New York Giants: Lawrence Tynes

Josh Brown is an NFC Player of the Week

December, 24, 2013
New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, whose 45-yard field goal in overtime delivered a 23-20 victory against the Lions in Detroit on Sunday, has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Brown kicked three field goals in the game -- a 52-yarder and a 41-yarder, in addition to the 45-yard winner. He became the first kicker in Giants history to kick three field goals of 40 yards or longer in the same game.

It's the fifth time in his career Brown has won a Special Teams Player of the Week award, and the first time since Week 8 of the 2009 season, when he was with the Rams. He's the first Giants player to win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week since kick returner David Wilson won it in Week 14 of 2012. He's the first Giants kicker to win it since Lawrence Tynes in Week 3 of 2012.

Brown is also the fourth Giant this week to win an NFC Player of the Week award. Cornerback Terrell Thomas was NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 8. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul won the same award in Week 11, and defensive end Justin Tuck won it in Week 13.

Camp preview: Special teams

July, 20, 2013
As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.

Position: Special teams.

Projected starters: K Josh Brown, P Steve Weatherford, LS Zak DeOssie, KR David Wilson, PR Rueben Randle.

Projected reserves: K David Buehler, KR/PR Jerrel Jernigan, PR Aaron Ross, PR Jayron Hosley.

[+] Enlarge David Wilson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsDavid Wilson is an elite kick returner -- but is it worth the injury risk?
New faces: Brown, Buehler, Ross.

Going, going, gone: K Lawrence Tynes, PR Domenik Hixon.

Player to watch: Brown. The Giants brought him in to replace Tynes, who had been with the team for the past six years. Brown is a career 81.3 percent kicker, and has hit field goals from 52 yards or longer in nine of his 10 NFL seasons. Tynes was clutch, though, and had the valuable experience of knowing how to play in the Meadowlands weather. Brown will have to learn the nuances of the stadium and climate, beat out Buehler in camp, and develop the kind of chemistry Tynes had with DeOssie and Weatherford. That shouldn't be a problem, though.

Potential strength: Weatherford has been rock-solid and that shouldn’t change this season. And the Giants' coverage units went from a major weakness in 2010 to a prime strength the past couple of years. DeOssie, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger are among those who shine on coverage units. And those units should only get better with the addition of athletic young players like fifth-round draft pick Cooper Taylor.

Potential weakness: Punt returns. Giants punt returners have offered little the past couple of seasons, and the team really could use somebody reliable and exciting back there. Randle is the leading candidate, but Jernigan, Ross and Hosley all could get looks in the preseason. The Giants averaged 7.2 yards per punt return last season.

Wild card: Wilson. He was sensational as the team's kick returner last year. But now he is projected to start at running back, and the Giants must weigh the risk of using the 5-foot-9 Wilson at kick returner as well. Wilson wants to continue doing it. If the Giants don’t want to risk their starting running back, perhaps they could use Wilson there on a situational basis. If Wilson doesn’t return kicks, Jernigan could become the starter. Da’Rel Scott also could get chances in camp to return kickoffs. But having a guy like Wilson, who amassed 1,533 kickoff return yards and a return touchdown last season, is a major asset.

Tell us what you think of the special teams unit entering camp.

Draft positional preview: Special teams

April, 20, 2013
This is the sixth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Giants as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Special teams.

Depth chart: P Steve Weatherford, K Josh Brown, K David Buehler, P/K Jake Rogers, LS Zak DeOssie, KR David Wilson, KR Andre Brown, KR Jerrel Jernigan, PR Rueben Randle.

The departed: K Lawrence Tynes (free agent), PR Domenik Hixon (Carolina).

Scouting report: The Giants are solid at punter with Weatherford, who averaged 47.5 yards per punt last season and landed 22 of 58 punts inside the 20. Long snapper and special teams captain DeOssie adds stability and chemistry on special teams as well. But the unit will have a major change at kicker.

