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New York Giant Glory Days Are Not Over

January 23, 2013

It has been a while since my last video post, so let’s get right to it.

 

Conservative Play Ends Season for Manning and Broncos

January 13, 2013

Never. Rush. Three. How many times have I said that? It never works. Sometimes you may get lucky, but, more often than not, you get burned like the Broncos did on Saturday. They had the situation they wanted–double coverage on Jacoby Jones–and it wasn’t enough. The extra man gained them nothing. Instead, Flacco had plenty of time to find Jones and fire a 70-yard missile to tie the game.

My utter disdain for prevent defense stems back to the days when Broncos head coach John Fox was the Giants defensive coordinator. I like John Fox. He was a good coach for us, but too many games during his time were either blown or unnecessarily stressful because of the three man rush.

He hasn’t changed. The man’s middle name is conservative. Case and point, you have Peyton Manning and 31 seconds and you choose to kneel down and take your chances in overtime. That was mistake number two. The third mistake–Peyton’s interception–would be the error that would ultimately cost the Broncos the game, but it never had to happen.  Denver had chances to end the game before the Ravens tied it.  It should have never gotten to that point.

Now, there will be no Manning in the Super Bowl. No chance for the brothers to go back-to-back again. I was looking forward to that possibility.

The door is also wide open for the Patriots who no longer have a Manning standing between them and Super Bowl glory. Just Ray Lewis and a red-hot Joe Flacco, but, given the choice, I bet the Pats would take a rematch with Baltimore at home over a trip to Denver for a date with their nemesis’ big brother.

With 31 seconds, Eli could have gotten into field goal range. To quote the movie Ted, “Tom Brady could do that.” Aaron Rodgers did it to us last season, albeit with 58 seconds, but he only had one time out. If Joe Flacco can throw a 70-yard bomb to tie the game (no offense to Flacco, I have a new-found respect for that guy), then Peyton Manning certainly could have done the same. He should have at least been given the chance.

I wonder if any of the Broncos saw what Atlanta did yesterday and thought we could have done that. The difference was the Falcons and Matt Ryan had no choice. It was get in field goal range or lose. Sometimes it is better to only have one option. That’s why Eli thrives when he is down by a touchdown in the final minutes.

Still, you play to win the game. You don’t play not to lose, especially when you have one of the best quarterbacks in the league (or ever).

Fox’s decisions will be discussed and debated for weeks to come. Hopefully, every coach and coordinator will be taking notes. I’m not saying play with reckless abandon, but there is a difference between playing conservative football and playing smart football. That thin line separates the good from the great.

With Peyton out, who do we root for now? Yikes, that’s not an easy choice. For the sole reason that Tony Gonzalez deserves to win a Super Bowl (he played 11 season in Kansas City after all ), I’ll be pulling for Atlanta.

Disappointing End to Giants Promising Season

January 1, 2013

Since Sunday, I have felt a lot like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. I’m surrounded by happier kids, who all got what they wanted for Christmas. All we wanted was a trip to the playoffs. It’s not as if we asked for an official Red Ryder carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock.

Plus, a few weeks ago, it seemed like a done deal. The Giants were poised to win the division, and, after they destroyed Green Bay, it appeared that no one would be able to stop them. Left and right, analysts were saying the Giants had the NFC East “wrapped up,” but then the unthinkable happened. The switch the Giants usually flip in December didn’t work.

In the past, it had been so reliable, but it failed them this year. Why? It’s simple really. In 2011, the Giants had to win. This season, they expected to win. They got complacent and failed to show up for every game.

Repeating in this league has never been easy. Even when you are practically perfect, it can feel like an impossible task, just ask the Green Bay Packers. When you don’t play your best football, it becomes only that much harder.

The Giants had the talent, and although they played like a championship caliber team on Sunday, it was too little too late. A season, full of potential, wasted. It’s dissapointing, but, perhaps, it just wasn’t our year.

To be honest, it feels more like RGIII’s year. The Redskins seem to have some of the magic we had last season. Or maybe it’s Adrian Peterson’s year or Tom Brady’s. Patriots fans are more excited about the Giants being knocked out, then they are about their own team snagging a first-round bye. I guess that’s something–we’re in their heads.

Still, it’s a shame. If we had gotten in, I think we could have gone all the way, but there is no reason why this team can’t be right back in the hunt next year. As Ralphie’s father told him, “There’s always next Christmas.” Or in our case, next season.

