NFL Notes: Messin' with Brady

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:38 PM ET

The New York Giants’ road to the Super Bowl runs over Tom Brady’s back.

If they can get pressure on the New England quarterback, if Justin Tuck or Mathias Kiwanuka get a hand on Brady, the Giants have a chance to beat the Patriots for the second time in five years.

If they don’t, chances are this game will cement Brady’s stature alongside Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls.

“Everybody can be rattled,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka told reporters as the teams began practices this week. “He’s obviously one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever played the game, but like I said all along, if you hit somebody hard enough and enough times, it’s going to rattle him and it’s going to make him less effective at their job.”

Knowing what to do, and actually doing it are two different things.

The Giants, though, do have hindsight on their side. They sacked Brady five times in the Super Bowl four years ago, snapping the Pats’ 18-0 run. They also beat him in Week 9 this season in Foxborough, where no other team had beaten him in the regular season since 2006.

That isn’t going to make it any easier this time. “Every time you play against Tom, you have to go to the drawing board,” Tuck said. “He’s definitely going to look at what we had success against him with the first time and come out with something to beat that. You have to do something different.

“It’s going to be a chess match ... because if he gets a sense of what you want to do to him before he snaps the ball, it’s pretty much impossible to stop him.”

The Giants rely on their four down linemen to generate their pass rush, which leaves seven men in pass coverage and, said Giants’ safety Antre Rolle, they need every one of them. “He’s tough, man,” Rolle said. “When I’m in zone coverage, I can just see him scanning the field and I’m like, ‘Dang!’ He’s so good at it and so quick, it kind of stuns you for a second. He’s an exceptional quarterback, man, and he gets all of the credit he deserves and then some.”

GOODELL ON 60 MINUTES

The National Football League may be enjoying too much of a good thing.

Television viewing numbers are at an all-time high. And, not that commissioner Roger Goodell is complaining, but he’s also cautioning that the league has to be wary of becoming a victim of its own success.

“The experience is so great at home,” said Goodell, that the league is facing challenges in getting fans to attend games. This is particularly true in certain cities, such as Jacksonville.

Speaking on CBS’ 60 Minutes, to be aired Sunday, Goodell says nearly 60 million people watched last Sunday’s conference championships,

LIFE/CAREER CUT SHORT

Greg Cook, a Bengals quarterback whose immense talent was never fully realized because of a shoulder injury suffered in his third professional game, has died at the age of 65, the result of pneumonia. The fifth pick in 1969, he led Cincinnati to a 3-0 record his rookie season before injuring his shoulder.

Amazingly, Cook led the league in passer rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt and yards per completion as a rookie playing through a torn rotator cuff. He missed three seasons, played one more game, then retired.

“Greg was the single most talented player we’ve ever had,” Bengals president Mike Brown said Friday. “His career was tragically short. Had he been able to stay healthy, I believe he would have been the player of his era in the NFL.”

In his book Greatest Quarterbacks, Peter King rated Cook as one of the 50 best players ever to play the position. He was an incredibly gifted person in so many ways,” former teammate Bob Johnson said. “He was the most talented quarterback or prospect we ever had. I think he was a pretty happy guy considering everything. The injury really didn’t get him down. He was a pretty free spirit. He was pure, flowing genuine.”

The late Bill Walsh, who coached NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, told The Enquirer in 1997 that Cook was the best quarterback talent he had ever seen.

“It was one of the great tragedies of sports,” former Bengals tight end and NFL broadcaster Bob Trumpy said.

GIANTS’ WOUNDED WALKING

Giants rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams is in a walking boot with a sprained right foot but vows to play in Super Bow XLVI, even if he has to hop.

“It’s nothing serious,” Williams said. “I’ll be there. I’ll be ready for the game.”

Williams was one of four Giants who did not practise Friday. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks sat out practice with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. He also said he will play.

Cornerback Corey Webster rested his hamstring injury and cornerback Will Blackmon sat with a knee injury as head coach Tom Coughlin said the team is being cautious to make certain everybody will be ready for the Super Bowl.

Williams injured his foot in the NFC Championship game against the 49ers but said he didn’t know how it happened. Nicks said he landed on his shoulder and it’s sore but doing better. He briefly left the 20-17 overtime win in San Francisco. “It was painful,” said Nicks. “I landed right on an AC joint that I have injured a few times this season. Went in and got it taken care of and by halftime I was cool.”

POWER TO THE COACHES

The Raiders have officially announced that Dennis Allen, 39, has been hired as the club’s seventh head coach in the past decade.

In the past, being hired to coach the Raiders had about as much chance of a happy ending as a Hollywood wedding.

But the Raiders have (supposedly) new enlightened ownership under Mark Davis, along with new general manager Reggie McKenzie. So Allen has been given a four-year contract and control over hiring his own assistants.

Former owner Al Davis never gave head coaches more than a two-year deal and refused to let them hire their own assistants. “What I’m going to do is empower the head coach to hire his staff, the best possible staff that he can hire,” McKenzie said. “We’re not going to tie the guy’s hands and tell him he has to hire this guy or this guy. It wouldn’t be fair to the new head coach. The head coach will have the right to hire any coach that he wants.”

Offensive coordinator Al Saunders is the only assistant under contract for next season and it is uncertain whether he will return. Receivers coach Sanjay Lal has joined the Jets and defensive line coach Mike Waufle has reportedly been hired by St. Louis.

 

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