[+] EnlargeJosh Brown
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderJosh Brown is the leading candidate to be the Giants' kicker next season, replacing Lawrence Tynes.
The Giants are moving on without Tynes, signing three other kickers (Brown, Buehler and Rogers). Brown is expected to be the man, but Buehler should have an opportunity to compete for the job. Brown, 33, has had a season-long field goal of 52 yards or longer in each of his 10 seasons, with a career long of 58 yards, which was during his rookie season in 2003. He has made 81.3 percent of his kicks and averages 64.1 yards on kickoffs.

Buehler averages 66.8 yards on kickoffs and made 24 of 32 field goals in 2010, his only season kicking field goals, for the Cowboys. He has a career long of 53 yards.

After kicker, the Giants have some uncertainty in their return game. Wilson was electric on kickoffs last season, amassing 1,533 return yards and one touchdown. But his workload at running back is going to increase, and the Giants have to consider how much they want to risk their prized running back on kickoffs. If they opt not to use him, the Giants could turn to Jernigan or Brown on kickoffs.

Randle averaged 7.2 yards per punt return last year. He could be the punt returner again. Jernigan is also an option here. Aaron Ross has return experience and could be in the mix if the Giants want to try somebody else. Also, cornerback Jayron Hosley was a punt returner at Virginia Tech.

The coverage teams were strong last year with the likes of DeOssie, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger all contributing.

The last time: The Giants have not drafted a kicker or punter since 2010, when they took punter Matt Dodge in the seventh round.

Potential targets: Perhaps the most well-known prospect with dynamic return skills in the draft is LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate before being dismissed from LSU. The cornerback comes with baggage, but he would have a ready and willing mentor in Corey Webster, a former LSU star who already has taken Mathieu under his wing.

“On the field he is a good player,” general manager Jerry Reese said this week. “Obviously, he has got some off-the-field issues that have been well-documented. So we’ll put all the pros and cons together and see if he fits anywhere for us.”

The Giants could use a cornerback, and Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks is one of the top corners in the draft and also has a return touchdown on his résumé as well. Another potential top-10 cornerback is Southeastern Louisiana’s Robert Alford, who also has return experience. Texas A&M cornerback Dustin Harris led the country in punt return yardage, and Hawaii cornerback Mike Edwards returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season.

Utah wide receiver Reggie Dunn might be the most explosive kick returner in the entire draft. The All-American returner, who was reportedly clocked at 4.2 in the 40 at Utah's pro day, has more 100-yard kickoff returns (5) than anybody else in NCAA history and had four last year alone. He sports a career average of 30.9 yards per kickoff return. The Giants could add one more receiver for depth as well.

Other prospects with return ability are Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis, Alcorn State wide receiver Terrance Lewis, UConn wide receiver Nick Williams, Central Arkansas wide receiver Jesse Grandy, South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders and NC State wide receiver Tobais Palmer.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 4 (for a player with return ability).

Tell us what you think of the Giants' special teams entering the draft, and what they should do to improve.

Giants pass on franchise tag

March, 4, 2013
The New York Giants opted not to use their franchise tag by Monday's deadline, as expected.

Co-owner John Mara said a few weeks ago that the team was likely not going to utilize the distinction on any of its players. Only eight teams used the designation before Monday's deadline.

The Giants have used the franchise tag only three times since the system began in 1993, on tackle Jumbo Elliott (1993), running back Brandon Jacobs (2009) and last year on punter Steve Weatherford.

The Giants used the tag on Jacobs and Weatherford in an effort to later reach a long-term deal. Perhaps the only candidate the Giants might've considered using the tag on this year was left tackle Will Beatty. But the Giants and Beatty agreed last week to a five-year deal worth as much as $38.75 million.

Teams are allowed to enter contract negotiations with agents of unrestricted free agents this weekend. The Giants have several free agents, including left guard Kevin Boothe, tight end Martellus Bennett, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, safety Kenny Phillips, middle linebacker Chase Blackburn, linebacker Keith Rivers and kicker Lawrence Tynes.

