Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
In addition to MMQB this morning, this was Ernie's full Eli scouting report from the 2003 college football season:
"WEARS LEFT KNEE BRACE... DURING PREGAME WARMUP, DIDN'T LOOK LIKE HE HAD A ROCKET ARM... AS GAME PROGRESSED, I SAW EXCELLENT ARM STRENGTH UNDER PRESSURE AND THE ABILITY TO GET VELOCITY ON THE BALL ON MOST THROWS. GOOD DEEP BALL RANGE. GOOD TOUCH. GOOD VISION AND POISE. SEES THE FIELD... IN A SHOTGUN ON MOST PLAYS AND HIS ONLY RUNNING OPTION IS A DRAW... HIS OFFENSIVE LINE IS POOR. RED-SHIRT FRESHMAN LEFT TACKLE. ELI DOESN'T TRUST HIS PROTECTION. CAN'T.
NO WAY CAN HE TAKE ANY FORM OF DEEP DROP AND LOOK DOWNFIELD. WITH NO RUNNING GAME (10 YARDS RUSHING THE FIRST HALF0 AND NO REAL TOP RECEIVERS, HE'S STUCK WITH THREE-STEP DROPS AND WAITING TIL THE LAST SECOND TO SEE IF A RECEIVER CAN GET FREE. NO TIGHT END EITHER. NO FLAIRING BACK. SO HE'S TAKING SOME BIG HITS. TAKING THEM WELL. CARRIED AN OVERMATCHED TEAM ENTIRELY ON HIS SHOULDERS. I IMAGINE, EXCEPT FOR VANDERBILT, HIS TEAM IS OVERMATCHED IN EVERY SEC [SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE] GAME... HE'S BIG, NEVER GETS RATTLED. RALLIED HIS TEAM FROM A 14-3 HALF-TIME DEFICIT BASICALLY ALL BY HIMSELF. LED THEM ON TWO SUCCESSIVE THIRD QUARTER DRIVES TO GO AHEAD, 17-16. THE FIRST TOUCHDOWN, ON A 40-YARD STREAK DOWN THE LEFT SIDELINE, HE DROPPED THE BALL OVER THE RECEIVER'S RIGHT SHOULDER. CALLED THE NEXT TOUCHDOWN PASS HIMSELF, CHECKING OFF TO A 12-YARD SLANT... MAKES A LOT OF DECISIONS ON PLAY CALLS AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, BUT THEY ASK TOO MUCH OF HIM. THEY DON'T LET HIM JUST PLAY. THIS IS A GUY YOU SHOULD JUST LET PLAY... WHEN HE'S INACCURATE, HE'S USUALLY HIGH, BUT RARELY OFF TARGET TO EITHER SIDE... PLAYS SMART AND WITH COMPLETE CONFIDENCE. DOESN'T SCOLD HIS TEAMMATES, BUT LETS THEM KNOW WHEN THEY LINE UP WRONG OR RUN THE WRONG PATTERN... THREW THREE INTERCEPTIONS. TWO WERE HIS FAULT. TRYING TO FORCE SOMETHING BOTH TIMES. HE COULD HAVE RUN ON ONE OF THEM, A FOURTH DOWN PLAY. HE HAS A LOT TO LEARN.
SUMMARY: I THINK HE'S THE COMPLETE PACKAGE. HE'S NOT GOING TO BE A FAST RUNNER, BUT A LITTLE LIKE JOE MONTANA, HE HAS ENOUGH ATHLETIC ABILITY TO GET OUT OF TROUBLE. REMEMBER HOW ARCHIE RAN? IN THAT DEPARTMENT, ELI DOESN'T HAVE THE BEST GENES, ALTHOUGH I NEVER TIMED MOM OLIVIA IN THE 40. BUT HE HAS A FEEL FOR THE POCKET. FEELS THE RUSH THROWS THE BALL, TAKES THE HIT, GETS RIGHT BACK UP... HAS COURAGE AND POISE. IN MY OPINION, MOST OF ALL, HE HAS THAT QUALITY THAT YOU CAN'T DEFINE. CALL IT MAGIC. AS [FORMER BALTIMORE COLTS DEFENSIVE BACK] BOBBY BOYD TOLD ME ONCE ABOUT UNITAS, "TWO THINGS SET HIM APART: HIS LEFT TESTICLE AND HIS RIGHT TESTICLE"... PEYTON HAD MUCH BETTER TALENT AROUND HIM AT TENNESSEE. BUT I HONESTLY GIVE THIS GUY A CHANCE TO BE BETTER THAN HIS BROTHER. ELI DOESNT GET MUCH HELP FROM THE COACHING STAFF. IF HE COMES OUT EARLY, WE SHOULD MOVE UP TO TAKE HIM. THESE GUYS ARE RARE, YOU KNOW."
