NFL Points: Week 10
Ouch, G-Men. One Sunday night win away from the inside track to the NFC’s top seed in the playoffs. That was the case for the Giants last night at the Meadowlands. And until just a few ticks before halftime everything was going as planned for the New York football Giants.
After a (seemingly) stalled Bears drive in the final two minutes of the first half, which left Chicago looking at a gloomy 3rd and 22 from its own 28 yard line, New York called a timeout so Eli Manning could have a chance to add to the Giants already-10 point lead. Except someway, somehow Thomas Jones took a handoff and picked his way through the Giants defense for a cool 26 yards.
Suffice to say ya don’t see that every day.
Rex Grossman then capitalized by throwing a 29 yard touchdown pass to Mark Bradley just before halftime. Might as well have been a wrench, because the G-Men just weren’t the same after that. Sure, they climbed back in the game, drawing within four points at 24-20 early in the 4th quarter. But for some reason Tom Coughlin opted to attempt a 51 yard field goal into an unsettled Jersey night. Jay Feely managed to kick the ball about 49 yards at best before it declined, end over end, right into the arms of Devin Hester.
A sufficient acting job (Hester feigned like he was taking a knee) and 108 yards later Hester had delivered the proverbial dagger to the G-Men on this Sunday soir. Then again, the Giants did not deserve to win the game. Turnovers, combined with poor coaching and special teams should not add up to victory in today’s NFL.
That said, the Giants need not panic. They do need to get healthy, though. While they could’ve beaten the Bears without Amani Toomer, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Sam Madison, they surely won’t have realistic Super Bowl aspirations without getting some of these guys back. While outside linebacker LaVar Arrington and Toomer are finished for the season with Achilles and ACL injuries, the news is not so grim for the others. Umenyiora and Madison are being evaluated on a week to week basis, while Strahan should be back by the beginning of December at the latest.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a healthier, more poised Giants team will go into Chicago in January and win the NFC Championship. Yes, I believe the Bears are overrated.
(Yes I’m calling the Giants to go to the Super Bowl.)
As for the other New York team…
Well all the Jets did on Sunday was march into Foxborough and beat the Patriots straight up. New England had not lost back to back games since December, 2002 (when, incidentally, the Jets beat them).
If you’re wondering what I’m implying by stating that the Jets beat the Pats “straight up”, it is to say they outplayed them in almost every facet of the game: they turned the ball over less, converted more third downs, had a shifty and devious defensive scheme that successfully frustrated Tom Brady, and handled the crappy Foxborough weather better than the Pats.
That’s beating the Patriots straight up. As opposed to what the Colts did last week. Because there is a difference. (Like the difference between going into a gun fight with a knife and taking a pistol, aiming it directly at your foot, and pulling the trigger.)
So here we are, with a bona fide race for the AFC East crown. Courtesy of a well-deserved, gritty Jets victory over New England. The good news for the Jets is their schedule is whispering 10 wins. Bad news for the Jets is the Patriots schedule is comparably easy. And the Patriots just lost twice in a row for the first time in a handful of years.
But, the Patriots, like the Giants, have injuries to address. Rodney Harrison is the most dire, as his absence can be sustained for the near future but not ultimately. For some perspective: since Harrison’s arrival in 2003 the Patriots are 42-6 with two Super Bowls when he’s the starting strong safety; they are 9-8, including a playoff loss, without him. Nuff said.
Fortunately, as opposed to last year when Harrison tore every ligament they have an name for in his knee, his current broken scapula should heal in time for him to be back to full strength by the playoffs (and likely before). So, like the Giants, barring any more physical setbacks, the Patriots will be the team to beat in January…
(Yes, I’m obviously the first calling a Pats-Giants Superbowl.)