They also have restricted free agents like wide receiver Victor Cruz, safety Stevie Brown and running back Andre Brown.

Positional analysis: Special teams

February, 14, 2013
David WilsonJim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsDavid Wilson sparked the Giants special teams with 1,533 return yards and a touchdown.
We’ve been taking a look toward 2013 with a position-by-position breakdown of the Giants leading into the scouting combine and free agency.

So far, we have analyzed quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and the secondary. Today is the final installment with special teams.


2012 depth chart: K Lawrence Tynes, P Steve Weatherford, LS Zak DeOssie, KR David Wilson, PR Domenik Hixon, PR Rueben Randle.

Overview: Tynes started off strong, converting 24 of his first 26 attempts and made four or more field goals in four of the first eight games. But after the hot start, Tynes missed a field goal in four of the next six games and did not attempt a field goal in the last two games. Tynes converted all 46 of his extra point attempts and had 24 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Weatherford punted 24 fewer times than in 2011. His average went up by nearly two yards to 47.5 yards per punt with a net average of 39.4. Weatherford landed 22 punts inside the 20, just three fewer than he had in 2011.

[+] EnlargeLawrence Tynes
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsWill Lawrence Tynes go or will he stay?
Wilson made an instant impact on special teams, setting the franchise record with 1,533 return yards and a touchdown and helping the Giants finish tied for sixth in kickoff return yard average (26.2). He provided the kind of dynamic, explosive element the Giants have been lacking in the kickoff return game.

Punt return, though, is still an area that needs more bite. Randle and Hixon didn’t make any major mistakes but they averaged just 7.2 yards per punt return. The Giants’ coverage units remained strengths and did not give up any touchdowns on punts or kickoffs.

Free agents: Tynes, Hixon.

2013 personnel preview: After kicking the Giants into two Super Bowls with game-winning field goals in the NFC Championship game during the 2007 and 2011 seasons, Tynes is entering free agency. The Giants signed former Cowboy kick David Buehler and kicker/punter Jake Rogers so far in the offseason in the case that Tynes does not return.

With Wilson set to potentially be the starting running back with Ahmad Bradshaw gone, the Giants will have to figure out what they want to do at kick returner. If the Giants want to protect Wilson and lighten his load, Jerrel Jernigan could be a candidate to return kickoffs. He took one kickoff 60 yards on a return. Wilson will probably want to remain on kickoffs. Hixon, who is a free agent, and Randle, may compete for the punt return duties again.

Salary cap situation: Considering that the Giants went out and signed Buehler and Rogers, they might be preparing for the prospect of Tynes leaving for more money. The Giants may re-sign Hixon for depth at receiver.

Tell us what you think of the Giants’ special teams going into 2013 and what you want to see happen in the offseason.

Giants add another kicker

February, 13, 2013
The New York Giants added their second kicker this offseason by signing David Buehler on Wednesday.

David Buehler
The Giants might be preparing for the possibility of Lawrence Tynes moving on. Tynes, the kicker who has helped the Giants win two Super Bowls, is an unrestricted free agent.

Buehler joins Jake Rogers, a free agent kicker the Giants signed earlier this offseason to a reserve/future contract.

Buehler, 26, was with the Dallas Cowboys from 2009-2011. He handled mostly kickoffs but also made 24-of-32 field goal attempts and 42-of-44 extra point attempts in 2010. In 2011, Buehler played in four games handling kickoffs before landing on injured reserve with a torn abductor muscle that required surgery. He did not play in 2012.

We will have to see what Tynes commands on the free agent market. He converted 33-of-39 field goals in 2012, his sixth season with the Giants. He sent the Giants to the Super Bowl by nailing the game-winning field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship games during both the 2007 and 2011 seasons.

