INDIANAPOLIS — A long journey is almost over.
The Giants, who have faced five straight elimination games, winning them all, will head into Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday confident and ready when they face the Patriots for a second ring in four years.
Head coach Tom Coughlin, speaking to the media at large for the final time before the game, said he expects to have a healthy roster from which to choose on game day. RB Ahmad Bradshaw practiced Wednesday and Thursday — Coughlin couldn't remember him practicing two straight days during the season — and should be good to go Friday.
"That tells you the kind of excitement that is built up there," Coughlin said.
With his trip almost concluded, Coughlin was asked to reflect on the Giants' journey, which has taken them from apparent playoff outliers to on the cusp of a championship.
"Five weeks ago, there wasn't even a bus," said Coughlin, speaking of the team's bandwagon. "Now there are no seats on anything."
The Giants will stay downtown Saturday night, a slightly unusual move for a Super Bowl team. Often, teams will choose to switch hotels the night before the game, away from the fray, as a measure to prevent any last-minute distractions for the players and coaches.
Coughlin acknowledged the festive atmosphere in Indianapolis ("I'm not sure I have seen so many people in the streets at a Super Bowl before," he said) but said his team will not be distracted being closer to the action and that the entire floor of rooms was "isolated" and "secure."
Coughlin spoke of the team's run since the surprising 23-10 Week 15 loss to the Redskins, explaining how he instructed his team of their dire situation. Two wins later, the Giants found themselves in the playoffs; three more victories landed them here at the Super Bowl. Coughlin credited the team's significant defensive improvement the past five games as a major reason why they are here.
"There's no question the confidence level was boosted by the play of our defense," he said. "All of a sudden we were able to get our entire defensive unit together."
As for his team's confidence this week, with Chris Canty telling Giants fans to prepare for a parade on Tuesday and Jason Pierre-Paul saying that the Giants got in Tom Brady's head in the previous meeting in Week Nine, Coughlin appeared unfazed.
"I know there has been one or two quotes out there, but to be honest with you I don't know that either one of them was any different than Tom Brady's," Coughlin said.
Brady told fans at the team's sendoff pep rally in Foxborough last week that he hoped the team's victory parade would be bigger than the rally. The Patriots also have been a confident group this year, although their players have made far fewer inflammatory statements.
Coughlin said the team has reason to be confident: They are ready for the game. The message to his team this week echoes Coughlin's mantra for winning: "Humble enough to prepare and confident enough to perform," he said.
With that, he briefly posed with the Lombardi Trophy — earlier, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did not — and exited the room to continue preparing for Sunday's game.