I shouldn’t have been surprised that the first play of the Giants season and the first pass of Eli Manning’s season was intercepted. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Giants turned the ball over on their second possession as well. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Giants turned the ball over on their third possession as well. I shouldn’t have been surprised that David Wilson didn’t learn his lesson from Week 1 2012 and fumbled twice and then was benched. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Eli Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns and the Giants loss. But I was.
I thought this year would be different the same way I thought 2012 would be after 2011’s Super Bowl run; the same way I thought 2011 would be after 2010’s collapse (it wasn’t until the postseason); the same way I thought 2010 would be after 2009’s collapse; the same way I thought 2009 would be after 2008’s post-Plaxico collapse; the same way I thought 2008 would be after 2007’s Super Bowl run. But Sunday night’s game wasn’t just a look at the 2013 Giants, it was a look at the Tom Coughlin Giants and it was a game that in a few years you won’t remember which season during the Coughlin era it came from because it fits perfectly in any of them.
I should have known better than to think that 252 days off between the Giants’ 2012 season finale and their 2013 Week 1 kickoff against the Cowboys would be enough time to try and correct a team that was 6-2 and headed for a division title before finishing 9-7 and out of the playoffs and unable to defend their status as “champions.” I should have known better than to think that the New York Football Giants would start a season off by playing to their potential and limiting turnovers and mistakes and penalties. I should have known better than to think the Giants would show up in Dallas and win. But what the New York Football Giants are isn’t something that I’m familiar with or something that only Giants fans are familiar with. It’s something that even the players familiar with. Here’s what Victor Cruz said.
“I thought that was the typical Giants story of how we come back. Kind of how we always are. We get down here, and we have to crawl back and fight back. And we make some big plays and the pendulum swings.”
“Typical Giants story?” “Kind of how we always are?” “We have to crawl back and fight back?” It’s probably not good that Cruz knows what the Tom Coughlin Giants are and are about. It’s one thing for me to write and talk about it, but it’s another thing for the players to actually understand that the Giants are always going to be involved in games like they were on Sunday night.
There was the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” and the “Miracle at the New Meadowlands” and now we have the “Disaster in Dallas.” Three interceptions, two fumbles and one effed-up punt return for a 36-31 loss and an 0-1 record. The lasting image from the game won’t be Eli Manning punching the air after Da’Rel Scott gift-wrapped a touchdown for Brandon Carr to end the game. And it won’t be Tom Coughlin looking so infuriated that the only thing to compare his anger to would be a parent who found out that their kid was kicked out of college for academic and substance abuse reasons, got a girl pregnant and racked up $45,000 of credit card debt and found these things out all on the same day. No, the lasting image will be David Wilson standing on the sideline with no one to talk, staring into nothing at AT&T Stadium with his helmet lifted up on his head wondering what the eff happened. Because that what all Giants fans were wondering: What the eff happened? Well, Tom Coughlin summed it up pretty well.
“Six times we gave the ball away. Six times. I’m totally disappointed and embarrassed by that. That’s sloppy football.”
Tom Coughlin hates turnovers more than you hate anything in your life and turnovers were the only reason the Giants lost and are now faced with the Broncos as the only separating them from being 0-2 and then going on the road for back-to-back games. So on that note, let’s get to the Week 1 Thoughts.
– It’s scary that the Giants had six turnovers and lost 36-31 and actually had the ball with 2:41 left and a chance to win the game 31-30. Does that mean A.) The Giants have the best offense in the league? B.) The Cowboys suck? C.) Both teams suck? D.) Nothing, it was just a Week 1 game? I’m hoping it’s A and B and not C, but it’s probably D.
– I have no idea what Eli was doing on the first play of the game. Zero idea. He has thrown 147 interceptions in his career and that was the worst one. For all the wrong-footed, ill-timed, goal-line interceptions he has thrown, that was the worst thing I have ever seen from Number 10.
– The Giants trail 30-24 and have the ball with 2:41 left and two timeouts. It’s third-and-5 from the Giants’ 22 and Eli hits Reuben Randle for 26 yards. The Giants now the ball on their own 48. They come out of the two-minute warning and on the first play Eli throws a pass to Da’Rel Scott that Scott deflects into the hands of Brandon Carr, who returns it for a 49-yard touchdown to end the game.
It doesn’t matter if Eli made a bad pass or that Scott should have had it. What matters is that Nicks, Cruz and Randle all had over 100 yards receiving at that point and the play is to Da’Rel Scott, who barely made the team and was only in the game because David Wilson had the worst game a running back could have. That’s your play? Is this real life? The only thing I hope is that that wasn’t supposed to be the play coming out of the huddle and a TV timeout for the two-minute warning. Please don’t let that be the case.
– Victor Cruz: five catches, 118 yards, three touchdowns. Hakeem Nicks: five catches, 114 yards. Reuben Randle: five catches, 101 yards.
It the Giants don’t turn the ball over six times a game, the Giants offense is going to be the offense everyone around the league gushes about and not the Broncos, 49ers, Falcons or Packers. But I guess that would only create hype and expectations for the Giants and in turn they would fail to live up to them.
– The defensive line was still missing from the end of the 2011 season on Sunday night until the Giants had to get a stop to get the ball back while trailing 30-24 and then Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph and Jason Pierre-Paul showed up. The defensive performance won’t be talked about since Eli’s three picks and David Wilson two fumbles and the overall loss to the Cowboys are the major storylines, but the defense was much better than I thought they would be. They bailed out the turnovers each time, got the biggest stop of the game to give Eli the ball with 2:41 left, held Dez Bryant to four catches for 22 yards and gave up just 331 yards of total offense.
Knowing the Giants, this will be like the 2013 Yankees where they either hit or pitch, but don’t do both together, and the offense will bounce back in Week 2 and limit the turnovers and the defense will get torched by Peyton Manning. If Week 1 retaught me anything I have learned about the Giants in my life, it’s don’t get too down on a big loss or too high on a big win. So I’m just going to say it would be really awesome if the defense would play like that again on Sunday. That’s all.
– I had to save the Man of the Hour for last. The Giants don’t have a choice, but to play David Wilson and fix his fumbling problems. They used their 2012 first-round pick on him, benched him for nearly the entire season after Week 1 a year ago and then he failed to live up to the job of being the No. 1 back with tons of pressure and hype on him entering last night. I didn’t think that not even 12 hours after the first game of the season I would be hearing rumors and reports that Brandon Jacobs could be returning to the Giants. Ladies and gentlemen, the New York Football Giants!
After the game, Wilson said, “I’m at the bottom now. Nowhere to go but up.” Well, that’s not true since you and the Giants could stay at the bottom. And with Peyton and the Broncos coming to the Meadowlands this week, going up might have to wait another Sunday.