Five Giant losses: Capital punishment

January, 16, 2013
As the playoffs move into the conference championship week, we take a look at five games that cost the Giants an opportunity to defend their title in the postseason.

The Giants finished 9-7 this season but needed one more win to get back into the playoffs. Today we examine the Giants’ frustrating 17-16 loss at Washington in Week 13.

What went wrong: The Giants dominated the first half, eating up nearly 21 of the 30 first-half minutes. They kept Robert Griffin III off the field and converted 8-of-10 third downs. They did everything exactly the way Tom Coughlin’s staff drew it up except for one thing -- score enough points.

The Giants had to settle for three Lawrence Tynes’ field goals and were only able to take a 16-10 lead with 3:09 left in the third quarter.

That is when it all went downhill for the Giants.

Turning point: After Tynes’ field goal, the Redskins put together a 12-play, 86-yard scoring drive that spanned from the end of the third into the early part of the fourth.

The Giants couldn’t stop the run as Washington rushed for 55 of its 207 total rushing yards on that drive. Griffin then hit Pierre Garcon on the go-ahead touchdown with 11:31 remaining.

The offense went three-and-out on the next possession but the Giants got the ball back with 6:06 remaining. Eli Manning hit Martellus Bennett for an 11-yard pass on a third-and-10 at the Giants’ 43 but Will Beatty was flagged for holding. The Giants were forced to punt with 4:03 remaining and they never got the ball back.

Washington gained three first downs, the backbreaking one coming on a 17-yard pass from Griffin to Garcon to get the Redskins to the two-minute warning. The Redskins sealed the game with one more run for a first down.

Giant regret: In the second quarter, Tynes missed a 43-yard field goal wide left. But the holding penalty on Beatty and the defense’s inability to get a critical stop at the end were the Giants’ undoing.

What if: If the Giants had won this game, they could’ve likely won the NFC East. They had a chance to take a two-game lead over Dallas and put the Redskins down three in the division with four games remaining.

Instead, the Giants’ division lead was sliced to one over Dallas and Washington. The Redskins ended up winning their final seven games to win the division while the Giants wasted the division and a wild card spot by dropping three of the last five games.

Tell us how costly you think the Washington loss was for the Giants below.

Cruz eager for Pro Bowl announcement

December, 26, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Victor Cruz is hoping for better luck this time around when the NFL announces its Pro Bowl rosters Wednesday night. Cruz was named a second alternate last season, but could be a starter this year because of his great numbers and fan support.

"I'll be watching it," Cruz said. "I'm a little eager."

Cruz has followed up his breakout campaign in 2011 with a second year of more than 1,000 receiving yards. He's caught a team-high 82 balls for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. That's the same amount of catches and touchdowns he had last year, although he's well below in terms of yardage.

Cruz also received the most fan votes of any NFC receiver, garnering 515,811. The fan vote counts for one-third of the process, along with the coaches' and players' vote. The game, pitting the AFC's best against the NFC's best, will be played Jan. 27 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

"It would be an extreme honor," Cruz said. "Growing up you watch the Pro Bowlers and see the guys that make the team and think those guys are the best of the best. I would definitely be honored if I made the list."

Last year, Cruz was one of the more controversial snubs, as he didn't earn a selection despite having one of the best seasons of any receiver in the league. Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, Carolina's Steve Smith and Green Bay's Greg Jennings bested him for a spot in the NFC.

This season, Cruz got off to a blistering start, catching 52 balls for 730 yards and seven touchdowns in the first eight games. The second half, however, hasn't been as productive. Cruz has just 30 catches for 310 yards and two touchdowns in the stretch. In four of the team's past seven games, Cruz has been held to three catches and less than 40 yards.

"Defensively they are playing different coverages," Cruz said. "Definitely a little frustrating but just have to keep plugging away and find different ways to beat them and find different ways to get the ball down the field. It's just a matter of picking our opportunities and picking our poison and taking it from there."

