INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin has shrugged off many suggested comparisons to his Super Bowl winners from four years as he prepared his players for Sunday’s National Football League (NFL) title rematch against the New England Patriots.
Yet the Giants coach said on Thursday he was still tapping into one of the underlying themes used to motivate his players for their upset of the then-unbeaten Patriots in the Super Bowl.
“It’s still us against the world,” said Coughlin, recalling the rallying cry used by the 12-point underdog Giants who denied New England’s bid for the first 19-0 season. “That’s the way we play it, period. We’re still the underdogs. We still have an awful lot to prove.”
The Patriots, riding a 10-game winning streak, are three-point favorites over the Giants, who powered themselves into the playoffs after a four-game losing streak and are bidding to become the first 9-7 team to win the Lombardi Trophy.
“Talk is cheap, play the game,” added Coughlin, using another of his well-worn mottoes.
Not talking, however, can be expensive as Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora found out when was fined $20,000 by the NFL for not showing up to Wednesday’s media availability session.
Umenyiora said he made an honest mistake, not thinking the session was mandatory.
“We had just gone through the whole media day the day before so I wasn’t sure that this was mandatory so I went to hang out with my family. It was a mistake, a costly one,” he said.
While Coughlin was playing the “underdog” card, some players noted that the Giants were local favorites as far as NFL fans in Indianapolis, site of Sunday’s game, were concerned.
Three factors seemed to favor the Giants among Indianapolis Colts Nation.
The NFC champions feature hometown hero Mathias Kiwanuka, who won two state high school football championships, New York’s quarterback Eli Manning is the brother of Colts’ long-time signal caller Peyton Manning, and the Patriots have been fierce rivals of the Colts over the years.
Kiwanuka said the Giants could get a boost from the support of the local crowd.
“I definitely think we will, not just because of me,” said Kiwanuka. “There’s the Mannings, and the way that the city responds to teams that play the way we do. Those hard, gritty kind of teams. I feel like we’ll have the city behind us.”
Editing by Frank Pingue