If you’re a Giants fan and all you care about is going to the Super Bowl — and what else would you care about? — yesterday began the most important four-week stretch of the year. And it hasn’t started well with Sunday’s 27-20 loss to San Francisco.
Why was this stretch so important? Very simple. The Niners, Saints (whom the Giants play at New Orleans in the Nov. 28 Monday night game), and Packers (at the Meadowlands on Dec. 4) are the leaders of the other three NFC divisions. The Giants are going to have to go through at least one of them to get to the Super Bowl, and the way things look right now, New York will have to play them on their home fields.
Did I mention that before the Giants play the Saints and Packer back-to-back, they get the angry and desperate Eagles next Sunday night?
That’s what made yesterday’s defeat so bitter. The Giants are now 6-3 and any more losses, no matter how heroic, will surely cost them the home field advantage in the postseason. Eli Manning was at his best and worst on Sunday, throwing two key interceptions to help put Big Blue behind 27-13 before bringing them downfield with less than three minutes on the clock and hitting Hakeem Nicks with a perfectly thrown 32-yard pass.
Manning then got the Giants back down to the SF ten only to have Niners tackle Justin Smith knock down his fourth down pass at the line of scrimmage.
Just a thought, but with two yards needed for a vital first down and maybe three more cracks at the Niners end zone, wouldn’t a roll out-run pass option have been a sounder call? Ah, well, it’s all academic now, but Giants fans are, I’m sure, getting that sinking feeling they’ve had at this time of year in each of the last three seasons. Just when the team gets on a roll and looks better than any team they’re on the field with — and the Giants outgained San Francisco by 90 yards — something, usually an unforced error or some kind of mental mistake of lapse — turns the season around.
And looked at from a certain perspective, the Giants have been living on borrowed time. They have now scored 218 points in nine games and allowed 21, and a differential of only +7 points usually indicates mediocrity — a 5-4 record or even worse. The Eagles, for instance, are just 3-6, and they’ve outscored their opponents by 17 points.
Which makes each remaining game the most important of the year.
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