Eli Manning... New York Legend.
Some more Manning and post-Super Bowl thoughts:
Eli Manning needed to sleep. After three days of revelry, parades, ring-sizing and backslapping, he'd had enough. "We've got to get out of here,'' he told his wife, Abby, and so they left their Hoboken, N.J., nest Thursday and went somewhere. Where, I don't know. But he was good enough to call me Friday and explain two things: how he survived 2004, and how he won the fourth quarter in last week's Super Bowl.
Remember what happened in 2004. The Giants could have stayed where they were on draft day, at number four in the first round, and taken Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger. But Accorsi traded a bushel full of picks to San Diego to get Manning.
In training camp, Kurt Warner won the starting job. He got off to a 5-2 start, but then lost to Chicago and Arizona, and rookie coach Tom Coughlin went to Accorsi and said he wanted to make a change at quarterback. He wanted Manning to play. He knew Manning was the future, and even though Warner likely would have given them a better chance to beat the defensively strong upcoming foes, Coughlin thought he was going to Manning at some point, and he knew the kid's confidence wouldn't get strafed if he played. That's what Coughlin thought, anyway. "I do recall how desperately Eli wanted to be in there,'' Gilbride said last week. "He was dying to play.''
"I redshirted my freshman year at Ole Miss,'' Manning told me, "and when I was put in there, I was ready to play. My rookie year here, at first, it was an opportunity to watch an MVP play. Kurt was great to me. I would ask him tips about picking up the blitz. And when coach Coughlin went to me, I knew it hurt Kurt. I felt for him. But he was still a professional, helping me. He could have been a lot of things, but I can tell you he was a help to me.''
Warner likes Manning, and vice versa. This was a tough situation, because Warner thought the Giants were throwing away the season -- maybe to justify the trade and the selection of Manning. And Warner looked right for the first month. Manning put up only 23 points in losses to Arizona, Philly and Washington, and then there was the 37-14 debacle at Baltimore, the day Warner had to come in to rescue Manning in relief. "He was overwhelmed by the situation,'' Warner told me on my podcast last week. "It was some of the worst quarterbacking I'd seen at the NFL level.''
The Ravens, Gilbride said, "did everything they could to humiliate Eli.''
Manning didn't fold. He had a huge week coming up, and a short week. The Giants took the train back to New Jersey after the Sunday game in Baltimore. Coming the following Saturday: a nationally televised game against Pittsburgh, at home, with Roethlisberger, who looked like a big star in the making for the Steelers, coming to the Meadowlands to show everyone in football that Accorsi and the Giants made a big mistake in picking Manning and not him.
On the two-hour ride to Newark, Manning spoke with Gilbride and then-offensive coordinator John Hufnagel. Rather than sulk about the disastrous game he'd played, he told them his eight favorite plays. He told them, "If you could put these in the game plan next week, it'd give me eight plays I'd be comfortable with -- rhythm plays, plays I know I'd have an open receiver even if it was just a short gain.''
Notable that Manning could think about the next game 90 minutes after the most embarrassing game of his life. "I was down, really down,'' he said. "But I knew if we could put some plays in the plan for the next week that I liked, I'd feel better about it -- and the offense would see in practice we'd be able to move the ball.''