Joining Cruz in a bid for the Pro Bowl is kicker Lawrence Tynes, who leads the NFL in field goals, making 33 of 39 on the season. But Tynes isn't confident he will make it considering his recent struggles. He has missed three field goals in the past four games.

“Yeah, I really thought I had a shot a month ago. We haven’t done a whole lot since then and I haven’t done particularly well," Tynes said. "I haven’t had a lot of opportunities. I probably had two bad kicks I would like to have back all year and I am pretty happy with that, so that’s about it.”

Stock Watch: Boss edition

November, 11, 2012
CINCINNATI –- Before we get to Giants-Bengals, let's take a look at the Stock Watch.

As always, the streaking and slumping categories are titled after songs. This week's artists are Bruce Springsteen for streaking and Bon Jovi for slumping for their recent concert to aid Hurricane Sandy victims.

"I'M ON FIRE" (streaking)

JPP: After having just 1.5 sacks through his first six games, Jason Pierre-Paul has a sack in each of his last three games.

The defensive end also has a pick-six and a forced fumble during that span.

Lawrence Tynes: He has been the best kicker in all of football thus far and is benefiting from the Giants' offense often stalling out in the red zone.

Tynes has made 26 of 29 field goals and all 24 of his extra point attempts. His misses are 51- and 54-yarders against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, respectively, and a 40-yard attempt that was blocked by San Francisco.

The New York Giants organization: For donating $500,000 to aid those in need after Hurricane Sandy. Several players went out into local communities and helped by donating their time last Tuesday.

"BAD MEDICINE" (slumping)

Eli Manning: Never thought Manning would fall into this category, but the two-time Super Bowl MVP makes a rare appearance here after struggling recently.

Manning has only one touchdown in his last 14 quarters entering today's game. He also has passed for just 317 yards in the past two games combined against Dallas and Pittsburgh. Kevin Gilbride and Manning have been working on fixing the offense and ways to get back to being explosive again.

The run defense: Tom Coughlin labeled the middle of his defense as "soft." The Giants allowed Pittsburgh to rush for 158 yards, and the defense could not seem to bring down Isaac Redman when it needed to.

This after surrendering 248 yards on the ground to Washington three weeks ago. This season, the Giants have allowed four teams to rush for 143 yards or more.

Third-down offense: If the Giants don't start converting third downs, Coughlin is going to have a bad bye week.

The Giants are a dreadful 5-for-25 on third downs in the past two games. Let's also throw in the red zone offense as well. Less field goals, more touchdowns.

Tynes receives NFC honor

November, 1, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Lawrence Tynes has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October, the NFL announced Thursday.

The Giants' kicker made 13 of his 14 field goal attempts in four games last month, and was 12-for-12 on point-after tries. The one field goal attempt he missed was blocked.

Tynes, 34, in his sixth season with the Giants, has had an outstanding season. Overall, he is 24-for-26 on field goal attempts and 22-for-22 on point-after tries. He leads the NFL in field goal makes, with six more than the second-place kicker (Sebastian Janikowski, 18). He also leads the NFL in points, with 94.

The only other field goal attempt he missed was a 54-yarder against the Eagles on Sept. 30, which would have won the game for the Giants, but fell just short.

Camp preview: Special teams

July, 22, 2012
As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the defending champions, position by position.

Position: Special teams.

Projected starters: K Lawrence Tynes, P Steve Weatherford and LS Zak DeOssie.

New faces: WR Rueben Randle, CB Jayron Hosley and RB David Wilson.

Going, going, gone: PR Aaron Ross, KR Devin Thomas and PR Will Blackmon.

Player to watch: Weatherford. He turned a position of weakness back into a strength for Tom Coughlin with his outstanding punting last season. Weatherford averaged 45.7 yards per punt with a net average of 39.2 with 25 punts landing inside the 20-yard-line. He also was terrific in the postseason, landing a total of five punts inside the 20 against San Francisco and New England.

