Steve Weatherford (5) of the New York Giants celebrates after the Giants won 20-17 in overtime against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
In all of sports there are stars on a team and players that contribute huge roles and don't get the credit they deserve. There are three underrated players who had huge impacts for the New York Giants last season , especially in their push for the playoffs and Super Bowl title.
1. Mathias Kiwanuka
Kiwanuka plays a bigger role for the Giants than a lot of people realize. This is a player that last season moved from the defensive line to linebacker, and could go back to the d-line if a player is injured. Not many players in the NFL can do that.
Last season Kiwanuka had 84 tackles, 64 of which were solo with 3.5 sacks and one interception.
The Giants recognize what Kiwanuka is capable of, and rewarded him with a multi-year contract worth up to $21.75 million for four years. $10.95 million is guaranteed and he'll be making a little more than $5 million a year until he is a free agent in 2016.
2. Chase Blackburn
When the NFL lockout of 2011 ended the Giants did not bring back linebacker Chase Blackburn. In fact, no team gave him a phone call.
When Blackburn didn't get the call, he didn't lose hope. He trained and waited, believing someone would call him. Just before he was about to get a job as a math teacher, the Giants called. The defensive line was riddled with injuries and they wanted Blackburn back.
Blackburn went from missing 12 weeks of the season, to starting the final four weeks. He played five games and had 26 tackles and one interception, which was off Aaron Rodgers against the Green Bay Packers in Blackburn's first game back.
The biggest moment of Blackburn's return to the team was his game-changing interception of New England Patriots' QB Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLVI.
The Giants made sure they held onto Blackburn for at least one more season when they signed him to a one-year, $825,000 contract. He will be an unrestricted free agent again in 2013.
3. Steve Weatherford
After a 2010 season of Matt Dodge woes, the Giants decided to bring in veteran punter Steve Weatherford instead. It turned out to be one of their best decisions in 2011.
Weatherford single-handedly helped strengthen the Giant's special teams, especially in their push for the Super Bowl.
In 2011 he averaged 45.7 yards per punt. He stayed just as consistent in the postseason, averaging 45.4 yards per punt. Weatherford played huge roles in the final two games of the postseason against the San Francsico 49ers and the New England Patriots by punting the ball deep into the opponents end of the field.
Weatherford has five years on his contract worth up to $12.75 million, keeping him around until 2016.
The Giants were not favorites to win Super Bowl XLVI, but they did anyway. The players mentioned above played some of the biggest roles and will continue to do so in the years to come for New York.