New York Giants: Mathias Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka: 'Anything can happen'

December, 27, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants need a lot of things to go right on Sunday just to get into the playoffs.

Many people have written off the 2012 team and started looking ahead to 2013.

But not Mathias Kiwanuka.

"We have enough guys that were here last year, and enough guys who have two rings, we know that anything can happen," the Giants linebacker said Thursday. "It's all about getting to the playoffs and then making that run."

[+] EnlargeMathias Kiwanuka
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesMathias Kiwanuka
That's what the Giants did a year ago, winning their final two regular-season games to sneak into the postseason and then surging to the franchise's fourth Super Bowl victory.

The Giants have the exact same record as they did at this point last year -- 8-7. But one more win won't be enough to punch a ticket to the postseason this year.

In addition to beating the Eagles, the Giants need the Lions, Packers and Redskins to win their games on Sunday. The latter two are favored, but the Bears would have to be upset by 4-11 Detroit in order for the Giants to hit the jackpot.

The chances of that happening: 14.4 percent, according to ESPN's NFL Playoffs Predictor.

Perhaps naturally, the Giants' locker room was in a state of limbo on Thursday. There was already some talk about next season, and possible changes to the roster.

"There's going to be a lot of guys that's gone next year," said running back Ahmad Bradshaw. "You never know who's going to be going. It could be me. It could be anybody."

There were laments about what has gone wrong the past 16 weeks. When told the Giants' defense was ranked 30th in the NFL -- third-to-last -- in total yards allowed, defensive tackle Chris Canty said, "That's a fall from grace. It's tough to realize that's the position that we're in, that's the quality of work that we put together. But the facts are the facts."

There was even talk of self-examination. "We haven't played well for two weeks in a row -- matter of fact, we've played very poorly,” said coach Tom Coughlin. "And the reason for that is, we need some real soul-searching, not only by me, but by the people in that locker room."

But there was also hope -- a little, at least.

A few weeks ago, the Giants hung four huge banners in their indoor practice facility, celebrating their four Super Bowl championship teams. Each one contains the name of every player from that particular squad.

A glance up at last year's banner Thursday revealed 42 players who are still with the Giants in 2012 -- a whole lot of championship experience to draw from.

Kiwanuka is one of those 42. And he hasn't given up on hanging banner No. 5 this year.

When asked Thursday about the Giants' inconsistency in terms of making the playoffs -- they've won it all twice in the past five years, but missed the playoffs twice as well -- he said, "I'd rather have the rings to show for it, to be honest with you. [But] that does not mean that we don't want to make a run in the playoffs. That's the objective right now."

"If I had to choose between being consistent in making runs and having rings, I think those (championship) seasons are special," he added. "And we're in the middle of a situation now where we have the ability, we have the chance, the opportunity at least to create another really special situation."

He's right, however you feel about the Giants' chances. And who would have predicted what happened one year ago?

This much is for sure: The story of this Giants team has at least one more chapter.

Pass rush registers six sacks

October, 15, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- After the abundant criticism the Giants' defensive line endured for the lack of pressure on the quarterback this year, defensive Osi Umeniyora seemed casual about the unit's dominating performance against the 49ers.

When brought to his attention that the Giants sacked 49ers quarterbacks six times, Umeniyora, quipped, "Was it six? I don't even know."

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
Ed Szczepanski/US PresswireJason Pierre-Paul (90) had two sacks Sunday.
It was six, and the Giants' superlative play on the defensive line caught the attention of their quarterback, Eli Manning.

"They played outstanding, flying around," Manning said. "When you see them play like that, hold the team to field goals, then we can be patient offensively. We don't have to force things."

The Giants might have surprised the 49ers by sending waves of pass rushers after quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. Typically, the Giants employ the same four of Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Umeniyora and Mathias Kiwanuka.

In this game, Marvin Austin and Adrian Tracy got cracks at rushing the passer with Kiwanuka reprising his role as a defensive end. Kiwanuka has spent his career bouncing between outside linebacker and defensive end, and pass-rushing end suited him well Sunday.

"It is fun being out there with those guys, I am not going to lie," said Kiwanuka, who registered a sack for a 14-yard loss.

