Antrel Rolle knew 2011 Giants would 'do whatever it took' to win
The Giants went on a magical run in 2011, but if it weren't for a strong finish to the season, the Giants never would have made it to the postseason.
Tom Coughlin's squad sat at 6-2 after beating the Patriots in Week 9. But then came four consecutive losses, dropping their record to 6-6 with only four games remaining. Big Blue split the next two games for a 7-7 record heading into a crucial Week 16 "away" game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
It was one for the ages. Victor Cruz caught a 99-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning, Chris Canty sacked Mark Sanchez in the end zone for a safety, and the defense caused three turnovers to help lead the Giants to a 29-14 victory.
Former Pro Bowl safety and Super Bowl champion Antrel Rolle joined the Giants Huddle podcast to discuss the team's special run to a title that year, and according to Rolle, the win over the Jets was the true turning point of the season.
"I didn't know what we were capable of until we played the Jets at home the second to last game of the season," Rolle said. "In that moment, it wasn't the talent level that made me think that way. It wasn't the talent level. It was more so the attitude. It was more so the fight. It was more so the tenacious dog that I saw within our team. I saw that the team wanted it. I saw that we wanted it. At that point in time, I knew we would do whatever it took in order to be victorious on any given Sunday.
"Like I said, it wasn't the plays, it wasn't the miraculous plays, it wasn't the talent that we had at several different positions. It was the attitude that I saw. It was guys going out there and being relentless. It was guys going out there and honestly putting it on the line for the guy next to them. I saw guys making certain sacrifices in order to be successful. I knew then that we had a shot. I think that's what honestly gave me the mindset that I had that I was going to do anything and everything. I was literally going to exhaust myself to the absolute limit in order to try to be successful for this team and to be successful for the guys next to me."
Once in the playoffs, the Giants cruised to victories against the Atlanta Falcons (24-2) in the Wild Card Round and the Green Bay Packers (37-20) in the Divisional Round. But then came the matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship, which served as a low-scoring and hard-hitting affair.
Manning finished the contest 32 of 58 for 316 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, but his performance goes well beyond those numbers. The Giants QB was sacked six times and hit a lot more by a tough 49ers defense. Yet after every big hit, Manning would stand back up, fix his pads and uniform and move on to the next play, eventually leading the Giants to a 20-17 overtime win.
It was this gritty performance in the NFC Championship that truly showed Rolle just how far his quarterback would go in order to help the team win.
"Offensively, my gosh, I didn't think that Eli could take any more damage and punishment than he did that game," Rolle said on the Giants Huddle podcast. "I kept saying to myself, 'Oh man, he's done. He's done. He's not getting up. That's too much.' Every single time, that dude with the No. 10 on the back of his jersey would get up, he would fix his shoulder pads, he would fix his jersey and he would come out swinging.
"That's when I honestly became an Eli Manning fan. I always loved his game, always appreciated him as a teammate, but that game made me a fan, to the point where I could look up at him and I could honestly glow because I knew that he had that dog in him. I knew that he was relentless. I knew that he was willing to withstand and do anything and stand that pain in order for us to be victorious. When you have a guy like that on your side, how can you not go out there and give him your all? How can you not go out there and exhaust yourself? That's what it was all about. Just riding for the guy next to you."
Giants to celebrate 10th anniversary of 2011 championship season
The New York Football Giants will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Super Bowl XLVI championship throughout the 2021 season.
"Winning Super Bowl XLVI was an incredible achievement in our franchise's history. We look forward to recognizing that historic season with the enthusiastic support of our fans, and the players, coaches and staff who dedicated so much that season to help us reach our ultimate goal of winning a championship," said John Mara, the Giants' president and chief executive officer.
The celebration kicks off today with the launch of the "Bracket Challenge" where fans can visit the team's twitter account (@Giants) to vote for the top play from the championship season. In addition, the team has announced a retail collaboration with CARL BANKS and the STARTER brand; fans can purchase limited edition "ALL IN" collector series t-shirts highlighting key plays and moments exclusively through the Giants online store at http://shop.giants.com.
"The exhilaration you feel while hoisting a championship trophy is extraordinary. While we work to again savor that feeling, we are excited to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Super Bowl XLVI championship team," said Steve Tisch, Giants chairman and executive vice president.
Re-live New York Giants' unforgettable 2011 season
The Giants went on one of the most inspiring and memorable runs in the history of the franchise, one that ended with a victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI – their second championship in five seasons.