If, at the beginning of the season, you had told me that without Umenyiora, Strahan, and losing Burress (for one game because of his inability to understand attendance policy and from November 30th and beyond because of his inability to understand a safety being something on a gun, not just a football field), the Giants would be the number one seed in the NFC, I would not have believed you. If, at the beginning of this week, you had told me that the Giants would contain Westbrook, prevent Eli from being sacked, pick off McNabb twice while his receivers dropped several passes and still lose the game to the Eagles, I would not have believed you.
It is, technically, possible to win a football game without scoring a touchdown. But in actuality, you’re not going to win games without getting into the end zone. The first half looked like Week 8 at Pittsburgh where the Giants scored 21 points the fun way: four field goals, a safety and a touchdown. Unfortunately, the second half provided no rhythm on offense to complete a touchdown drive and the defense lacked the intensity needed to compensate for what the offense lacked. Coughlin said after the game, “I think, once again, the inability to score touchdowns in the green zone was quite evident.” Wait… what? The green zone? Is this an environmentally friendly organic area on the field? No wonder the G-men didn’t score… they had no idea where to go! This explains why the game was coached like an exhibition game, because Coughlin was acting like the senile coach of season’s past just like Eli through a stupid interception like Eli of season’s past.
And there really was a feeling in the stadium that everyone knew the play call as soon as the offense broke from the huddle. That air of no surprise, no rhythm, and no confident game plan feels about as bad as it feels to lose to a team that did not play well.
Cocky teams don’t win when it matters. See recent examples: 2007 Dallas Cowboys (Divisional Playoff), 2007 New England Patriots (Superbowl), and 2008 Tennessee Titans (Divisional Playoff). The Giants were not cocky, but they didn’t have the swagger that created the magic of last year’s underdog season and some teams thrive off that energy.
In the post game autopsy, Coughlin mentioned failure to execute. Execution, yes, that is what Sunday’s game felt like.
I do not believe the Eagles are a championship team. I hate to read and hear people praise McNabb for turning around a season that almost died every week since Week 11. The Eagles have played better, but they’ve also been lucky to play good teams having bad games. I will spend the rest of the playoffs rooting against any continuation of such luck.
Originally published on January 14th in Citizen News (Sherman, New Fairfield Edition)