I should have realized the Giants would never make anything easy after they won Super Bowl XLII and then got off to an 11-1 start in 2008 only to win the 1-seed in the NFC and lose in the divisional round at home to the Eagles. I should have realized they would never make anything easy after they won Super Bowl XLVI and then got off to a 6-2 start in 2012 only to finish the season 2-4 and miss the playoffs. And I should have realized it in all the other years when they suffered second-half collapses. But I finally realized it for good after Monday night’s loss to the Eagles.
The Giants should have never been in a game against a Cowboys team without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant and with Matt Cassel. They should have never been in a game in which Cassel threw three interceptions. They should have never needed Dwayne Harris to return a kickoff 100 yards to take the lead for good and they should have never needed Cole Beasley to muff a punt to prevent the Cowboys from potentially tying the game. But that’s who the Giants are and nothing about Sunday’s 27-20 win surprised me.
Since I’m officially done thinking the Giants can easily win a game (or cover a spread) against a banged-up or bad team or create separation in a division that includes the Tony Romo- and Dez Bryant-less Cowboys, the Sam Bradford Eagles and the Kirk Cousins Redskins, I expected the Giants to have a hard time beating Matt Cassel on Sunday. I went into the game knowing that the Cowboys were going to use the running game to eat up the clock and keep the Giants off the field and limit the amount of times Cassel had to go to the air, though apparently, the Giants weren’t ready for this strategy. Darren McFadden rushed for 152 yards, the fourth-highest total of his career and the most since Sept. 25, 2011 and the Cowboys ran for 233 yards as a team.
Eli Manning didn’t do much (13-of-24, 170 yards) and outside of the deep throw to Rueben Randle, which Randle made an Odell Beckham-like one-handed catch on, it was a pretty poor performance from Eli as he was bailed out by his defense. It was the second straight less-than-stellar performance from Eli at a time when he needs to carry this team if they don’t want to miss the postseason for the fourth straight season.
When I saw the Giants’ post-49ers schedule with the Eagles, Cowboys, Saints, Buccaneers and Patriots before their Week 11 bye, I envisioned a 7-2 record entering the Patriots game. The loss to the Eagles made that impossible, but the win over the Cowboys has them at 4-3. The problem is that 7-2 was based off the idea that the Saints were finished and wouldn’t give them their usual Superdome game, but now the 0-3 Saints are suddenly 3-4 and still alive.
I was foolish to think the Giants would make things easy in another down year for the NFC East and run away and hide with the division rather than set up a Week 17 game against the Eagles for a playoff berth. Now the Giants have to take care of business on the road in New Orleans in Tampa Bay before they play the should-be undefeated Patriots in Week 10. It’s not the situation I envisioned, but it’s the one I should have.
The Giants are a .500 team that needs to play just a little bit better than that to reach the postseason this season. They weren’t able to finish a 6-2 start in 2012. They weren’t able to save their season against the Cowboys in 2013. They weren’t able to build off their 3-2 start in 2014. In 2015, they will most likely need to win just nine games to win the NFC East and return to the playoffs. It sounds easy, but nothing with the Giants is ever easy.