INDIANAPOLIS -- An agonizing season for Justin Tuck ended in improbable glory.
"I think it made me a stronger person, it made me a better leader, and I know my uncles and my grandfather and my grandmother, they're looking down and smiling," he said of the hardships he endured. "I know all the heartaches I had this year were for a reason. All of that feels like it's gone away with this win. I'm blessed to have this opportunity."
Tuck had two sacks in the 21-17 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, including a key play on the final drive, and also forced a safety early in the first quarter. Tuck was closing in on a sack in the end zone when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady heaved the ball downfield and -- because no receiver was near the ball -- was called for intentional grounding.
Tuck missed several games this season with neck injuries and also played through ankle, shoulder, toe and groin issues. There was a time midway through the season when he publicly said his play was terrible, warned of a "historical" collapse when the Giants lost to the Saints and spent much of the first three-quarters of the season moping.
But he certainly wasn't doing that Sunday night in Indianapolis.