Deja Vu: Giants rally around old man Coughlin

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Feb 06, 2012



By Tom Pollin
Cold, Hard Football Facts Man of the Match


The New York Giants spent most of their season beating the numbers, including those on the coaching calendar.

They had a 6-2 record at the halfway point of the season and were fresh off a 24-20 win over the New England Patriots when they fell into a four-game losing streak that evened up their record at 6-6. Three of those losses were against the 49ers, Saints and Packers but that didn’t stop the New York fans and media from relighting the bonfire under Tom Coughlin’s coaching seat again. A second loss to the lowly Redskins, and a 7-7 record, stuck the Giants at 7-7 with two games to play.

The team looked far from a champion. But for the second time in five seasons, the Giants rallied around their coach with a postseason run for the history books

Tom Coughlin became the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl at age 65, two years older than Dick Vermiel when he won as head coach of the St. Louis Rams. From his team’s performance in the Super Bowl he may get a chance to coach another couple of seasons before he has to go on Social Security.


Based on comments after the game, the Giants don’t plan on him going anywhere for a while.

Tom Coughlin became the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl at age 65, two years older than Dick Vermiel when he won as head coach of the St. Louis Rams. From his team’s performance in the Super Bowl he may get a chance to coach another couple of seasons before he has to go on Social Security.


Based on comments after the game, the Giants don’t plan on him going anywhere for a while

They turned down the flames under that seat with convincing wins in their final two games against their city rival New York Jets and Division rival Dallas Cowboys to give them the NFC East Division Championship but with only a 9-7 record. Only twice since the 16-game season went into effect has a team with a 9-7 record made it to the Super Bowl, and both lost. In 1979 the Los Angeles Rams did it but lost in Super Bowl XIV to the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 and in 2008 the Arizona Cardinals faced the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII, losing 27-23.

As the Giants prepared to play New England in Super Bowl XLVI most of the Cold, Hard Football Facts’ Quality Stat numbers lined up squarely in favor of the Patriots coming away with their fourth Super Bowl victory in the Belichick/Brady era. The Patriots were No. 4 in Scoreability, No. 2 in Bendability, No. 3 in Real Quarterback Rating, No. 4 in Passer Rating Differential and Brady was No. 4 in Passer Rating.

The Giants didn’t let that bother them much either. They were in the same position in all three of their Playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl when they took out the No. 5 seeded Falcons, No. 1 seeded Packers and No. 2 seeded 49ers to get to Indianapolis to face the No. 1 seed from the AFC. What it boiled down to is the Giants made plays on defense to shut Tom Brady down after the opening drive of the second half and Eli Manning’s pin-point accuracy in the passing game put them over the top.

The Giants were up 9-0 before Tom Brady had a chance to get his arm warmed up. After the Giants’ first series, punter Steve Weatherford pinned the Patriots down on their six yard line, the first of three that he would land inside the Patriots 10-yard line during the game.

On his first play from scrimmage Brady threw deep down the middle after being pressured by Justin Tuck and barely missed connecting with the back judge for the completion. Brady was called for intentional grounding and from being in the end zone; it became the Giants’ first score with a safety. To be fair to Brady though, he had two receivers running crossing routes and it looked like he expected one of them to be running a post.

The Giants followed the free kick with a 10 play, 78-yard drive that Manning finished with his only touchdown pass of the game, a two-yard completion to Victor Cruz. The Giants caught another break on that drive when Cruz had the ball ripped out of his arms by Sterling Moore after a four-yard completion to the Patriots’ 12. The Patriots recovered and it appeared they had stopped the drive but were penalized for having 12 men on the field and the Giants maintained possession.

For his two drives in the first quarter Manning was perfect in nine attempts for 77 yards. He didn’t throw an incompletion until the second quarter after the Patriots were able to put themselves back in the game with a 29-yard Steven Gostkowski field goal.

