Mike Roemer, Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Antrel Rolle doesn't come from the Tom Coughlin mold for the New York Giants.
There's a touch of Jets coach Rex Ryan in him. The safety says what's on his mind and he doesn't care if it irritates an opponent, even if Coughlin doesn't approve of the message.
And that brings us to the NFC title game Sunday in San Francisco.
The only way the Giants (11-7) don't beat the Niners (14-3) and advance to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis is if they beat themselves, a cocky Rolle said Monday, a day after New York ended the Packers' hopes for the second straight NFL title with a 37-20 win in Green Bay.
The victory was the Giants' fourth straight and clearly this is a team that is playing its best football after a season marked by inconsistency. Eli Manning and his brigade of receivers continue to make play after play, while the defense is once again harassing quarterbacks and slowing down potent offenses in the process.
It is 2007 all over again, the year the Giants made a late season run to their third Super Bowl title.
"We are not going to be denied," said Rolle, who was not a member of the team that beat the-then undefeated Patriots in February 2008 for the championship. "We are not going to be denied at this point. We understand what we have as a team. It's not all talent, it's about chemistry and we are jelling at this point. Coaches and players being one the same page at the same time. We have one mind, to win a championship."
When asked if the Giants were unstoppable after following a 24-2 win over the Falcons in the wild-card with the throttling of the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (15-2) , Rolle didn't hesitate.
"We don't want to say we are unstoppable," said the six-year veteran who appeared in a Super Bowl with the Cardinals in 2009. "Our mindset is extreme at this point. We are not going to be denied, that is our mindset. I may be a little biased, but in our minds we know we can't be beat. That's the approach we are taking week in, week out."
The way the Giants are playing, it's hard to argue with Rolle.
In the past four games, the Giants have outscored their opponents 121-50. Opponents have been limited to 22 points in the postseason, and that total should have an asterisk. The Falcons got two points when Manning was called for illegally grounding a ball in the end zone and the Packers' two touchdowns came on drives where questionable calls by the officials kept both drives alive.
"We believe the only people who can stop us is us," punter Steve Weatherford said. "I'm just speaking from the mood in the locker room, from the confidence we have. As a punter, it's not like I control the game as much as these guys, but as a punter I have more time to notice things and, for me, it's a confidence thing right now. We have incredible personnel and that incredible personnel is being very productive right now. It starts with our D-line and quarterback, when those guys are rolling, it's tough to stop us."
Linebacker Michael Boley, whose return to the lineup in early December helped get the defense back on track, said there is no mystery why the Giants were beaten 27-20 in their trip to Candlestick Park on Nov. 13. They lost turnover battle, gave up two big touchdown plays and saw San Francisco recover a surprise onside kick to set up a field goal.
Even with all that, the Giants had a final drive stall at the San Francisco 10 when Justin Smith battled down a fourth-down pass by Manning.
Like Rolle, Boley believes the Giants control their destiny.
"No doubt about it," said Boley, who had nine tackles and two sacks on Sunday. "That has been shown throughout the course of this year. All the games we lost, we lost. It's not like one team came in here and absolutely killed us or there was no way we were going to beat them. We beat ourselves."
Veteran defensive end Dave Tollefson doesn't think the Giants are being brash. He said this is a very focused team. He saw it on the plane ride home from Green Bay. Guys were already watching film on San Francisco.
"This journey isn't over," he said when asked if players took time out to celebrate. "You just have to keep going. Everybody else around you is going for it, so you have to keep moving forward."
Having another shot at the Niners is bonus.
"''To be the best, you have to beat the best," Tollefson said. "So we are heading to San Francisco to play the best team left in the NFC playoffs. We're excited and it's going to be great. Whoever wins that game is going to the Super Bowl. You can't beat that."
NOTES: The game will be a homecoming of sorts for center David Baas. He left the Niners after last season to sign with the Giants as a free agent. "It's awesome," Baas said. "New York is my home. San Fran is in the past. It's a great opportunity." ...A day after the game, Coughlin didn't agree with either a fourth-quarter roughing the passer call against Osi Umenyiora. He wouldn't discuss referee Bill Leavy's refusal to overturn a fumble by Greg Jennings in the second quarter. Replays seemed to show Jennings fumble. The NFL said Leavy determined that there was no indisputable visual evidence to warrant reversing the on-field ruling of down by contact. As a result, the ruling on the field stood.
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