There's no more second-guessing Tom Coughlin

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There's no more second-guessing Tom Coughlin

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- No more hot seat for Tom Coughlin. No more second-guessing. The 65-year-old Coughlin made NFL history on Sunday, becoming the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl by guiding the Giants to a 21-17 victory over New England for his second NFL championship in four years. "What I was concerned with was these guys making their own history," Coughlin said. "This is such a wonderful thing, these guys carving their own history." The Giants did that by capturing the franchise's fourth Super Bowl championship. New York only trails Pittsburgh with six, and San Francisco and Dallas with five, and became the first team to win the title after finishing the regular season 9-7. Coughlin and Hall of Fame candidate Bill Parcells are the only coaches to lead the Giants to two Super Bowl titles, and this game was as wild as New York's 17-14 win over the Patriots in 2008 for his first championship. "Each one is very unique, and this one is just as exciting, probably more so because of the kind of year we had," Coughlin said after seeing Tom Brady's desperation pass into the end zone fall incomplete. "What a wonderful experience it was to see the team come together like they did. Our defense started to play very well, we gained some confidence, and as they say the rest is history." That history will show was that it was Coughlin who kept this team together through early season injuries, a four-game midseason losing streak and a depressing loss to Washington in game No. 14 when they lost a share of first place with a no-show performance. Instead of getting upset, Coughlin told his team everything was still within their grasp, and they went out and took it all, winning their final six games. The final one was the most thrilling with two-time MVP Eli Manning leading an 88-yard drive that Ahmad Bradshaw capped with a 6-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds to go on a play the Patriots let the running back score to save time. "We won so many games like this, at the end of the game, the end of the fourth quarter," Coughlin said. "We talked about finishing all the time and winning the fourth quarter, being the stronger team, making the plays, and it happened again." It marked the seventh time that Manning had led a fourth-quarter comeback this season, and it's become the norm in a season that Coughlin has talked of nothing more than finishing games. "That last drive, looking at each other in the huddle, looking in each other's eyes, we said we're going to finish this things," tackle David Diehl said. The Giants didn't finish games the previous two years and they missed the playoffs. In his final pregame speech Saturday, Coughlin talked about finishing again, players believing in themselves and playing for each other. His final topic was family and love, not what one would expect from a man who is known as a disciplinarian. Coughlin, however, has learned how to reach young players lately and this message sunk in. "It was very passionate," defensive captain Justin Tuck said. "We could have come out and played at that point, we were so excited. It was hard sleep after a speech like that. I don't know what it is about Coach Coughlin, but his Super Bowl speeches, I give them a 10. They got me ready to play. I know he looks dull at times, but he is a fiery guy. You could tell it was from the heart." Coughlin not only motivated his team, he probably outcoached Bill Belichick. The Giants outgained the Patriots 396-349, and held the ball more than 37 minutes. Once again, New York won the turnover battle 1-0, giving them a 12-2 advantage in their six-game winning streak. Coordinator Kevin Gilbride's offense probably should have put up more points and Perry Fewell's' defense kept the Patriots off the scoreboard for the final 26:20. "It can't get much better," Giants chief executive John Mara said. "To have it happen one time, the way it did four years ago, was pretty incredible. To have it happen twice is hard to put into words." Coughlin laughed when asked about being a candidate for the Hall of Fame, but it's obvious his recent accomplishments have put him on the hall's radar. He downplayed matching Parcells' Super Bowl win total. "I'm very thankful and very grateful for the opportunity that I've had as a head coach of the New York Giants," Coughlin said. "The wonderful players that I have worked with, the coaches that have surrounded us and the support from ownership, that's what this is all about." And there is no doubt Coughlin will have that ownership support for as long as he wants.

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This, at long last, is a winning streak. A modest one, but still. 

Denard Span hit a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 win that became official one minute after midnight. The Giants have back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. 

The Giants led early, fell behind on a three-run dinger, and then chipped away until the game went to extras. Buster Posey twice gunned runners down at second to help keep the score tied and the bullpen held tough, with Cory Gearrin throwing three scoreless innings. 

Gearrin had a chance to win it for himself in the 14th, but he struck out with Gorkys Hernandez on second. Span promptly singled. If you’re just waking up for work, here are five things to know from a night when the seagulls outnumbered the humans … 

--- Matt Cain needs an assist on the first run of the night. With Gorkys Hernandez on first, he got a sacrifice bunt down on a two-strike curveball that was headed for the dirt. Hernandez went to second and promptly scored on Denard Span’s single to right. The curveball wasn’t so kind in the sixth. With a runner on, the Giants intentionally walked lifelong nemesis Nolan Arenado to get to Mark Reynolds. Cain hung a curve and Reynolds crushed it to left for a three-run homer. 

--- The Giants got a run back in the sixth when Brandon Crawford’s deep fly allowed Buster Posey to trot in from third. Crawford leads the majors with nine sacrifice flies. He also turned a ridiculous double play that can’t adequately be described, except to say that he should expand his trophy case. 

--- Kelby Tomlinson came off the bench to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. His single to right brought Brandon Belt in from third. Tomlinson is 9 for 27 as a pinch-hitter this season. That’ll keep you on the chartered jets. 

--- Sam Dyson, with a fastball that reached 97 and an infield defense that was just as firm, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in extras. What a find. 

--- With the go-ahead run on first and no outs in the 13th, Nolan Arenado put down a sacrifice bunt. That's one of the five best moments of the Giants' season.