Asked if he would now be part of the pass-rushing package he said, "I think that is a question above my pay grade."

Kiwi: We can feel the bull's-eye

September, 3, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's a basic tenet of pro sports: If you win a championship, you'll play the next season with a bull's-eye on your back.

And it's no different for the Giants, according to Mathias Kiwanuka.

Kiwanuka says the defending champs are well aware they'll be a target for opponents all season long.

"You feel it, you sense it, you hear it," Kiwanuka said on Monday. "People talk about it when you're out there on the field. We've been in [the opposite] situation, too.

"You want to measure yourself up against the best, and so it doesn't matter where you're at in terms of wins and losses. ... If you get a chance at the defending champion, you're going to give it your best shot."

The Giants open the season against Dallas on Wednesday; what follows is one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.

So how do you prepare for getting a team's best effort week in and week out, particularly when you're playing against a slate full of quality opponents?

"Just be prepared for it. Just know that we can't have any lapses at all during the season because we know it's going to come down to the smallest details," Kiwanuka said.

MURRAY MAY MAKE LIFE DIFFICULT FOR GIANTS: Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first quarter of the Giants' Week 15 win over Dallas last season. At the time of the injury, it seemed like Murray was poised for a big game against New York. He had 25 yards on five carries in the game's first seven minutes.

The injury also ended what had been a productive season for Murray. In Week 7 against St. Louis, the rookie from Oklahoma set a franchise record with 253 rushing yards.

Murray will be healthy for the Cowboys' opener against the Giants on Wednesday. And Kiwanuka thinks a healthy Murray can make life a little more difficult for New York.

"Any offense would change when you have a guy running the ball," he said. "Having Romo and adding that kind of complement to [the backfield], it makes defenses account for both run and pass at the same time, which is a little more difficult."

Eli leads list of ranked Giants

August, 21, 2012
Scouts Inc. and ESPN Insider's Matt Williamson have ranked players at all positions in the NFL heading into the 2012 season and the Giants are led by their two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback, Eli Manning. The signal-caller ranks at No. 15 overall and is one of eight Giants ranked in the top 200. Here's how they fared:

QB: Manning: No. 15 overall, No. 5 QB

RB: Ahmad Bradshaw: No. 28 RB

WR: Hakeem Nicks: No. 41 overall, No. 6 WR

WR: Victor Cruz: No. 156 overall, No. 23 WR

TE: Martellus Bennett: No. 32 TE

TE: Bear Pascoe: No. 39 TE

OT: Will Beatty: No. 32 OT

C: David Baas: No. 16 C

OG: Chris Snee: No. 192 overall, No. 9 OG

OG: David Diehl: No. 15 OG

OG: Sean Locklear: No. 33 OG

DE: Jason Pierre-Paul: No. 26 overall, No. 3 DE

DE: Justin Tuck: No. 58 overall, No. 8 DE

DE: Osi Umenyiora: No. 28 DE

DT: Chris Canty: No. 25 DT

DT: Linval Joseph: No. 30 DT

LB: Mathias Kiwanuka: No. 158 overall; No. 27 LB

LB: Michael Boley: No. 43 LB

CB: Corey Webster: No. 189 overall, No. 18 CB

S: Kenny Phillips: No. 11 S

S: Antrel Rolle: No. 16 S

K: Lawrence Tynes: No. 7 K

P: Steve Weatherford: No. 11 P

You can view the rankings here (Insider).

QUESTION: What do you think of these rankings for these Giants? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Cruz: Giants have chip on their shoulder

July, 26, 2012
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Giants reported to training camp today and the defending Super Bowl champs packed something heavy to go along with their luggage.

Victor Cruz says the Giants definitely have a chip on their shoulder.

"Coming into this season nobody's picking us to win, everybody's picking us to be last in the division and things of that nature," Cruz said. "Naturally, that puts a chip on our shoulder and we want to come out and prove people wrong, like we essentially have to do every year."

Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireWill the Giants be underestimated? Not by their opponents, Mathias Kiwanuka says.

The Giants have noticed people talking more about the Eagles and the Cowboys. And that is just fine by them, since the Giants take great joy in finding motivation from doubters.

But Mathias Kiwanuka knows opponents will set their sights on the Giants.

