Team MVP – Tiki Barber. Heck, he was almost the league’s MVP, and likely should have finished higher than fourth. Where would the Giants be without him?
Offensive MVP – With Barber grabbing overall honors, Plaxico Burress gets the nod here. He made a difference in New York’s passing game that hasn’t been seen in … well … ever.
Defensive MVP – With all due respect to the resurgent Michael Strahan and dominating Antonio Pierce, Osi Umenyiora is the choice here. He led the NFC in sacks and played the run as well as can be. TGI’s been saying the Giants have a rising star on their hands since he was drafted. Guess we were right.
Special Teams MVP – The same guy that won last year and certainly will next year as well, David Tyree is simply unstoppable. Opposing teams go out of their way to slow him down – to no avail. Tyree truly is special.
Rookie of the Year – Despite Brandon Jacob’s seven TDs, which was a very impressive feat, the top rookie was definitely Justin Tuck. Getting to play behind and learn from Strahan and Osi is only going to benefit Tuck, who doesn’t appear to need that much help to begin with.
Most Improved Player – William Joseph. Whether it was teammates, coaches or media criticism that lit a fire under Joseph, he rebounded as strong in 2005 as can be. If only he didn’t get hurt and miss close to half the year, he could have really put up dominating numbers.
Most Unsung Player – Ryan Kuehl. He’s never interviewed or even discussed. Yet if he didn’t do his job flawlessly, the Giants very well might have an extra loss or two on the ledger.
Most Underutilized Player – Jim Finn has proven throughout the years to be a key weapon out of the backfield, yet he didn’t even catch 10 passes this season. Who could forget his huge catch-and-run in overtime in Washington two years ago? We know the Giants are dripping with weapons, but please throw Finn the ball more than once every other game.
Comeback Player of the Year – Amani Toomer was basically left for dead after the signing of Plaxico Burress, the position switch and a very quiet training camp. Toomer, however, would not be denied. One year after catching a grand total of zero touchdown passes, he got himself into the end zone seven times.
Biggest Surprise – Chad Morton was signed only days before camp and gave the Giants an immediate lift on punt returns and later in the season took over the kickoff return duties as well. Can’t imagine how he was released as many times as he was.
Most Disappointing Player – Tim Carter defines the term enigma. He was even healthy for much of the year, a switch from years past, and still kicked in next to nothing all season. The free agent should be one of Ernie Accorsi’s easier offseason decisions. Let him walk.
Most Valuable Non-Player – The man we just offered free advice, Ernie Accorsi, has to be the most valuable off-field Giant. All his big moves last offseason – like Burress and Pierce – turned out great and were key to the Giants shocking the NFL world and winning the NFC East.
Player Most Due for a Big Raise – With Osi Umenyiora all locked up, expect the Giants to begin discussions with Shaun O’Hara. No, center is certainly not the sexiest of positions, but he’s the only member of the league’s fourth-best offense that’s not locked up long-term.
Player Most Cooperative with the Media – There’s no one in the Giants locker room more honest and genuine than Tiki Barber. So what if he’s not always available to the media? How do you think Barber stays so good? By spending all his free time talking to scribes instead of watching film and lifting? Will Allen received solid consideration here as well.
Tough Guy Award – While all the rest of the high-paid linebacking corps was looking on from the sidelines in street clothes, Nick Greisen was playing through numbness in his left arm during most of the season’s second half and didn’t say a word about it till the year was over.
Best Finish – Eli Manning drove the troops 83 yards in 15 plays and fired a two-yard TD pass to Amani Toomer with only five seconds to play as the Giants pulled out a miraculous 24-23 victory over the Broncos. Manning called it the best comeback of his career.
Worst finish – Three weeks later, the Giants defense finally broke after stuffing Minnesota all game and allowed the Vikings to move 42 yards in little over a minute to kick the game-winning field goal with 10 seconds remaining. Big Blue had rallied to tie the game in the final two minutes only to fall 24-21.
Best Individual Performance (Offense) – For all Tiki Barber’s exploits this season, we’re going with Plaxico Burress and the 10-catch, 204-yard, 2-TD afternoon he hung on the Rams in Week Four. Plax was unstoppable all game long and single-handedly led New York to a 44-24 victory.
Best Individual Performance (Defense) – Playing against his former team, Antonio Pierce beat up the Redskins on Oct. 30. He posted a game-high 11 tackles, picked off a pass and broke up another in the end zone.
Worst Individual Performance (Offense) – Can’t even imagine a game worse than what Manning just put up against the Panthers. Only 10 completions, with three picks and a lost fumble. Ouch.
Worst Individual Performance (Defense) – Will Allen got turned around and upside down by the Redskins Santana Moss in a key late-season loss in DC. Moss burned the Giants – and Allen in particular – for three TDs and 160 yards.
Biggest Win – No one in the world gave the Giants a chance to beat the streaking Chiefs at home on Dec. 17, yet Big Blue went out and cemented itself as the class of the NFC East with a convincing 27-17 win paced by Tiki Barber’s 220 rushing yards.
Biggest Loss – While they bounced back and recovered to win the division, the three-missed field goal disaster in Seattle left the Giants with next to no chance to capture a playoff bye that would have helped them avoid the Panthers in the first round and aided their cause tremendously.
Now, let’s leave you with the five best Giants moments of the season.
5) Plaxico Burress wakes up New York’s slumbering offense with the best catch of the year – an acrobatic, 50-yard grab in San Francisco on Nov. 6.
4) New York survives a blown lead in Philly as Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora strips Eagles QB Mike McMahon in overtime, setting up New York’s winning field goal on Dec. 11.
3) Eli Manning connects with Amani Toomer for a 2-yard TD with only five seconds to play as the Giants come from behind and knock off Denver on Oct. 23.
2) Tiki Barber’s electric 95-yard TD run – the longest in franchise history – kick-starts the Giants’ division-clinching win in Oakland on New Year’s Eve.
1) Eli Manning presents John Mara with the game ball after New York’s emotional 36-0 demolition of the Redskins just two days after Wellington Mara was laid to rest.