"Too little, too late. Not enough - whatever you want to describe it as…" - Coach Coughlin
That was a really tough loss to swallow. I've had a little time to sit on the loss and think it over, and I'm glad I did. After the game on Sunday I was really, really upset, as I'm sure the whole Giants' community was. But things aren't as bad as they may seem. Fortunately, Philadelphia and Washington continued spiraling. Dallas looked very good, which was a little unsettling (only a little, Buffalo didn't exactly look great). And we weren't outplayed. We lost a close game to a very good team mainly due to our own mistakes, shutting down their all-pro running back yet falling just short in the end. We're still 6-3, and we're still ahead in the division. All that being said, let's rant and rave and re-live Sunday's loss.
The (Partial) View From Home
Another "Fox Game of the Week," another game available on the West Coast with Joe and Troy. Well, at least that's what JJ, Joe, Vandy and I thought until the Falcons-Saints game went into overtime. We didn't get to the Giants game until after the Giants took a 3-0 lead in the middle of the first quarter. We should've gotten to it sooner, but once the Saints made the game-winning field goal the Fox affiliate had to go to a local break. And they say TV has no impact on games…
When we finally did get the game on, it was just in time to see the 49ers drive right down the field to tie it up at three apiece. The first half was very similar to last week's. Long drives, no touchdowns, tough D near the end zone. Except we could, and should, have opened it up early. On our great opening drive of the second quarter, after the first drive of the game lasted almost the entire first, we were looking very good. Eli hit Cruz for a first down right off the bat. Then a few plays later Eli made a great throw to Mario, who made a great catch. What's even wilder - TROY AIKMAN COMPLIMENTED ELI MANNING! I know, I know, hard to believe. Hey, there are only so many combinations of words in the English language; you had to think Troy would say something nice about Eli at least once in his broadcasting career.
But of course, once we got near the end zone, Eli dumped it off to the underneath route which EVERYONE saw coming and once more we had to settle for three. This is becoming a bad habit. On the ensuing defensive drive several good plays were negated by an absurd cushion we gave them on 3rd and forever, allowing them to attempt and make a game-tying field goal. Then the onside-kick occurred, which honestly was just a good play on their part, and we held them to three again. After a tough Victor Cruz drop on our next offensive series which led to an Eli interception on the very next play, we got our first big break of the game when a tipped Alex Smith pass led to a Corey Webster pick, allowing us to sneak into halftime only down by three.
Joe left during the second half, and try as we might with different seating arrangements, standing up and sitting down, JJ, Vandy and I could do nothing but watch as the Gmen fell just short in the second half.
Tough Fight, Tougher Flight
As I mentioned earlier, we beat ourselves. Defense held strong in the third quarter, getting two big stops after giving up an initial field goal, and we went into the fourth quarter with our third lead of the game, 13-12. But they also started the fourth quarter with great field position as a result of a bad shank punt by Steve Weatherford. From there, in just over a minute of game clock, the Niners tore straight through us to score 15 unanswered points that included a really ugly interception by Eli and a successful two-point conversion. Yet again, we put ourselves in that hole. It'd be hard for most teams to fight as hard as we did all game, go into the fourth with the lead, immediately watch it slip away in a matter of minutes, and just give up.
Not the Gmen though. Despite helping put us in the hole we were in, Eli stepped it up and led a brilliant drive right down the field, which ended with a great touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks and featured two clutch receptions by Jake Ballard. Only down by a touchdown. Defense needed to step up, and they did, getting us the ball back with plenty of clock. Here's where things were great and awful all at the same time. All game (and for many of the games this season) the Giants had no problem moving the ball between the 20s. It was what was called once we were in the "green zone" that I think baffles most Giants fans.
The drive had all the makings of a classic Eli-led fourth-quarter comeback. Two HUGE fourth-down conversions. DJ Ware made plays to gain crucial yards. Eli was on fire. Then, third and two, Gilbride calls a SHOTGUN DRAW to DJ Ware. First of all, if you're going to run the ball for critical short yardage near the goal line, why run a draw? Second, why run it out of the shotgun formation, which means only more ground for your tailback to cover before even reaching the line of scrimmage? Third, why use DJ WARE?! Nothing against the guy - he'd played hard all game and had a good drive. But with the game on the line, you don't take it out of your playmakers' hands! Don't know what was wrong with Jacobs, but why not at least let the bruiser try for the yards? Personally I would've let Eli keep it and finish what he started. The next fourth down try failed when Eli's pass was tipped at the line, and the game was lost. We'd already made two huge fourth-down conversions, and it looked like (based on the play call on 3rd down) Gilbride was more than willing to test our luck on a 3rd fourth down conversion attempt. I know a game can't be measured by one play, and there were many instances where we could have done things differently for a better result, but that call still really stung.
Non-Gmen Thoughts of the Week:
• Happy belated Veterans Day, and of course thanks to all the veterans and current men and women in service for everything you've done and continue to do. Obviously it goes without saying, but it's still nice to have those few days a year where we put the trivial stuff aside and recognize those who ACTUALLY MATTER IN THE WORLD. On that note, did anyone catch the Wal-Mart commercial that ran during the games last week? With the mother of the two kids who surprises them (during story-time) when she arrives home unexpected after time away on service? Amazing ad. Hard not to get teary-eyed.
• Anyone else really miss the NBA right now? At all? Me neither.
• Having lost a friendly wager to a co-worker regarding Sunday's match-up, I find myself today forced to sit at my desk with eye-black on and a football in my hand. ALL DAY. I'm not about to sit here and lie to you all and tell you I don't feel a little bit cool. Come on, eye black makes guys look cool. Admit it.
• Turns out Billy Crystal will host the Oscars in April. That's cool, but I was REALLY excited about the possibility of the Muppets hosting. HOW COOL WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN?! I hope they at least save two balcony seats for Statler and Waldorf.
•Sunday was a bad day. The Gmen lost, I lost the eye-black bet, got destroyed in fantasy (Julio Jones, Darren Sproles, and Vincent Jackson - TWO POINTS COMBINED), and of fourteen games played I only picked right on THREE of them. Really bad day.
Our situation isn't as bad as it feels. It only seems that way because we've been playing so well lately, and it always stinks to lose. We've got plenty of football left to play, and so far we've split the toughest part of a schedule anyone has to face in the league this season. But do I have the slightest thought of Sunday's loss being the start of another epic second-half collapse? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I have faith in the Gmen, and we gotta keep on fighting! IT'S PHILLY WEEK! They're really going to be looking to put a hurting on us after their last two losses, so we have to be ready for them this Sunday at the Meadowlands. Redemption for last season! To talk all things Giants, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan," or follow me on Twitter under the name @gmensuperfan1. Until next week, GO GMEN!!Join other diehard Giants Fans!
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