|Giants safety Antrel Rolle (above) believes that if Ben Roethlisberger had thrown his way late in Super Bowl XLIII, he’d have a ring on his finger. (Bill Kostroun/Associated Press)|
Chance for Rolle to pick off a title
Former Cardinal was on short end in 2009
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Antrel Rolle’s season had been over for more than a month by the time the Giants met the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII four years ago.
His Arizona Cardinals had gone 8-8, finishing second in the NFC West, and Rolle went down to Brazil. Finding a place to watch the Super Bowl there apparently is an adventure, the way Rolle tells it.
“There was only one place in Brazil showing the game,’’ he said. “I was standing on top of maybe two barstools and probably a midget was under me, who knows? I don’t know. It was really crowded, everybody was stacked on top of each other. And I had to watch the game.’’
The game, of course, was historic. Eli Manning led a comeback that stunned Tom Brady and a Patriots team that hadn’t lost a game to that point.
“The only thing I really remember from that game was obviously the spectacular catch from [David] Tyree, and then I remember Eli scrambling for dear life and I remember that front four just getting after Brady,’’ Rolle said. “I had never seen him get attacked like that before.
“And once that game was started, I was like, New England, they’re in for trouble. I felt it.’’
A year later, Rolle discovered first-hand the bitter taste of losing on football’s biggest stage, when the surprising Cardinals lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
Had it not been for Santonio Holmes’s game-winning touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, Rolle would have a ring of his own.
When he recalls the play, he remembers how close he thought he was to coming up with an interception.
“That play is a crazy play,’’ he said. “I was actually on the opposite side and the guy that Ben Roethlisberger was targeting first was the guy that I was covering. I kind of bumped him and he fell down, and Roethlisberger went to cock back and he was throwing there, and I was, for sure, like, this is a pick and I’m taking it to the house because there was no one in front of me.
“And he just turns the other way and just tucks the ball. You can’t be mad at that play, man. You have to live with that one.’’
After five seasons in Arizona, Rolle signed a five-year, $37 million deal with the Giants in 2010 that made him the highest-paid safety in the league. He’ll get a second shot at a title, knowing that the game could come down to one play, but the memory of the Cardinals loss won’t affect him.
“I don’t worry about that Super Bowl,’’ Rolle said. “It’ll always be a memory. Can’t take that away. But we’ve got a bigger prize right now.’’
Rebuttal by Tuck
Defensive end Justin Tuck shot down his teammates’ comments that the Giants targeted 49ers wideout Kyle Williams in the NFC Championship game because Williams has a history of concussions.
“I’ve never had that conversation,’’ Tuck said. “Obviously, we consider ourselves to be a physical group and we want to hit everybody. But I don’t think we’ve ever talked about knocking anybody out with concussions or anything like that. We try to stay away from that.’’
Williams muffed a punt and fumbled a return, becoming the goat of the loss, and afterward several Giants said they wanted to hit him, knowing his history.
Special teamer Devin Thomas was quoted in the Newark Star-Ledger as saying, “He’s had a lot of concussions. We were just like, ‘We gotta put a hit on that guy.’ ’’
He said Tyler Sash “did a great job hitting him early and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.’’
Tuck did as much damage control as possible yesterday.
“It’s not like we weren’t trying to hit him,’’ Tuck said. “We were definitely trying to get a lot of hats on him because he might not have been as comfortable back there as, say, a Ted Ginn, who had been there all year.
“But as far as trying to knock him out of the football game, nah.’’
The Giants have won five straight games going back to their Christmas Eve win over the Jets, and the Patriots have won 10 straight since falling to the Giants in November. In theory, with both teams being so hot, neither one is happy about breaking for the Super Bowl bye week. “Would I like to go play on Sunday? Absolutely,’’ Tuck said. “When you’re on a roll kind of like how we’ve been, you don’t want to have these breaks.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.