Tuck's return inspired teammates

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck was so convinced he wouldn't play against the Buccaneers that he left his cleats at home. But at some point Saturday, all his lobbying to the coaches finally paid off and he was activated for the game.

With safety Kenny Phillips out for the season with a knee injury, the Giants needed some good news Sunday. Tuck, who's become a powerful voice in the locker room, gave the team a spark even though he didn't show up on the stat sheet. He said his left shoulder held up pretty well Sunday and that he should have a lot more confidence heading into next weekend.

"Hey, I made it. That’s all that matters right now,” Tuck told reporters after the Giants' 24-0 win over the Bucs. “I know I’ll be a little sore (Sunday) night, but we’ll deal with that next week. ... It felt good. It really did. It’s not where I wanted to be right now, but I got through and my confidence level will be even that much higher coming into next week, hopefully.”