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.

Instant Replay: Sharks allow six to Stars, losing streak now at five

Instant Replay: Sharks allow six to Stars, losing streak now at five

BOX SCORE

DALLAS – Entering the game with their longest regulation losing streak of the season, and playing against what should have been a tired opponent that is already out of playoff contention, the Sharks were obliterated by the Stars on Friday at American Airlines Center, 6-1.
 
From the drop of the puck, the Sharks looked like they had no interest in competing against a Dallas team that had played in Chicago on Thursday night, and had already beaten San Jose earlier in the week.

The loss stretched the Sharks’ losing streak to five, and it is the longest in more than six years when they dropped six in a row from Jan. 3-13, 2011. After enjoying a nine-point lead on the rest of the Pacific Division on March 14, the Ducks can tie San Jose in points with a win over Winnipeg later on Friday.
 
Adam Cracknell, who paced the Dallas offense with a hat trick, opened the scoring with his first of three goals. He drove the puck to the net while fighting off Brenden Dillon, and Micheal Haley inadvertently kicked the loose puck through Aaron Dell at 8:30 of the first period.
 
Prior to that score, it took the Sharks more than seven minutes to register their first shot.
 
San Jose escaped down just 1-0 at the first intermission, but it quickly got worse. Brett Ritchie was left open by Dillon and whipped in a pass from Tyler Seguin at 1:58, and then Dallas’ third goal really set off coach Pete DeBoer.
 
Joe Pavelski lost a defensive zone draw, and Brent Burns inexplicably vacated the front of the net, where Jamie Benn was wide open. Benn had all kinds of time to freeze Aaron Dell and slip through his 25th goal at 5:19.
 
DeBoer called timeout at that point, and was as visibly upset at his bench as he has been in his two seasons as head coach, barking away at the stunned Sharks skaters.
 
It didn’t help. Cracknell made it 4-0 off of a rush less than two minutes after the timeout, and although Joe Thornton got one back on the power play, the Stars scored two more times in the third period. 
 
Dell misplayed a puck on a Sharks power play, sliding it right to Cracknell for a breakaway in which he finished off a hat trick at 4:59. Just 21 seconds later, John Klingberg converted a two-on-one with Jason Spezza – who had three assists on the night – to make it a 6-1 Dallas lead.
 
The five-game winless streak is their worst since they went 0-6-1 from Dec. 1-12 last season.
 
San Jose has just five goals in its last five games.
 
The Sharks had Jannik Hansen back for the game, after the recent addition had missed the last two games with a head injury. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, though, was not able to finish the game, for reasons that were not immediately clear.
 
Special teams 
 
Thornton’s goal was his first on the power play all season, as the Sharks went 1-for-2. Dallas was 0-for-2.
 
Cracknell’s shorthanded goal was the fourth the Sharks have allowed this season.
 
In goal
 
Dell suffered his worst game of the season, and his NHL career, allowing six goals on 29 shots. He played all three games against Dallas, stopping 48 of 50 shots in the first two.
 
Kari Lehtonen, who shut out the Sharks with 30 saves on Monday in a 1-0 win, made 20 saves on Friday. He has played in 10 straight games.
 
Lineup
 
Timo Meier came out of the lineup for Hansen, while Danny O’Regan was reassigned to the Barracuda earlier in the day.
 
Burns snapped out of his seven-game scoreless streak with an assist on Thornton’s goal, but still has no goals in his last 15 games.
 
Dallas’ Tyler Seguin was skating in his 500th career NHL game.
 
Up next
 
The Sharks conclude their road trip Saturday in Nashville, their only appearance there in the regular season. In the first two games of the season series in San Jose, the Sharks won on Oct. 29, 4-1, but dropped a 3-1 decision on March 11.

A's spring training Day 39: Melvin applauds team's hitting approach

A's spring training Day 39: Melvin applauds team's hitting approach

MESA, Ariz. — Gaudy run totals in spring training usually don’t mean a whole lot once the regular season hits.

For A’s manager Bob Melvin, it’s the manner in which the A’s are going about things offensively that’s encouraging to him.

Oakland jumped on another opponent early, scoring five runs in the first Friday and rolling to an 8-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Granted, Chicago scratched starter Carlos Rodon in the morning and had to piece the game together with its bullpen.

But that only takes so much luster off the way the A’s are going about their business right now. They’ve won four in a row, and over their past five games they’ve racked up 71 hits and are averaging more than eight runs per contest in that span.

“The good thing is it’s contagious throughout the lineup,” Melvin said. “In the first inning alone we had four situational at-bats and four situational plusses. That’s something Bushy (hitting coach Darren Bush) really has been stressing all spring. We’ve had a lot of games where we just pass it on to the next guy, and if we’re gonna be successful this year, that’s what we’re gonna have to do is get contributions throughout the lineup.”

It’s interesting to watch how Melvin utilizes Matt Joyce. Early on he said he prefers the right fielder batting third when he’s in the lineup. But Joyce also is drawing starts at leadoff, as he did Friday, and the No. 2 spot. Increasing on-base percentage is a big need for the A’s, and Joyce entered Friday tied for the Cactus league lead with 10 walks.

He singled to spark a five-run first that included RBI singles from Trevor Plouffe, Yonder Alonso, Mark Canha and Chris Parmelee.

ELITE COMPANY: Melvin threw out some big-time names when asked who young third baseman Matt Chapman reminds him of.

One was Melvin’s former Giants teammate, Matt Williams, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover.

“The defense, Matty was as good as anybody I've seen over at third base,” Melvin said. “The power, there are a lot of similarities. That’s probably the best comp I could think of.”

Melvin also mentioned current Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has won four consecutive Gold Gloves and posted back-to-back 40-homer seasons.

Not a bad couple of guys to be compared to.

“That’s exciting,” Chapman said. “It’s always nice to have people speak well of you. Those are two guys that I’m aware of how good they are.”

NOTEWORTHY: It was another start Friday where Kendall Graveman seemed to be on auto pilot, retiring hitters with ease and holding the White Sox to one run over seven innings. All the more impressive was that A’s hitters put together some very long half-innings, where Graveman had to make sure he stayed loose.

He simply took it as a good challenge to prepare for all those cold night games at the Coliseum. Named the A’s Opening Night starter just a day earlier, Graveman also used this start to focus on his cutter, being that his sinker has been locked in.

“It was good to have some innings where you have to sit for a while and go back out there,” Graveman said.

His ERA is 2.29 through five starts. He has one more tune-up before the April 3 opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

HEALTH UPDATES: Outfielder Jaff Decker continues to progress from his oblique injury. Now the key is whether he can return to games in time to make a final push for the 25-man roster. Alejandro De Aza appears to be his biggest competition to be the fifth outfielder, if the A’s end up carrying five.

“It just depends on when he gets in a game,” Melvin said of Decker. “I mean, he’s done enough obviously to make a big impression on us. But whether or not he’s even healthy enough at the end, we’ll see.”

ODDS AND ENDS: Ryon Healy swatted his fifth homer of the spring, a two-run shot, in the second inning. Entering Friday evening, Healy was tied for the major league lead in RBI (16) with Boston’s Pablo Sandoval. … Plouffe is on a recent tear and has lifted his average to .395. … Parmelee, a non-roster outfielder, is impressing in under-the-radar fashion. The left-handed hitter is batting .367. … Melvin is having a heck of a time getting switch hitter Jed Lowrie at-bats from the right side. He purposely switched things up to have Lowrie face the lefty Rodon on Friday, only to have Rodon get scratched. The A’s face lefties each of the next two days, and Melvin also mentioned sending Lowrie over to face minor league lefties if need be.