|At a combined 18-1, Giants and Patriots rule the road|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 30 January 2008 23:34|
University of Phoenix Stadium is a neutral site.
Don't tell the New York Giants. They're treating it as a road game.
``It's not Giants Stadium,'' defensive end Justin Tuck said. ``We had to go on a plane to get here.''
No wonder they feel that way. They've reeled off 10 straight road wins, the most in an NFL season, including three in the playoffs over division winners Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay.
The Giants posted an ugly 3-5 record in the Meadowlands and didn't win a home game after Oct. 21. They're a different bunch in white shirts.
``We have played very well on the road, and I really believe, as I've said many times, that the team concept is the reason we have played well on the road,'' coach Tom Coughlin said. ``We have bonded well together and we have supported one another.''
Coughlin said he had ``a lot of secrets'' that might explain the Giants' road success, but he wouldn't share them.
``Ten road wins is amazing,'' said Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a four-year veteran who appeared at a Pro Bowl news conference on Wednesday. ``I've never even won two in a row.''
The unbeaten New England Patriots, of course, went 8-0 on the road this year. That makes the Patriots and Giants a combined 18-1 as visitors this season.
The Patriots said there's no secret to their success away from Foxborough. It's all about consistency, the mantra stressed by coach Bill Belichick.
``We just do a good job of preparing ourselves,'' wide receiver Troy Brown said. ``This isn't a field trip here. We're getting paid to do this, and guys should take a lot of pride in doing their jobs.''
New England's last road victory was a 38-35 win over the Giants in East Rutherford on Dec. 29. Because of a scheduling quirk, the Super Bowl will be only the Patriots' second game away from Foxborough since Dec. 3.
The Giants launched their streak in a 24-17 victory at Washington on Sept. 23. New York rallied from a 17-3 halftime deficit, capping the victory by stuffing the Redskins after they had a first-and-goal at the Giants 1-yard line.
``We won six straight games following that, and the boost that it provided for our players was very evident in the way that the players responded at halftime and going back on the field,'' Coughlin said.
The Giants added victories at Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Buffalo. They also were designated the visiting team in a victory over Miami in London.
``For some reason we play well on the road,'' defensive end Michael Strahan said. ``I mean, 10 in a row. I think we seem to play better when we are underdogs against the ropes and no one believes that we have an opportunity to win.''
They managed to win even when they didn't play well.
New York turned the ball over four times at Chicago on Dec. 2 and still held off the Bears 16-10. Playing in rain, sleet and snow, the Giants overcame four more turnovers - and a 14-0 first-quarter deficit - in a 38-21 victory at Buffalo on Dec. 23.
The Giants capped the streak with three playoff victories. The last team to win three postseason road games was the Pittsburgh Steelers, who carried the momentum to a 21-10 victory over Seattle in the 2006 Super Bowl.
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was on Pittsburgh's staff, and said the Steelers' confidence grew with each triumph, much the way it has for the Giants.
``They developed a mentality that they could do that, and it carried over into the playoffs,'' Whisenhunt said in an interview from his office in Tempe. ``It intensifies your focus and it really makes you play together. It really rallies your team from that standpoint.
``It's not easy to win on the road, and certainly not in the playoffs,'' Whisenhunt said. ``It will, I believe, help them this week. The Super Bowl, the week before, a lot of it is how you handle distractions. Having had success on the road makes you better at handling that.''
The Giants say they've developed a closeness during the road streak. Many teams talk about adopting an us-against-the-world mentality, but New York seems to have achieved it.
``You know, when you go on the road, you're your own team,'' Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said. ``There's nothing like making a stadium quiet when you leave someone else's stadium.''
They hope to leave University of Phoenix Stadium the same way on Sunday, even though it may be divided between New Yorkers and New Englanders.
``I don't think we're the home team, are we?'' cornerback Sam Madison asked. ``We're wearing white jerseys.''