play. He didn’t,
    and he’s to be lauded for that.

    Snee. He also plopped down on a fumble by Bradshaw that would’ve been a
    disaster after Blackburn’s interception. Huge. Also, it should be noted the
    Giants did not lose a fumble in their last eight games. They put eight on the
    ground since then and, whether by recovery, a penalty or a ruling of forward
    progress, they got them all back.

    DT Linval Joseph. He started the chaos on the play that
    ended with Blackburn’s interception by squeezing inside Pats G Logan
    to pressure Brady. He went for the ball and, much as the play
    ended poorly, props to Brady for keeping two hands on the ball to secure it.
    Joseph had another pressure on the Pats’ next offensive play, an incompletion
    from Brady to Hernandez.

    * * * *


    None. This was a tremendously well-played game by two teams who know how to
    do it. I can’t even give one to Welker because, while it’s technically a drop,
    that’s a tough, twisting catch for him to make. He’s too good of a player for
    something like this to define him. No way.

    And to the clowns at who thought it was funny
    to drop hundreds of Butterfingers in Boston in Welker's (dis)honor
    , get a
    clue. I don’t know what that company is, nor do I know what they do. And nor do
    I care at this point. That’s classless right there.

    * * * *


    Everybody hates the three-man rush when it fails. Few remember to love it
    when it works.

    On the Pats’ first offensive series after their back-to-back touchdowns,
    Fewell called a pair of three-man rushes. (This was after Grant contained the
    pitch play on first down, by the way.) On the first one, Brady had no time to
    throw, scrambled right to avoid late pressure by DT Chris Canty
    and eventually threw it away near RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who
    was covered by Tuck. One play later, another three-man rush meant eight dropped
    to cover. Brady again found no one and, 4.1 seconds after the snap, first
    contact was made by DE Dave Tollefson. Tuck then charged from
    his linebacker spot and pounced on Brady to finish the sack.

    That three-and-out gave the defensive players much-needed confidence in
    themselves and the scheme. It’s also an affirmation Fewell hasn’t panicked of
    late and stuck with his schemes, which is how you have to do it. Also, Tuck’s
    sack had Brady flexing his shoulder afterward. Huge series right there.

    * * * *


    -- Obviously, the ball to Manningham past rookie CB Sterling
    and in front of Chung.

    -- With DL Gerard Warren in his face, he delivered a strike
    on a stop to Nicks just past the outstretched hands of Antuan
    . (First quarter, 11:11 remaining)

    -- Collinsworth said he didn’t know how Manning got the ball to Nicks for
    12 yards on third-and-2 in the fourth quarter. I’ll tell you how. He knew where
    he was going with the ball so he took one long stride to his left to give him a
    better angle on the ball. Spikes was drifting toward the middle of the field and
    just missed it by a fingertip because of that slide Manning made, which also
    allowed him to get away from pressure and get a clean look at the throw. We’ve
    talked about Manning’s arm and awareness this season, but I’d argue his feet,
    aided by QBs
    coach Mike Sullivan’s drills
    , are the biggest reason for his improved play.

    -- A dart to Cruz between Spikes and Arrington on third-and-1, three plays
    after the throw to Nicks over Spikes, who must’ve been going crazy with how
    close he was to tipping these passes.


    So who kept the big guy in check? I thought you might ask. Let’s look at who
    blocked him and how many times.

    BOOTHE: 17

    BAAS: 13

    DIEHL: 8



    BAAS/SNEE: 6

    SNEE: 4






    * * * *


    A lot of fans groaned when they saw the replay of Chung getting an arm around
    Nicks on a corner route in the second quarter. I thought that was a good no
    call. I also didn’t have a problem with the non-call on what many believed was
    pass interference on Moore on the Giants’ next-to-last drive.

    I don’t understand all of the talk about whether the Giants put 12 men on the
    field on purpose on that final drive. Tuck was running off the field without a
    helmet. (Wait, isn’t it a 15-yard penalty when you take your helmet off while on
    the field? Anyway …) Clearly, it was a mix-up. Now, for those who are saying,
    “Hmmm, we’ve discovered something,” I wholeheartedly agree. And here’s my
    suggestion for a rule change: If a defense flagged for too many men on the field
    within the last two minutes of a half, the penalty should be enacted
    plus the clock gets reset to where it was before the play. So in that
    case, it should’ve been second-and-5 at the Pats’ 49 with 17 seconds to play,
    not 9. That’ll dissuade defenses from trying that kind of stuff.

