He got a ring. Now he's got a role.
Running back Andre Brown – of "We got a ring" fame in the wake of Super Bowl XLVI – had been waiting for a moment like Sunday. A moment when his head coach would come up to him and say, 'Hey, you're up.'
That's exactly what happened on the sideline midway through the second quarter of the Giants' 41-34 victory over Tampa Bay once it became clear starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw would not return from a neck injury.
It was Brown's turn, and he made the most of it, leading all rushers with 71 yards on 13 attempts and plowing in for a successful two-point conversion to tie the game (and complete the 14-point comeback) in the fourth quarter before scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 31 seconds left in the game.
Playing it cool in front of a group of reporters and cameras huddled around his locker after the game, Brown was yelling 'finally' on the inside.
"Especially my situation…active, inactive, cut 18 million times, and finally to get an opportunity like this." Brown said. "I'm playing this role like I'm chill right now, but you don't know. I'm just excited. I can't wait to go home and watch the game.
"I haven't even looked at my phone yet. My mom has probably left 18 messages. I'm just really looking forward to looking at the tape, looking at what I can improve and getting ready for next week. I mean, Thursday, I can't even say [next week]."
That's right. Brown, who had to be hooked up to an IV after easily the largest workload yet of his professional career, only has two days before the team packs up for Carolina to take on the Panthers Thursday night. Wednesday will be the travel day.
"I know I'm going to be sore tomorrow," said Brown, whose career totals were two rushes for minus-one yard entering Sunday afternoon. "I know it's going to be a good sore – at least we won. That's all that I was praying for – at least get a win out of this. It came and it happened and it's time to put it in the past and go look at the next game."
Originally a fourth round draft choice by the Giants in 2009, Brown, 25, moved around to four teams (Broncos, Colts, Panthers, Redskins) before returning to the Giants in 2011 when he spent the season on the practice squad as the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.
Making the 53-man roster this season, Brown was still a special teams contributor and walked into MetLife Stadium Sunday morning with that mindset. Things changed, however, and he found himself assuming the bulk of the rushing load, which led to him to getting the nod on the pivotal two-point conversion attempt after Victor Cruz's 80-yard touchdown.
Forcing a quick three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Giants went down and scored on an Eli Manning throw to Martellus Bennett for a seven-point lead. The Bucs, however, answered quickly with their own 41-yard score through the air. But just like they have done so many times in recent memory, the Giants charged back, and were within striking distance after a 24-yard catch by Ramses Barden and another 50-yard bomb to Hakeem Nicks.
That set up a first down at Tampa's 11, where the Buccaneers, wanting another turn on offense, made it clear they were going to let the Giants score from that point. So there Brown found himself – in his fourth NFL season, having never scored a touchdown -- taking the handoff with the Buccaneers just begging him to score. But Manning told him to take a seat, which he did.
"I heard Eli say, 'Get down,'" Brown recalled. "And I was like, alright I've got to get down. He said you can go ahead and score on the next play.
"It was hard. But considering the situation, we were going in for the game-winning drive. It felt only right. It came through and I ended up getting the touchdown that I wanted…I was just following orders from the head chief. You can't go wrong listening to Eli."
Giving Giants fans flashbacks to when Bradshaw nearly did the same thing at the end of Super Bowl XLVI, Brown went down this time at the two-yard line. The savvy move ate 46 more seconds off the clock, and Brown got the carry on the next play and went in for the go-ahead score untouched.
Beginning his informal press conference by saying he's not used to this attention, Brown is ready for more.
"We've got a long season," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of you all, all right?"