That week, he met with Coughlin. "I'm better than this coach,'' Manning told him. And Coughlin said he knew that, and don't look over your shoulder; just play. But around the team, this was a big week, and a tense week. Roethlisberger and the Steelers were 11-0. In the New York Daily News, Gary Myers wrote, "So far, it's shocking how inept Manning has looked. The field looks 200 yards long.'' Accorsi told Myers that week: "I don't want to talk about Roethlisberger. This thing will be written over a long time, not, in Eli's case, four weeks."
Now, Manning says: "I didn't read the paper in high school, and I never got the paper in college. I could kind of tell what was being said about me by the questions the reporters would ask. So I didn't read about me. Same thing when I got to the Giants. But I could tell that week was a big week. The media was like a bunch of hungry dogs. They were coming for me. And I hadn't played well, so that's the way it goes.''
Strange game. Willie Ponder of the Giants returned the opening kick 91 yards for a touchdown. Roethlisberger threw a pick on his first drive. The Steelers scored on an Antwaan Randle El shovel pass. Manning followed with a 55-yard touchdown drive ending in a two-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey. The crowd was getting into it.
Back and forth they went, the Giants taking a 24-23 lead at the end of the third quarter on Manning's second touchdown pass of the day, the Steelers coming back to take the lead on a Jeff Reed field goal, Manning driving the Giants 52 yards for another TD (a Tiki Barber TD run) to put the Giants up 30-26 midway through the fourth quarter, and Jerome Bettis burrowing behind right tackle with five minutes left to make it 33-30, Steelers.
Driving to tie or win it, Manning threw a pick at the Steelers 18 with three minutes to play. Ballgame. "You don't like to say losing a game was a big mental boost for us,'' Manning said, "but it was. That was the day I thought I showed our team I could play at a high level.''
Manning that day: 16-of-23 (.696), 182 yards, two TDs, one interception, 103.9 rating.
Roethlisberger: 18-of-28 (.643), 316, one TD, two interceptions, 84.8 rating.
That's the day Manning took the heat off himself. He's never really felt it since.------------------
A bit more on "The throw":
Now to the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl last week. Much has been said and written about the fateful final drive, and the throw to Manningham in particular, when Nicks and Victor Cruz were lined up to the right and Manningham to the left.
The Giants took over at their 12 with 3:46 to go. Gilbride wanted to take a shot on first down.
"I thought 'Rio' [Mario Manningham] could run by the one corner on the left,'' Gilbride said. "I didn't know if Eli would choose that side, but I thought the play might be there. The thing is, I knew Eli wouldn't make a bad decision there. He's rooted solidly in this offense, and he has a strong belief what's there and what isn't there.''
In a story about this play for Sports Illustrated this week, I wrote that Manningham had gone to Gilbride on Thursday and was blunt about the Giants' playcaller not forgetting him -- or the receivers as a group -- in the game against the Patriots. "We feel we can win this game,'' Manningham said. "You have to understand --we're not nervous. We're excited. The stage is definitely not too big for us.''
On Friday, Manning told me Manningham came to him, too. There wasn't much three-wide stuff in the game plan, Manningham said, so when he's in there, he was going to get open and take advantage of his opportunities. The strong inference: Don't forget me. I'm going to help us win.
During the week, Manning had written notes in his game plan about this play. He wrote about how the New England safeties don't get very wide when they're taking a half of the field apiece. Manning thought, watching tape of the Patriots, "There'll be opportunities to make plays downfield on them.'' But still he didn't think this play was a lock to go right, as he had --according to backup quarterback David Carr -- every time he'd ever seen this play run in practice or a game.
When the ball was snapped, Manning was still thinking Cruz or Nicks first, and that made Chung, the safety who would have responsibility over the top on Manningham, creep over to his left, to provide help if Manning went to that side. "I wasn't looking [Chung] off,'' Manning told me. "I was truly throwing to the right. But the cornerback looked like he was in good position on Victor. I thought the nickel was too close to Hakeem. I didn't like what I saw.''
