Giants’ grindstone-guy Coughlin revels in euphoria

02/05/2012 5:00 AM

11/05/2012 4:21 PM

I Yes, magic still exists in the big city. A few months ago they were ready to ride Tom Coughlin out on a rail. Today they’ll be strewing rose petals in his path.

The New York Giants are kings again, and ain’t love grand?

They came racing back on Eli Manning’s amazing right arm, and down went New England’s poor Patriots, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI.

It wasn’t the most stirring NFL combat from start to finish. But the fourth quarter was all anybody from Gotham could have prayed for. And Tom Coughlin was ready to revel in it.

Understand, Coughlin isn’t much of as reveler. He’s a grindstone guy who sometimes looks like a shepherd who has lost his sheep-herding stick. Frankly, he looks bewildered.

But he seldom is, and Sunday his men ground down the quintessential grinders in the end, and Tom came about as close to reveling as he ever does.

“I was worried we wouldn’t have enough time there at the end,” he said. “Fifty seven seconds doesn’t leave you a whole lot of margin. You know, we’re now one of five franchises who have won four or more Super Bowls.”

Coughlin said his team wanted to “persevere until victory was ours.” If he sounds like something out of the Old Testament, he sort of looks like it, too. That leathery mug would suit a shepherd’s outfit just fine.

After awhile, Coughlin was beginning to sound absolutely dippy, which he never is. Chalk it up to pure euphoria over “that fantastic last drive Eli put together after putting us on his shoulders all year.”

It is rather remarkable to see and hear Coughlin this way, because he is seldom bubbly. Or maybe it is just that almost anyone would seem bubbly by contrast with the Patriots’ little troll on a boss, Bill Belichick.

“The Giants played as hard as they possibly could and we could have played a little harder,” Belichick said.

I don’t think so. The Pats played as hard as they possibly could. They weren’t good enough.

Maybe their crowd wasn’t quite good enough, either. But let’s rephrase that: They didn’t seem to have as many rooters here as the Giants.

“I’ve been lucky to play in this game five times in 10 years,” Belichick said. “Even if you don’t win, it’s better than sitting home.”

And that’s what Patriots fans will want to remember from Sunday.

I don’t mind admitting I was silently rooting for the Giants. It has been an honorable family enterprise for decades, going back to the very earliest Maras. It’s good for this country for a team like this to win — not that it would have been bad for the Patriots to win.

But what’s fair is fair. Tom Brady’s girlfriend is already Gisele Bundchen.

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