Unlike Ralphie, we won’t find a secret present behind the desk that will send us to the playoffs. All we can do is set our sights on 2013 and Super Bowl XLVIII.

Happy New Year Everyone!

The Giants are Defending Champs, Why Don’t They Play Like It?

December 24, 2012

I have never been a defending champion. In order to defend a title, one needs to win one, and in ten years of youth soccer, two years of girls softball and three years of competitive drama (you heard me, competitive drama), not once did I hoist the big trophy.

The only year my soccer team made it to States, it was by default. We were the only team in our league, and, while we fought valiantly, we eventually lost to a bigger and better team. We won a few league championships, but, if I remember correctly, those games were played by the second and third place teams (the first place team went to States), so that doesn’t really count.

I also lost two league “championship” games, both on penalty kicks–the absolute worst way to lose anything.  Imagine if the NFL decided that after the first quarter of overtime, games would be decided by a field goal kicking competition. As entertaining as that might be, it is also an extraordinarily heartbreaking and stupid way to lose.  

In softball, my team was never very good. Although, like the Giants, we would gain momentum in the playoffs. There was something about making the postseason (every team made it) that got us into a groove, and my parents would start worrying that they’re entire weekend would be lost, if we kept winning.  We never did.

I came the closest to winning a championship in the Rhode Island State Drama Festival. Technically, one year we did win, but an arithmetic error committed by the judges kept us from advancing. By the time the mistake was realized, it was too late (I am not at all bitter about this). Frankly, I should have known better. My father always taught me never to compete in anything without a finish line.  You can’t rest your hopes on the subjective and vindictive nature of an East German judge.

I’ve never known what it is like to win or defend a championship. I don’t understand the pressure of repeating or what it is like to have every other team gunning for you.  Perhaps that is why I can’t seem to understand, even though I tried to wrap my brain around it all last night and today, why the Giants play the way that they do.  I don’t understand how this team can dismantle some of the best teams in the league but can’t seem to muster the energy to play like defending champions when their season is on the line.  Maybe it’s the pressure.  Maybe it’s exhaustion or even over confidence. 

Whatever the cause, it is maddening.  The Giants have flushed this season down the drain.  They have wasted so much potential.  I wish I could offer a better explanation as to why this has happened, but I have never been in their shoes. Plus, it’s Christmas and it’s time to focus our energy on happier things.

Merry Christmas Divided Fans!

Oh…and in case you were wondering, if the Giants beat the Eagles, and Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota also lose, then we’re in. If I had to bet, which thankfully I don’t, I’d say that all those other things will happen, but then the Giants will lose to the Eagles.  Probably in overtime.  Probably by a field goal. At least it won’t be by penalty kicks. Penalty kicks are the worst.

Win Out and We’re In: The Giants Road to the Playoffs, Revised

December 17, 2012

Two weeks ago, our sights were set on winning the NFC East. In my post on December 8th, I wrote:

“The Wild Card is much more complicated and less likely. We can cross that bridge if and when we get there, but for now let’s focus on winning the NFC East.”

Well fans, we are standing on the bridge. Let’s cross it.

The Giants still control their own destiny but only for the Wild Card. Win out and we are in.

The division is still possible but it requires a Dallas or Washington loss next week, which is possible of course, but we know it’s never going to happen. At least, we can’t count on it. I wouldn’t recommend even watching those games, because they only end up adding insult to injury—thanks a lot Cleveland and Pittsburg!

The new goal is to win two games in a row, and what ever else happens is icing on the cake. Division or Wild Card, our playoff picture is practically the same, with the exception of one home game. So losing to Atlanta is not the end of the world.

Granted, that doesn’t really help all of us who wasted three hours of our lives yesterday watching the Giants march up and down the field only to come away with nothing. Zero points!

But, look at the rest of the NFL. These types of games are happening to good teams every week. It happened to the Falcons just last week against the Panthers. We did it to the Saints and Green Bay, and they bounced back. Even the Patriots are vulnerable. They destroyed Houston. They made them look like a last place team, and then they lost at home to the 49ers, after falling behind 28 to nothing.

We could worry about our loss, but what’s the point? Win out and we’re in.

To make sure this was actually the case, my father and I considered all the scenarios and tiebreakers at length last night. Then, my brother sent us a link to the ESPN NFL Playoff Machine. All you do is plug in who you want/need to win and it calculates the playoff seeds for you. Genius! Gotta love computers. My dad and I were glad to see our predictions were correct, but this would have saved a lot of time. Have fun and forget about yesterday’s game. Win out and we’re in.