    And that’s it for second guesses. Regular readers know this section is
    usually much, much longer than this. The reason it’s not is that was an
    extremely well-played, well-coached and well-officiated, not to mention
    well-called by Collinsworth and Al Michaels. I remember when
    the Super Bowl used to be a disaster that was over by halftime. Not anymore in
    this league of parity. Great, great job by all involved in this year’s game.

    * * * *


    The Giants’ opening drives in their last three games lasted 12, nine and 10
    plays, respectively. They got a grand total of 3 total points in those
    possessions. But that’s okay. We hear Gilbride say all the time early play calls
    are designed to see what kind of looks they’ll be getting against certain
    personnel packages and formations. Scoring is practically secondary to
    information gathering for him. So when you saw Gilbride running five different
    personnel packages onto the field for those 10 plays on Sunday, you should know
    he was quickly working to decode the Pats’ game plan.

    Whether Cruz’s forward progress was stopped on his fumble would’ve been a big
    storyline had the Giants note been saved by a penalty on the Pats for too many
    men on the field. If you recall, fumbles by Bradshaw and Cruz in the two games
    against the Niners this season were negated because of a ruling their forward
    progress had been stopped. Not so in this case. Cruz was being driven back but
    then dug in and started to move forward, if only for a few inches. That was the
    proper call. Again, it didn’t matter because Cruz found his third way to avoid a
    fumble this season, with the penalty joining the forward-progress ruling and his
    giving himself up against the Cardinals

    Wanna be an NFL coach?
    Better prepare yourself for how it will drive you insane. In addition to the
    crazy hours coaches
    like Al Holcomb are asked to pull
    , sometimes it’s all for naught. One of
    those times was on Cruz’s touchdown. The Pats had the perfect defense called
    there, and Mayo undercut the slant route. He had his eyes fixed on Cruz. If he
    just takes a peek back at Manning (who said after the game he never saw Mayo),
    he sees the ball coming, defends it and maybe catches it for a potential pick
    six. The Pats’ coaches identified the threat there and put the players in
    position to stop it. Mayo, who never saw the ball that actually went behind his
    back, didn’t take advantage of proper planning.

    Speaking of that play, that’s the second time on an NBC broadcast this season
    we’ve heard that salsa
    music as soon as he scored
    . Once again, it was only for a few seconds,
    wasn’t played very loudly and then stopped. Weird. And if it was truly intended,
    that was a rare example of poor production on an otherwise excellent

    Good play call by the Pats on a third-and-inches in the third quarter. The
    Giants had stopped quarterback sneak after quarterback sneak over the past few
    weeks and were loaded up over center, so New England ran wide for 4 yards and a
    first down on the way to a touchdown that gave them a 17-9 lead.

    The Giants prepared as if Julian Edelman would play defense
    and cover Cruz in the slot. Edelman played no defense, which was a good move by
    the Pats. The only question I’d have with their game plan is why Ihedigbo was
    covering Cruz on the touchdown.

    The toughness of Manning was on display when he got high-lowed in the third
    quarter as he threw a pass for TE Jake Ballard that fell way
    short. I thought he was squashed on that one but he hopped right back up. Also,
    if you look at the end of that play closely, Chung’s reaction tells you he
    thought he was going to undercut Ballard and pick that ball off. It’s tough to
    tell from the TV feed, but if that’s the case, LB Rob
    pressure on that play was actually beneficial for the
    Giants because the ball never got near Chung. Two plays later, they kicked a
    field goal to make it 17-12.

    You can get sacks out of the three-man rush, as the Giants showed. But
    usually they don’t happen as quickly as the one the Patriots got late in the
    third quarter when Ninkovich and DE Mark Anderson beat McKenzie
    and Diehl. McKenzie got beat cleanly, while Diehl was expecting help from
    Bradshaw, who didn’t decide quickly enough whether to chip a juking Anderson.
    That forced a field goal instead of a touchdown to take the lead. No biggie now,
    but had the Giants lost, it would’ve been a big play.

