I had an exchange with Wiilgfass on a thread recently that prompted this Fanpost about how the Giants, and Eli in particular, play at home vs. on the road. Simply put, it is my contention that the Giants are better on the road than they are at home. This is a look at the Giants under TC and with Eli at the helm. I think it is obvious that they win more important games on the road, have the more dominating performances on the road, have more comebacks on the road, and get humiliated much more often at home.
There are a few reasons for this, and I would like to look at those reasons and get your thoughts on them. I am also going to make a list (not completely comprehensive) of the best and worst performances by the Giants under TC and Eli, and see if a majority of them have come at home or on the road. I'm sure I will not be able to remember all of them, so your help and input is needed!
Reasons why I believe the Giants have a weak home field advantage:
1. Our home crowd, for the most part, is weak. There are way too many old timers who show up late, sit on there asses the whole game without cheering, and then leave early. While these folks are great fans in the "loyal knowledgable fan" type category, they do not create a 12th man type of atmosphere. And we need that! This has to have an effect on the players, and I have heard them say or hint to this fact. Would you play your most inspired football in front of a raucous home crowd full of tension and hate for the other team, or in front of a bunch of guys sitting down with their arms crossed? Would anyone appreciate seeing a bunch of empty seats mid-way through the fourth quarter of a game, regardless of the score? Don't answer, it's rhetorical.
If I ruffle a few feathers here, tough. It's a fact and everyone knows it. Giants Stadium is not one of the hardest places to play in the NFL. Not even close. And what should be a source of pride (and pride accounts for much of our emotional investment as BBI so eloquently pointed out a couple of months ago in a Fanpost you must read if you have not already), is an area of shame. A less than rowdy home crowd is a knock on the fan base, IMO.
2. False sense of security at home. It seems to me that the players on the Giants, over the last few years, have a false confidence that playing at home gives them an advantage. And this part is perplexing to me in the sense that, since the home crowd is not the best it could be, especially early in the season, where would the players draw this confidence from? Sleeping in their own beds? Or perhaps from the coaching staff who espouse the "home field advantage" and the importance of dominating at home, yet not hammering home that message in an effective way? Maybe they are not preparing the players to play at home with more focus and intensity. Seems to me the team takes home field advantage for granted. I get the sense that the Giants feel entitled when it comes to playing at home. Like playing at Giants stadium automatically gives them more speed, strength, and smarts. It doesn't. But it could, if only the crowd could consistently lift them up.
Either way, I think the Giants show a different level of focus and intensity much more often on the road than they do at home. Seems that the coaches and players understand that your focus needs to be razor sharp on the road in order to overcome not only the other team, but the other teams crowd. This is evidenced, IMO, by the majority of their poorest performances coming at home games, and their best happening in someone else's stadium.
3. More pressure playing in NY. This example is more speculation, yes, but could that play into it? It is possible. The home crowd will boo, for example, if the offense comes into a home game 3 for its last 20 on third down and then promptly goes 3 and out on their first offensive series. Or if the defense has been giving up alot of big plays and then viola, a 65 yard TD pass gets the crowd booing again. Maybe the pressure for the Giants is just greater in front of their fans than it is in front of another teams fans (?)
Ok, so I went through some possible reasons why our home field advantage is not as good as it could be since Eli and TC have been here. If you agree with that assessment and have some other theory(s), I would love to hear them. Below I have compiled some info to supplement my memory. I have to say, if anyone reading this thinks I am wrong, that the Giants have performed about equal or better at home than they have on the road, I'm sorry. The information supports my memory. I did not count the 2004 season because the Giants were bad, and they were breaking in a franchise rookie QB and a new coaching staff. The games I include, for the most part, are the most important games, dominating performances either by the Giants or against the Giants, and comebacks. I won't have them all, and I look forward to hearing about games any of you may want to add. It's all good. While I have a definite opinion, I actually hope to read opposite opinions. But it will be difficult for anyone to sway me on this.
You won't find any fancy metrics or whatnot. I'm just assigning 1 point per game either in support of my argument, or 1 point against, with a couple of games getting a half point for one side of the argument or the other. I will put "FOR" or "AGAINST" after each example.
