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Giants' Toughness Gets Them to Super Bowl

The Giants showed serious toughness in San Francisco

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012  |  Updated 2:45 PM EDT
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The Giants are back in the Super Bowl.

If a movie studio put out a flick with a script this unoriginal, they'd be sued for plagiarism. Another Lawrence Tynes field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship Game made possible by a hideous error by a member of the opposition leads to another date with the New England Patriots for all the marbles.

Unoriginal, but pretty darn satisfying as far as these things go. Five straight wins with nowhere to go but golfing if they couldn't win a game and none of those wins was nearly as compelling as the one they pulled off in San Francisco Sunday night.

After two weeks against stuffed shirts, the 49ers put forth an effort that made it clear that they actually deserved all the praise that's been showered on them this season. Their defense, led by Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, was not going to allow the Giants an inch unless they spilled a little blood to get it. 

It looked a lot like the performance the Giants put together to beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII with Eli Manning playing the role of Tom Brady as he got slammed to the ground time and time again thanks to an offensive line that couldn't protect him a bit. But he kept getting back up, kept stepping into the fire, and that led to a result that was very different from that Super Bowl game.

By the second half, it was clear that the game was going to turn on mistakes because neither defense was going to allow the opposition enough space to win the game all by themselves. Kyle Williams and the 49ers made two mistakes that handed the Giants 10 essential points and the Giants, with a little help from the refs, didn't make any of them.

That was the difference in the game, ultimately. The Giants kept their heads when the pressure was ratcheted up to the highest levels possible and they played as tough as they have played all season when anything less would have ended their season.

Give Tom Coughlin credit for that, give Manning credit for that and just keep on going down the line. That toughness with backs against the wall is going to be the lasting legacy of this Giants team, regardless of what happens in Indianapolis, and it is a wonderful legacy to have when you're a professional football team.

So, please, celebrate everything that the Giants have accomplished. But don't let that celebration lead to the playing of the overused and rarely accurate "Nobody believed in us" card.

Owner John Mara couldn't resist doing so in the locker room while getting the lame trophy they are giving to conference champions these days and he sounded totally ridiculous when trying to make the claim that the Giants have somehow sprung out to devastate the masses.

They were favored in their first playoff game and plenty of people were talking about a trip to the Super Bowl when the Giants beat the Patriots to move to 6-2 at midseason.

It's true that no one was talking about the Super Bowl when the team lost five of its next six games, but that's pretty thin evidence to support Mara's notion of a cabal sitting there and not believing in his football team.

Teams that go on losing streaks like that while looking as bad as the Giants looked during the losing streak don't get much support, and there wasn't anyone on the roster doing much to promote the idea that these Giants were heading anywhere good.

The Giants hit a rough patch, but the talk of the Super Bowl returned the moment the Giants beat the Jets in Week 16 because they finally showed off a defense that seemed capable of doing something other than embarrassing itself. So, really, everyone believed in this team and they were just disappointed that the Giants spent so much time lacking the belief in themselves.

That's all prologue now, and if the Giants feel lying to themselves helps them win football games, then they should go right ahead and do it. A Super Bowl ring means more than credibility at the end of the day and the Giants are one good performance away from grabbing one.

Do that and it doesn't much matter what anyone believes because facts aren't really open to interpretation by the masses.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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