    Speaking of Ninkovich, his offside penalty was obviously a killer. New
    England could’ve had the ball at midfield but that flag allowed the Giants to
    move the ball to the Pats’ 43 before punting.

    Did that flip reverse to Welker with Brady leading the way look familiar? The
    Pats ran the same play against the Giants in November. They got 13 yards back
    then and 11 this time. Both times they called it in the fourth quarter.

    When you watch the replay of this game, take a look at the way the Giants
    beat up Gronkowski coming off the line, particularly early on.

    One more note on the game: No wonder Mara
    said he couldn’t breathe on the Hail Mary
    . That thing was closer to being
    caught than I thought while watching live and on replays on TVs well above my
    head. Maybe a healthy Gronkowski catches that. Wow, what an ending.

    * * * *

    And finally, thanks and congrats to all of you. From the start of training
    camp, you’ve been here and on Twitter pushing us and demanding better coverage.
    We can only hope we’ve delivered and made things more enjoyable for you. You’ve
    done that for us. We’re not going anywhere. As always, the offseason will bring
    plenty of storylines with it. But I just wanted to take some time to thank you

    I’ve seen your emails, comments and tweets over the past few days. I just
    haven’t had a time to get to them all. I appreciate your feedback and laud your
    passion. Thanks again, and let’s keep this good thing going.


    "The Giants already are stocking their
    roster for training camp this summer.

    The Super
    Bowl champions
    announced today that they had signed as free agents eight
    players who spent all or part of this season on their practice squad.

    The eight are defensive back Brandon Bing, running back Andre Brown,
    offensive lineman Selvish Capers, receivers Dan DePalma and Isaiah Stanback,
    defensive tackle Dwayne Hendricks, tight end Christian Hopkins, quarterback Ryan
    Perrilloux and defensive end DE Adrian Tracy.

    Hendricks is the only one of the eight who played in a regular-season game,
    appearing in one."


    "The chant of "Let's go Giants!" echoed loudly from McGinley Square in Jersey
    City this morning when Giants' linebacker Chase Blackburn, one of the heroes of
    Super Bowl XLVI, appeared to receive a key to the city from Mayor Jerramiah

    Blackburn received a hero's welcome at the intersection of Bergen and
    Montgomery avenues for his fourth-quarter interception of New England Patriots
    quarterback Tom Brady during the Super Bowl, the game's only turnover.

    "Chase Blackburn is proof that hard work, dedication and perseverance pays
    off," said Gary Flocco, the developer working on the McGinley Square
    Redevelopment Plan that will include a street named "Blackburn Boulevard."

    The player-named street will be a private street in the development, running
    between two large parts of the project, Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill

    "I'd like to thank Hudson Catholic and P.S. 11 for being here," Blackburn
    said. "I'm here to tell you to keep your dreams alive."

    While he didn't say much -- he didn't have to -- more than 100 screaming Big
    Blue fans were just happy to see the 6-foot-3, 247-pounder in person.

    "If you want to come back, you can come at any time since you have the keys,"
    Healy, decked out in Giants red and blue, joked after giving Blackburn a key to
    the city.

    The linebacker was also happy to sign autographs before, during and after the
    After the rally ended, Blackburn paid a visit to St. Peter's College.
    He briefly took pictures and signed autographs with students at McIntyre Hall,
    before heading to
    another room to be interviewed by CBS's Inside Edition.

    Over a dozen dedicated fans patiently waited for over an hour in hopes of
    catching Blackburn for a picture/and or autograph on the way out.

    "I'm a lifelong Giants fan, so the Super Bowl played out exactly the way I
    expected," said Danielle DePaula, 20, a junior at St. Peter's who was waiting to
    get her sweatshirt signed.

    "My heart was pounding when (Tom) Brady threw that deep pass in the fourth
    quarter, and I have to say I was surprised when Blackburn made the

    Andrew Colaneri, a die-hard Giants fan, skipped a class in hopes of getting
    his Giants sweatshirt signed by Blackburn.

    "I thought it was a great pick-up," Colaneri said, speaking of when the
    Giants signed Blackburn off of waivers in late November this season.

    "That (Blackburn) play was mind-blowing -- it was a great interception,"
    Colaneri said.