This is New York Giants Football: It’s Not All Fun and Games

December 10, 2012

Earlier on the Sunday, when the Cowboys and Redskins were both losing, who else had visions of a two-game lead dancing in their heads?  Ha!  Like that was going to happen.

The Giants can’t worry about what other teams do and neither can we as fans.  It’s futile, and, thankfully, we don’t have to.  That’s the beauty of controlling your own destiny.  The Giants just need to keep playing like they did on Sunday, which is easier said then done for a team that, once again, has struggled with consistency.

Sometimes wins like these make me a little mad, because I wonder, where were these Giants against the Bengals?  Where were they against Pittsburg or Dallas the first time around, or the second time for that matter?  What is stopping them from playing at this level all the time?  My friends, that is an unanswerable question.

Winning should be fun, but that is not always the case with our Giants.  Sometimes, even with a 22-point lead, we can’t sit back with a beer and relax.

That is not to say that there weren’t moments in this game that were enjoyable (it was certainly better than the Dallas win).  David Wilson’s returns were fun to watch.  So were Stevie Brown’s interceptions, and the touchdown catches by Nicks, Bennett, Cruz and Hixon.

Of course, there were also moments when it felt like it was all going to slip away, but that is true of almost every Giants game and every Giants season.  That is New York Giants football.  It’s agonizing down to the bitter end.

Therefore, we should buck up for another crazy day of football next Sunday, and try our best not to worry about what other teams do.  After all, we understand that if Dallas and Washington had lost, then our game would have probably gone very differently.  Having the Cowboys and Redskins breathing down our necks is exactly what we want.   It may not be the most fun way to win, but it could give the Giants their best chance of winning.

One down.  Three to go.  Plus another four after that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  In the meantime, our focus should be on Atlanta and only Atlanta.

New York Giants Road to the Playoffs: Games to Keep Your Eye On

December 8, 2012

This week, I’ve done my absolute best to remain optimistic about the Giants playoff chances.  Their schedule is daunting and their opponents formidable, and, yet, I am confident.  If the Giants play their best, then there is no team that they can’t beat.

If you want to remain in a strictly positive frame of mind, check out what I wrote for Her Game Life: Four Reasons Why New York Giants Can Win Final Four Games.

However, if you’re not afraid of taking a more realistic approach to what lies ahead for the Giants, then continue reading.  I’m ready, I think.  Are you?

The Goal

The division.  The Wild Card is much more complicated and less likely.  We can cross that bridge if and when we get there, but for now let’s focus on winning the NFC East.

The Best Case Scenario

The Giants win their last four games.  Case closed.  Division Champs.  They would probably be the fourth seed, which is perfect—no bye week and mostly road games.

If that doesn’t happen, then for every Giants loss we would need a Cowboys loss and a Redskins loss, in order to maintain the lead. Our schedule, out of the three, is by far the most difficult, but let’s take a closer look.  Shall we?

WEEK 14Before the Giants and Saints get underway, we will know the outcome of the Dallas and Washington games.   I’m more worried that they will both lose, which would let the Giants off the hook.  We’d probably be better off if one of them won, but we’ll take what we can get and hope the Giants can use their humiliating loss to the Saints last season as motivation.

Looking ahead, if we want our games against Atlanta and Baltimore to be as meaningless as possible, for them (I’m not a hundred percent sure that is what we want, but I’ll get there in a minute), then losses (and even ties in some cases) by the Bears, Packers and 49ers all help Atlanta secure the top seed and home field advantage.

The Ravens clinch the AFC North if they beat the Redskins, which is good for us anyway, and if Cincinnati and Pittsburg lose.  The Cowboys are playing the Bengals, so there is a bit of a silver lining if Dallas wins.

Roethlisberger and the Steelers probably won’t have too much trouble with Rivers and the Chargers though.  Plus, the Steelers play the Cowboys the following week.  We can’t worry about where the Ravens stand.  It would mean having to root for the Cowboys two weeks in a row, and that is too high of a price to pay.

Our game in Baltimore is going to mean something, for both teams, and maybe that’s what we want anyway.  The less reasons the Giants have not to gear up for a game the better.  The tougher the opponent the better.

 

WEEK 15The Falcons don’t scare me.  First of all, they may rest their starters, but I hope they won’t and don’t think they will.  They want payback, but like the 49ers and Packers who tried before them, I don’t think they’ll find any redemption against the Giants.

