Tom Coughlin was going to finish the damn game, even though he was begging to leave his left leg. After Ref Ryan pronounced his team the best in New York and symbolized his intention to drive Coughlin out of town, the Goggles, trained by Coughlin, played jets on Christmas Eve 2011.
The Jets playoff hopes, the Giants playoff hopes, the Kaglin work-at-this-rip-roaring Holiday Matinee at MetLife Stadium are all in danger. And in the closing minutes, one of Ryan’s boys, Aaron Maybin, hit a late cross on Giants DJ Ware, who crashed into his coach’s legs.
Coughlin was badly injured and almost collapsed to the ground. His face couldn’t hide the pain more than hiding his NFC Championship game freezer-burn at Lambo Field four years ago. Coughlin was helped to the bench, where he was surrounded by coaches and staff, who hoped the 65-year-old man could muster the rest.
But Coughlin has no way of letting his opponent off the hook. Ryan spoke of a big game weekly, stating his plans to conquer the city and the entire league, and blurting out stupid things like “I can’t be a second violin.” If the Jets lose this inherent quarrel, Ryan admits, “It’s coming down on me.”
Like a ton of bricks.
The Giants proved themselves capable of making the playoffs at 7-7 today — 10 years later — in the halftime of Sunday’s game against the Rams. They lost five of their previous six games, and after falling behind 7-3 late in the second quarter, Eli Manning took a snap of his own 1-yard line and got the ball to Victor Cruz, who took it home.
But as Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown career changed, Coughlin’s toughness led the Giants to their second Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. The Giants got Coughlin’s personality that afternoon and never lost again. And when Maybin’s hit (he was called for unnecessary rudeness) sent Wray his way, Kaglin refused to step down and the figure was captured.
Kaglin told the crowd that he was proud of the fact that the high-speed collision did not knock his legs. He staggered from the point of impact, doubled over and put his hands on his knees, and then leaned back in pain as he prepared to faint. Coughlin stabilized himself, hugged himself to the bench and sat there for a few minutes. Then he got up and instructed people with his hands to clear his way. Coughlin put it back on the sideline for a blissful finale of a 29-14 victory that marked the beginning of Ryan’s end in New York.
When it was over, Coughlin dragged her to the middle ground, forcing his defeated opponent to shake his hand. Ryan just stopped and indulged in the classic Belichick-Ian drive-by, and then indulged the giants Brandon Jacobs indecently back and forth. The truth is, the winners were not angry about Ryan’s pregame blitz because the home team hung dark drapes on the Giants ‘Super Bowl logos outside their locker room over the Jets’ decision.
“Honestly he doesn’t care what Rex says or what Rex thinks,” said Chris Snee, his Pro Bowl guard and son-in-law.
Coughlin was asked if he had made a statement about Ryan. “We won the game,” he said. “That’s the statement.”
In the locker room, the player shouted to the injured coach, “No hardship, no championships.” Coughlin responded, “You said exactly that.”
His boss, John Mara, said Coughlin “wanted this game so badly for so many reasons,” and admitted that the giants were beyond motivation, “if you look at all the noise coming out of Flourham Park.”
On Caglin’s leg, Mara said, “I think you should kill him to get him down.” The coach promised to visit the coach’s room, not the player himself, and when asked how he felt in his postgame presser, he said, “Never better. Never better.”
Six months after her Super Bowl XLVI victory, Caulin gave no details of her injury, telling her that she needed surgery on a training-camp day, and that “the muscles attached to my hamstring pulled out. All three are at the top.”
Family members had urged him to go to the hospital after the Jets, but Coughlin insisted on going to his daughter for a Christmas party. When he got down from the car, he said to himself, “It wasn’t a great idea.” Regarding his willingness to continue coaching through the pain, Coughlin said his players “saw it and respected it.”
To earn another trip to the Super Bowl, the players won a violent overtime game in San Francisco, during which Manning endured a brutal blow. While Manning’s first championship team was defined by magic and opportunism, the latter was undoubtedly the hardest.
Tom Coughlin’s toughness, and his refusal to coach when his giants conquer the city on the day of Christmas.