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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Giants are Tom Coughlin’s team.
The Maras and Tischs own the NFC champions. General manager Jerry Reese built them and made them Super Bowl ready.
This team though is all Coughlin. The expression the players have used in their recent five-game run to the title game is “all in,” and it’s all in Tom’s way. They have bought in 100 percent with their 65-year-old coach, and he is enjoying every second of it.
“This might be the defining career season for him,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Monday. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t be the top candidate for Coach of the Year considering the pressure that’s on him in New York. It is definitely the type of city that’s about what have you done for me lately? And it just seems every year Coach Coughlin’s job is up for grabs.”
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh is widely considered the early favorite for the award. He turned the 49ers around from 6-10 last season to 13-3 this year.
“I know it’s a lot of pressure on (Coughlin) and he’s always not really wavering either way, you really couldn’t tell if he’s a coach that has won four Super Bowls in a row or a coach that is on the hot seat all season,” said Tuck. “He stays even-keeled and kind of stuck to his guns, and believed what this team was going to be about. And I think that has trickled downstairs and trickled throughout this entire franchise and all these players.”
When the Giants (12-7) ended the Patriots’ 20-game regular-season winning streak at home in November, Coughlin was hoisted in the air by his players. When they went through a four-game losing streak right after that, he kept them together. And when they won Sunday, they hugged.
Speaking on a conference call Monday, Coughlin said he has a special feeling and a special vibe for this team, which has overcome injuries and adversity to reach the Super Bowl.
“I talk about an atmosphere that has been created, the cooperation between the players and the coaches and the harmony that is a great feeling that exits,” Coughlin said. “It has been that type of feeling that has sustained us over the course of the year, but even more; that has seen people grow closer together.”
Coughlin senses a true bond among the players, one that has them all working for a common goal.
“On Saturday night they were locked in as well as any team that I have ever been associated with,” said the coach who led the Giants to a Super Bowl win over the Patriots in 2008, “You could hear a pin drop in the meeting rooms when I visited. It started out with special teams, then offense and defense. I walked around and I listened to the meetings. You could really feel and sense the focus and concentration. Those are things I appreciate.”
Looking toward the Patriots, Coughlin said the Giants last game with New England seems like it too place a long time ago. He also noted Tom Brady and company are riding a 10-game winning streak.
“They are an outstanding football team,” Coughlin said. “Without question to be able to play at home and beat a Ravens team that was playing so well and so physical and so on, they are playing very, very well.”
Tuck said the Giants came into the playoffs playing their best football, much like the Packers a year ago.
“We were a team, I felt, going into the playoffs, that no one wanted to play,” Tuck told Francesa. “We wanted to play the 49ers. We wanted to play Green Bay. We wanted the competition. That’s who we are. That’s how we’re built.”
Coughlin says his team knows what it wants.
“I understand young people and all that goes with that, but these guys have been able to really create a very strong business-like approach to what they’re doing,” Coughlin said. “Whether you use the word fellowship or whatever word you want to use, there’s a strong, strong feeling among this group. It’s been a great source of pride for all of us as coaches.”
The team arrived back in New Jersey early Monday after a loud and happy flight during which Coughlin said the players exchanged high-fives, shook hands and shared a look into each other eyes.
The Giants will practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday and head to Indianapolis Monday for a second Super Bowl in four years.
“For us, you relish it, because I’m four years older now,” Tuck said. “And when you first get there, you think you’re going to go every year. Now, you realize nothing’s promised to you. And it’s tough to get back. So, this is a special opportunity.”
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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)