In my short time as a Giants fan I’ve seen some heartbreaking losses, some crushing loses, and some embarrassing loses. Though I will state for the record that the worst loss I’ve seen as a fan was back in ’09 when the Giants got completely dominated by the Eagles at home in the playoffs, Sunday’s 38 – 31 meltdown is a very close second. In a game with playoff implications abound and first place of the NFC East on the line, this was a huge game already. Then add that this was a Giants home game against our most hated rival who has a five game winning streak over us. As a Giants fan we needed this win, but more than that we wanted to make a statement.
And we did. For the first thirty minutes of the game the Giants completely dominated the Eagles 24 – 3. The only Eagles points came off a Giants turnover in their own territory, and the Giants defense held Michael Vick and the #1 Offense (now calling itself the “Greatest Show of Turf Part II”) to a field goal. NFL MVP candidate Michael Vick was getting completely shut down and hit so hard that on a few plays his legs actually gave out on him. This was becoming a massacre. The Giants defense was flying around and making plays, and the “elite” Eagles receivers were being shut down by two corners that no one outside of the NFC East could even name. This was the game we needed, and going into halftime I started licking my lips at the thought of clinching the #2 seed with a Bears loss.
However it’s strange… for as excited as we should have been, I feel like we all knew what was going to happen. When FOX returned to the Pre-Game crew, everyone began handling special props to Michael Strahan, but Stray was very reserved and said football takes a full sixty minutes. He didn’t gloat or get cute. My dad called me and when I told him the score he got ecstatic and said I should probably call me Uncle (a huge Eagles fan), and start rubbing it in now, but I hesitantly declined. It’s as if collectively Giants fans knew that if any team could screw up this sort of lead it was going to be the Giants, and if any team could find a way to pop this high it was going to be the god damn Eagles.
What followed in the second half was everything I hate about the New York Giants. While I love our smash mouth running game and our overwhelming pass rush, I absolutely hate our defense when we take the lead in a game. I don’t know why it is we do this, but for some reason when we take the lead in a game we stop playing intense defense and we play this blasé no thrills coverage that gets beat. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I’m trying to recall if this ever happened under Spags, but I remember seeing it with Sheridan, and I’m seeing it way too often with Fewell. The moment we take the lead we stop seeing blitzes, and we take away the defense that put us in this position. At this point Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas had completely shut down the Eagle’s receivers single-handedly, yet once we took the lead Perry Fewell gave them extra help and thus allowed Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy to beat us with the run. Most irritating of all is that I went to high school with McCoy, so every time he gains yards on the Giants it’s like twisting a knife in my heart.
But there’s perhaps no better way to describe the Jekyll and Hyde complex the Giants have then to look at third year receiver Mario Manningham. At certain points he’s absolutely brilliant; making bobbling circus catch for a huge gain, or making yards out of nothing by making a defender miss. But then he’ll do something so mind numbingly stupid that I’m taken aback by how absolutely idiotic it is. Like when he tries to run a reverse across the football field just so he can get a few extra yards and winds up costing us a first down, or to be more relevant, fumbling the ball as he falls out of bounds simply due to careless carrying. That fumble changed the game’s momentum quickly, and not enough can be said about how much of a bonehead play this was. I don’t understand why Manningham dropped that ball other than admitting that Manningham might be gifted with amazing physical talents but also cursed with a baffling level of stupidity. It’s like he’s DeSean Jackson, except without the impressive numbers to help you justify why he takes his helmet off when he leaves the field.
Tom Quinn is a terrible Special Teams coach and two meltdowns on special teams cost us this game. The DeSean Jackson punt return was a mess, but I’ll be honest when I say that an electric player can’t be stopped. He may be an idiot, but DeSean Jackson is a damn good player and he had the talent to beat us. No, I’m far angrier about that onside kick mistake. There comes a point in football where you have to know the situation and the team you’re playing. Time is ticking down and our opponent is still down two scores. Given the situation you’d have to expect an onside kick, but more than that IT’S ANDY-FREAKING-REID AND THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES!!! Come on! They couldn’t telegraph this play anymore even if they held up an enormous neon sign and hired Bruce Springsteen to show up and sing a song about it. Seriously, what possible reason could Quinn have had to doubt that Reid would call for an onside kick?! More than that, why didn’t Tom Coughlin start strangling him for giving up a play like that!?
This was supposed to be a statement game for the Giants, and they made a statement alright: We don’t really like winning.
Actually wait, can that bumbling sound the Three Stooges make count as a statement? I think that describes this game perfectly.