Giants fans the world over (yes, again I am one of them) felt the same heartbreak on Nov. 15 as the team fell to the Patriots 27-26 on a last second 54-yard field goal attempt. For the fourth time this season, the Giants let a game slip through their fingers with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, dropping their record to 5-5 with six games left to play. Should the Eagles or Redskins win next weekend during the bye week, the Giants will be tied for first in the NFC East. Almost every game from here on out is do or die for New York. Upsetting the undefeated Patriots could have gone a long way towards sealing the weak division.
Now that the initial anger over a blown game to New England has subsided, it’s time to look at the positives that came out of the game. As much as I hate to say it, Tom Brady and the Evil Empire that is the Patriot organization are the best team in the business.
It’s scary to think come February they could complete the perfect season the Giants prevented so many years ago. The Giants gave them their closest game of the season without a doubt, and that means a whole lot going into the end of the schedule. It means we can match up against anybody and take them the distance, and hopefully take a few games with us (let’s be honest, probably just the four anyone is going to need here).
Eli Manning’s first throw, an 87-yard route to Odell Beckham Jr. for the touchdown, proved what this team is capable of. What the Patriots took half the quarter to do, Eli did in a single pass to the best receiver in the business. While Malcolm Butler did his job from that point on, the tone was set from the very beginning. Once Odell was relatively locked up, Manning started hitting every other receiver under the sun to put his team in position to win.
There has been debate for years over where Eli ranks among the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and sure he’s no brother Peyton (after his game against Kansas City, maybe that’s a good thing) but he still is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and arguably the best starting QB the Giants have ever had. Oh and the guy he beat in both those Super Bowls? That was current MVP front-runner Tom Brady. On Sunday, until the fourth quarter Eli outplayed his colleague and even now the stat lines are incredibly similar. Manning didn’t throw a pick while Brady nearly had two (yes, I know Eli did turn it over).
Speaking of picks, let’s look at the defensive side of the ball. New York’s defense has been rated one of the worst in the NFL this year, having no pass rush and recording under 10 sacks heading into Sunday’s match up. The secondary hasn’t been anything to admire either.
However, on Sunday they put in a playoff-caliber performance, getting to Brady for three sacks and making the Uggs model throw his first interception in the second half of any game this year! They might not be the greatest unit out there, and they certainly aren’t going to pitch any shut-outs but they made plays when it mattered on Sunday–except of course for dropping what would have been a game-winning interception. Jason Pierre-Paul is back and he looks ready to put the questions about his capabilities since the infamous fireworks incident out of everyone’s heads as he clubbed his way through the Patriots line and demanded they give him their undivided attention.
It took big moves by the Patriots’ special teams to put them down field for their second TD of the night. It took a long review before Odell’s second TD was overturned because both feet weren’t firmly on the ground when Malcolm Butler swatted the ball out with two minutes left. It took a drop in the secondary that gave Brady a pulse on the final drive. It took one of the best kickers in the NFL to put the game to bed. It took all of that to pull out a one-point win against the 5-5 New York Giants.