(L-R) Mario Manningham (82), Hakeem Nicks (88) and Victor Cruz (80) of the New York Giants walk back ot the sideline in the fourth quarter after Manningham scored a 17-yard touchdown against the af during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The long-standing rivalries in the NFC East continued to live up to their reputation this season. The Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants all waged war against each other, in their respective semi-seasonal matchups. There is certainly no love loss between any of these teams. However, given some ill-fated, pre-conceived notions before the season got under way, there may just be some new-found bitterness compounded onto a pre-existing hill of hatred.
The Redskins were labelled, by many, to be the bottom dwellers of their division. Mike Shanahan was in his second year as head coach. There was the quarterback controversy which was carried over from the previous season and a slew of wrinkles that were never ironed out. Yet, Rex Grossman came out swinging and opinions started to change. Needless to say, they changed back rather quickly and the first impressions of the 2011 Skins came to pass. They finished 5-11. The Giants didn't stir up too much trouble with these guys. Washington swept the series. Read on.
As sure as the sun will shine, the broadcast analysts were trying to "go green" and do what they do every year - recycle their opinions and peg the Dallas Cowboys as the top of the heap, the cat's meow, the bee's knees. Tony Romo recorded the highest quarterback rating of his career, 102.5. The Cowboys and Giants found themselves in contention for the top spot of the division. In the first game, at Dallas, New York fell behind by twelve points late in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning orchestrated one of his fourth quarter, clutch victories, leaving Jerry Jones speechless. In the second meeting, a must win situation, the Giants ran amok on the Boys and sent them home, packing. It was a crushing blow to Dallas and all of it's fans. You can bet yer bippy, pardner, that there was some fresh brewed ill-feelings born from that series.
If voodoo dolls of Eli Manning didn't exist in Philadelphia before this football season started, they do now. The Eagles, aka the "Dream Team", were caught sleeping. There was no "Miracle In The Meadowlands." Well, that's not entirely true. The Giants marched into Philly and manhandled the birds in the first game. The Eagles returned the favor in Week 11. The miracle here was that the Eagles won the game at all. The hype about Philadelphia was all the rage this preseason. Andy Reid and his band of elitists were practically given the Lombardi Trophy before things got going. Then, it all fell to pieces. Philadelphia fans and players alike, will be watching Super Bowl XLVI thinking, "that should be us." Yes Virginia, there's some new hatin' going on in Philly, rest assured.
The New England Patriots have had nothing but contempt for the G-men, ever since Super Bowl XLII. Once again, the Pats were off to a great start to their season. They weren't undefeated, though. New England had only lost two games at that point. When all was said and done, the Giants left Gillette Stadium with another victory, not knowing what the near future would have in store. The Giants were the last team in the 2011 regular season to defeat the Patriots. You can bet the animosity towards Big Blue is at an all-time high in New England, especially with the upcoming Super Bowl rematch.
Rex Ryan and his gang of green goblins are another one of the scorched and scorned left lingering in the dust of what could have been by the New York Giants. At the 2011 NFL Draft, Ryan, in his usual boisterous manner, declared that his team would be in the Super Bowl and win it. Like a modern-day Ponce de Leon, Ryan pitched his flag in New York (or New Jersey) and declared it as his own. He had beaten the Giants in the preseason and won a cute, little Snoopy Trophy. But his biggest task, defeating the G-Men in the regular season, would not prove so easy. He huffed and he puffed but he could not blow the Giants' house in. In a must win situation and after an egregious week of blathering, Rex Ryan was handed his ego on a Big Blue plate and his team left in disarray. H-A-T-E! Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate!
The Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers. What a monumental season this team was having. They, like the Patriots of 2007, were going for the perfect season. The Kansas City Chiefs, of all teams, popped that balloon. No biggie, really. The Pack were still assured of another Super Bowl Trophy at the end of the year. Enter the New York Giants. Two weeks prior to the Pack falling to the Chiefs, the boys in Blue played up to Aaron Rodgers and co. The Giants, at that point, came closer than any other to pulling out a victory. But as the saying goes, be nice to those you see on your way to the top. You just might see them on your way back down. January 15, 2012 - the NFC Divisional Game. Giants vs Packers, in a rematch for all the marbles…in Lambeau Field. It was a given. They were the unstoppable force known as the Green Bay Packers. But a very hungry team, who came into the playoffs at 9-7, whom just shut out the Atlanta Falcons the week prior, had other ideas. The Giants not only defeated the Pack. They blew them out AT HOME! You can bet all the cheese in China that there is a new disgust for the New York Giants in Wisconsin and its surrounding neighbors.
Finally, the 49ers. This game may prove to be the hardest fought and most well deserved victory that the Giants pulled out this year. Following a familiar pattern, Big Blue journeyed to Candlestick Park in Week 10, where a very arrogant Jim Harbaugh awaited. The Niners were 7-1 when the G-Men breezed into town. When they breezed out, San Fran was 8-1. However, the Giants nearly had that particular game under their belt. That brings us to the rematch, the NFC Championship Game. Big Blue, once again, had to journey to "The Stick" to face a doubly arrogant Jim Harbaugh and a very dangerous team. It was a wet, rainy, muddy, everything left on the field type of game. The 49ers defense was unrelenting. Their running game was solid. Their pass rush was out for blood. The Giants matched the Niners pound for pound, yard for yard. Ultimately, the weakest area of the 2010 Giants season, came up big to propel them into the winner's circle, special teams. Just like the week before and the week before that the New York Giants were not supposed to win. But they did anyway. Thus re-igniting, or giving birth to, a new brand of malice for an old foe.
When you add up all of the teams, coaches, players and fan bases that the Big Blue Wrecking Crew dismantled on their way to the Super Bowl, when you add in all of the resentments left by this 9-7 team, when you factor in all of the shattered dreams left in the wake of the Giants journey, you begin to see that this New York Giants team may be the most widely hated football team in recent history.
Then again, they may have won over some of the fan bases who are sitting out this postseason, who would like nothing more than to see their rival teams, such as those listed in this article, fall flat on their faces. Two things are for certain. First, the New England Patriots have earned the support of all of the fandoms that the Giants have left crushed and broken-hearted. Second, the New York Giants and their true blue fans are all in.