The Giants gave Weatherford their franchise tag before re-signing the punter to a five-year deal worth a reported $12.75 million according to the Newark Star-Ledger. That’s a lot of coin for a punter but Weatherford is eager to show that he is worth it.

Potential strength: Weatherford’s punting is just one reason why the Giants’ special teams improved last season. The other major reason was the coverage units. With Jerry Reese infusing the coverage team with youth and athleticism with several draft picks like Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich, Greg Jones and Tyler Sash, the Giants did not allow a single punt or kickoff return for a touchdown.

Considering that those rookies are now second-year players, the Giants coverage units could actually be better this season with more experience. Also, as the season progressed, the Giants utilized some of their defensive ends like Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck on the front line to try and block punts or field goals and it paid off with JPP blocking Dallas’ potential overtime-forcing field goal in December.

Potential weakness: The punt return game was abysmal last season, providing no spark. The kickoff return game was slightly better but the Giants longest return of the season was for 40 yards but Thomas. Both Ross and Thomas left in free agency.

The Giants drafted Randle and Hosley knowing that the two have experience returning punts. Wilson has experience returning kickoffs as well. Randle, Hosley, Jerrel Jernigan and Domenik Hixon are in the mix at punt returner. They also give Victor Cruz reps in practice on punt returns as well. And on kickoffs, Da’Rel Scott, Jernigan, D.J. Ware, Hixon and perhaps Wilson could be the starter this season.

Wild card: Hixon. He is attempting to come back from a second torn ACL in as many years and the Giants likely will be cautious with Hixon, who is competing to become the third wide receiver spot. If the Giants don’t think Jernigan, Randle or Hosley is the answer at punt returner, they could look to Hixon. Hixon has scored a touchdown on a punt return and kickoff return during his Giants’ tenure. But if the Giants don’t want to risk Hixon, they may hope that Jernigan emerges as the primary returner since he shined on special teams while in college.

Tell us what you think of the special teams below.

Report card analysis: Special teams

February, 29, 2012
I recently gave my report card for the Giants 2011 season position-by-position. But because there was only so much space to discuss each position, I wanted to go more in-depth on each position and spin it forward to next season.

Today we look at the special teams. Tomorrow: Coaching.

Grade: B+

A huge weakness from the season before became a strength at times. The Giants drastically improved their punting game thanks to the signing of Steve Weatherford. Weatherford’s punting was exceptional at times and he basically was almost as consistent and even clutch at what he did as Eli Manning was at quarterback.

They coverage on punts and kickoffs drastically improved as well thanks to an infusion of young athletes. Rookies Tyler Sash, Mark Herzlich, Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger were among several young players who helped turn around a weakness from the season before.

Lawrence Tynes made 19-of-24 field goals and sent the Giants to the Super Bowl with a game-winning overtime field goal in San Francisco. He also had 34 touchbacks on kickoffs in the regular season.

The special teams, maligned in 2010 for allowing DeSean Jackson to break the Giants’ backs, had moments that saved and made the 2011 season. Jason Pierre-Paul provided a season-saving field goal block in Dallas.

And Devin Thomas’ two fumble recoveries on punts during the NFC Championship Game and Williams’ strip in overtime on a punt helped send the Giants to the Super Bowl. Heck, the Giants even tried blocking punts by using defensive ends like Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck to rush. And the Giants came close on several occasions.

The Giants’ weakness is the kickoff and punt return game, which basically provided little to nothing all season.

Looking ahead, Weatherford is an unrestricted free agent and an offseason priority. Thomas, Domenik Hixon, Michael Clayton, Aaron Ross and Will Blackmon are among other special teams contributors who are unrestricted free agents.

The Giants could try to address their return game from within with last year’s third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan, who did return some kickoffs. And the Giants likely will re-sign Hixon, who will be coming off his second torn ACL.

The Giants could draft a speedy returner to help upgrade the return game as well.

