One win away
Surprising Giants close to achieving Super goals
Updated: Monday January 08, 2001 8:52 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Living with the doubters has been a way of life all season for the New York Giants, so why not another week?
It's just another chance for the Giants (13-4) to show everyone that being a win away from the Super Bowl isn't a fluke for a team that missed the playoffs the last two years and lived with the rap that they couldn't beat a good team this season.
"At this point we don't care," middle linebacker Mike Barrow said Monday, a day after New York beat Philadelphia 20-10 in the NFC semifinal. "Either you love us or you hate us. It doesn't make a difference. It's not going to affect us either way."
All the Giants are concerned about is themselves and the Minnesota Vikings (12-5), their opponent Sunday in the NFC championship at Giants Stadium.
But forget the Super Bowl for now.
Head coach Jim Fassel answered a question or two about the big one and then seemed to catch himself Monday.
"Hey, time out!" Fassel said. "We're playing for the title in the NFC and that's what we have to focus on right now. That's what this team has been able to do, not look too far down the road.
"Let's take care of them one at a time, and this one is real easy because it's all been written. We're one game, 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl. Who would have thought that?"
To be blunt, no one gave the Giants much of a chance of going to the Super Bowl coming into this season after a 7-9 record in 1999. Not only was Fassel's job on the line, there were many questions facing the team.
Could the revamped offensive line that included new free agents Dusty Zeigler, Lomas Brown and Glenn Parker click? Could Barrow give the defense more speed? Could Jason Sehorn stay healthy? Could Kerry Collins continue his comeback?
There seemed to be dozens of questions, and the biggest might have been could the Giants finally find some chemistry and create a team where one side of the ball wasn't pointing fingers at the other?
That happened last season, and it was ugly.
It hasn't happened this season. There's a sense of unity, especially since the Giants won six in a row after Fassel put his job on the line Nov. 22 by guaranteeing the team would make the playoffs after two bad losses.
Monday was supposed to be a day off. Yet many of the players were in the weight room lifting or getting treatment.
"This group of guys is a very unselfish group," Fassel said. "That's the only way it works. That's hard to pull off in pro sports.
"I was talking to Joe Torre one time and he said that. Every time these guys show up, who cares who gets the credit? It's just, let's go out and win, and this team has that attitude."
Barrow was taking his preparation a step further Monday. He already was doing his own pregame scouting of the Vikings and their Pro Bowl-laden offense that includes receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter.
"We're one game away, and I want to know the offense today," Barrow said. "I don't want to wait until Wednesday.
"I'm like Sherlock Holmes trying to sniff clues out."
To that end, he said half-jokingly that he would telephone former Vikings quarterback Randall Cunningham and ask for some audible checks and anything to help him out in the game.
"Whatever it takes to win this game, me personally, I'm going to do it," Barrow said. "Whatever is legal. I'm not going to send my mom to go spy on their practice field. But whatever is legal, I'm going to do it."
That's the way the Giants have played this season. That's why they are one game away from their first Super Bowl since the 1990 season.
"There are a lot of guys who didn't capture the moment," linebacker Jessie Armstead said. "You have to do that now. It's a long climb back up that hill again."