In his split-second look to the left, Manning saw Manningham with a step or step-and-a-half on corner Sterling Moore, with Chung, hips open to the left and inside the numbers, with very far to turn and run to break up the play if Manning threw left to Manningham.
"It's one of those plays,' Manning said, "where I can't throw it inside, toward the field, or the safety could knock it away. And I can't underthrow it. Those are the two no-nos. If I throw it too far, nothing's lost. It's second down, and we'll be OK.''
The throw traveled 42 yards in the air. As it dropped into Manningham's hands at the Giant 47, Moore's right forearm clubbed Manningham's right shoulder, trying to dislodge the ball; Chung arrived a split-second later and mugged Manningham over the boundary into the Patriots' bench area. Every Patriot but Bill Belichick signaled the play was no good because Manningham surely was out of bounds. But he wasn't. Manningham got both feet in the field of play before the mugging.
Later, Gilbride asked Manning why he'd made that decision. "The other guys got jammed,'' Manning told him. "And I threw it where no one else could get it.''
Eli Manning might play 10 more years and never make a throw better than that one. Sheer perfection ... and thrown to a receiver determined to make a big play in the biggest game of his life.
The audible to the slant to Nicks "was easy,'' Manning said. "I could see the two safeties crowding the line, so it was the only call to make.''
After the completion to Nicks gave the Giants first-and-10 at the two-minute warning at the Patriot 18, Manning looked across the line. "We hit 'em in the mouth,'' he said. "I think they were getting worried then.''
Funny thing about the touchdown, the six-yard score by Ahmad Bradshaw three plays later. Manning thought to tell Bradshaw not to score when he got to the line. However, Gilbride and Coughlin never thought to tell the Giants to beware of the Patriots handing them the touchdown.
Manning saw the Pats being a little lax when he got to the line, and when the snap came, he saw a defensive lineman stand up -- as though he wasn't going to try to make a tackle or rush the passer. So when Manning handed the ball to Bradshaw, he said, "Don't score!'' But Bradshaw couldn't process it in time, and by the time he got to the two-yard line and tried to stop, his momentum carried him into the end zone.
Two takeaways: The fact that Gilbride and Manning have been together for eight years is a huge factor in Gilbride knowing what Manning will execute well in a certain situation. "He completes my sentences,'' Gilbride said. And Manning told me this about Gilbride: "He is what I know about NFL offenses. I can't tell you how huge an advantage it is to be with the same coordinator for so long.''
And Manning's approach to football is a factor in him being so good, late, in such big games. He's been down to the Patriots in the final two minutes the last three times he's played them. And he's driven the Giants 83, 80 and 88 yards in those three games, scoring each time in the final minute to win. How does a person not allow the moment to overwhelm him? Or at least to affect his play? Manning looks like he'd rather play in the fourth quarter, with 116 million people watching.
"I think it comes from the fact I can only do so much,'' Manning said. "And I want to give our team every chance to win, and I want to give myself every chance to compete and to win. I control half the game, and even then I can't control one of our guys fumbling. So I have always had the attitude that if I do everything in my power to prepare, and then I have confidence that we've got a good plan and I know it's good enough to win, then I just go play and whatever happens happens.
"If we lose, will I be mad or upset? Yes. For a few days. But I think after some time, a few days, I'm not going to let it ruin my life for the next two months. I've got a wife and a daughter, and it's not fair to them to ruin the offseason because we lost a football game. I need to be there for them.''
One last thing from that Accorsi scouting report. Something about guts. Manning may not look the part, but someone who plays the way he does late in games has something that Accorsi saw that day in Mississippi, something he'd also seen in his Colts days with Johnny Unitas, something Colts teammate Bobby Boyd saw too. Wrote Accorsi: "BOYD TOLD ME ONCE ABOUT UNITAS, 'TWO THINGS SET HIM APART: HIS LEFT TESTICLE AND HIS RIGHT TESTICLE.' ''
Lots of lessons here. A good organization, with a strong GM, should be trusted above all. Young, Accorsi and Reese have served the Giants extraordinarily well in the last 33 years. Good coaching, with a staff that mostly stays in place, is most often the hallmark of a winning organization. And a good quarterback, with guts, well, that doesn't hurt either.----------------------
The story of Ernie Accorsi, Eli Manning, the draft, the trade and the New York Giants has been well documented already, but there's some great stuff from Peter King in his latest MMQB column on where it all began.