    The McGinley Square Redevelopment Plan calls for mixed-use residential and
    commercial units, with the possibility of a large theater or bowling alley."




    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Gisele Bundchen consoles husband Tom Brady after the Patriots lost to the NY
    Giants 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI.

    Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News

    Brandon Jacobs

    Brandon Jacobs
    issued an apology to Tom Brady's wife for
    telling her to "shut up." But he won't apologize for thinking the supermodel is

    Jacobs, speaking on ESPN Radio's The Doug Gottlieb show,
    said he's sorry that he said Gisele Bundchen
    should "stay cute and shut up" after she was video taped confronting a harassing
    fan after Super Bowl XLVI. However, he does still think that the wife of the
    Patriots' quarterback was out of line.

    "Given the fact that it's a colleague of mine's wife, I do apologize for
    saying that, because I shouldn't have said that," Jacobs said during his
    appearance on the show on Wednesday. "It's his wife and I should respect that
    just as much as anyone else. She is very cute. But (there are) some things that
    just shouldn't be said by your wife."


    Asked if he thought it was OK that he referred to Brady's
    wife as "cute," Jacobs said "No question. He should take that as a compliment.
    If he finds something wrong with that, then that's his problem."

    Bundchen was caught on video in an angry rant after the Patriots' 21-17 loss
    to the Giants on Sunday night, after a fan confronted her about her husband's
    play in the game. She was video taped screaming "My husband cannot f------ throw
    the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can't believe they dropped the
    ball so many times."

    Then, at the Giants' victory party at the Meadowlands on Tuesday, Jacobs said
    she should "stay cute and shut up," and defensive end Osi Umenyiora added
    "She is supposed to stay out of things like that."

    Jacobs was likely going to be asked about his comments again on Thursday on
    The Dan Patrick Show,
    hosted by Bonnie Bernstein,
    but he failed to show up for a scheduled appearance. He also blew off a
    scheduled interview on Mad Dog Radio earlier Thursday."


    "Victor Cruz became the
    first player to line up outside the Giants' bank vault looking for more money
    after the Super Bowl championship.

    But Giants GM Jerry Reese knows he
    won't be the last.

    That's the way it goes when you're the Super Bowl champions. Every player on
    the roster suddenly thinks they deserve a raise. Cruz, one of the biggest
    bargains in the NFL, made his case for more money in an interview on on Thursday. And Reese knows he'll be hearing from a lot of
    players and agents in the coming days.

    "That's a good problem to have," Reese said in a conference call with
    reporters on Thursday. "You win the Super Bowl, if everybody thinks they're the
    reason you won, that's a good problem to have. It means you won it. It's just
    part of the offseason. There's always contract issues in the offseason. That's
    what the offseason is. You have to deal with contracts, who's going to stay,
    who's going to go."

    The 25-year-old Cruz figured to be one of the first in line, given his
    remarkable situation. An undrafted free agent, he made $450,000 in 2011, but
    emerged as one of the top receivers in the NFL with 82 catches for a
    franchise-record 1,536 yards. He's become a celebrity, too, thanks to his salsa
    touchdown dance which even earned him an invitation to compete on ABC's Dancing
    With the Stars.

    Cruz is under contract next season, but is only due a salary of $490,000.
    He's still two more seasons away from being an unrestricted free agent, too.

    "I think I was paid relative to where I came in this year, and I came in as a
    free agent so I don't feel like I was underpaid," Cruz said on PFT Live. "After
    my performance this year, I feel like I deserve to be paid more money at this

    He's probably right, but Reese's problem is that many players have a case for
    a raise, and some of them – like defensive end Osi Umenyiora who had
    12 1/2 sacks in 13 games this season – have been waiting for quite a while.
    Reese also has to figure out what to do with 21 unrestricted players on his
    current roster, and some others – receiver Hakeem Nicks,
    linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka,
    defensive end Justin Tuck and cornerback Corey
    – who might be in line for significant new contracts soon, too.

    Meanwhile, the Giants don't figure to have much wiggle room under the salary
    cap. Reese said he expects the NFL's cap to remain "flat" at around $120
    million, possibly even a little less than where it was last season. The Giants
    had little room to maneuver under the cap last summer, and it likely will be
    that way again when free agency opens on March 13.

