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Reactions to Sunday's loss by the Giants

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Here is some reaction to the Giants' loss to the Eagles on Sunday.

I know it's going to be the easy (snap-judgment-like) postgame take, but put me down for not buying the Giants lost to Philly because they were distracted by the never-ending Plaxico Burress melodrama.

New York had played at an extremely high level of efficiency for all but one game this season and merely was due a clunker. And as noted, the Eagles are no slouches right now. In this year's NFC East, especially in December, anybody can beat anyone, anywhere. ...

The Giants didn't lose focus because of Plaxico's legal troubles. They just lost.

That is a sentiment I agree with wholeheartedly.

I think that’s just football. You have off games sometimes. Obviously, the conditions don’t help things, but for us, we’re not going to make excuses. We just didn’t play our best football today.

We didn’t play very well. We have no excuses. We got beat on the field. They had time of possession, they had rushing yards, they had every stat. I thought we got a real good shot in the arm right before the half with the blocked field goal and score, but we were not able to capitalize on it. We didn’t do anything with the ball in the third quarter when we had the wind and they managed to make first downs into the wind and really hold the ball the entire period. As I said, Philadelphia played well today and they played better than we did. We didn’t make enough plays.

There is no question that the Giants were distracted Sunday when they lost, 20-14, to the Eagles. But the distractions were not Plaxico Burress and Antonio Pierce and everything we have read and heard since that gun went off.

Here were the distractions for the Giants Sunday, in no particular order: Donovan McNabb. Brian Westbrook. All the Eagle receivers who made third-down catches in front of soft Giants defensive backs all day long. And that huge Eagles offensive line was a distraction, because it kept the Giants' defense off McNabb in every moment of the game that counted. So were offensive and defensive schemes for the Giants that seemed to have come from the moon.

Domenik Hixon dropped what would have been an 85-yard touchdown pass Sunday. Pierce played a lousy, listless game that even included dumb penalties. So of course this all played into the worst fears of Giants fans about the fallout of Burress being gone for the season and maybe forever. But it is only a calamity if it happens again, especially if it happens next Sunday night in Dallas.

  • Jeff George of NFL.com points out that the Eagles defenders were not shy in saying that the Giants offense is not the same without Burress. Here is a quote from Brian Dawkins.

"Listen, I don't mean to take anything away from the rest of their guys or that receiving group, but not having Plaxico out there meant we could funnel our defense in different ways and force the ball more to where we wanted it to go. We were able to take our chances in man coverage on the outside and get nasty with pressure on the inside. You can do everything right with Plaxico and he is 6-5. He can make up for any advantage you create by simply mauling and out-jumping you. He makes you back up and back off. Did it make a difference? Absolutely."

Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and his men had a brilliant day -- and highlighted a big problem for the Giants. Maybe I wouldn't be writing this if Domenik Hixon catches the simplest deep ball he's ever had thrown to him in a football game, the sure touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. But the Eagles played a totally different defensive game with Plaxico Burress sidelined for New York, and it bodes ill for the Giants against tough defenses down the stretch (Dallas, Carolina, Minnesota).

When the Giants and Eagles played the first time this year -- a 36-31 Giant win four weeks ago -- you could see how Johnson consistently kept a safety deep, often to Burress's side of the field. "We had real matchup problems with Plaxico,'' Johnson told me after the Eagles' 20-14 win Sunday. "We always have. We had to double him a lot, and he was such a dominant force in the red zone.''

Burress had seven inches on the three Eagle corners he faced in the first game. Hixon is four inches taller than Sheldon Brown, Asante Samuel or Lito Sheppard, but he's a beanpole, and you can jostle him and be physical with him. Burress not only had a Yao-versus-Kobe edge, but he knew how to box out in the old Michael Irvin way -- you know, without getting caught by the officials.

The other thing Burress' absence did to this game was allow the Eagles to be much more physical against the running game. You could see it right from the start. Brian Dawkins wrestled Kevin Boss like he was trying to impress Vince McMahon on one of the game's first snaps, a sign the Eagles were going to try to beat up the Giants. "No question about it,'' Johnson said. "We were going to be the more physical team today.'' The safety being in the box was hugely helpful.

First meeting: The Giants rushed for 219 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per rush. Second meeting: The Giants rushed for 88 yards, 3.7 per carry. "Our run lanes were so much better this time, and we didn't let Jacobs get out on the edge,'' Johnson said.