2005. As I scanned the games, these are the ones that stood out to me.
Week 3 NYG @ SD. Giants lose 45-23, but Eli shows that he can take the heat as he overcomes the fans hate from the franchise he refused to play for. Eli goes 24-41, 352 yards, 2 TD's and 0 INT's 102.9 rating while the Giants only gain 73 yards on the ground. I consider this game a "half point" in support of my theory because of Eli's play despite the loss on the road. He showed early on in this pressure packed spot that he will not shrink when faced with major adversity. When I think of the fact that he was 24, and think of what I was doing when I was 24? Impressive.
Week 4 STL @ NY. This game goes against my argument as the Giants pound the Rams 44-24 behind Eli's stellar day to the tune of 19-35, 296 yards, 4 TD's and 0 INT's 120.7 rating. AGAINST
Week 7 DEN @ NYG. This game was memorable as Eli drives the team in the closing minutes and completes the come from behind victory with a TD pass to The Always Well Dressed Amani Toomer with about a minute left on the scoreboard. Eli plays ok, going 23-42, 214 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT's 74.9 rating but makes it count when it matters most. Giants win 24-23. AGAINST
Week 8 WAS @ NYG. After Giants Patriarch Wellington Mara dies at the age of 89, the Giants honor "The Duke" by destroying their rival, 36-0. Washington never had a chance as Tiki Barber led the Giants to victory with his 206 yards rushing and 1 TD. Eli actually played poorly this day, going 12-31, 146 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT for a 51.3 QB rating. Give this game a "half point" against me for the dominating home victory. No full point because my boy EZ E was along for the ride on this day.
Week 14 NYG @ PHI. With a playoff berth and/or winning the division a reality with a win, the Giants beat the Eagles in Philly 26-23 in OT on a 36 yard Jay Feely FG. Feely's 4 FG's and Tiki's 195 yards rushing paved the way for this clutch win on the road. Eli goes 28-44, 312 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT's for a 63.8 rating. FOR
Week 17 NYG @ Oak. Giants need a win to make the playoffs and they deliver, on the road, 30-21. Eli plays well enough in the win, throwing for 204 yards on 12-24 passing, and 1 score for a 93.1 rating. FOR
Wild Card Round. This is the worst loss in the early part of the TC/Eli era. Maybe even the worst loss overall in it's ugly ineptitude.The Giants were so depleted at LB that they had to literally sign a player off the street. I don't even remember the starting LB's names in the game. They, and the defense was horrible at home vs. the Panthers to the point where John Fox "called off the dogs" in the second half so as to not further humiliate his former team. And Eli? He was worse than the defense and never gave us a chance to win. He threw for 113 yards on 10-18 passing, 0 TD's and 3 INT's for a passer rating of 35. BIG TIME FOR
Score for my Post's purposes: Better at home, 3.5 points. Better on the road, 3.5 points.
2006. The "what if", lost season...
Week 2 NYG @ PHI. The Giants play poorly for most of the game and are down 24-7 with 10:55 to play before turning it around with great play by Eli, and a little luck on a fumble by Plax that was recovered in the end zone by Tim Lewis (?) for a TD. Eli and Eagle killer Plax put the dagger in Philly with a 31 yard TD pass in OT for the walk-off win, 30-24, on the road. Eli goes 31-43, 371 yards with 3 TD's and 1 INT for a 111.7 rating FOR
Week 6 NYG @ ATL. Giants overcome a slow start by Eli and end up pounding the Falcons 27-14. After 2 early TO's by Eli, he comes alive and throws for 180 yards on 17-30 passing and two TD's with a 68.7 rating. Giants win convincingly on the road. FOR
Week 10 CHI @ NYG. The NFC's two powerhouses square off in NY on Sunday night, both with 6-2 records. The Bears prove who is better and thoroughly outplay the Giants en-route to a 38-20 victory. Devin Hester adds insult to injury with his ridiculous 108 yard TD "return" on a missed FG. Eli plays one of the worst games of his career with a 14-32, 121 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT's performance for a 28.3 rating.This one hurt me, bad. FOR
Week 12 NYG @ TEN. This game ruined our season. I knew it when I saw it, teams usually don't come back from devastating losses like that one. The Kiwi game is how I remember it, but Eli was just as culpable in giving up a 21-0 fourth quarter lead with 2 fourth quarter INT's. I don't need to go into any more details. This goes against my theory, big time. Pain.... AGAINST
Week 15 PHI @ NYG. Behind back up Jeff (Jerry?) Garcia, the Eagles put to bed the 7-6 Giants hopes of winning the division with a 36-22 win. The Eagles trailed 16-14 entering the fourth quarter before outscoring the Giants 22-9 in front of the Meadowlands crowd. Eli goes 28-40 for 282 yards but throws 0 TD's and 2 INT's for a 69.0 rating. FOR
Week 16 NO @ NYG. Saints humiliate the Giants in their last home game in 2006, 30-7. The Giants have no more fight after the Philly loss and fold AT HOME. FOR
Score for my theory, 5-1 in 2006. Plus 2005's results, make it 8.5 to 4.5.
