Jacobs and Bradshaw could be key in SF

Jerry Rice called Brandon Jacobs "soft" this week. But if the rains turn Candlestick Park into a quagmire Sunday, the "hard" Jacobs may have to emerge.

Brandon Jacobs said he still loved Jerry Rice after Joe Montana's favorite receiver called him "soft" this week.

But that didn't mean Jacobs wasn't going to be a little angry come Sunday's NFC Championship game in San Francisco. The Giants might need both him and Ahmad Bradshaw to be at an emotional fever pitch if the steady rains turn Candlestick Park, the NFL's worst field in wet weather, into a receiver's nightmare.

The running game might be exactly what bails out the Giants. And for that, Jacobs is going to have to run harder and angrier than he has this season.

"We knew at this time of the year people are throwing their best at you," Jacobs said. "You just have to be patient and stay with it. (Offensive coordinator Kevin) Gilbride has been staying with it and keeps calling the runs.

"We're not just going to come out here and run for 200 yards at this time of year on teams. It's not going to happen. So you've got to stay with it. You've got to stay with it. You've got to stay and be faithful, be patient, and sooner or later something will pop for you."

Jacobs, whose playoff per carry average has gone to 5.0 after a paltry regular season average of 3.8, has suffered equally from a lack of blocking up front and the tendancy for defenses to put the 255-pound running back down by going low on him. After seeing the Saints' Pierre Thomas get knocked out of the game on a legal helmet-to-helmet hit, Jacobs said he'd welcome an attempted head shot like that, if only for the tactical advantage it would present him.

"I want one of those," Jacobs said. "That means they're staying high, they're not digging in the ground trying to make tackles at the shoestring."

Be that as it may, the Giants might still try to put the ball in the air. They are, after all, a pass-first team now. And Eli Manning, now recovered fully from the stomach bug that forced him out of practice Wednesday, indicated that a wet ball wouldn't dissuade him from slinging it.

"I think I'm fine throwing it in the rain," Manning said after taking every snap in practice. "It's not something I worry about. I've had success throwing it in rain games.

"If it comes to it and it's going to be a wet game, I always felt the offense has an advantage throwing the ball, especially. The receivers have an advantage when the ground is wet because they know where they're going and what they're doing. They should be able to come out of their breaks a little bit better. We shouldn't be the ones slipping, it's usually the defensive side that slips."

But if everybody slip-slides around The Stick, it may well come down to the ground game. And that's where Jacobs and Bradshaw have a chance to shine against the top run defense in the league.

"I think the key is staying with it," Jacobs said. "I know we haven't been running the ball as great as we have in the past but I think the best thing we're doing is staying with it. Keeping guys honest and they can't switch up things on us and realize we're not running the ball as well.

"They still come out pressuring the same way, which helps the wide receivers get off. Lately we have been moving the ball pretty well on the ground and we expect to keep doing that."

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