Monday, January 14, 2008
As Winston Wolf put it...
What to think about the Giants' victory? Side Bar put it very well earlier (and read his post below, plus his excellent State of the Mets post before that), but my strongest reaction to tonight's game is...
How the fuck did this happen?
Earlier this year, I was fairly certain the Giants would suck. And by "suck," I don't just mean Godfather III suckage. I was thinking more like Showgirls. Going 0-16 was totally reasonable to me. Hey, we'd get the first draft pick, right?
But then the season started. After the first two games -- which, deserves to be noted, were losses to the now-defeated Cowboys and the next-up Packers -- I felt vindicated. Game three revealed a new side to the G-men, in a quality win against the Redskins. Following that, Big Blue ripped five more victories. Halfway through the season, we were 6-2. Not bad, right? Unless you remember that we were 6-2 in 2006 and 2005. This year, a second-half collapse not only seemed inevitable, it seemed justified. This team just wasn't good enough to merit any optimism.
I'm not sure how, but by the end of the regular season, the Giants were 10-6 and in the playoffs. I still refused to believe the team was any good. A mere matter of strength of schedule, I thought. The Giants beat up on some crappy teams, but against a talented foe, they were hopeless. Late-season losses to the Vikings and the rejuvenated Redskins seemed to confirm this.
Thankfully, 3 of the 4 writers of this venerable blog decided to do something about it. On December 23, 2007, we played the Toilet Bowl. A marvelous competition of the highest order. Fun was had by all. (And, I ask again, where the hell is the write-up of that game, dammit?!)
Following that, we headed over to Vinny O's to nurse our wounds and drink ourselves silly. But most importantly, we went to support the Giants as they entered the freezing atmosphere of Buffalo. The previous week's game gave no indication that these footballers would step up. But goddammit, we went there to drink our support in pitchers!
That Sunday afternoon, after we had given all we had on the Benjamin Franklin Middle School North Field, the Giants gave all they had on that field in Buffalo. Suddenly, Eli Manning remembered how to pass. Corey Webster finally lived up to the promise he showed me when he played for the national-champion LSU Tigers in 2003. And a newcomer named Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 150+ yards.
The Giants left Buffalo with a new confidence. On behalf of the staff of Where's Luke?, I would like to extend a huge "You're Welcome!" Clearly, after all, we inspired that performance.
Since then, the G-men have played their best football since, I dunno, 2000? When they went to the Super Bowl? I think so.
These last few games have been awesome. In particular, the victory over the Cowboys. I haven't had a moment of sports elation like that in a long time. It was typical of the games the Giants have lost, year after year. Up until R.W. McQuarters' (incredibly awesome) interception of Romo's pass in the end zone, I was 100 percent certain they would lose. I was happily, oh so happily, proven wrong.
Remember what the Wolf said. Remember that this team still isn't that good. The secondary is hanging by a thread. No Shockey. Plaxico's ankle is about as solid as the housing market. And Eli could very easily regress.
I will head into the Packers game the same way I have the past few weeks. I don't think they're gonna win, and for good reason. But there's a certain element of luck involved in any postseason. Any team can get hot, and ride that hot streak to a championship. But don't forget -- even if we beat the Packers, who will be waiting in the Super Bowl?
P.S.: I feel obligated to give Tom Coughlin a little credit for something. The last few years, bullshit penalties have not only killed the Giants, but it flew in the face of the conventional wisdom of Coughlin as a disciplinarian. However, tonight, the Giants were penalized 3 times for 25 yards, while the Cowboys were 11-84. This year, the penalties were not the problem that they were during the past few seasons. It's fairly obvious to point out that if you don't commit dumb mistakes, you'll do better. But people rarely give proper credit when something doesn't happen, and this year the Giants have played a much more disciplined game. That's definitely one reason they've improved, and -- even though I still don't like him much -- credit is due. Tom Coughlin, well done.