After penalties helped stall the Giants’ next two drives, an illegal substitution penalty on Hakeem Nicks one one and a holding penalty  the other, the Patriots took possession on their own four with just under four minutes left in the half. The Patriots offensive line began to slow the Giants’ defensive front and give Brady time to find and connect with his receivers. The Patriots drove 96-yards in 14 plays with Brady 10 for 10 on pass attempts to take the halftime lead 10-9.

The Giants dominated the game for most of the half, holding the ball for 19:41 and had outgained the Patriots by 15-yards but the Patriots advantage in Bendability kept them in the game and allowed them to take the lead going into halftime. The Giants gained 182-yards in the first half but only scored nine points for an average of 20.2-yards per point scored.


















Since they deferred after winning the coin flip, the Patriots took the second half kickoff and drove 79-yards in eight plays for their second touchdown in two possessions and a 17-9 lead. Brady finished that drive with his Super Bowl record 14th consecutive pass completion, a 12-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez.

At that point, the Giants’ defense stiffened up again and began to chip away at the Patriots’ lead with 38 and 33-yard field goals on their next two possessions to tighten the game up 17-15 going into the fourth quarter. On the second of those possessions the Giants came close to coughing up the ball when Hakeem Nicks lost another fumble as he was being brought down but was saved when fullback Henry Hynoski fell on the ball.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, Tom Brady made his first mistake when, on first and ten from the New England 43, he avoided a sack and launched a pass deep down the middle that underthrew Rob Gronkowski and allowed Linebacker Chase Blackburn to catch up to the play, step in front of Gronkowski and steal the ball away for an interception.

With just over four minutes left and the ball on the Giants’ 44-yard line the second mistake, whether on Brady or Wes Welker, took place when Brady threw a ball slightly high and behind Wes Welker that Welker got his hands on but dropped at the 25 that would have been a first down and kept the clock running. Instead, it stopped the clock and New England had to punt after another incomplete pass.

With 3:46 left, the Giants took over on their 12-yard line and Eli Manning trotted onto the field while Al Michaels read through Manning’s resume of comebacks while Giants’ quarterback and NBC executives began feeling their ratings rise by the second. On the first play Manning dropped a perfect pass into Mario Manningham’s hands between two defenders for a first down at the 50. As good as the throw was, Manningham gave a clinic on dragging the feet while making a sideline catch and keeping control of the ball.

The Giants drove down to the Patriots’ six-yard line with 1:04 left in the game when New England took a timeout to stop the clock. On the next play Ahmad Bradshaw took the handoff and started up the middle while the Patriots gave a “Pro Bowl” caliber effort while getting pushed out of the way. Bradshaw tried to stop and give himself up on the play but his momentum carried him backwards into the end zone for the touchdown. Even if he had been successful in stopping himself three Patriots were converging to tackle him over the goal line.

After the missed two-point conversion and kickoff, the Patriots took over at their 20-yard line and 57-seconds on the clock. Two dropped passes and a sack later, Brady threw a dart to Deion Branch for a first down at the 33 on fourth and 16.
 
At this point another question arises. After another completion and spike by Brady, did the Giants have that twelfth man on the field on purpose? They had an extra person in coverage and the play ran eight seconds off the clock. The Giants were penalized the five yards but that time wasn’t given back. One more incompletion and a close call on the hail Mary pass and the Giants had their fourth Super Bowl Championship in franchise history.

Eli Manning was voted the Super Bowl MVP for the second time in his career, both times against the Patriots, giving the Manning family three Super Bowl Championships and three Super Bowl MVP Corvettes in four attempts. Eli Manning finished the game with a 111.5 Passer Rating, completing passes to eight different receivers for 296-yards and a touchdown.

Tom Coughlin became the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl at age 65, two years older than Dick Vermiel when he won as head coach of the St. Louis Rams. From his team’s performance in the Super Bowl he may get a chance to coach another couple of seasons before he has to go on Social Security. Based on comments after the game, the Giants don’t plan on him going anywhere for a while.

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