Big Blue 'Dogs' Continue to Buck the Odds

Super Bowl Trip Scrubs a Team's Image

Part of the defense's 2000 turnaround, of course, had a lot to do with the reemergence of cornerback Jason Sehorn. After injury-riddled seasons in 1998 and 1999, many of Sehorn's teammates reportedly questioned his heart and loyalty because he opted to rehab his injuries at home in Southern California and participate in the NFL Superstars competition (while supposedly hurt) in the 1999 off-season. To gain the respect of his teammates, Sehorn needed a big year in 2000. And he got one, finishing with 77 total tackles and two interceptions, not including his acrobatic pick-off and return against the Eagles for the Giants' only TD in last week's Divisional Playoff. On Sunday, he had an interception while shutting down Vikings' all-world receiver Randy Moss (two catches for 18 yards).

"Everyone keeps talking about the pressures on the coaching staff, but the players have a lot of responsibility this year too," Sehorn told the Voiceearlier this season when asked about the team's image. "The name of the game is to win, and that's on the players as well. There's been a lot of turnover on [the roster] too: [19] new players. We as players are judged by how we perform on the field and we have to improve this year or a lot of us will be gone."

The only place these Giants are going is Tampa for Super Bowl XXXV. In doing so, they shed their team-wide image as "paper tigers" who thrived on—indeed, even stumbled against—weak competition. "This is sweeter because of the problems we had this year," Strahan emphasized when asked about the year-to-year image makeover after Sunday's game. "When we were 7-4, everybody wrote us off. I don't think there's anybody in this [press] room that can look me in the eye and say we could be here."

"Sure, we had some problems [last year]," added Armstead. "But when Coach Fassel sat me down and talked to me during the off-season, we got everything together. I apologized for letting my ego get in the way. We came together. Everybody [on this team] came together in the off-season. Now look at us."


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