The New York Giants have punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVI in improbable fashion. At one point in the season heading into the final quarter of the 2011 NFL regular season, the G-Men lost 4 games in a row with both sides of the ball completely out of sync. Those days seem like they were years ago now as the Giants defense has stepped up to the challenge and Eli Manning has played on another level this season. Throw in huge contributions from Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, and all of a sudden, the Giants look like they ay be even more formidable than the team that derailed the Pats’ shot at perfection in 2007. John Mara, the longtime and well-respected owner of the Giants, is proud of his team. He couldn’t have envisioned this happening during the 4-game losing streak though, yet he believes Tom Coughlin is under appreciated in New York. It’s hard to argue with that point even if it seemed hard to understand in the past why Mara showed Coughlin so much loyalty and patience. John Mara joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss the Giants win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, the Giants punching their ticket to Super Bowl XLVI, his everlasting support for Tom Coughlin through the years, whether he was overly concerned about this Giants team going into this season or whether he sided with the rest of the Giants front office that felt this team had the pieces to make another run at a Super Bowl, and if he’d agree or disagree about this year’s Super Bowl run being more unlikely than the one the Giants pulled off in 2007.
Congrats on the win. That was a wonderful football game. It really was:
“Yeah it really was in some pretty tough conditions out there. A very, very physical game. Our quarterback took quite a few shots, but our guys hung in there and made a big play at the end of the game on special teams. It’s just really a thrill for the entire organization.”
What are your thoughts as you prepare to take this team to a Super Bowl?
“It’s just so hard to put into words. It’s been such an unpredictable year. To go through that 4-game losing streak and then come out of there with a big win in Dallas and then to come back and just play a terrible game against the Redskins here at home. All sorts of thoughts go through your mind at that point. Then we win that Jets game and we just seem to get on a roll at that point. I just like the way we are playing right now. I think we have a chance in a couple of weeks, but it’s such an unpredictable business. That is why you can’t be impulsive. You gotta be patient and let the season play itself out and not get too hysterical when a couple of games go the wrong way, but I’m just proud of this group of players and these coaches. They never stopped believing in themselves. They work as hard as any group that I have ever seen. We’re kind of on a roll right now. I just hope we got one more in us.”
You have always shown Tom Coughlin a lot of support:
“Well he deserves it. He’s been a great coach for us and I think it is fair to say he is under appreciated around here. Hopefully that will change right now because he has done a great job and if you just look at the way the players respond to him in the games and in practice and in the locker room you can see he still has their attention and he gets them to play on a very high level with a lot of effort and he has them prepared for every conceivable situation out there. No detail is too small for him and we are just very fortunate to have him as our head coach.”
Were you overly concerned about this team or were you as confident about this team as your general manager seemed to be?
“I don’t think anybody – I’m certainly never as confident as our general manager, but he always confident about this team. I had the usual concerns going into this season because we didn’t have that off-season training program and we had lost some guys that we wanted to keep like Steve Smith and Kevin Boss and people like that. Certainly no one could have predicted the year that Victor Cruz had and all of our receivers have been outstanding. We’ve kind of transformed ourselves from a running team into more of a passing team. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that at the beginning of this season. I did know we had enough talent to have a winning team and to get into the playoffs and once you do that as we’ve shown anything can happen. Certainly you couldn’t predict the number of ups and down we had during the season. I’m just glad we seem to be hitting our peak at the right time of year.”
Does this seem more unlikely than 2007?
“I think to a certain extent it is. Yeah. I don’t know how many Super Bowl teams lose 4 games in a row like that and end up only winning 9 games in the regular season, so to that extent it may be unlikely, but we still have a huge challenge ahead of us now playing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. That’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us, but I think our guys are up to it. We just seem to be hitting our peak at the right time of year. I wish we were playing next week to be honest with you and not 2 weeks from now. We’ll be ready to play I’m sure. This coaching staff will have our guys ready to play.”