"From the earliest part of camp moving forward, every week we seemed to have an injury that, under normal circumstances would've been considered devastating," said Coughlin, whose team won its second Super Bowl title in 5 years with a 21-17 win over the Patriots.
"What happened there, the players fed off of me and I fed off of the players. We all felt bad when an individual would get hurt and couldn't continue. But we never changed our objective, our goal or what needed to be accomplished and what we had to do.
"That was a great statement about our mental toughness. That's what we had to rely on. We had to answer those questions. The next guy had to come along and step up and play well and give you a chance to win. And that's exactly what we did. That's exactly the approach we took."
Giants starters missed 68 games to injuries this season. That's the most in the NFC East. By comparison, Eagles starters missed only 18. Starting cornerback Terrell Thomas and starting middle linebacker Jonathan Goff both went down with season-ending knee injuries in training camp. The guy who started at middle linebacker for them Sunday, Chase Blackburn, was substitute-teaching when he signed with the Giants in late November.
Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw missed a combined six games. Defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck missed a combined 11 games. Left tackle Will Beatty was put on injured reserve in late November with an eye injury. Center David Baas missed five games. One of Sunday's heroes, wide receiver Mario Manningham, sat out four games with a concussion and a knee injury.
"We didn't spend time thinking backwards," Coughlin said yesterday morning before he and his team returned to New York to a hero's welcome. "We were always looking forward and knowing that, yeah, there were a lot of young guys that had to step up. We had to put people in positions where they had to emerge and they had to emerge very quickly.
"For a while, while we were getting this thing organized, perhaps it didn't look as if the end result would be this. But because of their mental toughness, they hung in there and continued to believe. Even when we were struggling, we continued to be in the hunt for the NFC East. That was something that we relied on. No matter what happened on Sunday, we would come together on Monday and recognize exactly where we were and what had to happen for us to continue in that capacity."
The resilient Giants fought and battled and finished, rebounding from that Week 15 loss to the Redskins to beat the Jets and the Cowboys and earn a spot in the playoffs.
"All season, we kept our confidence," said quarterback Eli Manning, who won his second Super Bowl MVP award with a 30-for-40, 296-yard performance. "When you lose four games in a row, that can really test a team. But I think we played a lot of those games tough. The losses to the Eagles and Niners and Packers could've flipped the other way. We recognized that and still understood that we were a good team. We just needed to make a few adjustments and play a little smarter."
Coughlin instilled a team-first attitude in the Giants that helped them weather those rough patches and helped them prevail in the playoffs.
"It's part of the team idea," he said. "It's part of individuals being responsible to one another. When I called for better peer pressure three-quarters of the way through the season, that's what I was looking for. Guys were constructive. But they also were demanding of each other that each individual study and prepare and practice and play their very, very best."
"When we needed to win, when we needed to start playing our best football, we did that," Manning said. "We had great confidence going into the 49ers game [for the NFC Championship] and going into this game. We felt like we had finally found our way. That our style of football was going to give us a good chance of winning."
Send e-mail to email@example.com.