Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The temperatures in New York City are hovering around freezing, and are expected to dip into single digits by the weekend. Something tells me that it feels even colder to fans of the New York Giants. Especially at around 3:00 ET this Sunday afternoon, when the NFC Championship game commences without their beloved Big Blue.
In a fashion that can only be described as stunning, the Philadelphia Eagles marched into the Meadowlands on Sunday and knocked off the defending champs 23-11, earning a trip to Arizona for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Donovan McNabb created opportunities with his feet, scored a touchdown on a QB sneak, and made huge third-down conversions, doing just enough to eliminate and humiliate Eli Manning. (My favorite headline here in New York was "From Hero to Zero.") The defense was awesome once again, intercepting two passes, stopping the Giants' ground game on two fourth down runs, and held their opponent to 14 points or fewer for the sixth straight game. And, oh yeah, no touchdowns.
And I still can't believe it happened. Since that self-inflicted fumble by receiver Steve Smith, since the second knee taken by Donovan, I can't even count how many times I've said, out loud and to no one in particular, "Oh my God, we won." When I woke up yesterday morning, it was literally the first thing that crossed my mind, asking myself, "Did it really happen?" Yes. It really happened. Six weeks ago, the Ravens destroyed us, 36-7, leaving us at 5-5-1. Three weeks ago we couldn't score a touchdown in Washington, and it looked like the season was over for sure. And now we're one win away from the Impossible Dream, Super Bowl XLIII.
It is, without a doubt, unbelievable.
We know the obvious plays that made this incredible win credible: Another Asante Samuel interception and return to the Giants 1. The stop on 4th and inches on Eli's pitiful sneak attempt. The stop on Brandon Jacobs' 4th down run. The Quinton Mikell interception. The third-and-20 play where Donovan eluded the sack and got a 21-yard pass play to Jason Avant. The third-and-20 play where Donovan eluded the sack and got a 21-yard pass play to Correll Buckhalter.
But there were four tackles that were very literally the difference between winning and losing.
The first was the opening kickoff, when Ahmad Bradshaw nearly returned it to the house. If it weren't for David Akers knocking him out of bounds, the Giants open the game with a touchdown. Talk about momentum.
The second was just under four minutes left in the first half. The handoff went to Jacobs, and he was off to the races. If Sheldon Brown doesn't get enough of the man's shoes to trip him up, he's probably gone.
The third, from the same drive, following the two-minute warning, was a crucial third down and five screen pass to Derrick Ward, who was tackled just shy of the marker by Darren Howard. Held them to a field goal.
And in the first minute of the second half, where a McNabb pass deflected at the line ended up in the hands of Fatty McGee, aka Fred Robbins. He slid through a tackle, got a couple of blocks, and he was on his way to the end zone. If Kevin Curtis doesn't get enough of him, that's six the other way, scored by the defense, to start the second half. It was redemption for the wide-open doink off the man's helmet from the first half. And I know you know what I'm talking about.
And kudos to the offensive line. Three games against the Giants this season, and zero sacks. Good thing Winston Justice wasn't out there.
Now, can we talk about Donovan's stupidity? That whole sequence of events was what I like to call Stupid All Around. Play call to do a pass play: stupid. Running out of bounds when you need the clock to run: stupid. Running out of bounds when you need the clock to run and not even getting the first down: stupid. PICKING UP THE PHONE ON THE GIANTS SIDELINE AND PRETENDING TO TALK? Are you kidding me?
That, combined with owner Jeffrey Lurie coming down to the field and pumping his fist in celebration made me so upset. I had flashbacks to the game a couple seasons back where we were up on the Giants 28-7 in the 4th quarter and lost in overtime. I could just see the story being written...
But thankfully, now it's just an asinine footnote on a triumphant day.
And hopefully, this Sunday will be yet another one.
Other Musings: The Giants without Plaxico Burress are a very, very different team, and everyone agrees. When he shot himself in the leg, he shot their season in the foot.
You have to love Brian Dawkins getting all emotional. He knows that this is all a pretty big deal.
You also have to love Brandon Jacobs saying in a postgame interview that he's "on the bandwagon" and that he doesn't think anyone's gonna beat us.
Who else is sick of Joe Buck? "Here come the Giants." Dude, shut up. At least we have Merrill Reese. I can't stop listening to his call of the Westbrook touchdown from last week. (If you haven't heard it, click here, and go to 4:30 of the clip.) Even Merrill doesn't usually get that excited.
Anyone else see Andy Reid in the locker room after the game? Awesome.
Love the new Pizza Hut commercials telling you to "choose real taste." I prefer my taste fake, thank you very much.
And finally, I can't believe there's an Angry Whopper. I think it's hysterical. Can I order that with a side of gravely-disappointed fries and an elated Coke?