Sunday, January 8, 2012
Nicks does 'The Dirty Bird'
By Mike Mazzeo
Hakeem Nicks brought back "The Dirty Bird" in front of the "dirtbags" themselves.
After matching Earnest Gray for the longest touchdown reception in franchise postseason history -- a game-breaking 72-yard catch and run with 2:44 remaining in the third quarter that put the Giants up 17-2 -- the normally reserved 23-year-old wide receiver began dancing and flapping his arms the way Jamal Anderson used to when he got into the end zone for the Falcons 14 years ago.
"Antrel Rolle told me to do it," said Nicks, who finished with six receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-2 rout of Atlanta in the NFC wild-card game Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
"NO HE DIDN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Anderson tweeted at the time.
Yes, he did.
"Btw, I'm not mad at Nicks. I Broke out the Dirty Bird in 98, its trending on Twitter in 2012," Anderson later tweeted. "I didn't feel any disrespect. Plus, it was a tad sloppy. Haha."
Coming into the game, fellow wideout Victor Cruz was garnering all the headlines. But when it was all said and done, it was Nicks who reminded everyone that he's a superstar -- even if the lack of attention didn't bother him.
"I didn't feel I had to prove anything," said Nicks, who finished second to Cruz in receptions (76), yards (1,192) and touchdowns (seven) this season.
"I just felt like I had to play my game. I know what I am capable of. Victor Cruz is a great addition to our offense and he makes plays when he is called on and the same with all the other guys. We make plays."
Nicks, who was making his playoff debut, made his first big play of the afternoon with 2:47 left in the second quarter, when he hauled in a 4-yard TD pass from Eli Manning with Dominque Franks draped all over him.
"It was a little play action off a run fake," Nicks said. "It was something we practice during the week and Eli knew he had to get it up over the linebackers with the play-action pass. Once he put it up, he put it in a place where only I could catch it and I went up and got it."
Nearly a quarter later, Nicks sent the Giants back to Lambeau.
On a third-and-3 from the New York 28, Nicks got free over the middle and caught a 5-yard pass from Manning. He turned up-field, made a juke at the 44, eluded three Falcons tacklers, kept his balance as Dunta Robinson tried to dive for his feet at the Atlanta 45 and took it to the house from there. And then he did "The Dirty Bird."
"It was a zone coverage and I was actually about to sit, but when I saw all the linebackers' zone drop out of there, I just tried to get in Eli's vision," Nicks said. "Once I caught the ball it was just make a play."
Nicks became just the fifth Giant in franchise history to score two touchdowns in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Gray had his 72-yard score in the 1981 divisional playoffs.
Nicks was asked what kind of advice he received heading into his first postseason game.
"There wasn't too much said, it was just go out and play and have fun," Nicks said. "It is exciting and the moment doesn't come too often, so when it comes, just take advantage of it."