Jockbeat: Giants Choke? Don't Fall For That Football Fantasy
Did the Giants simply lose Sunday's divisional playoff game to Philadelphia, or is there at least a slight chance that the Eagles were the better team? I was wondering, because the latter possibility, obvious to ESPN's commentators, doesn't seem to have occurred to the New York sports press.
For instance, the back page of Monday's New York Post read "Champs To Chumps - Giants Stink It Up In Brutal Loss to Eagles." The headlines for the lead stories by Paul Schwartz and Steve Serby read, respectively, "Giant Chokers" and "Flop vs. Philly." The Eagles didn't win it - the Giants choked and flopped.
This from Schwartz: "The look of shock and disbelief was etched on faces of players who were sure this would be another step in the journey, not the end of the road ... Mainly because of a woefully unproductive offense that Eli Manning could never jump-start, the defending Super Bowls are finished ... The unthinkable did in the Giants."
Folks, the Giants' humiliating loss to the Eagles was only unthinkable and should only have produced looks of shock and disbelief among fans whose memories go back no farther than a month. As recently as December 7, the Eagles stuffed the Giants 20-14 in a game that, like Sunday's playoff game, was played at the Meadowlands. Eli Manning had a miserable game that day, just 13 of 27 for just 123 yards - in fact, the Giants netted only 211 total yards in the game. What happened Sunday was no shock and wasn't caused by Giant's ineptitude: the Eagles' defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, the man who taught New York's DC Steve Spagnuolo much of what he knows, had the talent and the smarts to stop everything New York threw at them. The Giants failed twice on fourth and short because the undersized Eagles shot the right gaps and plugged the holes.
Let's eliminate once and for all the idea that the Eagles' victory was some kind of fluke. Last season, the Giants began the postseason with a 10-6 record and outscored their opposition by only 22 points, 373-351. The Eagles went into the 2008 postseason after a 9-6-1 record and having outscored their opponents by 127 points, 416-289. If the 2008 Eagles are a fluke, what were the 2007 Giants?