Tell us what you think the Giants should do on special teams and how you would have graded the unit.

Grading the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI

February, 5, 2012
QUARTERBACK: Eli Manning completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards, one touchdown and a 103.8 NFL rating. He did not turn over the ball, which was huge for the Giants during their 21-17 victory. Manning's 38-yard sideline strike to Mario Manningham showed the raw arm talent that made Manning the first player selected in the 2004 NFL draft. Not many quarterbacks can make that throw. Manning made it when the Giants trailed, 17-15, with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Manning completed his first nine attempts for 77 yards and a touchdown, staking the Giants to an early lead as they dominated time of possession to begin the game. Manning made effective use of his running backs and tight ends, executing a mostly conservative game plan. But the Giants settled for field goals too frequently. Both teams had trouble striking on pass plays down the field until Manning found Manningham in the clutch. The two had failed to connect deep down the right sideline earlier in the fourth quarter. Manning's pass was a bit wide. Manningham could have done a better job getting his feet down. Grade: A-minus.

OFFENSE: The Giants came to life in the fourth quarter, a theme for them all season. They also avoided turnovers, a huge key. That excused their earlier offensive struggles, but we'll cover them anyway. New York twice committed drive-dooming penalties after crossing midfield. A first-half holding penalty against guard Kevin Boothe on a third-and-1 play proved pivotal. The infraction wasted Brandon Jacobs' 10-yard run, setting up third-and-1. The Giants went from driving toward likely points and a potential 16-3 lead to watching Tom Brady execute a 96-yard touchdown drive as New England pulled in front, 10-9. Then, with the Giants trailing 17-15 in the fourth quarter, a penalty for illegal procedure left the Giants in another third-and-10 situation, leading to another punt. The Giants did enjoy success early in the game. They were fortunate to recover their own fumbles, especially when Ahmad Bradshaw lost the ball deep in Giants territory. Losing tight ends Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard to injuries left New York with only one available tight end, Bear Pascoe. Grade: B

DEFENSE: Justin Tuck's pressure on Brady forced a safety on the Patriots' first offensive play. That was a sensational start for the Giants. Tuck closed out the game with a third-down sack with 39 seconds remaining. The Giants failed to get enough pressure between those plays, allowing Brady to shred their defense for stretches. But Brady averaged only 6.7 yards per attempt. The Giants held the Patriots to 17 points, about two touchdowns below their regular-season average. Jason Pierre-Paul was effective batting down passes. Chase Blackburn made his presence felt with a de-cleater hit on BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He also picked off a deep pass for Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots' quickness in general and Danny Woodhead's in particular gave the Giants problems, especially with Brady having time to operate. The Giants caught a break when Wes Welker got wide open and dropped a pass that would have moved New England into field-goal range while leading with about four minutes left. Grade: B-plus

COACHING: The Giants left 57 seconds on the clock when Bradshaw scored on a run up the middle to take a 21-17 lead. Bradshaw tried to sit down at the 1-yard line, but his momentum carried him into the end zone. The points were nice, but leaving that much time on the clock for Brady carried risk. The offensive plan seemed conservative and without enough play-action passing early. That was to be expected given Tom Coughlin's philosophy. That showed up when Coughlin handed off instead of taking a shot deep down the field on an early second-and-1. Grade: B

SPECIAL TEAMS: Lawrence Tynes made both field-goal attempts. The Giant did not allow a punt return. They forced New England to begin three drives inside their own 10-yard line. The Patriots never started a drive outside their own 29. No complaints here. Grade: A

Countdown: The Bling masters

February, 5, 2012
It's 2 pm. Four-plus hours to go.

We're blogging some stories to read about the Giants before Super Bowl XLVI. At the top of every hour until 6 pm, there will be a blog posted with a link to another Giants story that came during this Super Bowl run that you might’ve missed either on a Giants player or an angle that could factor into tonight’s game. So check back every hour. Fourth up:

LORDS OF THE RINGS: When kickoff comes and all those camera flashbulbs pop in blinding unison, there will be a handful of Giants who will not be in awe of the moment. Here's the 15 Giants who played in Super Bowl XLII and why their experience was valuable in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and why it could be huge tonight.