"Until you lose, you have to be called the best, right?" Kiwanuka said. "It's a new year, it's a new season, but we have the crown and that target on our back and we know it. That's why we're going to look at it that way, not to put ourselves above anybody but just to remember that when we play a team we're going to get their best game, their best shot."

DYNASTY TALK: Justin Tuck mentioned the "D" word long before Michael Vick, did when Tuck said he wanted the Giants to become a dynasty earlier this offseason.

So what does he think of Vick saying the Eagles have the makings of becoming a dynasty of their own?

"I understand what Michael is saying," Tuck said. "Obviously it's gonna get blown out of proportion. I think he was just talking about the belief in his football team. I don't see anything wrong with that."

"It wasn't a slight to any team that's won a championship or anything like that," he added. "He believes in his football team, why shouldn't he say it?"

Is there enough room for two dynasties in the NFC East, though?

"We're not a dynasty yet," Tuck said. "We still got some work to do ourselves. [But] no, there's not [enough room for two dynasties]. Right now there's not one in here yet, hopefully we can become that first dynasty."

GIANTS MOVES: The Giants announced that Ken Sternfeld is the team's new director of pro personnel after spending 10 seasons as the assistant director.

Dave Gettleman, previously the director since 1999, is now senior pro personnel analyst.

Sternfeld, along with pro scouts Matt Shauger and Patrick Hanscomb and department assistant Andrea Wagner, will scout opponents. Gettleman's focus is on individual NFL players.

"Dave has been a great mentor for myself and Kenny," GM Jerry Reese said in a news release. "He is a true professional that knows the business and he has the Super Bowl rings to back it up.

"Kenny is well-rounded, a tireless worker and well-prepared to take over as Director of Pro Personal."

Sternfeld has more than 20 years of pro and college scouting experience and spent 21 years with the New England Patriots, primarily in scouting. He joined the Giants in May 2002.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora again was a no-show at the Giants’ voluntary OTA workout.

And teammate Mathias Kiwanuka certainly understands why Umenyiora is not with his teammates.

“His situation… he has been under contract in a bad deal for years now and anybody who looks at the situation would say well, this should have been taken care of a long time ago,” Kiwanuka said when asked about Umenyiora’s contract dispute with the Giants. “For whatever reason it hasn’t. So I understand his frustration.”

Umenyiora is at odds with the team over his contract, which has this season remaining on it for just under $4 million. After Jerry Reese said the team had offered Umenyiora an extension the last two years, the defensive end countered by saying the team offered a guarantee of half of the $10.95 guaranteed money Kiwanuka received when he recently signed a three-year extension worth $21.75 million.

Kiwanuka said he was not upset that Umenyiora, who said the linebacker deserved his contract extension, brought up his contract.

“There was nothing that he said that was outright disrespectful,” Kiwanuka said. “Osi and I, we have a relationship. I know if something came up that I felt was out of line, I would have called him and we would have handled it but I didn’t think it was anything that went that far.”

“I know it wasn’t a slight at me, he was just trying to get his point across,” Kiwanuka added.

Justin Tuck carefully measured his words while supporting his good friend and teammate on Jim Rome's show on Tuesday.

“It's hard,” Tuck said on "ROME" on CBS Sports Network. “He signed a contract and I believe in abiding by that contract but also I think he's outplayed that contract, in today's market and how some of these defensive ends are getting paid lots of money I think he deserves to get paid.”

"I'm rooting for him to end his career as a Giant,” Tuck added. “But you also understand the business aspect of things and at the end of the day I just hope everything works out for him and his family and the Giants.''

Many of Umenyiora's teammates are watching to see how the situation will be resolved.

“If he was signed to a deal that was twice that and he performed half of what he is, he would have been cut by now,” Kiwanuka said. “That is just the reality of this game. But the fact that he is signed to a lower average salary deal and playing at a high level, 10-plus sacks every year, the fact that nothing has been done with it, it is an obvious issue. It would be an issue for anybody out here. I understand his frustration but there is nothing I can do about it.”

“At this point, he is trying to do whatever he can,” Kiwanuka added. “Everybody looks and sees how things are going for him and then wonders what would happen if I were in that same situation. As a player you empathize with him and hope it gets done.”

