The New York Giants' 2011 season looked like a lost cause before it even began when starting cornerback Terrell Thomas went down with a season-ending knee injury. Thomas was a rising star and the club's leading tackler in 2010, but his misfortune was only the beginning. The Giants would eventually see five cornerbacks go on season-ending injured reserve: Thomas, Michael Coe, Bruce Johnson, Brian Witherspoon and Justin Tryon.
Flash forward to the divisional round of this year's playoffs, when the Giants pulled off the season's biggest upset by dethroning the Green Bay Packers. Few thought that would have been possible, mainly because no defense had been able to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' receiving corps. However, the Giants held Rodgers to a sub-par day for him (264 yards, two TDs, one INT) and won, 37-20.
Now flash forward another week to the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco. The game was tied in the fourth quarter, with little margin for error, when New York's unheralded secondary helped force the 49ers into four consecutive three-and-outs, allowing Lawrence Tynes to kick the winning field goal in overtime.
The evolution of the Giants' secondary in 2011 was a textbook example of players and coaches overcoming adversity. Veterans Aaron Ross and Corey Webster formed a new starting duo at the corners, and rookie first-round draft choice Prince Amukamara returned from a broken foot in time to lend critical depth and athleticism late in the season. Safeties Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips protected the back end and stayed healthy long enough to push Big Blue to the precipice of another world championship.