2007. Happy Times!
Week 2 GB @ NYG. The Giants defense is still a week away from finding itself as the Packers score 21 unanswered points in the third quarter on their way to a convincing 35-13 victory in the Meadowlands. We look like crap in our first home game of 2007. FOR
Week 3 NYG @ WAS. The Giants save their 0-2 season with a four down, goal line stand to preserve a 24-17 victory in Washington. Huge, huge, season saving win in our division rivals house where Eli goes 21-36, 232 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT's for a 63.7 rating. FOR
Week 4 PHI @ NYG. Who can forget Osi vs. Winston Justice? The Giants play great defense as they tie an NFL record with 123 sacks, oh, wait... it was only 12 (felt like 123). Giants win at home, 16-3. AGAINST
Week 12 MIN @ NYG. One of the worst games of Eli Manning's career. This one gave the haters alot of ammo as Eli throws 4 INT's, including an incredible 3 pick 6's. He finishes the day 21-49, 273 yards with 1 TD and 4 INT's for a 33.8 rating. We kind of knew how this game was going to go when on the first play for the Viking offense, Tavaris Jackson hits Sidney Rice for a 60 yard TD. FOR
The next two weeks we beat both CHI and PHI on the road with clutch wins, and with some clutch performances by Eli, before coming home and watching Kevin Gilbride do his best impression of Pat Riley in game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals when he kept letting John Starks shoot the ball on his way to a 2-18 shooting night. I digress, but Eli threw 52 times in the wind as he had a miserable day, completing only 18 passes for 184 yards and one score as the Giants seemingly erase the good feelings from the previous two road wins in a loss at home to the Redskins, 22-10. FOR
Week 16 NYG @ BUF. Get this win on the road, and the Giants are in the playoffs. After a slow start in the snow, wind, and rain, and being down 14-0 with the season on the line, the Giants score 17 second quarter points to help propel them to a 38-21 victory. Eli turns the ball over 4 times, but the running game led us to this awesome win. 44 rushes for 151 yards on 17 carries, and 27 adds 145 on 24 carries. WOW, Giants football. Big playoff clinching win for the Giants on the road. FOR
Week 17. Despite the loss to prevent the Pats from completing the 16-0 season, I have to put this game in the category of going against my argument because of how well Eli played, and because of the huge mental victory this game gave our team. It gave them belief that they not only could play with anybody, but that if they saw NE again, that they actually could beat "The Greatest Team Of All Time." Eli goes into the post season with a confidence building 22-32, 251 yard 4 TD 1 INT performance that was good for a 118.6 rating. AGAINST
For the purposes of my theory, can anyone argue with putting the next 4 games in my corner? Giants beat TB, DAL, GB, and NE, all on the road, all with Eli playing outstanding, mistake-free football. FOUR FOR
Score for my theory, 10-1 in 2007. Add in 2005 and 2006, and the score is 17.5 FOR, 6.5 AGAINST.
2008. Boy were we a great team that year, but it is so hard to repeat. (Insert snippy Plax comment here). Around week 10, I actually entertained thoughts, and a couple of conversations, of that Giants team not losing another game and being spoke of as one of the greatest teams of all time....
