Once again we sit here on Tuesday morning and try to determine who made the biggest impact in Sunday's NFC championship for the Giants. I thought about just giving it to the entire team and organization, and while that would have been easy to justify, it's not nearly as much fun as letting you all debate and choose. So here we are, with a few more choices than usual:
Eli Manning--We have to start here, of course, because Manning hung in there despite getting sacked six times and beaten up repeatedly. He threw 58 times, completing 32 passes, ten of them to Victor Cruz in tight spots. He threw two touchdown passes, none bigger than the one to Mario Manningham to put the Giants on top in the fourth quarter. Mostly, Eli Manning found a way to help his team win. Again.
Victor Cruz--Funny how this dude has become a folk hero over the last several weeks. Thankfully his biggest season highlight now is not when he "gave himself up" in Arizona, but rather his 99 yard TD against the Jets that turned our season around. And on Sunday, Cruuuuuuuuuuuuz came up with tough catch after tough catch, mostly on third down.
Special teams--Or, more specifically, the four-headed monster of Devin Thomas, Jacquian Williams, Steve Weatherford and Lawrence Tynes. Thomas made two critical fumble recoveries. Williams knocked the ball out from Kyle Williams to set up the winning field goal. Weatherford--in addition to punting 12 times for a 46.4 yard average--caught the snap, a bad snap, and put the ball down as best as he could to give Tynes the chance to win the game with his right leg, which of course he did. Again, in a huge situation. Just ask Billy Cundiff how difficult that can be. Williams also gets honorable mention for a huge play he made on defense deflecting a pass, and probably a few others. That kid is really emerging.
Ahmad Bradshaw--About as gutty a 126-yard performance as you'll ever see against one of the best defenses in the NFL. But no runs were bigger than the ones at the end when Bradshaw moved Tynes a bit closer for the game-winner.
Defense--It's once again hard to pick one player here. Chase Blackburn had five tackles and two assists and was a monster again. Justin Tuck had three tackles, one assist and 1.5 sacks. JPP had five tackles, an assist, half a sack (heh heh, he said half a sack...sorry, couldn't resist!), and a pass deflection. Osi and Kiwi each had half a sack, and the Giants deflected five passes as a team. Yeah, they botched a couple of coverages on the Vernon Davis touchdowns, but still limited Alex Smith's damage, allowing only one pretty much meaningless third down conversion the entire game.
The coaches--TC, Gilbride, Fewell, and even Tom Quinn. The Giants were prepared and executed as best as they could in the elements and against a very physical, powerful and also well-prepared 49ers' team.
Is that enough choices? Just like last week and the week before that, I could do this all day.