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Friday, January 27, 2012
Cruz hopes to bring salsa to Super Bowl

By By Dan Riccio, ESPN Stats & Info

Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesGiants wide receiver Victor Cruz had a breakout season this year, setting a team single-season receiving record. He also scored nine times, celebrating his touchdowns with some salsa dancing.
You can bet New York Giants fans around the country will bring plenty of chips to Super Bowl parties this year, but don’t be surprised if they are counting on someone else to provide some salsa.

The sparkplug of one of the NFL’s most talented wide receiving corps, Victor Cruz, has had New York fans shaking their hips with every touchdown this season.

Cruz finished the regular season as the Giants’ single-season record holder with 1,536 receiving yards and led the team with nine touchdown receptions, followed by a celebration salsa dance. As we take a closer look at his sophomore success, it's easy to see why he could be bringing his moves to Super Bowl XLVI.

Among tight ends and wide receivers, Cruz finished with the third-most yards after the catch during the regular season, trailing only Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, who will both suit up for the New England Patriots next Sunday.

Cruz’s moves aren’t only useful on the dance floor, but he’s also hard to tackle. Cruz averaged 2.99 yards after contact per reception this year, the best in the NFL among wide receivers with at least 50 receptions.

The X factor to Super Bowl XLVI might not be who matches up with Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham near the edge, but how the Patriots choose to cover Cruz in the slot.

No defense allowed more touchdowns with at least three wide receivers on the field than the Patriots during the regular season and playoffs combined. Meanwhile, no team has run more plays, completed more passes and thrown more touchdowns with at least three wide receivers on the field than the Giants this postseason.

The Patriots could call on wide receiver Julian Edelman to again pull double duty as the nickel cover man on Super Sunday. Cruz caught 76.8 percent of his receptions in the regular and postseason after lining up in the slot before the snap while Edelman has filled in as the slot cornerback on 80.3 percent of his defensive plays.

Look for Cruz to take Edelman to the outside where the Giants wideout is king. No qualified player in the NFL averaged more yards per reception on passes thrown outside the painted field numbers this regular and postseason.

Seven of Cruz’s nine touchdowns this season have come on sideline passes, celebrated with extra Latin flavor to honor the dancing lessons given to him as a young man by his grandmother.

While Giants’ fans will not get to vote for Cruz on “Dancing with the Stars” after he recently turned down an invitation for the show, they will certainly hope to see him dancing on the field in Indy during Super Bowl XLVI.