Once a Giant, Always a Giant: The Hakeem Nicks Retrospective

January 15th, 2012. The New York Giants had the tall task of marching into Lambeau Field to face the seemingly unbeatable Green Bay Packers. They were the reigning Super Bowl champions, had just wrapped up a 15-1 season, and their roster featured seven pro bowlers. They were far and away the top team in the NFL in 2011, and after a first round bye, would face the 9-7 New York Giants in the divisional playoff round.

The Giants held a surprising 13-10 lead with six seconds left to play. Instead of going for a short pass and then a field goal, Tom Coughlin decided he wanted to steal all momentum. Eli Manning dropped back, scanned the field and stepped up before heaving it down the field. The ball was falling into a crowd of players, where Hakeem Nicks somehow came down with the improbable catch, giving the Giants a 20-10 advantage heading into halftime.

I think that was just a great effort in my behalf, going up to get the ball over Charles Woodson and those Green Bay defenders. It was just a matter of coming down with the ball. It took the air right up out of ’em. It was right before halftime [to increase the lead to 20-10], so that kinda took the air right out of their lungs and helped us go home with that [37-20] victory.

Nicks said that quote just yesterday, in an interview with New York Post writer Steve Serby.

Nicks was drafted by the Giants in 2009, and was a weapon from the start. He caught 47 passes for 790 yards and 6 touchdowns in 14 games. In his second season, he really established himself as a weapon. In 13 games (he started 12), Nicks compiled 1,052 yards yards on 79 catches, also having 11 touchdowns.

In 2011, Nicks formed a lethal combination with Victor Cruz, creating one of the top passing attacks in the NFL. Nicks finished with 76-1,192-7, an incredible stat line for a number two receiver. Not to mention, he had 28 catches for 444 yards and 4 touchdowns in the playoffs. His monster game in Green Bay, finishing with 7 receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns, helped lead the Giants to their upset at Lambeau. He also came up huge in the super bowl, being their leading receiver with 10 catches for 109 yards.

Just being in this moment is the game that you can always remember. The bigger the stage, the bigger the game, man, the bigger you play. I’ve always been that way since I was younger. Think back to high school, I ain’t never lost a high school game, always playing in the championship each year, so I was just groomed that way, man. It’s just exciting, man, everybody watching, and you get to showcase your talent and skills against the top-tier guys in the NFL. Just that alone gets you excited and brings out the best in you.

That is what the former UNC Legend had to say about playing in big games. Today he will get a chance to play in another one, but not as a Giant

After two straight injury prone, abysmal seasons the Giants and Nicks decided to part ways. Nicks found himself signing a one year deal with the Indianapolis Colts, creating a deadly trio of receivers alongside Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton.

Nicks was again inconsistent, and the Colts top two receivers Hilton and Wayne, as well as a plethora of other weapons such as Coby Fleener, Dwyane Allen, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Donte Moncrief did not help his cause, as all of them had a major part in the passing game. Nicks finished with just 38 receptions for 405 yards and four touchdowns.

Today though, he will have a chance to thwart the New England Patriot’s title hopes for a second time. Nicks caught a touchdown against the Broncos in the team’s massive upset in Denver, as well as 59 receiving yards in their wild card round matchup with the Bengals. Today Nicks is all in though.

Our level of confidence is extremely high. We know what we’re capable of doing, but at the same time, we know we gotta remain humble and just get the job done.

If Nicks and the Colts can pull out a win, it would surely be an upset worth remembering. Beating the Patriots in Foxborough is no easy task.

Giants fans should be rooting for him. Despite two lackluster seasons before his departure, it is a shame he went out that way. He was an integral part of a super bowl run, and we can not thank him enough for that. While it will not be easy for him to win it, he sure is familiar with upsets. Any Giants fan who followed the 2011 season knows that.

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