Tuck doesn't back off 'dynasty' talk

May, 23, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The defending Super Bowl champions were back on the practice field for the first time this offseason on Wednesday, taking part in the team's first OTA (Organized Team Activity) workout.

Almost every player on the roster was in attendance, despite the fact that OTAs are technically optional -- Osi Umenyiora being the most notable exception. Fellow defensive lineman Justin Tuck was present though, and afterwards he defended the "dynasty" talk that he started last week at the Giants' ring ceremony.

"Why wouldn’t I feel that way," Tuck said. "I don’t need to be playing the game if I’m not thinking about winning a championship every year.

"I feel very confident in this team’s talents and this coaching staff, and I believe we have that shot [at being a dynasty]. Me saying it, is that gonna make it happen? Absolutely not, but we do have a shot at it."

In general, the Giants seemed excited to be back in action, going through a spirited practice (without pads) that lasted a little more than an hour.

"It’s just great to be back on the field, practicing," said quarterback Eli Manning. "Wear a helmet. And competing against a defense a little bit."

"I’m glad to be back out here on this field," said wide receiver Victor Cruz. "Glad to be having this helmet back on, and these gloves, and getting back out there and catching some footballs."

Neither Manning nor Cruz spoke quite as strongly when asked about Tuck's "dynasty" comments, but both sounded confident about the upcoming year.

"I think of trying to get better for next year, that’s the mindset," Manning said. "The season ended up well, but if you look at our regular season, we still lost seven games. There’s a lot of room for improvement."

"Winning the Super Bowl last year, everybody kinda looked around and understood that we have the pieces in place to be a very good team for a very long time," Cruz said. "Dynasty? Too early to tell, but we’ll see what happens as the years come along."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin has high expectations. "I think we’ve kind of raised the bar for our own performance," Coughlin said, "whether it be in meetings, on the practice field, on the game field -- that’s what I want to see."

Several rookies who could play key roles this season got their first taste of action with the veterans on Wednesday, including running back David Wilson and wide receiver Rueben Randle, the team's first- and second-round draft picks.

"The development of these young guys is real important," said Coughlin. "Just to learn the new language is really critical."

Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka believes the team's relative youth will serve it well in 2012.

"We’re a very motivated team," Kiwanuka said. "There are a lot of guys that even though they’ve had success, they have a lot left to accomplish in their careers. I think that’s gonna work in our favor.

"From the coaching staff on down, everybody’s just hungry to win another one. It doesn’t matter how many we win, we’re always gonna want another one. We’re in a good spot. Yeah, we enjoyed the championship -- we have the rings, and they look nice -- but we’re ready to move on."

Osi cool with Kiwanuka extension

April, 27, 2012
As soon as the news came out that the Giants had given Mathias Kiwanuka a three-year contract extension, many wondered how Osi Umenyiora would feel.

Umenyiora says he is happy for his teammate and friend.

"Happy for Kiwi, he deserves it for sure," Umenyiora wrote in an email. "Especially all he has been through. A very good player. Honestly, it's a good, smart business move by the Giants. Take care of a good player and buy some insurance at the same time. Very well done."

But how will it impact Umenyiora's future? As Umenyiora says, the Giants did the smart thing, locking up Kiwanuka for a few more years with an extension worth $21.75 million through 2015 which includes an $8.5 million signing bonus and a total of $10.95 million in guaranteed money, according to reports. The New York Daily News first noticed the Kiwanuka extension.

Remember, Umenyiora has been asking for a new deal for years and sat out the first two weeks of camp last summer before later opting for minor knee surgery. He still had nine sacks in the regular season and another 3.5 in the Giants' Super Bowl playoff run.

"How that impacts me remains to be seen, though," Umenyiora said of Kiwanuka's extension. "But I understand why they would do that [extension for Kiwanuka]. It makes sense."

By signing Kiwanuka to an extension, the Giants have insurance in case Umenyiora doesn't return or if Justin Tuck or Jason Pierre-Paul were to get injured. Kiwanuka is still considered a hybrid linebacker/defensive end but he could see more snaps at pass rusher depending on Umenyiora's future, the addition of linebacker Keith Rivers and Dave Tollefson's departure in free agency.

