Oftentimes as fans of the New York Giants, we talk about how our team won but played well enough to lose. Many of the wins this year were examples of that--Carolina, Detroit, the first Dallas game, Jacksonville. Even in that Bears' game in which we knocked Jay Cutler silly, there were questions about our offense. Well, Sunday's loss was the complete opposite. As much as it hurts (and believe me, I know we all still feel awful about that game and have visions of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson haunting us), there is something that has been nagging at me all week. It's the fact that the Giants dominated the Eagles for 52 minutes. I just can't shake that. They shut down the high-flying Eagles, holding them to 10 points, and really holding them to three points until Mario Manningham's odd fumble that let them back in to the game.
Sure, the Eagles gift-wrapped several of our scores too, and/or gave us great field position, but the first half of that game was one of the best halves the Giants have played all season, and maybe in a long time. We pressured Michael Vick to the point that he had nowhere to run and his receivers did not have time to get down the field. We effectively stopped LeSean McCoy (10 carries, 64 yards). Offensively, we struggled to run the ball, and lost yardage on more plays than we care to remember. But in that first half, Eli Manning converted on third and 6 or longer SIX times. One was on 3rd and 11 and one was on 3rd and 12. That, along with those Eagles' miscues, allowed us to build that 24-3 halftime lead and eventually 31-10 in the fourth quarter.
I won't even get into what happened after that. Look, we know the Giants didn't finish. They know it, the coaches know it, the whole NFL world knows it. To Tom Coughlin's credit, though, he didn't go all Denny Green on the media, and he took the blame on his own shoulders like a man. But let's give the guy some credit for what the Giants did do. For 52 minutes (okay, maybe not 52, but for at least 30), they were as well-prepared as a team can be, and executed their game plan to perfection. That's because they have the talent to execute that gameplan--on both sides of the ball. There are some things you might say are better about teams like the Patriots, who have a Hall of Fame QB but still get by with less; or the Eagles, because for as dumb as Andy Reid appears at times (red flag blunder), he finds ways to beat the Giants, often in the fourth quarter.
But here's the thing -- we can beat those two teams. It's hard to say we can beat the Eagles after the last six meetings, but we DID have them beat until their MVP QB led them back like few other players could have. The Packers exposed the Patriots a bit on Sunday night, and even the Browns beat them a month ago. Go ahead, pick another team and try to tell me why we can't beat them. The Giants are oozing talent and know how to prepare for a game. The only thing that has beaten them before and can beat them again is the Giants.
So if last Sunday's game taught them something, I hope it's that they should never accept 85 percent effort, or 100 percent effort for 85 percent of the time. If you want to win, you have to finish. Our 2007 team learned that, and several players from that team are still on this one. Maybe that's part of the reason Manning stepped up and tried to fire up his teammates on Monday morning. One lingering positive memory I have of Sunday, in fact, was of Manning pumping his fist and screaming , "Yeahhhhhh" after his fourth TD pass of the game, to Kevin Boss. When was the last time the dude showed emotion like that?
Sunday's game is the biggest game in Giants' history since last Sunday's game. The Packers are mad talented, but injuries and not finishing have also led them to a less-than-desirable 8-6 record (and a win Sunday guarantees them nothing). But the Giants are mad talented too, and it's time we showed another team how to finish. It's time to win a game when we really, really have to win a game, and get to the postseason for the first time in two years. Let's do this, boys.