The Patriots won Super Bowl LI. But in a way, so did the Giants — or at least their legacy.
Because the Falcons were unable to close out Sunday’s game and Tom Brady engineered the greatest comeback in the history of the game, the Giants remain the only team to ever beat the Patriots with Brady and Belichick in the Super Bowl.
“Yeah, it feels pretty good,” said Victor Cruz, who was in Manhattan on Tuesday to accept the Thurman Munson Award. “Obviously Atlanta was close, but they couldn’t get the job done. We want to continue to be the only team to beat them in a Super Bowl.”
The Giants did it twice, in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Cruz was part of the latter effort and caught a touchdown in that game. Brady and the Patriots have won two more since then, bringing their total to five.
“Not to take anything away from Tom Brady,” Cruz said of the unique upper hand he and the Giants have on the quarterback. “He is, in my opinion, the greatest quarterback to ever lace them up. Congratulations to him and the entire team on their much-deserved and hard-earned victory.”
While Cruz and the Giants can bask a bit in each Patriots Super Bowl win, ideally they’d like to get another one of their own.
“That hunger [for another championship] built the minute I won the first one,” Cruz said. “I was like, ‘Man, this is my second year, I’ll probably win a couple more.’ Then a year passed and passed and passed. But you understand that’s the nature of the game. I’m definitely hungry to get back into the postseason and back in the Super Bowl conversation and hopefully win another one before it’s all said and done.”
The team he does that with may not be the Giants. Cruz, 30, has two years left on his current contract, but there is some question as to whether the Giants want him back or if they will want him to take a pay cut. Cruz has said he expects to have those conversations with the team — his exit interview with Ben McAdoo was canceled the day after the season ended last month, he said — and reiterated on Tuesday that he prefers to return to the Giants.
There will be no big pitch from him to stay.
“They’ve known me for seven years,” Cruz said. “If I need to pitch them now, something is wrong.”
Cruz began his offseason workouts on Monday, he said, the first time since February 2014 that he’s been healthy enough to fully participate in such activities without limitations.
“I want to stay in blue,” Cruz said. “Pictures on Instagram would look different with another jersey on. I understand it’s a business. I’m just here waiting patiently, staying healthy.”