    So they're going to have to think long and hard before they start giving out
    raises, especially to players like Cruz, who have no leverage at all.

    "There's a lot of discussion on guys and on salaries and where we go and
    where we can't go," Reese said. "But we'll be ready."



    "It is late at Lucas Oil Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, and the Giants’ locker
    room is still crowded with players and media and family and excitement and noise
    and enough energy to light the whole place. Maybe it is an hour since Tom
    ’s desperation pass into the end zone has been knocked out of the air,
    bouncing on the turf before Rob Gronkowski can
    even make his dive for it.

    Archie Manning and
    Olivia Manning are
    outside the back door of the locker room, waiting in the hallway and they’re
    with one of their daughters-in-law, Cooper Manning’s
    wife. All of them are talking about the Super Bowl game they have just watched,
    how similar it is in so many ways to the one the Giants and Patriots played four
    years ago, mostly similar in the end because Eli Manning had taken
    his team down the field again, come from behind again, put his team into the end
    zone in the last minute of the Super Bowl.

    And on top of everything else,
    this time he has done it in Indianapolis, where his brother Peyton only became
    one of the great quarterbacks of all time.

    “Just a bit more drama to the
    night,” Olivia Manning said, “a little more magic.”

    I go back into the
    Giants’ locker room now, and run into Cooper Manning, ask him about his kid
    brother and Peyton’s kid brother. Ask him about Eli becoming this kind of
    big-moment player, this kind of fourth-quarter player, finally putting aside the
    tired “elite” conversation now for a much better one, about how Eli Manning is
    suddenly and wonderfully recognized as the best pressure player of his sport
    right now.

    Maybe any sport.

    Cooper Manning, a smart, funny guy,
    smiled and said, “Put it this way: For a guy who was never in a single school
    play, he sure does have this flair for the dramatic, doesn’t he?”

    It is
    that flair for drama that makes this Giants team one to remember for all times,
    out of all the New York teams in all the sports. I keep saying it, but for them
    to win two Super Bowls this way, from 10-6 and a wild card one time and from 7-7
    this time, for them to have to win two NFC Championships in overtime along the
    way, for them to come from behind in the fourth quarter twice against Bill Belichick’s
    Patriots, yeah, it really is like Willis limped out twice.

    Or like Namath won two guaranteed, crazy-underdog Super Bowls. Or the Rangers
    somehow put some kind of improbable Stanley Cup championships in with the one
    they won in 1994. Or the Mets won a World Series the way they did, coming from
    two runs down and two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the season, and then
    four years later did something like that again.

    It was the drama. The
    drama of the little brother in the Manning family becoming the big guy. The
    drama of Tom Coughlin, a coach
    about to be fired so many times you lose count, now taking his place with the
    most revered coaches or managers in all of New York sports history, with the
    great Red Holzman, with Joe
    , with Gil Hodges in 1969, pick
    any other name you want.

    There are so many reasons why this Giants coach
    and this quarterback have been able to do what they have to done together, but
    here is a big one, even if neither one of them will ever come out and say

    They both have to have a lot of screw-you in them. There it is. You
    tell them you think they can’t, and they will show you, in the biggest possible
    moments, that they can. You know what Coughlin and Eli are thinking about right
    now? They are thinking about showing everybody again next year, when the big
    game goes to New Orleans.

    So much drama to this team, so many heroes,
    likely and unlikely. So many moments to remember. But you can start with these
    two moments, before a ball was snapped this season, one of them from last

    John Mara saying, almost
    defiantly, after the Giants missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record, that he
    wasn’t firing Tom Coughlin.

    And then Jerry Reese, the
    brilliant general manager, best evaluator of talent in the business, being as
    defiant in his own quiet way in the run-up to this season, when he stood up and
    said that despite all the injuries and all the doubts and Plaxico Burress
    going to the Jets and all the rest of it, that his team was good enough to

    Mara was right there, shoulder to shoulder, with his general
    manager. When I asked him not long ago why he believed, when even his own fans
    didn’t believe in August and September, he simply said, “We still had No.

    On the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, a few moments after the Lombardi
    Trophy had been given back to the Giants, Jerry Reese said, “Don’t ever be
    fooled by our quarterback. Ever. He is a baby-faced assassin.”

