Giants’ ground game finally comes to life in postseason
By SEAN JENSEN email@example.com February 5, 2012 11:24PM
The Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw scores the game-winning touchdown. | Mark Humphrey~AP
Updated: March 7, 2012 9:55AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw didn’t exactly reprise their days as keys in the Giants’ 2008 backfield nicknamed “Earth, Wind and Fire.”
But the team’s running backs combined for 26 carries for 109 yards, including a dicey six-yard touchdown from Bradshaw in a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In 2008 — the season after the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl — the Giants led the league in rushing yards, with Jacobs pounding out 1,089 yards, Derrick Ward churning out 1,025 yards and Bradshaw generating 355. But during the 2011 regular season, the Giants had the fewest rushing yards in the league.
In the postseason, though, each of the veterans stepped up at key times.
In the NFC wild-card round, against the Atlanta Falcons, Jacobs pounded out 92 rushing yards on 14 carries. And, in three playoff games, heading into the Super Bowl, Bradshaw paced the resurgent run offense with 46 carries for 200 yards.
They both shined on Sunday.
Bradshaw had 17 carries for 72 yards, while Jacobs barreled for 37 yards on nine carries.
And while Bradshaw scored a touchdown, he nearly wished he hadn’t.
“I took the handoff,” Bradshaw recalled. “ ‘Don’t score, don’t score.’ I tried to get down, but my momentum took me in.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick confirmed after the game that the plan was to let Bradshaw score, with 1:04 remaining and the Giants at their 6-yard line. That decision, though, was unsettling to some of his defenders.
“It killed me,” linebacker Brandon Spikes said. “When the call came in to let them score, I kind of was like, ‘What?’ I’m here to do a job, and it’s my job to play the defense and let them score.
“It was tough, though. It definitely was tough.”
The Patriots’ run offense was also among the league’s worst. And while they averaged 4.4 yards per run, they only attempted 19 runs. BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the way with only 44 rushing yards on 10 carries, and Wes Welker had two runs for 21 yards, including an 11-yarder.