Umenyiora will likely be watching the draft tonight and this weekend to see if he gets traded. We'll have to see what happens if the Giants draft another defensive end.

Who should stay and who should go?

February, 8, 2012

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Considering the Giants' 7-7 start this season, GM Jerry Reese may need to tweak things a bit. Do you have any recommendations?

Vote here in our Take 'Em or Trash 'Em poll.

Kiwi: Giants believed in me after injury

February, 8, 2012
Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka stood at halfcourt during the Knicks-Jazz game Monday night, along with some of his Super Bowl champion teammates, absorbing the thunderous cheers from the crowd. The moment validated his reasoning for being in New York; there was no other place he wanted to play and celebrate football's highest honor.

“It was very cool," Kiwanuka said, after being honored at Madison Square Garden. "This is one of the greatest cities in the world and I’m privileged and I’ve been blessed enough to play football, one of the greatest sports in the world, on this stage.”

Realizing how far he had come since Oct. 2010, Kiwanuka knew the halfcourt setting felt even more special, basking in the applause from the tens of thousands of New York sports fans in attendance.

Not only did Kiwanuka's fast start with the Giants that season come to an end, but his stint -- and even his career in the NFL -- looked stifled. Up until that point, Kiwanuka had four sacks in the first three games, but then he was diagnosed with a herniated cervical disk and the Giants placed him on injured reserve.

Fortunately, because doctors caught the injury soon enough, he was able to avoid surgery. But, according to Kiwanuka, many teams still had doubts about signing him heading into last summer. In the end, though, the Giants came through and the rest was a success for the 28-year-old. He finished with his best season in the NFL, totaling 62 tackles in all 16 games in 2011, and went on to earn his second Super Bowl ring with the team.

"I came off of a neck injury and a lot of teams said, 'We’re concerned about whether or not your neck will hold up for an entire year,'" Kiwanuka said. "But the Giants said, 'You know what? You’re ours. Once you’re back here, this is a role we have for you.' And I accepted it. I embraced it with open arms and I knew it was going to be a lot of moving around. I knew it was going to be a lot of learning. It was stuff that I had to study. But in terms of how I fit into this team, it was a great experience for me."

Before the Giants' ticker-tape parade on Tuesday, Kiwanuka said he hadn't had time yet to fully digest Sunday's victory. Give me a week, he said. Then, he'll be back to business.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Devin Thomas: 'I only need one ticket'

January, 26, 2012
Mathias Kiwanuka has probably gotten a ton of ticket requests, seeing as how Super Bowl XLVI is being played in his hometown.

As for Devin Thomas, he only needs one.

“As long as my dad is there, that’s all that matters,” the Giants special teams ace said Thursday. “Everybody else can celebrate after we handle our business.”

Thomas has a special bond with his father. His father was the one who introduced him to the game of football, and the one who has been with him through his best times and his worst.

“He’s the one who I need to be there supporting me,” Thomas said.

Thomas called his father immediately following the conclusion of the NFC Championship game.

“I told him, ‘Pops, we’re going to the Super Bowl!’” said Thomas, who had two crucial fumble recoveries in the Giants’ 20-17 overtime victory over the 49ers. It’s funny, because the story is, the last Super Bowl I went to was the Steelers versus Arizona. Me and my dad went together. And I told him, ‘Pops, we can’t go to Super Bowls anymore unless I’m in it.’”

How come?

“I was in the NFL already, and I’m sitting there watching guys play at that magnitude, and I’m like, I can’t come back and watch this, I gotta be a part of this.”

So this must be pretty surreal then, huh?

“It’s a dream come true,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ 2011 season has been much like his career: up and down. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old lost the starting kick returner role due to fumbling issues and was relegated to punt and kick coverage. On Dec. 18, he had to be carted off the field after he was nearly paralyzed while making at tackle on the final play of the first half of the Giants’ 23-3 loss to Thomas’ former team, the Redskins.

But on Sunday, Thomas redeemed himself. He scooped up a ball that caromed off Kyle Williams’ knee in the third quarter, then pounced on Williams’ second fumble in overtime after Jacquain Williams stripped him. Five plays later, Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants to Indianapolis.

