There’s been something entirely too familiar about the New York Giants this season. What started out as a slight case of deja vu has now evolved to the point of being tangible. The comparisons to 2007 border on the surreal and can no longer be ignored.
When the buzz first started, the mainstream sports media began their wild comparisons to that Super Bowl-winning team far too early. The Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers 38-35 in week 13, the same score they lost to the New England Patriots in 2007, before going on their run and winning it all.
Really? You’re going to make a big deal about a team losing by the same score they did a few years ago? In 2007, it was week 17 and in 2011, it was week 13. You guys are reaching. Gimme a break. The Packers were 13-0, but the bigger story for a steadfast few dreamers was nothing more than a scoreboard coincidence… or was it?
The Giants’ season was effectively over late in the fourth quarter the following week. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had just hit Dez Bryant for a 50-yard touchdown that put the Cowboys up 34-22 with only 5:41 left. When Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey booted the subsequent kickoff through the end zone, it gave Eli Manning & Co. 80 yards worth of real estate to cover in order to make it a one-score game.
The Packers fan in me was excited about the Giants being eliminated from contention. They took the Packers to the limit in the previous game and it was obvious they had the type of defensive front that could give Green Bay problems. I wanted them gone and also wanted to shut up all the morons making comparisons to 2007. I recall feeling extremely anxious and uneasy, though.
This is when the Giants’ run truly began.
Without an effective and quick touchdown drive to make it a one-score game, there would be no dramatic comeback, there would be no playoff run, and there would be no eliminating the Green Bay Packers on their home turf.
Eli Manning, long considered the ugly duckling to big brother Peyton, backed up his claims of being an elite quarterback in a drive for the ages. Manning hit Victor Cruz for 11, then Hakeem Nicks for nine. Then, with a perfect pass downfield he hit Cruz again, this time for 23 yards. Then it was Nicks for 24 more. I found myself watching the clock like a backup player on the sideline, helpless to do anything for his team. There was a big lump in the pit of my stomach because I feared the collapse that was about to take place.
When Manning hit tight end Jake Ballard over the middle for an eight-yard score, there was still 3:20 left to play, an eternity when talking about the always impotent-in-the-clutch, Tony Romo.
And the Cowboys didn’t disappoint did they? Who can forget the sight of Miles Austin running wide open on a go route and Romo, the perennial choker, missing him by a mile. An incomplete pass on 3rd and 5 meant a stopped clock and an upcoming change in possession.
Two minutes and twenty-one seconds proved enough time not only for Eli to begin his own legendary rise to the upper echelon, but for the Cowboys to take another giant step into the world of ineptitude as the words, “icing your own kicker” became part of our lexicon.
The Giants would suffer a hiccup against a Washington Redskins team that seems to have their number, but they haven’t lost since. They started talking the talk and have continued to back it up, knocking off an impressive list of opponents in the process: Jets, Cowboys, Falcons, Packers and 49ers.
Is there really any reason this team should be intimidated by the New England Patriots?
Obviously there are two teams playing in the Super Bowl, but the Giants are simply the better team. They’re the healthier team. They’re the more complete team. They’re the more battle-tested team and they believe they will win.
I believe they will as well, in convincing fashion.
Giants 30, Patriots 20