From Peter King:
Scene 1: Nov. 2, 2002, Oxford, Miss. The general manager of the New York Giants, Ernie Accorsi, is sitting outside, in the row of seats in front of the Mississippi press box, scouting the quarterback of Ole Miss, Eli Manning, against heavily favored Auburn. It's bitterly cold. Taking notes that afternoon for his scouting report (which six years later would be an important element of Tom Callahan's insightful book, The GM, on Accorsi's last year with the Giants), Accorsi is watching two future first-round picks at quarterback -- Manning and Auburn's Jason Campbell -- and seems riveted by Manning.
A couple of days later, Accorsi types his report in all capital letters to be submitted as part of the team's scouting report on Manning. In a section of the report covering the second half, he writes: "NEVER GETS RATTLED. RALLIED HIS TEAM FROM A 14-3 HALFTIME DEFICIT BASICALLY ALL BY HIMSELF. LED THEM ON TWO SUCCESSIVE THIRD QUARTER DRIVES TO GO AHEAD, 17-16. THE FIRST TOUCHDOWN, ON A 40-YARD STREAK DOWN THE LEFT SIDELINE, HE DROPPED THE BALL OVER THE RECEIVER'S RIGHT SHOULDER. CALLED THE NEXT TOUCHDOWN PASS HIMSELF, CHECKING OFF TO A 12-YARD SLANT. MAKES A LOT OF DECISIONS ON PLAY CALLS AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE.''
Scene 2: Dec. 12, 2004, Baltimore. The one thing Eli Manning always has had is poise. That's what makes this horror show at the Ravens so weird, and so troubling.
When quarterbacks go to the line of scrimmage, they most often point to the foe they're using as the middle linebacker, in order for the offensive line to know which man they're going to block. The first man to the right of the "mike'' linebacker, for instance, will be blocked by the right guard, etc. And so when Manning would see Ray Lewis, number 52 on the Ravens, across the line and bark out, "52's the mike,'' Lewis would scurry to the outside of the formation and yell, "I'm the mike!'' And Ed Reed or another defender would slip into Lewis' spot and yell, "I'm the mike!'' They were taunting Manning, and it shook him up.
Says Manning now: "A nightmare. A disaster. They saw me sweating it, and they took advantage of me, to say the least.''
In the fourth start of his Giants' career, Manning was the definition of pathetic, four of 18 for 27 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions ... for a 0.0 passer rating. In the press box, one veteran Giants scribe took to calling Eli "Billy Ripken'' over and over again. As in, "The brother of a great player who'll just never make it.''
Scene 3: Feb. 5, 2012, Indianapolis. Manning was down by 11 that cold day in Oxford. He was down eight here in Super Bowl XLVI. But he led the Giants to two field goals in the third quarter, and when he took over at the New York 12 with 3:46 to go, the Accorsi scouting report comes to life. On the first snap (ON A 40-YARD STREAK DOWN THE LEFT SIDELINE, HE DROPPED THE BALL OVER THE RECEIVER'S RIGHT SHOULDER), Manning, on a 38-yard streak by Mario Manningham down the left sideline, dropped the ball over the receiver's right shoulder, and Manningham made a perfect catch and got both feet down and the Giants were in business at midfield. The Patriots were stunned.
Four plays later, on second-and-eight from the Patriots' 32, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride thinks the Pats may blitz. He gives Manning a running play to use if they don't, and tells him to check to a quick slant if they do blitz. "Alert, alert!'' Manning says, walking up and down the line when he sees safety Patrick Chung and linebacker Brandon Spikes getting ready to blitz. The run is off. The pass is on. (Remember Auburn-Ole Miss, and Accorsi. CHECKING OFF TO A 12-YARD SLANT.)