The Steelers could do us a favor, by taking out Romo and the Cowboys, although, I’m not betting on the Browns being help to us against the Redskins.

 

 

WEEK 16This week could be for all the marbles.

We’ll find ourselves rooting for two of the opponents that we face in this four-week stretch—the Eagles and Saints—to beat the Redskins and Cowboys, respectively.  This could actually happen. Out of all the weeks, this is our best chance to gain ground on both teams.

And, unless one of the games gets bumped to Sunday night (please, please, please let it be our game), then they’re all on at the same time.

Ray Lewis or no Ray Lewis, the Giants can win this game.  It helps that the wounds from our loss to the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV have long since healed, because we are not playing to avenge thirty-five.  We are playing to have a shot at forty-seven.

 

WEEK 17It’s a NFC East showdown, and the prize could easily be the division.  How the Eagles and Nick Foles have played up until this point may have a huge impact.

Will they be reinvigorated with nothing to lose or dejected with nothing to lose?  Forget everything I said before about the Giants needing motivation.   They should have plenty, and my nerves are going to be shot by this point.  I hope the Eagles can barely muster the strength to put on their uniforms.

Whether we are simultaneously rooting for the Redskins or the Cowboys will also depend on what happens over the next three weeks.  The Cowboys have the more difficult schedule and Tony Romo.  The Redskins have a slightly easier schedule and Robert Griffin III.  I’m thinking we’ll be rooting for the Cowboys.  Ugh!  If only they could both lose.

On the other hand, all these games could be meaningless, although I doubt it.

The Giants could win all four.  They could also lose all four.  The magic number is four.  Four wins and we’re in.

Or:

3 Wins and 1 Cowboys/Redskins Loss

2 Wins and 2 Cowboys/Redskins Losses

1Win and 3 Cowboys/Redskins Losses

I think the Giants should stick with the four wins.  It is so much neater and, perhaps, even simpler.

What do you think?  Four weeks from now, will we be sitting pretty or crying into our egg nog?

What Does Eli Manning Have To Do?

November 19, 2012

I honestly thought we had moved on from this discussion, but I’ve been writing and talking about it all week, so I guess I was wrong.  Thanks to Phil Simms, the question of whether or not Eli Manning is an “elite” quarterback lives on and that doesn’t make me very happy.

I understand Simms needs to maintain a position of neutrality.   I also respect him as a commentator and for everything he did while playing for the Giants.  In short, I’m a huge Phil Simms fan.  I cried when the Giants retired his number.  Yet, what he said makes me mad.

If almost anyone else had said it or if it wasn’t the bye week, this story would have blown over by now, but it hasn’t.  Thus, I am compelled to defend the current Giants quarterback.

What does Eli have to do?  Win another Super Bowl?  Lead another fourth quarter comeback?  And what is the benefit of stoking a fire that had gone out?  When Eli beat Tom Brady and the Patriots, for a second time, in four years, by completing a pass that only a few quarterbacks could make in a drive that only a few quarterbacks could lead, he proved that he deserves to be named alongside the sport’s best—the elite.

Simms’ argument hinges on his definition of the word elite.  He was quoted in Ralph Vacchiano’s article for the NY Daily News as having said, “No, he is not one of the elites…because when I hear the word elite, I’m thinking about guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves. There are very few quarterbacks in that category.”

Let’s break this down.  “Guys that can make unbelievable plays on the field by themselves.”  I believe Phil is referring to guys like Aaron Rodgers who are more mobile than Manning.  Eli is not fast.  He is never going to be fast.  He is not the same type of quarterback that Aaron Rodgers is, but Eli has his own highly developed, proven set of skills.

Also, there is no “I” in team, and last I checked football was a team sport.  Even when Rodgers or Roethlisberger are able to scramble to extend plays or gain yards, they are not accomplishing these feats on their own.  Plus, when a quarterback throws a pass someone has to catch it.

Receivers can have off days.  So can quarterbacks or entire teams, but Eli hangs in there when many would give up and go home.  This season, he didn’t let throwing four interceptions stop him against Tampa Bay.  In the 2011 NFC Championships, he was knocked to the ground on almost every other play, but he never lost his cool.  The conditions were rough, but he didn’t try to force anything.  He kept his team in the game by not making any mistakes.

Beyond all this, Eli Manning is responsible for arguably the greatest, most “unbelievable” play in Super Bowl history.  He should have been sacked.  Three or four Patriots defenders had surrounded him.  Several hands pulled on his jersey trying to drag him down, but somehow, all by himself, Eli Manning escaped.

Also, he was playing one of the best football teams ever with one of the best quarterbacks ever, in the Super Bowl, and he didn’t let that pressure get to him.  His ability to stay cool under fire is what makes Eli Manning an elite quarterback, and, if he has to, he can prove it again this season by shaking off this “slump” and leading his team to the playoffs.

I say “slump” in quotes, because I don’t believe Eli is fully to blame for how the Giants have performed lately.  The whole team is in a slump.  This is how the Giants play in November.  Do I like it?  No.  Do I wish it would change?  Yes, but if the Giants continue to have the type of success that they do in December, January and February, I can learn to live with a lousy November.

I also don’t understand what is to be gained, other than ratings, from this discussion.  However, I know that the Giants and particularly Eli Manning thrive on adversity.  In that case, thanks Phil for stirring the pot.  Perhaps, Manning and the rest of the Giants will wake-up from their November slumber a little earlier this season and return to playing their best football.  If that was your intention all along than kudos, although I don’t think Eli needs you or me, for that matter, fighting his battles for him.

The Giants Never Change

November 13, 2012

Was it me or did it seem as if the Giants weren’t aware they were playing a football game on Sunday?  There was no hustle, no urgency and no intensity with very few exceptions.  The Giants were flat, and now they are 6-4.

Last year around this time I wrote, “One minute you’re 6-2, you’re in first place and it feels like nothing, not even the New England Patriots can stop you.  The next minute you’ve lost two in a row and you start to think: Is this it?  Is this the slide?  Are we one loss away from a total collapse?”

I’m not a fan of change.  Maybe that’s why I like the Giants.

Giants vs. Bengals: Thoughts to Consider Before the Game

November 10, 2012

Here is an interesting fact.  In six out of the nine seasons, in which Tom Coughlin has coached the Giants, the team has started with a 6-2 record.  However, they have never been 7-2.  6-2 has equaled 6-3 one hundred percent of the time.

Therefore, we can officially stop worrying about the loss to Pittsburg.  It was destiny.  It was written in the stars.  It is time to move on to the Bengals.

Coughlin did not downplay the significance of this game.  He said, “This is a very, very important game for our football team.”  That’s two “verys.”  Then he added, “A lot of teams would like to be 6-3; we’d like to be 7-3.”

I concur. This team could use a statement win. It would help them and us avoid two weeks of discussing whether this is the beginning of another collapse. Winning this game would be nice, but a loss is certainly not the end of the world.

It’s a non-conference game, and we still have a two game lead in the division, thanks to a little help from our friends in New Orleans and Atlanta.  Plus, it is the last “should-win” game of the season. I never feel confident about “should-win” games, but I’m a little more at ease for this one.

First of all, the Giants should be fired up after how they played the last two weeks, and it’s their last game before the bye.  The Giants have one of the best records in the league before a bye week. I don’t want to know what their record is after the bye.  I’m sure it is at the other end of the spectrum, but that’s another issue for another day. The Giants also have not had much success in Cincinnati, but they certainly don’t want to go into the bye having lost two in a row. That is pretty decent motivation.

A.J. Green kindly offered up some extra motivation in case the Giants were still lacking any.  The Bengals wide receiver wins the genius of the week award for pointing out that the Giants defense has holes. No kidding.  What defense doesn’t have some deficiencies?   Plus, why—why in the world—would you antagonize the guys you are about to face?

The Giants defense will certainly keep their eye on Green as they look to bounce back from yet another subpar performance.  The offense also needs to get their act together, but they may have to do it without Bradshaw and Nicks.

Ahmad Bradshaw did not practice on Friday, but he made the trip.  I would expect Bradshaw to play, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of Andre Brown, even though he too is a little banged up with an injured shoulder.  I also would not be shocked if we don’t see a lot of Nicks.  Hakeem is listed as probable but is still dealing with his knee injury.  Although it’s not really Coughlin’s style, it must be somewhat tempting, with the bye, to give these guys an extra week of rest.

Regardless of who plays and doesn’t play, the outcome of this game may not be all that important for the Giants.  Consider this other interesting fact about the team who is destined to start 6-3.  Four out of the five previous times, in which the Giants have begun their season 6-3, they have made the playoffs, and, of those four attempts, they have won the Super Bowl twice.  That’s 50% of the time.  That’s batting .500.  I like those odds, and I’d love to hear what you think about the Giants chances of beating the Bengals, making the playoffs, and/or repeating as Super Bowl Champs.

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