    A few feet
    away from Reese, confetti was still being shot toward the roof of the place. He
    said, “The way Eli played tonight? He played that way all year. The throws he
    made tonight? He made those throws all year long. We’d sit there and look at
    film, week after week, even when we’d lose, and somebody in the room would say,
    ‘There’s a big-boy throw.’ And a few minutes later somebody else would say,
    ‘There’s another big-boy throw.’”

    On a team of drama kings, the
    quarterback who was never in the school play became the star of the show. But
    there were others. Are you kidding?

    There was Victor Cruz, the
    undrafted free agent out of UMass who became a star of his sport. Victor Cruz:
    Who only really got the shot he did because Steve
    left and then Domenik Hixon got

    There was Chase Blackburn,
    who was out of football and then came back to be such a huge part of this. I am
    standing watching the regular-season game between the Giants and Packers and
    Blackburn intercepts Aaron Rodgers and I
    turn to my son, the Giant fan, and honestly ask, “Who’s No. 93?” Not even
    knowing Blackburn was back on the roster.

    On and on. Osi
    was supposed to be on his way out of town before the season was
    over, ended up being a sack-a-game guy again. Brandon Jacobs
    seemed to be talking his way out of town earlier in the season, and ends the
    season dancing on the stage at City Hall Plaza. And we wondered if Justin
    would ever be healthy enough to be Justin Tuck again, do at Lucas Oil
    the same thing he had done at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona four
    years before: Put Brady on the ground.

    So many stories, so many moments,
    ending with the biggest moments in the Super Bowl. Tony Romo misses Miles
    in December with a pass that would have put the Giants to sleep; it
    means Romo misses the throw that Eli doesn’t miss when the money is on the
    table. Cruz goes 99 against the Jets. It’s all a jumble now. Ahmad Bradshaw
    doesn’t get called for a fumble at old Candlestick Park, a punt bounces off Kyle Williams’ knee,
    Hail Mary pass to Hakeem Nicks at
    Lambeau, Packers receivers dropping nine balls that day.

    Cruz’s fumble in Super Bowl 46 doesn’t count because the Patriots have 12 men
    on the field. Somehow later Eli threads the needle to Mario Manningham
    down the sideline in the fourth quarter from his 12, throwing one 50 yards in
    the air into double coverage and putting another one on the money as easily as
    dropping a coin into a parking meter.

    Nothing easy about any of this this, all the way until the end, Archie
    Manning already having forgotten that the first victory in the playoff run
    didn’t have much drama, it was 24-2 against the Falcons.

    “Maybe next
    year,” Eli’s dad said when it was over, “we can throw in a 28-7 once in a

    It would be nice. Just wouldn’t be Coughlin’s Giants, wouldn’t be
    Eli’s Giants. Not the way they roll, all the way into New York sports history.

    Drama kings. Kings of the



    "The Giants have the early lead to be crowned Team of the Century, but there
    are still 88 years to go, so anything can happen.

    Even though the Patriots have won three Super Bowls to the Giants’ two since
    we moved into the 2000s, the edge goes to Big Blue since it beat New England in
    Super Bowl XL
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2

    Thanks RF. Kings of the World!


    • #3

      [quote user="lttaylor56"]Thanks RF. Kings of the World![/quote]

      It's a great feeling, nice to see them already signing and negotiating with players.
      “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


      • #4

        Great job as always RF.


        • #5
          Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2012 - 12:23 P.M.

          [quote user="nygsb42champs"]Great job as always RF.[/quote]

          “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


          • #6
            Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2012 - 11:25 A.M.

            [quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="lttaylor56"]Thanks RF. Kings of the World![/quote]

            It's a great feeling, nice to see them already signing and negotiating with players.
            [/quote]Reese is never asleep at the wheel. They are pro-active, not re-active in their approach.


            • #7
              Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2012 - 11:25 A.M.

              [quote user="lttaylor56"][quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="lttaylor56"]Thanks RF. Kings of the World![/quote]

              It's a great feeling, nice to see them already signing and negotiating with players.
              [/quote]Reese is never asleep at the wheel. They are pro-active, not re-active in their approach.[/quote]

              This is so true