Week 1 WAS @ NYG. What a night that was. I would have loved to have been at that game, to experience that celebratory atmosphere and watch Strahan help "raise the banner." I also would have loved to see 27 truck-over Laron Landry live. While not a dominating final score, the outcome was never in doubt as the Giants beat the Skins 16-7. Eli's stats are pedestrian, going 19-35 for 216, 0 TD's and 1 INT for a 61.1 rating. No way the Giants were losing this game. Half a point against my argument.
Week 2 NYG @ STL. 41-13 shellacking of the Rams in which Eli plays brilliantly, throwing for 260 yards on 20-29, 3 TD's and 0 INT's with a 131.4 rating. This game was a sign of things to come. FOR
Week 4 SEA @ NYG. Once again the Giants pummel an inferior opponent as they dominate the Seahawks to the tune of a 44-6 score. It was such a beatdown that David "please don'y hit me" Carr mops up Eli's great performance at home. Eli went 18-28 for 196, 2 TD, 0 INT's with a 136.6 rating. The Giants +38 point scoring differential was the largest for the team since 1972, and the +78 scoring differential was tops in the NFL through the first four weeks. This goes against my theory. AGAINST
Week 7 NYG @ PIT. What a game this was. And I got to see it live. Playoff type atmosphere for this game that had everything. Big plays, big hits, great defense, strategy, multiple goal line stands, a safety, and a fourth quarter comeback by the visiting New York Giants. Giants trailed 14-9 going into the final period because despite being in the red zone 2 times in the first half, the Giants only came away with 3 Old Man John Carney FG's. Carney added a fourth FG early in the fourth to cut the lead to 14-12. Following a Kiwanuka sack on third down (and the Giants dropped Ben 5 times that day), the Giants added a safety when emergency long snapper James "Don't fine me bro" Harrison launched the snap over the punters head and out of the end zone. Later in the quarter Eli added a 2 yard TD pass to Boss to finish the scoring at 21-14. Eli managed a tough game against the eventual Superblow champion Steelers with a 19-32, 199 yards 1 TD 0 INT's 87.9 outing. Mike Tomlin would say in his post game presser, "That (the Giants) is a championship caliber team right there. One we hope to be like." Players on both sides said they thought they would see each other in the SB. The Steelers held up their part of the bargain. Score another for my theory. FOR
From here we got just what we expected from the Giants each week with victory after victory. Including wins against both Dallas and Philly. Then Thanksgiving weekend came and Plax shoots himself in the leg. We still go down to WAS and beat them 23-7, but the winds of change are now a-blowin'. We lose the next two, at home vs. the Eagles and at Dallas.
Week 15 CAR @ NYG. This game would decide home field in the playoffs. The Giants snap their two game losing streak by beating the Panthers at home in OT, 34-28 behind D Ward's 215 yards rushing and Jacob's 3 TD's. Eli goes 17-27, 181 and 1 TD, 0 INT's 94.8 rating. AGAINST
Divisional Round PHI @ NYG. Another one of the worst loses in the TC/Eli era. The teams traded leads early in a terrible game for Eli. He could not throw in the wind and McNabb could, it's as simple as that. Eli finishes the day 15-29 for 169, 0 TD's, 2 INT's with a 40.7 QBR. Horrible performance by Eli and the Giants. FOR
So for 2008 I see it as 3 FOR my argument, 2.5 AGAINST for a total of 20.5 FOR, 9 AGAINST
