By Jerrell Richardson
The game between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants on Sunday will be emotional to say the least. The last time the Giants were at Candlestick they beat the 49ers to earn the right to represent the NFC in the Superbowl. Although the two teams say that this is just another game, they aren’t fooling anyone. If each player circled one game on the schedule, Kyle Williams, Brandon Jacobs and Mario Mannigham would have this one in red, underling and in bold. However it’s been the trash talking between Victor Cruz and Carlos Rogers that could prove to be the most significant.
How It All Started
After a modest career with the Redskins, Rogers showed that the change in scenery to the West Coast was just what he need to revitalize his career. In his first season as a 49er in 2011, he finally showed the talent that caused him to be selected 9th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, recording a team leading six interceptions on his way to his first Pro Bowl Selection. He recorded two of these picks against Eli Manning when the two teams met in week 10 last year, with one starting a feud between he and Giant wide out Victor Cruz.
After intercepting a pass intended for the Giants star receiver, Rogers mocked Cruz by doing Cruz’s famous salsa dance touchdown celebration. Cruz, who states that the dance is a tribute to his grandmother, did not appreciate the gesture. Since then the two have had a relationship that Cruz described this week as friendly and competitive. This seemed an attempt to downplay the situation though, as Cruz’s initial response was that Rogers’ dance was a slap in the face and that the receiver felt disrespected after and vowed to get his revenge.
Rogers has already said that if given the chance, he will do it again this week, while Cruz has responded saying that it “won’t sit well with him”. Rogers had better be careful with his words though, as Victor Cruz is a threat on the football field and giving him bulletin board material might not have the effect that Rogers hopes for. The last time he was motivated to shut up Rogers was in the NFC Championship Game, in which Cruz took it to the veteran. The Giants receiver finished the day with 10 catches for 142 yards and helped his team to the victory. The microphones that seem to be all over the field these days captured Rogers telling his teammates that he can’t guard Cruz one-on-one when Cruz runs an option route, so unless New York has Cruz one hitches and go routes, it’s hard to imagine Rogers winning an individual war between he and Cruz.
On the other hand, Carlos Rogers is just as talented a corner as Cruz is a receiver, and believes in his abilities. He was asked if he would do the dance again, and not one to back down, he said that he would. The first time they played it was Rogers celebrating, while Cruz and his Giants had the final laugh ending the 49ers season. This game will decide (for now) which of the two players has the upper hand in their brief rivalry, and although football is a team sport in which the other 10 guys will also need to have a big hand if either team hopes to win, it will be this match up that will loom large. If Cruz is silent, the 49ers have the players to shut down the rest of the Giants and will be in a great position to beat the defending Super Bowl Champs.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.