EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Once the shock and disbelief subsided, that was probably the worst I've ever felt after a Giants game. To blow a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter is one thing. To do it at home against the Eagles, well, that's something entirely different. Not since our loss to the 49ers in the playoffs back in 2003 have I gone from such joy to such misery so quickly.
Being at the game, with some friends (Jon included) who drove from Massachusetts just to go to the game only made it hurt that much more. But we survived the night. The players, coaches, and fans are all still with us, and the sun still rose this morning, despite what many fans might have thought. What I'm getting at is, while circumstances are very bleak, all is certainly not lost. But I'll get to that, after re-living with you fellow die-hards one of the worst losses I've ever seen:
I Know It Hurts, But Keep Reading Anyway
It started like every other magical football Sunday for a Giants fan. I woke up, having barely slept the night before, and the morning ritual began. Turned on the Sunday morning football shows, showered, grabbed breakfast, donned my Giants blue, and waited for Jon and his friend, Josh, to show up. They did, we did some necessary "GMEN!!" shouting, jumped around for a bit, got each other psyched up, then got in the car and headed for the stadium.
The atmosphere at the Meadowlands was ELECTRIC! Big Blue World Order was there in full force, with people going crazy with anticipation. We were in our seats minutes before they ran onto the field, and I swear our voices were all but gone by the middle of the second quarter.
In the stands, the first three quarters were about as much fun as you could possibly have as a Giants fan. Into the fourth quarter, after Kevin Boss's incredible touchdown reception off a strike from Eli, you could see all around the stands green shirts lining up the aisles, signifying countless Eagles fans leaving the game early in disgrace.
Then the wheels fell off.
Before those Eagles' fans could reach the top of the stairs, Philly drove the ball in two plays, scoring on a deep touchdown pass over the middle from Vick to Celek. Fine, a touchdown. Not great, but not the end of the world either. We're still up by two scores. But then they tried a trick-play onside kick, and RECOVERED IT.
Come on, Gmen. Don't look past this Eagles team. They scored quickly and somehow recovered an onside kick. You have to make a BIG STOP HERE.
NOPE. Instead, the Eagles took two minutes off the clock and scored a touchdown. 31-24, Giants; 5:28 remaining.
Alright, can't spin out here. We've still got the lead, and we're getting the ball back. If we can drive the field, and at least force them to use up all their timeouts, we're in good shape. It couldn't hurt to maybe get a score on the drive, too, and really put this thing away again.
We did part of that, killing two-and-a-half minutes while forcing Philly to use all of their timeouts. Plus, we gave them the ball back pinned at their own twelve-yard line. Just need our defense to make a stop, and we'll be fine. But they didn't. Instead, Vick drove Philly down the field to tie the game up, leaving us one minute and change to try and avoid overtime.
We avoided overtime all right, only not the way any team would want to. After two straight incompletions, Eli took a big sack on 3rd and ten. With fourteen seconds on the clock, Coughlin took a timeout. He pulled Matt Dodge aside and asked him to punt the ball out of bounds, away from DeSean Jackson, and we'd go into overtime. But Matt Dodge didn't punt the ball out of bounds. Instead, he punted it to DeSean, who after fumbling it initially, picked it up and ran it back for a game-ending touchdown. OF COURSE, HE DID.
The Meadowlands was the quietest it's ever been. And I was about as upset as I've ever been.
No talking in the car during the ride home. After Jon and Josh dropped me off, I heard in the background, "Well, let's go back and study for finals." I wish those two the best of luck this week. Poor guys. We didn't even have the heart to say, "tough loss" or anything. It just hurt too much to think about, and I think if anyone did say anything, it would have been instantly followed by vomit. Just because.
The Immediate Aftermath
When I got home, I posted on Facebook (and I'm paraphrasing) that I was pissed about the loss and didn't want to talk about it until Monday. Then I read some of the responses the post was getting. Some of the negative energy that was brewing from what fans everywhere had just witnessed. Most of whom at halftime, I'm sure, were dancing and hugging and screaming about how Eli's the greatest quarterback on earth, we were FINALLY going to give the Eagles the spanking they so deserved, and how grateful they were that the Giants have a coach who's probably going to lead the Gmen to the Super Bowl for the second time in his coaching tenure. When I read the posts, it was like a collection of hate mail. Now there were definitely many fans defending the Giants, explaining that it's not the end of the season, but the fact that fellow Giants fans would post so negatively in the first place just disgusts me. Folks were saying Coughlin got lucky with the first ring but has no idea what to do with the talent he's given. Others wrote that the Giants aren't a good team, and need to clean house and start from scratch. Some even wrote we'd be lucky to see the playoffs this year.
Fans like that make me sick to my stomach. In case everyone wasn't aware, as of Monday afternoon, the Giants' are currently the #6 NFC playoff seed. And Coach Coughlin didn't let Michael Vick beat him around the corner on 3rd and 10 when a stop will get us the ball back or force a fourth down try, and probably end the game. He wasn't the one punting the ball to one of the most dangerous return men in the NFL when it was supposed to go out of bounds. Tom Coughlin didn't get stuffed in the running game, and he wasn't out there unable to make any scoring drives happen when we needed it later in the fourth quarter, or at least run the ball successfully to take loads of time off the clock. And Tom Coughlin didn't jump offside on 2nd and six after Philly had burned their final timeout, throwing off what was a very promising drive and pushing back from their 38 to their 43, and eliminating most chances of at least a field goal try, which then would have put us up 34-24. But it was Tom Coughlin's great coaching, as well as Perry Fewell's great pressure, which gave us a three score lead after the first three quarters. The coaches did their jobs just fine, but the players got sloppy and let a very quick, hungry and opportunistic division rival sneak out of our house with one of the most painful and unlikely comebacks anyone's seen in quite a while.
The Bigger Picture
Yes, it was one hell of an ugly loss. It really hurts, and it's going to hurt for a long time. Definitely for those of us who are forced to be in contact with Eagles fans on an almost regular basis (you know who you are – STAY AWAY FROM ME). But the season is far from a lost cause. We've backed ourselves into a corner, but the road to the postseason isn't an impossible one to travel. As I mentioned earlier, if the season were to end today, we'd be in as a wild card seed.
Despite our gut-wrenching loss, we still found ourselves pretty fortunate regarding the other games played Sunday. New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and Green Bay all lost. We still control our own destiny and have two very winnable games ahead of us.
The comparisons have been made aplenty, so I'll go ahead and reiterate. In 2007, we got swept badly by the Cowboys during the regular season. Then, in the playoffs, we went into their house and won when it mattered most, making Jerry Jones just a stepping-stone on our path to a Super Bowl victory. Well, Philly swept us in 2010, and when we get into the playoffs, we very well might see them along the way. The game would be in their house. What better way to get redemption? If any team knows how to do it, the Giants have proven they're that team.
So stay positive, fans! Let's make this most recent loss just a part of the Super Bowl DVD that you fast-forward through quickly. Obviously, try to stay away from the highlight shows, the "Inside the NFL"s, etc. if it helps keep your mind off of it. I'm still extremely proud to be a Giants fan, and every one of you should be, too.
Let's get past the loss and get ready for the Pack! Two huge games coming up. The plot's always bleakest just before the storybook ending occurs! We've still got this Giants' fans! To talk all things Giants, you can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find me on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan." Be upset all you want, but there are still two more games to be played. They're going to happen, so why not be ready for them? No more time to mope! Happy holidays everyone, and until next week, GO GMEN!!!
Written by Superfan