Suddenly, a season that felt so right for Giants fans after a 11-1 start, became a season of big disappointment on Sunday afternoon, as the Giants, the NFC one seed, lost to their rivals the Eagles, 23-11.
All season long, my cousin (who’s a huge Giants fan) and I would discuss how we felt as if playing at Giants Stadium would be more of a disadvantage for the Giants, then it was an advantage. Why did we think this? Because Eli Manning’s accuracy and throwing strength wasn’t as strong as some of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Our discussions at Christmas and Thanksgiving seemed prophetic on Sunday afternoon.
Eli never seemed comfortable throwing and the Giants offense couldn’t seem to find a groove as they sputtered all day long. As Fox analysis referenced to all day long, maybe it was the loss of Plaxico Burress that finally appeared on Sunday. The Eagles kept loading eight in the box, to combat the Giants strong running game, and despite some large chunks of yards by the Giants ground attack, the Eagles’ defense never let them brake the big one. And once the Giants went down two scores, there was no way they were going to suddenly be able to pass their way to a win. Not on this day, and not without a receiver who can make plays with double coverage. You might feel differently about the loss of Plax contributing to the Giants loss on Sunday, but I guarantee you this. If you are a Giants’ fan, your number one concern to address this offseason will be finding a replacement for Plaxico Burress (Dear Giants, do whatever it takes to acquire Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals).
As for the Eagles, can we start giving some significant love to the type of cornerback Asante Samuel is? This dude, continues to play at a high level in big games, despite trading his Patriots jersey this off-season for Eagles’ green. Similar to the way I wrote about Ed Reed last week, Samuel makes a difference in a position that it’s hard to make a difference. His ability to always be close to a big play and run the ball the other way after a pick, is reminiscent of Deion Sanders. Samuel now has SEVEN post-season interceptions for his career, and it’s hard to imagine any being as big as the two he’s had in consecutive weekends. Last Sunday, Samuel ran back an interception for a 44 yard touchdown, and it helped swing the momentum for the Eagles in an eventual wild card victory over the Vikings. On this Sunday against the Giants, if Samuel doesn’t make that interception and return that ball to the 1 yard-line. It’s hard to see the Eagles punching in a touchdown, the way they were going at that point. The Giants defense played as good a game as they possibly could have. The lone scar for the Giants defense was their inability to lock up the Eagles on third down. But despite that, they shut down the Eagles offense, and kept the most important player on the Eagles, running back, Brian Westbrook, to limited yards. But Samuel, along with the rest of the Eagles defense, helped punch this teams ticket to Arizona next week. (On a side note, I kept thinking about how close Samuel was to picking off Manning last February in the Super Bowl, and stopping the Giants from winning that game. I guess the football gods were making it up to him by handing him an Eli Manning duck of a pass on Sunday).
So had I told you on Thanksgiving Day it was going to be the Eagles and Cardinals one win away from the Super Bowl, you would have flung a spoon full of mashed at me. The Eagles, who were hearing cries for a new coach and a new quarterback, and the Cardinals who couldn’t possibly win a game on the east coast, playing for a Super Bowl apperance?
Yet, here we are just six weeks later.
Next Sunday, the road to Super Bowl runs through Arizona (?). Hahahaha. It’s hard to say that comment without laughing.