‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.”
So now we know.
Tom Coughlin, the guy who spends seemingly every waking hour of every day exploring his opponent’s tendancies, strengths, and weaknesses on tape, leaving no stone unturned in his preparation, is superstitious.
Well, a small part of him, anyway. Aside from the discomfort it has probably caused his wife Judy over the last month, it had gone virtually unnoticed by players and media alike until Thursday’s revelation.
“I haven’t changed my so-and-so’s in three or four weeks,” Coughlin told the assembled media after practice.
Socks? Nope. The other so-and-so’s.
This is not unique, mind you. By now, there are probably plenty of wives hounding their fanatical husbands to “change those ratty things,” a complaint that will be repeated over and over the next 11 days, until just after the clock expires on Super Bowl XLVI. But only Coughlin truly understands that it’s going to take more than a pair of well-worn boxers to get the job done against the AFC’s top-seeded Patriots.
His players get that. Always have. This is a team that has specialized in making its own luck without the help of outside (or inside, as the case may be) voodoos.
They haven’t relied on football gods slapping a kicker on a game-tying chip shot, as Patriots had to last week as Billy Cundiff pulled a 32-yard field goal, perfect snap and all, wide left with just seconds to go in a 23-20 championship game victory.
The Giants made their own luck in completing a completely improbable Hail Mary throw to Hakeem Nicks just before halftime of their 37-20 romp over NFC semifinalist Green Bay, a week before rookie Jacquian Williams pulled the ball loose from San Francisco punt returner Kyle Williams in overtime. And it wasn’t because of any NHL-style playoff beard by some upper-decker that Steve Weatherford handled Zak DeOssie’s skidding snap on a wet field shortly thereafter and got down a perfect hold that allowed Lawrence Tynes to kick them into their second Super Bowl in four seasons.
Those were all displays of positioning, hustle, and dexterity. They did that on their own.
And if that pass rush of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty, and Mathias Kiwanuka makes life miserable for Tom Brady — rest assured the Giants plan to knock him around far more than the Ravens did — that will happen because of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s designs against a good set of blockers led by Matt Light and Logan Mankins.
“They’re a great offensive line, but every offensive line can be beat,” JPP said. “We’re just going to get after them.
“Applying pressure is a big thing, otherwise he’s going to dink and drop us all the way in our secondary. We just have to get to him fast enough and at the same time play the run game and stay positive and focus on what’s in front of us.”
Aside from the Giants’ healthier status, there won’t be many surprises in store for the Pats. Including their preseason game, they’re going into their third game together this year alone, not to mention the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII victory. The familiarity factor is high on both sides.
“There’s no team we’re more familiar with in the NFC than the Giants,” Bill Belichick said. “I don’t think it’s like a division game, but we know them a lot better than most NFC teams that we play against.”
Ultimately, it will be preparation and execution that determines the outcome of this one. Everybody knows that. But when even a calculating, focused mind like Coughlin’s admits to sacrificing at the altar of some higher power not named Mara or Tisch, perhaps covering all the bases isn’t a bad thing.
As long as his 53 players don’t follow their leader on this one. Locker rooms are smelly enough as it is.
What’s your prediction for Giants-Pats? Sound off below…