Commentary

Giants fueled by the little things

New York's elevation from fringe playoff team to title contender stems from details

Originally Published: January 20, 2012
By Trent Dilfer | ESPN Insider
Eli ManningJerry Lai/US PresswireThe Giants' turnaround has been big. But it's the little things that made the difference.

When we deconstruct the reasons for a great season, part of the analysis turns into a hunt for the narrative, the story, the one final element that made it all work. It's not wrong. It's just a part of building a case.

The circumstantial evidence matters -- a key play here, a lucky break there -- but the smoking gun seals it. The Packers were an 8-6 team headed into Week 16 last season, and we look back and realize how it all turned into greatness when Aaron Rodgers came back from his concussion and went on a run of passing brilliance that made an average team into a Super Bowl champion.

It was there, we think, it was just a switch that needed to be flipped.

I have no idea whether the Giants can win a Super Bowl. I can't tell you they can beat San Francisco on Sunday. But I can see the story being built. Even the one that tells us how they got to this point. They too were on the outside looking in, a 7-7 team, but something was building. It was Eli Manning's need to justify a case for "elite," or Tom Coughlin's razor focus as he silenced the calls for his head once and for all. Suddenly, it all clicked.

But it didn't. This run is something else, a case of the little Giants. As I go through the film, there isn't one thing to latch onto, a story that overrides the rest. Instead, what I see is a multitude of little things that add up to a great run, regardless of where it ends.

Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer is an analyst for a variety of ESPN programs including NFL Live, NFL PrimeTime and SportsCenter (Sunday and Monday nights during the NFL season). He also contributes to Monday Night Countdown, ESPN Radio programs, and ESPN's annual Super Bowl week and NFL Draft coverage.