The New York Giants went on yet another improbable run to win a Super Bowl this past year, their second in five seasons. As they begin the quest to be the first team to repeat since the New England Patriots did in 2003-04, they understand it will not come easy.
As with any champion, you start the season with a target on your back. The Green Bay Packers responded last year by going 15-1, and the Giants did pretty well in their defending champ year in 2008, going 12-4 as the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
But both of those teams have the same thing in common—they lost their only playoff game that year in the Divisional round.
Mathias Kiwanuka knows they cannot dwell on the past, but also understands they did some good last year.
“I think the momentum can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing depending on how you use it. I feel like as a group we have the right mindset which is not looking back on last year, what’s done is done, but we’ll take the successful things we did and try to recreate that again this year.”
The Giants finished 9-7 and most say they lucked into the playoffs. I’ll buy that, but also remember they had a ton of injuries they were dealing with. So when they ripped off six straight at the end of the year to become champions, it wasn’t surprising considering they had finally gotten healthy.
Victor Cruz is still without a renegotiated contract, but he admits that he doesn’t need the money to stay motivated.
“I don’t need a contract to stay motivated. Just the thrill of winning with my team, at home in New York, a place I grew up, that’s all the motivation I need to play football. I don’t think a contract is something that’s gonna motivate me.”
Field general Eli Manning improved drastically in 2011, but admits he still has a lot to work on. He spoke of his goals for the 2012 season.
“Still cut down on the turnovers. Continue to concentrate every practice, every play, on making good decisions. Make sure that whatever happens the ball is in our hands on the next play. That’s always going to be something you work on, keep reminding yourself, that mindset that we have to take care of the football.”
While the Giants are confident in their ability to possibly repeat, the entire team knows they finished 9-7 and there is always something to work on. Eli articulated this perfectly.
“We know we have to improve,” he said. “We were 9-7 last year in the regular season. That’s not good enough. We were a better team than that, obviously we showed that in the playoffs, but we have to have that urgency, that consistency throughout the whole season. That’s what we’re going to work on. Keep grinding, keep staying hungry to get better, and make sure we have another successful year this year.”
Having known what it feels like to miss the playoffs in 2009 and 2010, Eli definitely understands that you don’t get into the postseason with nine wins every year. They have to be better than that in 2012.
As training camp gets underway, the team is focused on the goal at hand. Anything less than a Super Bowl should be considered failure.
Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for RantSports.com. He contributes mainly to the New York Giants and NFL Rumors pages. He also will occasionally touch on the NBA and humorous videos involving all sports.
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