During the NFC championship game, Cruz took the lead, finishing with 10 catches for 142 yards. Manningham, who scored one touchdown in each of the Giants’ playoff wins, also teamed with Manning on a 17-yarder for a go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter.
Although Cruz moved ahead of Manningham early in the season, “we never categorize him [as being] in the background,” Nicks said of Manningham. “We always look at him as being able to make big plays.”
After spending most of his rookie season on injured reserve, Cruz was the NFL’s biggest surprise by far this season, catching 82 passes for a Giants-record 1,536 yards with nine touchdowns. Nicks overcame nagging injuries in his second consecutive season with at least 1,000 yards receiving, and Manningham had the third-most receptions and tied for third in touchdowns.
Manning and Cruz connected during player-organized workouts throughout the NFL lockout. In Week 3, Cruz had 110 yards and scored two touchdowns — one covered 74 yards — as the Giants won at Philadelphia.
From that point, Manning “was just looking for me, understanding that I can do some really good things to get open,” said Cruz, who had five touchdown receptions of at least 68 yards in the regular season, and tied the NFL record with one of 99.
“And he was just finding me with the ball. I kind of just sensed that he could trust me a little bit more with the ball. He really liked my ability.”
Obviously, having three wideouts with a whole lot of it has made a big difference for the Giants.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/reid.