Manning takes the shotgun snap. Three Patriot blitzers are erased by Kareem McKenzie, Ahmad Bradshaw and Kevin Boothe. Textbook blitz pickup orchestrated by veteran line coach Pat Flaherty and running backs coach Jerald Ingram; both men came to the Giants with Coughlin in 2004. Hakeem Nicks runs a quick slant inside cornerback Antwaan Molden, and Manning throws a strike. Gain of 14.
The other day I asked Gilbride to pick the plays on that drive he thought were the crucial ones. He picked two. "The one to Manningham, of course,'' he said, "and a quick slant to Nicks. We were not settling for the field goal. No way. Not unless we had to. We were attacking.''
Two vital passes against Auburn, a streak down the left side and, on a Manning audible, a quick slant: Gain of 52.
Two vital passes against the Patriots, a streak down the left side and, on a Manning audible, a quick slant: Gain of 52.
Accorsi, who lives in Manhattan, watched the game in the solitude of his home in his hometown of Hershey, Pa. "On that last drive,'' Accorsi said, "I said, 'He's gonna do it.' I've seen it before.''----------------------
G-MEN baby. Eli.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Says it all right there.
Super Bowl champ.
Super Bowl MVP.
SI cover boy.
New York legend.
One name status.
NFL Films is the best at what they do and this time around is no different. Some sound bytes from the game and some stuff from the NY Times on the footage. Giants fans will relish in this for years to come:
-Belichick on the receivers and the last drive:
"Crouched on the sideline in front of the players, Belichick emphasized that they had to focus on Giants receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.
“This is still a Cruz and Nicks game,” he said. “I mean I know we’re right on them, it’s tight. But those are still the guys. Make them go to Manningham, make them go to Pascoe, all right. But let’s make sure we get Cruz and Nicks.”
"When Patriots receiver Wes Welker failed to hang on to a pass from Brady on second-and-11 from the Giants’ 44 with about four minutes remaining, at least one of the game officials appreciated the significance. The ball fell from Welker’s hands at the Giants’ 20, with the Patriots leading, 17-15. After the drop, the referee John Parry turned to a fellow official and said, “Whoa, that was the game.”
There are great links to video and sound from the game in the article as well.
Monday, February 6, 2012
GIANTS WIN THE SUPER BOWL!
-From friend of the Breeze and game attendee Gary Hartman:
"I honestly don't know where to begin. I guess with the one word that continued to define this team. Resiliency. It is truly astounding. Always overcoming. We were 7-7 before that Jets game. 7-7! What an unbelievable, amazing run. Jets or go home. Cowboys or go home for the division. Shutout Atlanta. Knock off the PREVIOUS Super Bowl Champions in Lambeau. Go face the possibly best defense in the league on the road for a chance to play today and take care of business. Then de ja blue. Wa La. SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS. SUPERBOWL 46 CHAMPIONS. ONE MORE TIME. SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS. I am so thrilled. Actually the best night of my life. Never have experienced anything like this before. I wasn't joking before when I said I can now die happy. In person, I saw my New York Football Giants win the Superbowl. Obviously no questions about Eli anymore. Hall of Famer. Same goes for Coach. Tom Coughlin is a god as far as I'm concerned. Pass Rush was shit for 3 quarters, but defense came up big when it needed to in the 3rd quarter. Manningham- amazing. Nicks-amazing. Bradshaw coming up big when need be and this whole team was, well, resilient. I'm sitting in my hotel room in Indianpolis with a huge smile on my face. Beyond happy. This is so surreal. We are Super Bowl Champions. Can't say it enough. Now need to get back to College Park tomorrow night, get my car and off to The canyon of Heroes for Tuesday. Can't Wait. WE DID IT. WE WANTED IT MORE. WE OVERCAME EVERYTHING AND ARE NOW WORLD CHAMPIONS. NYG FOOTBALL."
