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Giants embrace storm victims

| Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 9:20 p.m.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tom Coughlin wanted to win Sunday's game for fans in the New York metropolitan area almost more than any other reason.

However, the New York Giants coach wanted to make sure the 80,911 people at MetLife Stadium knew who the real heroes are in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The Giants honored more than 100 first responders before the game against the Steelers and ran Red Cross donation promotions on video screens during timeouts.

As for Coughlin, he wore a “NJ” hat during the first half and a “NY” hat in the second to show support.

“I wanted everyone to realize that what we were trying to do is give them a few hours of enjoyment in a very difficult time,” Coughlin said following a 24-20 loss to the Steelers. “Many people were fighting to survive, fighting to get their homes back, their families reunited.

“I hope the message came through that we were trying, but we didn't accomplish what we set out to do.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on-hand for pregame activities. He visited servicemen and women before the game as part of the league's Salute to Service week and also met with the first responders.

According to a Goodell tweet, many first responders said they hadn't slept all week until last night.

“It's hard to imagine what they go through. Many of them didn't sleep all week, dealing with this constant stress,” Goodell said. “So many of these folks are volunteers, and to see that, it really gives new meaning to hero to me.”

One fan told Goodell that he was a Steelers fan, so Goodell made sure he met Dan and Art Rooney.

Numerous Giants ticket holders lost their game tickets during the storm. However, the Giants allowed tickets to be reprinted at several stadium locations as long as the person could show proof of owning the tickets.

There was debate whether the game should be played. The New York City Marathon was canceled the day before. But Goodell spoke with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and assured him that holding the game would not divert resources from those in need.

Goodell said he heard nothing from the fans about postponing the game.

“I sure didn't hear that here. And I didn't hear it out in the parking lot,” he said. “It was exactly the opposite.”

Said Giants receiver Victor Cruz: “I know Giants fans are true to their team, and they were going to come out and support us. It was unfortunate we couldn't get it done for them.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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