Diary of a Giants Fan: Season Awards & Wrap Up
The lockers have been cleaned out, the last goodbyes - said. And as each player treks home to embrace the splendor of an offseason spent as champions, we offer you this brief wrap up of the 2011 New York Giant season. @JoeBianchino
As ticker tape rained down over lower Manhattan I found myself reflecting back on all that the New York Giant season was. The excitement of a 6-2 start. The horror that accompanied a four game losing streak so unbearable that Giant fans everywhere were stopping to listen to the soap box rants of their local “End is Near” guy. The JPP field goal block that kept the season alive. The turnaround that sparked in the win over the Jets. The domination over the Cowboys, Falcons and Packers that followed. The thrill of overtime victory against the 49ers. The Manning throw, the Manningham catch, the magic of Super Bowl XLVI.
Magic. Maybe that's the best word for the 2011-2012 New York Giant season. What better way to describe the unlikely run of a 6-6 team through the best in the sport, and to the top of the mountain as Super Bowl Champions? Magic. The emergence of Cruz, the resurgence of the soul-patched substitute teacher Chase Blackburn. Magic. And let's face it folks, the Giants repeatedly pulled the rabbits known as ridiculous fumble recoveries, catches and wins out of a top hat that we'll just call "their ass"...I think I've mixed my metaphors here, but still...Magic! What a run. And with that, we offer you these New York Giant Season awards:
Offensive Player of the Year: Eli Manning – Come on, could it have really been anyone else? The man was brilliant. Simply, brilliant.
Runner Up: Victor Cruz - Finally, the Giants have a legitimate big play threat. Who knew how sweet the salsa could be?
Defensive Player of the Year: Jason Pierre-Paul – Physical freak. Viciously aggressive. Damn near unstoppable. For much of the year he was a lynchpin, holding a ravaged defense together with both hands.
Runner Up: Dropped Passes – For a while, that’s how we got stops.
Breakout Player of the Year: Victor Cruz – From total unknown to elite wide receiver in half of a season. Marvelous.
Runner Up: Jason Pierre-Paul - I think it's Cruz in a run away, but JPP's season helped take him from promising prospect to unstoppable force in one season. Look out NFL.
Unsung Hero: Steve Weatherford - Smirk, smile and joke if you want, but in ’07-’08 the punting ability of should-have-been Giant MVP Jeff Feagles was a huge part of that defense’s success. In ’11-’12 it was Steve Weatherford. Look no further than the Super Bowl. That safety was as much his as it was Tuck’s.
Runner Up: Henry Hynosky - My new favorite Giant and soon to be most prolific pass catching full back in the history of the NFL.
Best Story: Chase Blackburn – Twelve weeks through the NFL season Chase Blackburn was about to become a high school science teacher. A week later he was intercepting Aaron Rodgers. Two months after that he was intercepting Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. I mean who does that?
Play of the Year: Victor Cruz 99-yard Touchdown Reception – Not only was it spectacular, not only did it tie and NFL record, but, in my mind, it was the catalyst for the New York Giant turnaround. Looking lethargic at best in a must win game, I think something clicked within the Giants when Cruz took the G-Men out of danger and into the end zone. 7-7 and losing before that play, they went on to rout the Jets, Cowboys, Falcons, Packers and, well, you know the rest.
Runner up: Manning to Manningham in the Super Bowl - One of the best throws I’ve ever seen (It’s amazing how small the window was that Manning had to hit), coupled with a terrific catch and in that situation? Unbelievable, but second in my book.
MVP: Eli Manning – Let’s not kid here, folks. Eli Manning was the New York Giants this season. Movement in the pocket, accuracy, intelligence, late game heroics. He wasn’t always that prolific QB that a lot of us want, but he was always exactly what our Giants needed him to be.
Runner Up: ____ - There is no runner up. It’s Eli.
But you know what? Maybe MVP isn't appropriate with these guys. This season wasn't about one man; it was about one team. The Giants weren’t just Eli Manning and Victor Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, they were 53 men who banded together and refused to be rocked by the tumult of a violently turbulent season.
There were so many times this season when it would have been easy for this team to roll over and resign to their lackluster fate. How many lesser teams would have succumbed to that pressure? How many lesser teams would have allowed that heartache to fracture their locker room, to shatter their hope? How many other teams don’t survive four game losing streaks?
But this Giant team wasn’t other teams. Such efforts weren’t worthy of these Giants. Such efforts weren’t worthy of a team that, time and again, defiantly rose to every challenge. Instead, this team came together, went “All In” together, turned their season around together, “Finished” together, and won the Super Bowl together.
I don’t know about the rest of you Giant nation, but for me, this was one of the most fun seasons I’ve ever experienced. There’s just something special to me about a team that wins not through overwhelming talent, not by week in and week out domination, but by fighting, by scrapping, by suffering defeats, getting up, and clawing their way back - A team that earns it. I loved watching this team. I loved their flaws, I loved their losses, and I absolutely loved their triumphs. The New York Giants. Champions of Super Bowl XLVI.
It's been my distinct pleasure to try and narrate this Giant season, and for those of you who came on the journey with me, I thank you so very much. But enough from me. Giants? Sum it all up: