The Giants are not
nickel-defense-oriented. They like to leave their linebackers on the field as
much as possible, occasionally calling on a fifth defensive back, rookie Mark
Collins, but rarely going to a sixth, which is what the book says you should do
against the four-wideout alignment. Covering the two inside, or slot, receivers
could be a problem—provided Elway has time to deliver. The key to the Giants'
rush in the playoffs hasn't really been Taylor, who has been dropping back into
coverage more than at any time during the season, as much as Banks on the
outside, and Marshall and Pro Bowl nosetackle Jim Burt inside. Against the
49ers, the Giants wanted inside, not outside, pressure to combat Montana's
quick release. In the Redskins game, Washington was sending tight end Don
Warren in motion to Taylor's side, leaving Banks with the clear lane.
line is relatively small, with weights ranging from 255 to 269. The Giants'
pass rush could overrun it. The key to the Broncos' success is the precision of
their trapping-based running game. It can lie dormant for a while and then
break loose when least expected—as New England found out in the first playoff.
The Broncos' running backs, Sammy Winder, Gene Lang and Gerald Willhite, look
like clones, little bouncy guys who get hurt once or twice a game but keep
On paper it
doesn't figure for the Broncos to get much of a running game going against the
NFL's top-ranked rushing defense, which can bring its inside linebackers
head-up against the guards and stop them cold, but who knows? Maybe they can be
trapped. Any semblance of a running game, to take that little edge off the pass
rush, would be a boost for Elway.
left corner Louis Wright, free safety Steve Foley and outside linebacker Tom
Jackson, were part of the defense that faced the Cowboys nine Super Bowls ago.
Ask them the difference between the Broncs then and now and they'll tell you
the pressure's off; the defense doesn't have to carry the offense anymore, as
it did in the old days. Elway is fully capable of bailing the team out of a
After seven weeks
of the season the Broncos' defenders were No. 1 against the rush in the NFL.
Undersized but quick, they flew around the field like swarming gnats. With
defensive end Rulon Jones and linebacker Karl Mecklenburg doing a lot of the
damage, they went through five games without allowing more than 77 yards on the
ground. They had an NFL-record six straight five-sack games. They were
Then they wore
down. Teams started pounding them. They were still effective, but the
relentless quality was gone. The two-week layoff before the playoffs helped. So
will the two-week pre-Super Bowl break. But the Giants are a pounding type of
team, keyed by a big blocking fullback, Maurice Carthon, a great blocker at
tight end in Mark Bavaro, another one in Zeke Mowatt, and of course, Pro Bowl
halfback Joe Morris. The strange thing is that his long training camp holdout
probably helped keep him fresher in the late going.
Simms is the
perfect quarterback to run this kind of attack, modest enough to let the big
guys up front do the work if things are going well, but daring, too. Like
Elway, he's a down-the-field passer, a streak thrower who can go 5 for 15 in
the first half but then can get hot and kill you.
For Simms and the
Giants' offense, the season went through three phases. Phase 1 was the first 10
games, the Vanilla Phase. Their offense was fairly basic. Phase 2 was Cardiac
November or the Coming of Phil Simms. He had to convert a fourth-and-17 on the
drive that led to the field goal that beat the Vikings in the last 12 seconds.
Next week he cashed a third-and-21 on the drive that eventually beat Denver
with six seconds left. Finally there was the Monday Nighter against the 49ers,
who shut down the running game and told Simms: Beat us with your arm. And that
is just what he did, turning a 17-0 deficit into a 21-17 victory in less than
Phase 3: the
Mighty Giants, overpowering, crushing, 49 points against the 49ers, 17 in the
first half against the Skins. They could have scored 17 more in the second half
if they had wanted to. Offense working on all levels, defense rising up with a
fury, a mighty machine.
are capable of doing this to any team," 49er guard Randy Cross said after
the 49-3 defeat. "They're like Chicago last year or us the year before.
Every year a team emerges that seems capable of crushing anybody, and that's
the level the Giants are at right now."