The Big Blue 10: Steve Weatherford - NBC New York

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The Big Blue 10: Steve Weatherford

Running down the 10 biggest reasons the Giants are in the Super Bowl



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    What a difference a real punter can make.

    As we wait for the Giants and Patriots to take the field in Indianapolis, we're going to be running down the 10 biggest reasons why the Giants are headed to Super Bowl 42. Coming in at number 10 is Steve Weatherford.

    You rarely hear about a punter being one of the reasons that a team makes a Super Bowl, but Steve Weatherford deserves that kind of credit.

    Signed as a free agent after coming up just short of the big game the last two years with the Jets, Weatherford beat out Matt Dodge for the job in training camp. It was one of the more rigged competitions this side of a 1950s game show, but an important one for the Giants.

    Had Dodge made the team, there would be constant reminders of the fact that the Giants helped destroy the 2010 season by trusting an important job to a player who was not qualified to do it.

    The DeSean Jackson punt return was the obvious moment, but there were a dozen other mistakes made by Dodge and the team's unwillingness to admit their mistake in keeping him was part of a team-wide aversion to change that left them out of the playoffs.

    So choosing Weatherford was more than just choosing a punter. It was choosing accountability and competence over covering the rear ends of those who decided to waste a draft choice on a guy who shouldn't even be punting in the Canadian League.

    That was reason enough to salute the move. The fact that Weatherford went on to have a terrific season was just gravy.

    But gravy enough to make a punter one of the 10 biggest reasons why the team made it to the Super Bowl? Absolutely, because there were at least two games that the Giants weren't winning without a great performance from Weatherford.

    In the game against the Jets, Weatherford had to punt a lot before the Giants broke the game open in the second half and he did a good job of keeping them from getting short fields that their pathetic offense could turn into points.

    And in Sunday's win over the 49ers, Weatherford punted a ton and just one of his 12 punts could be accused of failing to reach the necessary standard for the occasion.

    He had nothing to do with the two fumbles that followed his punts, obviously, but he did have the hold on Lawrence Tynes' winning field goal on a wet and muddy day. It probably isn't worth the heroic odes that some are trying to write since it was simply a player doing the job he's there to do, but if you're inclined to turn it into a story you tell your kids at night no one's gonna stop you.

    There's no need to go overboard, though. Weatherford has a place on this list because he did his job well and because his presence meant a player who had an outsize role in keeping the Giants out of the playoffs a year ago wasn't on the roster.

    Punting gets overlooked unless the punter does something incredibly stupid. The Giants paid less attention to their punter this year and that helped them make it to Indianapolis.

    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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