The Empire State Strikes Back
NFL 2012 Football
Super Bowl XLVI Champions: New York Giants
It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood film: a 9-7 team clinches a playoff berth on the last day of the regular season and then rallies to win four playoff games to capture a Super Bowl championship.
The best part? It's fact, not fiction.
With a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, the NEW YORK GIANTS won their eighth NFL championship, the third-most in league history (Green Bay 13, Chicago 9).
New York also became the fifth team in the past seven years to play in the Wild Card round and win the Super Bowl. The 2007 Giants also accomplished the feat when they won Super Bowl XLII.
The Giants, who ended the Patriots' bid for an undefeated season with a 17-14 victory over New England in Super Bowl XLII, have now won four of their five Super Bowl appearances.
The parallels between the 2007 and 2011 seasons are not to be overlooked.
"Like the 2007 season, we started off fast, then we hit a rocky road where we weren't playing our best football," says Giants quarterback ELI MANNING, who was named the MVP of Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. "But, when we needed a win, when we needed to start playing better, we came together as a team."
Following a 28-14 loss to Washington on Kickoff Weekend, the Giants went on a three-game winning streak against St. Louis, Philadelphia and Arizona.
A key contributor during that early winning streak and throughout the season was wide receiver VICTOR CRUZ, who set a singleseason club record with 1,536 receiving yards.
After beginning the season at No. 4 on the depth chart, Cruz made a splash against Philadelphia in Week 4, posting three catches for 110 yards and his first two career touchdowns. His standout regular season also included a 99-yard touchdown against the Jets, the longest pass play in team history and the 13th 99-yard TD in NFL annals.
"To have this type of success is mind blowing," says Cruz, who signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts in 2010. "I am just grateful for every opportunity I have been given here with the Giants."
After a 3-1 start to the season, New York lost a 36-25 decision to Seattle at home, but followed with another three-game winning streak that was punctuated by a 24-20 victory at New England in Week 9. With a 6-2 record at the season's halfway point, the first-place Giants held a two-game lead in the NFC East.
But a difficult schedule in November and early December brought with it a four-game losing streak for the Giants, including close losses to San Francisco, Philadelphia and Green Bay.
The Giants rebounded by outlasting Dallas, 37-34, in Week 14, but lost to Washington the following week. Sitting at 7-7 behind the first-place Cowboys, the Giants stepped up to beat their hometown rival Jets in Week 16 and Dallas in Week 17 to secure their 31st playoff appearance, the most of any team in NFL history.
New York carried that momentum into the playoffs, dispatching Atlanta by a score of 24-2 in the Wild Card round to set up a meeting with the No. 1-seeded Packers. The Giants earned a 37-20 victory at Lambeau Field to advance to the NFC Championship Game, where they avenged their regular-season loss to San Francisco by knocking off the 49ers 20-17 in overtime at Candlestick Park to secure a trip to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
The Giants relied on the sterling play of Super Bowl MVP Manning -- highlighted by a memorable 38-yard sideline completion to wide receiver MARIO MANNINGHAM on the game-winning drive -- during their victory over the Patriots, their second championship in five seasons.
"It's a wonderful thing to have someone hand you that trophy, for sure, following a win," says the Giants' TOM COUGHLIN, who became the oldest head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl. "It does have a significant impact on your life going forward. You find out pretty quickly that the next offseason and the next season roll around very quickly. What you try and do is build on that. You build on the confidence, you build on your team, and you challenge them to do that again."
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