By Simon Evans
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said 'mental toughness' explained how his team could find the late season burst of form that led them to win the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots.
The Giants had been 6-2 in the regular season before losing four games in a row and after their season was in danger of falling apart they needed to win their last two regular season games to progress to the playoffs.
Victories over the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers pushed the Giants to their second Super Bowl against the Patriots during Coughlin's charge and on Sunday they emerged 21-17 victors.
As with their victory over New England four years ago and with many of the more memorable wins in the era of Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, it was a late, late show from New York and the coach said that indicated the key to his team's success.
"Mental toughness, resiliency, resolve. We keep playing, we keep fighting, and we're highly competitive. We do have great trust in each other, great belief that we can finish, and that if we keep playing one play at a time as hard as we can go that we will find a way to win," he told reporters on Monday before the team prepared to fly back to New York.
Coughlin said the way the team had handled injuries throughout the campaign also illustrated their winning character.
"I will tell you this: from the earliest part of camp moving forward, particularly what we went through seemingly every week, we would have an injury that would be, under normal circumstances, devastating, I think what would happen there is that the players fed off of me and I fed off the players.
"We never changed our objective. We never changed our goal. We never changed our attitude about what had to be accomplished and what we had to do. This is a great statement to our players as well as to our mental toughness. That's what you have to rely on.
"Somehow, someway, you have got to answer these questions. The next guy has to come along, step up, play well and give you a chance to win. That's exactly what we did. That's exactly the approach we took.
"Because of their mental toughness, because they hung in there, because they continued to believe, because we continued to be in the hunt for the NFC East title, that was always there for us," he added.
Despite joining the elite group of head coaches to have won two Super Bowls, Coughlin said he was uninterested in discussions about his 'legacy'.
"I don't really think about that stuff, to be honest with you. It's not about me and this is what we talk about all the time. We're about team, we're not about individuals.
"We're certainly very cognizant of some of the superior individuals that we have on our team, thank goodness, but it is the team that provides us with our strength, and our ability to perform under pressure, whether it is good or bad, and that's the way we think."
The 65-year-old also said he was ready to return to take a shot at a third Lombardi Trophy win next season.
"I certainly hope so. My intentions are to be that way. I do have some ownership that has to give approval, but I'm looking forward to it."
(Reporting by Simon Evans in Indianapolis; Editing by Justin Palmer)