The Giants are one win away from another Super bowl appearance. Let’s let that statement sink in for a moment. The team that few if any gave a chance to in August, September, October, November & December….is again making noise in January, much like the 2007 Giants.
Or are they more like the 1990 Giants?
Today during the NFC Championship press conference, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin spoke of history. He was the wide receivers coach for the 1990 Giants that won Super Bowl 25: “A lot of our players are aware of history, but that was a long time ago”
It can be said that much like the 1990 & 2007 Giants teams, this year’s Giants are “hitting their stride” at the right time. Even with what seemed to be an “officiating bias” against them, they have persevered, thrived on the controversy of spotty play at times, and ill-timed injuries at others.
It seemed like the TV networks and the league wanted a Saints vs. Packers title game. That didn’t happen. Instead we have a rematch of the 1990 battle by the bay.
It was an interesting time to live in back then, much different then now. We were preparing for war against Iraq (Desert Storm), the Berlin wall was coming down. Socialism was in retreat. It was a brave new world. NY Giants fans had a lot to celebrate. Their 3rd post-season appearance in 5 years, a second Super Bowl berth, and a series of good draft classes, including 1986’s.
Back then I was one of 2 reporters who covered the team for an Upstate NY paper. It was my first season with a press credential to cover the team. I was a ripe and raw 30 year old part-time sportswriter and special educator and sports coach. I was also transitioning from a military career and life into a civilian one. I grew up with the NY Giants, and it seemed that the Giants had matured into a “legitimate contender” along with me.
But lets get back to the present day Giants, along with the present day me. I’ve now joined the legion of folks who observe the team from a distance, having just completed a move from Long Island to Northern Arizona for various reasons that include health restoration. The Giants seem to be regaining their health at the same time, judging by the performance of several key players the last two weeks.
While defensive end Justin Tuck is still playing well below his own personal standard because of his shoulder injury, Osi Umenyiora seems much closer to 100% then even 3 weeks ago. RB Ahmad Bradshaw also seems to be doing much better the past few weeks, and as goes the Giants' rushers, so goes the Giants' Offense.
One thing the 1986-90 Giants did not have that this current team does is three wide receivers with over one thousand yards each. Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and sophomore sensation Victor Cruz have etched their names into the record books for eternity. Coach Coughlin mentioned that in today’s presser as well saying: “we have an offense that can keep up with most teams in the NFL. The 49ers gave us one of our tougher games this season. It was a matter of running out of time.“
In my observation, the only way to slow down the Niners' offense is to play 5 and 6 defensive back packages on passing downs. The problem with that is almost every down is a passing down for coach Harbaugh. This can be an advantage for the Giants defense if they are able to generate enough pass pressure with just 4 players rushing. If not, expect a long day for the Giants' defense and coordinator Perry Fewell. The defense seems to look so much better the last month, but will it be enough? At least there is hope, and an offense led by Eli Manning.