Hakeem Nicks #88 and Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants celebrate after Nicks caught a 2-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium on December 4, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Packers won 38-35. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Despite having played one of their best games of the season, the New York Giants succumbed to the Green Bay Packers by a nose, 38-35. One could make the argument that if the offense would have punched it into the end zone one or two more times that the Giants would have won the game.
You could argue that had the defense held up for the last minute of the game that the Big Blue Wrecking crew would have accomplished the impossible, beating the undefeated cheese mongers. The harsh reality is that the G-Men have now lost four consecutive games and have their backs against the wall for the remainder of the season. "Moral victory?" Parallels? A Super Bowl run? Are these just phrases floating around for the desperate fan who refuses to believe that this team is destined to sit out the postseason? Or, do these idioms actually have some merit? Let's take a look.
Four in a row. That is a big number in December. The Giants have not dropped four straight games since 2009. If you think that sounds bad, here is a refresher course in Jints history. In 2004, Tom Coughlin's first year as head coach, Big Blue dropped eight straight. The longest losing streak in Big Blue history was in 1976, where the Giants lost nine consecutive games. That's neither here nor there, just a little trivia gem that you can break out at your next tailgate that you can use for good or evil.
There were many parallels going into the game against the Pack on Sunday. The most blatantly obvious, the undefeated record that they possessed. In 2007, the New England Patriots played the G-Men in the final week of the regular season. It was a controversial game, that had many questioning both coaches decisions to put in their starters for the game. The result was a well fought battle that ultimately led to the Pats walking away with the perfect REGULAR season. The Giants walked away with a "moral victory."
As we know, the level to which the Giants raised their bar that day against the Patriots catapulted them all the way to the Super Bowl and earned them the Lombardi Trophy. The parallel here is the undefeated records of the Patriots of 2007 and Green Bay this season. The difference? The Giants didn't have another four games left to play and an undetermined postseason. They had already clinched the wild card. They now find themselves in a corner.
Without a doubt, their level of play against the Packers was superb. They had some hindrances working against them, like a few key injuries and a crew of officials that probably play Xbox 360 with Aaron Rodgers on a regular basis. No one expected the Giants' defense to contain the explosiveness of Green Bay's offense to little to no points. While 38 points sounds unreasonably high, the New York defense did deliver a high-caliber performance. I will refrain from the obvious "if only" here.
Eli Manning and Co. had another electrifying game. Once again Maning and catchy cohort Victor Cruz find themselves amongst the weekly leaders. Lawrence Tynes also made his way in there, not that him being there is a good thing. What is a good sign is that Steve Weatherford was not in the weekly leaders list among the punters in the NFL. The Giants were 75 percent on Red Zone Efficiency and 100 percent on Goal To Go. In short, this team did a 180-degree turnaround from last week.
With four games left to the regular season the question remains, can New York take this "moral victory" and salvage their downward spiraling season? They certainly have some things working in their favor, like the fact that three of the four games will be played at home. Will Big Blue be able to continue the level of play that they brought against the Green Bay Packers, and parlay it into a Super Bowl run? What say you, fans?