Super Bowl 2012: The Victor Cruz Factor and How He Could Lead Giants to Win

Vincent FrankCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants warms up against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The success of Victor Cruz this season hasn't just been one of the biggest stories of 2011, it has to be considered one of the most inspirational storylines.

CBS Sports had the former Massachusetts receiver as the 597th ranked prospect heading into the 2010 NFL draft. In fact, he was the 73rd receiver on the board. Now, I don't mean to single out CBS because most scouting services had him ranked here. After all, he did end up going undrafted.

The three receivers drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft: Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate combined for just over 300 yards more than Cruz, who again went undrafted.

In less than two years, Cruz has set a New York Giants single-season receiving yardage record, dominated a top-tier corner in the NFC Championship Game and was one of the primary reasons his team surprised the NFL by playing their way into this Super Bowl.

Cruz's success wasn't limited to just a couple games this season and he didn't pad those statistics against inferior competition. Instead, the second-year player went up against the best and usually came out on top.

He had 238 receiving yards in two games against the Philadelphia Eagles, going up against Nnamdi Asomugha a majority of the time. While Cruz's first game against Carlos Rogers was one of the worst of his season, he came up aces against the Pro Bowl corner in the NFC Championship Game. This is what I am talking about in regards to Cruz going up against the best and performing at an extremely high level.

He had seven 100-yard regular-season games, recorded touchdowns in six games and had at least five catches 11 times. Cruz showed the consistency of a veteran and bailed out the New York Giants a great deal in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.

In short, he quickly became the go-to guy for Eli Manning when the game and yes, the season, was on the line.

Cruz will be going up against one of the worst secondaries that he has faced this season. He will also have a healthy Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham to help him shoulder the load throughout the Super Bowl. That said, he will surely be the top target of Manning early and often on Sunday. He will gain that separation down field, show those amazing mitts off and make plays.

The New York Giants wide receiver has continually proved skeptics wrong throughout his career. Every time he was told that he couldn't get it done the star player stood up and showed everyone that he belonged.

There is absolutely no reason to question him anymore. Most of you who still think he is a "one-hit wonder" or a "one-trick pony" will surely have an added respect for his game following what I project to be a great Super Bowl performance.