“It’s very gratifying. It was all about perseverance, working hard and just grinding,” said Thomas, who was supposed to be a big play wide receiver in Washington, but fell into the doghouse and was eventually fired. “So many things happened this year, and I just kept pushing and trying to play my role as best as possible and for a huge moment like that, it took a lot out of me and made me fee great about the situation. now we’re in the Super Bowl.”

• Thomas on his two recoveries: “I couldn’t believe that [Kyle] was getting that close, I was waiting to see if he was going to pick it up, and then it grazed his knee, so I knew I could recover it. And the second one I couldn’t believe it, Jacquain got the fumble, and I was like man I gotta get this ball, and once I got it no one else could take it, and that sealed that situation.”

• Thomas dispelled the notion that the Giants were going after Williams with the intent to injure given his concussion history: “It’s more so just understanding personnel. You wanna find every strength and weakness that you can. And the whole concept of him having concussions is just the fact that he’s been hit a lot, and sometimes, like I’ve had a concussion, so when you get rattled like that, sometimes you’re judgment changes. Sometimes you worry about getting hit instead of holding onto the ball and what not on top of that he’s the backup returner. Huge role. Huge game. Just things like that that you key on. And making a legal hit. No cheap shots. But let’s see if we can rattle him and get a turnover. You’re just going after somebody knowing that you can try to do something that could change the game.”

Kiwi thrilled to be on field this time around

January, 19, 2012
When the Giants made their last run to the Super Bowl in 2007, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka was on injured reserve after breaking his left leg in a game against the Lions that November.

He didn't make the trip to Green Bay for the NFC Championship Game, but was at least on the sideline for Super Bowl XLVII in Arizona.

AP Photo/Bill KostrounMathias Kiwanuka

"It's emotional because you want to be out there so bad, but there's not a whole lot that you can do or say," Kiwanuka said Thursday, recalling his experience four years ago. "It's a tough situation to be in."

Kiwanuka also missed most of last season with a neck injury, but played in all 16 games this year. When asked what it means to him that he'll be out on the field Sunday in San Francisco, he said, "It's huge. This entire season has kind of been up and down, but there's no place I'd rather be than out here right now with these guys."

The converted defensive end had a career-high 84 tackles and 3.5 sacks during the regular season. A reporter asked him Thursday if, in his heart, he feels he is a defensive end or a linebacker.

"I'm a football player," Kiwanuka said. "I always say just put me on the field and I'll make plays.

"Going back to my college days, when I was a captain and young guys would come and ask me questions and all I would tell them is you have to make plays. If you make enough plays in practice, they will put you on the field. If you make enough plays on the field, you'll stay on the field."

If Kiwanuka and his teammates make enough plays on Sunday, they'll be headed to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis -- which just so happens to be Kiwanuka's hometown.

"It's been brought up a lot. Obviously I can't get around it, but we have to take one game at a time," Kiwanuka said. "We don't want any letdowns at all, and I don't want one. So yeah, that would be awesome -- but for right now let's just focus on getting this game and making sure we accomplish our goal."

Falcons QB Ryan has connections to G-Men

January, 4, 2012
The Giants will be doing everything they can to shut down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday.

But Ryan does have a few friends on Big Blue.

Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, guard Chris Snee, cornerback Will Blackmon and linebacker Mark Herzlich all were teammates of Ryan's at Boston College.

"I played with all those guys at BC and know all of those guys really well," said Ryan in a conference call with Giants reporters on Wednesday. "I have a lot of respect for those guys and they have done a great job. It will be fun to play against them and see them. I am happy for their success."

Blackmon actually played wide receiver as a senior in 2005 and was one of Ryan's favorite targets. "I was his guy," said Blackmon on Wednesday. "It was he and I the whole time. We swapped jerseys and he wrote on it, 'To Will, my first playmaker.'"

Snee's final year at Boston College as Ryan's first. "I hung out with him a little bit and we have spoken over the years," said Snee. "We were at the Pro Bowl together last year. Good guy.

"You could hear the coaches his freshman year saying he could be something special in the way he tore apart our defense. And how vocal he was -- he was barking at guys and that is very rare as a freshman."