Which Giant with a ring already will come up big again tonight in your mind? Tell us in the comments list below!

Weatherford fired up for Super Bowl

January, 25, 2012
On the fourth try, going to the Super Bowl was a snap for Steve Weatherford.

Putting behind him the frustration of three previous losses in conference championship games, Weatherford's cool hands latched on to a low snap as he placed down the ball for a field goal that give the Giants a 20-17 victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game and Big Blue's ecstatic punter/holder a reason to scream at the top of his lungs.

Yes, just as he mouthed after tearing off his helmet and running around Candlestick Park like a wild man, Weatherford is finally going to the "[bleeping] Super Bowl."

"That was like unbridled joy," Weatherford said. "That was my soul on TV. That was unbelievable, I still can't believe that happened."

In what he believes is the best year of his career, the Giants punter is riding high heading into his first Super Bowl in what will ultimately be a homecoming game. He grew up 40 miles west of Indianapolis and will be playing in front of family and friends when the Giants take on the Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"Believe me, it's way more joy than relief," Weatherford said. "It's not like I had to go to the Super Bowl but at the same time, your fourth trip to the championship game, you would expect one of those times you're going to go. I'm glad it's with this franchise, I'm glad it's now because the Super Bowl is pretty much in my hometown so I'm really excited."

Judging by his wild reaction to kicker Lawrence Tynes' game-winning kick, it would be easy to think that Weatherford was the one who booted the Giants to the Super Bowl. He was just as excited before the kick even happened.

"He was animated. When we got a penalty and moved back, and thank God we did because we had grass and he was like, 'Lawrence, this is a Super Bowl spot right here. We're going to the (makes beeping noise) Super Bowl.' Then he ran over and yelled at (Giants coach Tom) Coughlin and Coughlin's like all right, get back out there. Then he's like, 'Let's [bleeping] make this kick, we're going to the Super Bowl." Tynes said. "His reaction, for a guy (who) brings it every week, in his fourth time to try to get there and he finally made it. Knowing that reaction is priceless."

After Tynes made the kick, that's when Weatherford became what his sister described as a "Youtube sensation." His reaction, helmet ripping off and foul word included, was shown in full detail just moments after the win. Tynes said that he has not been able to get that picture out his head, calling it awesome.

Of course, that close-up of Weatherford and his salty language didn't go unnoticed by his mother.

"I think I got in the locker room and I called my parents and I'm like, man, we're going to the Super Bowl and my mom was like what exactly did you say," Weatherford said. "I racked my brain, I'm like 'Mom, we're going to the 46th Super Bowl.' I don't know if she really believed me but she acted like she did."

Now, it's on to the Super Bowl for Weatherford, which had once been a tempting dream for the punter. He lost with the Saints in 2006 in the NFC Championship Game as well as the last two seasons with the Jets in the AFC title game. Three times he had been so close but ended up being just one game short.

Besides his pivotal hold on the kick, the punter played a big role in the Giants' win as he had 12 punts and averaged 46.4 yards per kick. In a game in which field position mattered so much, Weatherford helped keep San Francisco pinned in its own end.

A native of Crown Point, Ind., Weatherford said that he plans to get about 15 tickets for his family, as both sides of his family are from Indiana, and is looking forward to winning the Super Bowl with those closest to him in attendance.

That surely would be some celebration.

"It's more exciting for me really because I know as soon as we win I'm not going to have to travel far to celebrate with my family. It makes it special. Kind of like a storybook," Weatherford said. "It's my first Super Bowl ever and it's 30 minutes from my house. It's exciting. It's an exciting time. It's magical. It's every little boy's dream so it's an exciting time."