Giants Bring it all Home

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Defense wins championships, especially when Steve Spagnuolo is calling the shots. Big Blue's ferocious defense limited the mighty Patriots offense to a mere 14 points en route to capturing the organization's third Super Bowl championship.

MVP Eli Manning rallied his team for a late-game comeback win for the sixth time this season as New York knocked off the previously unbeaten Patriots, 17-14, at University of Phoenix Stadium.

"I told (the team) about my experience in 1990, when you realize you are the World Champion, other than your family and your children and those types of things professionally, there is no comparison to the feeling," a euphoric Tom Coughlin said. "You could walk around six feet high and it would be appropriate."

"We shocked the world, but not ourselves," defensive ringleader Antonio Pierce said. "We played at a different speed and a different level today. It was difficult, but we did it."

The Giants offense started and finished strong, with not a whole lot to show for itself in the middle. The defense? Well, considering they were going against the greatest-scoring offensive team in NFL history, they held up just fine.

"I'm mad at Plaxico for giving them 17," Pierce laughed in reference to Burress' pre-game 23-17 prediction.

"I knew for us to have a chance to win we'd have to be in the 20s," Spagnuolo said.

All game long, the Giants defense came fast and furious toward NFL MVP Tom Brady. There's no doubt that he hadn't been pressured and hit as hard and as often as he was at any other point this season. In all, Brady was dropped five times and hit on numerous other occasions.

Spagnuolo, who will interview with the Redskins Tuesday, estimated the Giants blitzed around 30-35 percent of the time ("not as much as you'd think") on defense, which is a great credit to New York's front four.

The stars and contributors were numerous. From future franchise cornerstone Justin Tuck and his two sacks and forced fumble, to Michael Strahan recapturing some of that old magic for a crucial late-game six-yard sack to rookie Jay Alford coming up with the play of his life, dropping Brady for a 10-yard loss on second down during New England's final chance.

"It just feels great," Tuck said. "It was a complete effort. Everybody was getting after it today. Even Jay Alford got in on it, so it was just a great collective win. We knew the focus for us to win was to get a lot of heat early and often. I feel we succeeded in that."

Kawika Mitchell was downright nasty, coming up the middle and blasting Brady in the end zone. Some thought Brady's errant toss as a result of Mitchell's pressure could have warranted a flag for intentional grounding, which would have given New York a safety. Mitchell finished with eight tackles and a sack.

"You could tell (Brady) hadn't been hit that many times," Mitchell said. "He was definitely frustrated. It feels great. New York City is a great city. It's nice to be able to bring a championship home."

"You've got to get to him," Pierce said. "Everybody said he couldn't get rattled. I don't know if he got rattled but he had grass stains. He was a little upset. He was yelling at the linemen and I think that worked into our favor."

For as well as the defense played, you knew the Pats weren't going to just go away. They appeared to take control of the game when they capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead with 2:42 to go. But, of course, Manning, David Tyree, Burress and the gang pulled it out.

"I do feel bad we allowed that touchdown," Spagnuolo said. "Thank God the offense came through."

Come through did they ever. Mr. Late-Game Hero Manning moved the troops 83 yards in 12 plays, sealing the deal with a perfect fade pass to a wide-open Burress with 35 seconds to play. His scramble and Tyree's catch to set up the winner will never be forgotten.

"I don't know where he got that mobility from," Pierce said. "Maybe from his dad, Archie."

Only one of New England's final four desperation plays elicited concern, but Corey Webster squelched that threat with a beautiful pass breakup on a deep ball to Moss.

That concluded New York's basically thorough domination of New England. Even those that thought the 12.5-point underdog Giants could pull off the unthinkable certainly didn't envision a 17-14 scenario.

"We felt we could do that," Strahan said. "We've done that all year. I guess everyone thought that we'd done it all year, we led the league in sacks, we do it in the playoffs and supposedly when we get against the Patriots we're supposed to not be able to pass rush. That's what we do. We stop the run as well. Our guys do what they always do. There was nothing special. We felt like we could do it from the beginning and did not listen to anyone who said we couldn't."

The much-maligned secondary played lights-out as well. Unheralded James Butler shook off an apparent wrist injury to tie for game-high honors with 10 tackles, Gibril Wilson also unloaded on Brady once, perhaps the hardest hit he endured all evening, and Corey Webster and Sam Madison played about as well as you could ask a secondary to play against Randy Moss and Co.

All in all, it was a total team effort.

"We made history," said Brandon Jacobs, who converted a huge, late-game fourth down to keep the game-winning drive alive. "There is nobody undefeated now except the '72 Dolphins. We knew what we could do. We know we have a lot of talent. We have a lot of guys on this team that can play great football."

Strahan said he never had a doubt.

"You know what? We could sit here and go ‘we told you so' but that's not this team," Strahan stated. "We didn't do this to say ‘I told you so' and prove you wrong. We did this to prove it to ourselves that we could do it. This was for us, man. This whole season was for us. This season was not for anybody else. This season was for the guys in that locker room, and for those coaches and for the Giants and the fans."


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