Now in his fourth NFL season, Ryan threw for a career-high 4,177 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011, with just 12 interceptions. But he is still looking for his first playoff win, after losing to the Cardinals his rookie year and the Packers last season, when the Falcons were the top seed in the NFC.

"All the stuff that happened in the past doesn’t really make a difference," Ryan said Wednesday. "It comes down to preparing this week and doing whatever we can to keep advancing throughout the playoffs."

Herzlich said he sees a difference, and a similarity, between Ryan and Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

"Eli seems very quiet and reserved a little bit -- Matt not so much," said Herzlich. "He is very vocal, not only on the field but off the field. He will joke around and play pranks on people. But they both win and that is something they have in common."

We'll see which QB comes out on top on Sunday.

Kiwanuka faces former BC QB Ryan

January, 2, 2012
Mathias Kiwanuka is a supporter of his former Boston College teammate Matt Ryan -- except for when he squares off against his former quarterback in the playoffs on Sunday.

"I try to keep track of all the guys you played with and I am very proud of him and very happy for all the stuff he has done," Kiwanuka said on Monday. "Just hope he slips a little bit (this Sunday)."

The Giants linebacker and Atlanta quarterback played together at Boston College in 2004-05, with Ryan leading the team for two more seasons after Kiwanuka finished up his eligibility. In that short time together, Ryan left a favorable impression on Kiwanuka.

"He had no fear," Kiwanuka said. "He was going to release that ball regardless of what was there because he always felt he could make those throws. Over time you could see that confidence didn't come from nowhere. He has that ability to make tough throws and the confidence to go out there and do that. It is not a challenge we haven't done before. We got to get it done."

The linebacker went on to say that Ryan can make every throw in the NFL and is a prototypical quarterback, but he believes that as long as the Giants defense is in the right spots and knows what it is being asked to do, his team will emerge victorious. Kiwanuka and the Giants are 1-0 against Ryan, securing a 34-31 win in overtime in 2009.

Kiwanuka's play could play a large role in helping decide if the Giants can keep Ryan and Atlanta's offense in check. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin talked highly of Kiwanuka's play against Dallas on Sunday night, especially against the run. The coach said he hopes to see the continuation of that play moving forward.

"That was really an outstanding game for Kiwi," Coughlin said. "He penetrated, you saw him run through the back side and make the play on the power right off the bat, first play of the game, did that with some consistency throughout the game. Had some good rushes in the third-down packages as well. One of the packages was what you saw right away early in the game with Kiwi. He certainly did respond and play well."

Kiwi: Goal is to 'pitch a shutout'

December, 28, 2011
The Giants have long talked about the potential they have for being a great team if they can play with an edge they have shown at times this season and clean up their defensive mistakes and mental lapses.

The defense has yet to put together a complete game. But if they do, Mathias Kiwanuka knows what the outcome will be on Sunday night against the Cowboys.

"If we play a complete game from beginning to end, we'll pitch a shutout, which is what our goal is," the linebacker said. "The issue about miscommunication for missed gaps, gaps assignments, that kind of stuff -- this is the most important game on the schedule, so those kind of things are being taken care of right now."

The Giants had gap-control problems the last time they face the Cowboys, when Felix Jones rushed for 106 yards on just 16 carries.

As for the secondary, the Giants' defense had major issues in their previous meeting in Dallas. A breakdown in communication allowed Dez Bryant to walk in for a 50-yard touchdown catch.

The Giants were able to eliminate significant lapses in the secondary during last week's win over the Jets.

"I think when you watch the tape, they are playing really good football," Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said. "We caught a break one time when they had a miscommunication. ... They are a good group, so you have to be ready for them to come out and play their best game. I expect for them to come out and play tight man coverage and come after us. That is what our game plan is, to be ready for that."

The Giants will definitely try to get to Romo quicker, knowing he has an injured throwing hand.

"I think during the course of the game you get a sense of whether a guy is at full go or not," Kiwanuka said when asked about Romo's swollen hand. "The only thing that changes is you want to get after him and you want to get there a little faster.

"But in terms of Romo and the rest of the Cowboys playing, we expect them all to play. This is a playoff game for both of us. Everything is on the line. We’re expecting their best game."