2009. Injuries, injuries.....
Week 2 NYG @ DAL. How sweet was it to open up Jerry World with the first, last, and most points scored in the first game ever in Dallas' new stadium. Eli would go 25-38, 330, 2 TD's and 0 INT's 110.6 rating in laying his claim to it being Eli's House in the 33-31 last second win. FOR
The Giants jump out to 5-0 before the injuries on defense are exposed Week 6 @ NO in the 48-27 loss. It was an early meeting of unbeatens. I had been at the Jets @ NO game the week before this wearing my Eli jersey and bragging, "Your gonna see NY's varsity team next week." UGGH. The defense gives up 7 TD's to 7 different Saints as Eli goes 14-31, 178 1 TD, 1 INT 61.0 rating. AGAINST
After losing two in a row, the Giants have the chance to right the ship @ Philly but lose in Week 8, 40-17. The Giants go down 16-0 and never were in the game while Eli goes 20-39, 222 1 TD, 2 INT's for a 55.7 rating. AGAINST
Week 9 SD @ NYG. The Giants blow a fourth quarter lead to lose their fourth in a row as they enter a painful bye week, 21-20. Eli plays well with his 25-33, 215 2 TD 0 INT 112.6 rating day, but he can't stop Rivers and Jackson as they hook up for a go-ahead TD with seconds remaining on the clock. FOR
Week 13 PHI @ NYG. The winner here would take over first place in the NFC East. The Giants fail to get it done at home in this shootout and lose 45-38. Eli plays very well but it is not enough. 27-38, 391 3 TD's, 0 INT's with a 130.5 rating. The Giants are just not a good defensive team in 2009 and Eli's best season is not enough to overcome this fact. FOR
Week 16 CAR @ NYG. Backup Matt Moore is made to look like an All-Pro in another of the worst and most humiliating defeats not only of the TC/Eli Era, but in the history of the Giants. They close Giants Stadium with a brutal, playoff eliminating loss 41-9 where Eli goes 17-23, 141 0 TD's and 1 INT for a 71.1 rating. The next weeks loss @ MIN, 44-7 was not surprising to me. The team had quit on TC. BIG TIME FOR
For 2009 I see it as 4 FOR my argument, 2 against for a total of 24.5 FOR, 11 AGAINST.
2010. We are just short of being good enough with another late season swoon once again.
Week 3 TEN @ NYG. Thankfully, I missed this game as I was tailgating at another stadium. But the TO's and penalties told the story this day. Despite gaining 417 yards on offense, the Giants beat themselves in a bad loss to an inferior team where Eli goes 34-48, 386 0 TD's and 2 INT's 77.3 rating. Bad loss at home. FOR
Week 5 NYG @ HOU. Giants take control right away by scoring TD's on their first 3 possessions and dominate the much-hyped (again) 3-1 Texans in HOU. Eli goes 27-42, 297 3 TD's 2 INT's with a 89.1 rating. FOR
Week 10 DAL @ NYG. In Jason Garrets first game as HC of the Cowboys, his team jumps out to a 19-3 lead at the half as the Giants look flat. Despite the stadiums power outage, the Cowboys have no such outage as they win 33-20 and Eli throws 48 times, completing 33 for 373 yards 2 TD's 2 INT's for a 88.3 rating. FOR
Week 11 NYG @ PHI. Another game in 2010 where the GIants beat themselves with TO's as they turn the ball over 3 times in the fourth quarter. This included Eli's slide fumble in the final minutes that the Eagles turned into the game clinching FG. Eli goes 20-33 for 147, 2 TD's and 3 INT's for a 53.5 rating. AGAINST
Week 15. MM2. Yet another of the franchises worst loses not only in the TC/Eli Era, but in the history of the team. AT HOME. BIG TIME FOR.
Week 16 NYG @ GB. I was reluctant to even include this game because I was sure the Giants season was over after the brutal loss to Philly, but I'll add it only because it goes against my theory. Eli has 4 INT's as he tries to win a game on his own where he doesn't have much help. AGAINST
In 2010 that is 4 FOR, 2 AGAINST for a total in the TC/Eli Era of 28.5 points FOR my argument and 13 points AGAINST my argument showing the Giants are better on the road than at home.
Admittedly, this is a crude point system, but after doing the research I am convinced beyond any doubt that the current NY Giants team does not play better at home. I probably could have made this post alot shorter and simpler by just posting a few of the biggest wins and worst losses since TC and Eli have arrived, but I wanted it to be more comprehensive than that to help support my point to the good folks of BBV.
I hope it is not too tedious with the amount of games highlighted, but once I got rolling, I wanted to do as good a job as possible in listing all the big games that stood out to me at the time. I hope this is an interesting subject for our readers. It is for me. I long for a strong home field advantage but I am resigned to the fact that it just isn't the case. I wish it could be, but 2007 showed me being Road Warriors is an awful lot of fun and a great source of pride as well.
Footnote: Eli has 17 fourth quarter comebacks. I could not pinpoint how many were at home and how many were on the road. I would really like to know, so if anyone out there does know, please share.
Interesting footnote: The Giants have 30 playoff appearances, tied with our good buddies the Dallas Cowboys for the most all time.