-On Manningham's catch from the NY Times:
"Quarterback Eli Manning took the snap on first down from the shotgun. Manningham was not the first option on the play, but Manning seemed to know where he planned to throw the ball the entire time. Manningham said the Patriot who defended him gave him a cushion of 5 or 6 yards, that he started inside and worked outside, streaking up the left sideline.
The ball arched high, went long and arrived over Manningham’s shoulder, in the only place Manning could have thrown it with success. Manningham told himself to “freeze your feet,” and he stomped them at the turf, conscious of the out-of-bounds line and his position relative to it. “That was clutch,” Nicks said. “We had to get the ball downfield. Someone had to make a play.”
"I thought I heard Eli yelling at me to fall down ... I tried," Bradshaw would say, but not unhappily. People can argue about the right and wrong thing to do there. If he had stopped and not scored the touchdown, and the field goal was somehow missed, that would be the worst decision in the history of the NFL. Of course, if he had scored and Tom Brady then drove the Patriots for the win, people would second-guess that too."
From Don Banks on SI.com:
"It's a pretty select club Eli Manning joined here Sunday night. You could almost call it an "elite'' membership to belong to.
Quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl wins have a cache all their own in NFL history, and we had best start wrapping our minds around the reality that Peyton Manning's little brother is in the fraternity, and the Colts' long-time great isn't. That last shall be first stuff really does come to pass sometimes."
-From Peter King's MMQB on SI.com:
"I've noticed this about the guy. Football's his job, and he likes it a lot. But let's say God tapped him on the shoulder tomorrow and said, "I've got different plans for you. You're going to be an architect.'' Manning would handle that pretty well. He is a sick competitor, but he'd figure a way to satisfy that part of his life. Golf with the other architects, Friday night poker, trying to be a better architect than anyone else out there.
"He just doesn't care,'' Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck said by his locker 90 minutes after the Super Bowl. "He doesn't. If we lose the game today, life goes on. He's fine. He'll just start getting ready for next year. That's who he is.''
It's a wrap. 1. New York Giants (13-7).
The other day, Tom Coughlin said to me, "Don Shula's amazing. Amazing! Look at how many games he's won!'' Shula's won 347. Coughlin won his 154th last night and would be lucky, obviously, to get to 200 one day. But I do think Coughlin's amazing himself, to have withstood the stress of this job with an expansion team for half his career and one of the modern powerhouses for the other half ... and to have won an average of 9.6 games a year."
The Award Section
Offensive Player of the Week
Giants QB Eli Manning. I've come to the conclusion that his laissez-faire attitude is one of the things that makes him a great player. He doesn't sweat the small stuff. How else do you explain the great play late in so many big games? In his two Super Bowl victories, Manning is a 66 percent passer with 551 passing yards and one turnover. And his throw to Manningham with the season on the line ... priceless.
Defensive Player of the Week
Giants DL Justin Tuck. Give credit to the Patriots for sealing off the holes they couldn't seal four years ago. The Giants weren't as successful rushing the passer as they were in the previous Super Bowl against New England, but Tuck did get two sacks, the second of which left Brady with a left shoulder injury that will be painful this morning. While the Patriots shut down the rush of Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul with strong play on the left side of their line, Tuck got the best penetration of the night.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Giants P Steve Weatherford. Other than one sloppy touchback, his day was stellar. His four punts left the Patriots to start from their 6-, 20-, 4- and 8-yard lines.
Coach of the Week
Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. Sometimes you have to take what the defense gives you. Sometimes you have to attack the defense when it's not giving you much, in hopes that your key guys can make a play or two that logic says isn't coming. I thought Gilbride had a great feel for this game. It's not always total rushing yards; number of rushes is just as important when you want to keep the ball away from the other quarterback. The Giants' 28 rushes (4.1 per rush) helped them to 37 minutes of possession time. Gilbride had to figure out what the Patriots were doing on defense, which took a while (like, about 55 minutes). "It was a tough game to call,'' Gilbride said, "because they're a tough team to go against. They don't let you figure out what they're doing very easily.''
Giants all the way baby. From 7-7 to World Champs. LOVE IT.