New England claimed Super Bowl XLIX with a 28-24 victory over Seattle on Sunday. Vikings.com will take a glance this week at the offseason moves an in-season factors that preceded the past five champions' path to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Super Bowl XLVI
Giants 21, Patriots 17
Feb. 5, 2012, Indianapolis
2011 Giants regular season record: 9-7
Season before: 10-6, missed playoffs
Season after: 9-7, missed playoffs
Coaching: Tom Coughlin was in his eighth season as head coach of the Giants in 2011, Kevin Gilbride was in his fifth as offensive coordinator, and Perry Fewell was in his second as defensive coordinator.
2011 draft picks [round, (overall), position]:
1 (19) DB Prince Amukamara
2 (52) DL Marvin Austin
3 (83) WR Jerrel Jernigan
4 (117) OL James Brewer
6 (185) LB Greg Jones
6 (198) S Tyler Sash
6 (202) LB Jacquian Williams
7 (221) RB Da'Rel Scott
Notable undrafted free agents:
Fullback Henry Hynoski started the Super Bowl; reserve defensive end Justin Trattou was inactive
Added through free agency:
Punter Steve Weatherford
Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boothe, Deon Grant, Mathias Kiwanuka, Bear Pascoe
Keith Bulluck (end of career), Barry Cofield (free agency to Washington), Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara (released after injuries), Kevin Boss (free agency to Oakland)
Offense returned: Eli Manning was in his eighth season with Coughlin and as the Giants starting quarterback. He was helped by the return of Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, as well as the emergence of Victor Cruz, an undrafted free agent in 2010 who had 82 catches for 1,536 yards in the 2011 regular season. The Giants also benefitted from the return of Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. The stability at the "skill positions" helped New York navigate an overhaul on the left side of its offensive line.
Defense returned: Justin Tuck, Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora were back and joined by 2010 draft picks Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph, who became starters in 2011. Both starting safeties (Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips) and cornerback Corey Webster continued as starters and were joined by the return of Aaron Ross to the starting lineup, as well as the experience of Grant, who started the Super Bowl as a fifth defensive back.
Team overcame: A stretch of four straight losses to fall to 6-6 with four to play in the regular season. New York allowed 49 points at New Orleans and 38 to Green Bay in consecutive weeks but responded in two must-win games to finish the season. The Giants allowed just 56 points in four playoff games on their way to the confetti party.
Defining theme during 2011 offseason: entrust players on the rise will make the most of their opportunities. Pierre-Paul and Joseph on the defense and Cruz for the offense were all in their second pro seasons. The Giants also weren't afraid to let Boss and Cofield leave via free agency. There are plenty of stats to support that New York wasn't the best team in 2011, but the Giants performances at peak times mattered most.