The Giants would have beaten just about any other team with the effort they presented in their 38-35 loss to the Packers.
But then again, they were playing Aaron Rodgers, and there's apparently no stopping him in the two-minute drill. Especially when there's only 58 seconds left.
That's how long it took for the Green Bay quarterback, who seems intent on making everybody forget Brett Favre, to move his team 68 yards from the 20 for Mason Crosby's 31-yard, game-winning field goal as the clock expired.
That's 18 straight for the Packers, while the Giants fell to 6-6 heading into next week's game against the 7-5 Cowboys, who lost to the Cardinals to keep the Giants in the NFC East hunt.
The next four games could be doozies, considering the fervor with which the Giants played on both offense and defense. The pass rush finally hit somebody, namely Rodgers, for two sacks (Justin Tuck and Dave Tollefson), and several other hits after his quick release. They caused him to miss several receivers. But in the end, Rodgers was right on, finding the open receivers as the Giants came with a full-on blitz on the final, decisive drive that ended with Mason Crosby's 31-yard field goal as time expired.
"When you've got a chance to knock out the champs, you've got to knock them out," Tuck said. "YOu can't let him hang around and fight off the ropes."
The last four games, starting with next week's road game in Dallas, will be vital to the Giants' playoff future. A loss or two could essentially knock them out of the playoff picture.
It won't help that safety Kenny Phillips went out in the second quarter with a sprained left MCL, leaving him up in the air for practice. Rookie LB Spencer Paysinger also went down and out with a strained hamstring in the first quarter.
Here's the good and bad.
Hakeem Nicks: He made a great 2-yard touchdown catch with 58 seconds left in regulation to tie the score. The touchdown was Nicks' sixth of the season to go along with his 4-yard, third-quarter score, and appeared good enough to send the game into overtime.
Travis Beckum: The almost-invisible tight end made the catch of his life in the first quarter for a 67-yard touchdown catch, his first of the season. Beckum beat safety Morgan Burnett at the Packers' 35 and then surpentined his way past safety Charlie Peprah to the end zone. It marked the Giants' first first-half touchdown in five games, since Miami.
KEVIN GILBRIDE: The offensive coordinator had a solid gameplan as he let Eli Manning throw deep as his receivers consistently beat the Green Bay pass coverage downfield. He completed the 67-yarder to Beckum, and also a 42-yarder to Victor Cruz to set up Lawrence Tynes' field goal and a 10-7 Giants lead.
JUSTIN TUCK: He's still recovering from his neck and groin injuries, but he did sack Rodgers in the second quarter to force a punt.
BRADSHAW: In his return from a cracked bone in his foot, Bradshaw ran hard and made some tough yards, especially in the Red Zone on the Giants' third-quarter touchdown drive that tightened the gap to 28-24. Can't fault the overall ground game, which looked as good as it has in a long, long time. The backs rushed for 100 yards even, with Brandon Jacobs getting 59 of them and a touchdown on eight carries. Bradshaw had 38 on 11 carries.
MANNING: He engineered a nice 14-play field goal drive to pull the Giants to within one, 28-27 in the fourth quarter. The only thing that kept it from being a TD drive was the fact that his end zone throw to Cruz was broken up by Peprah and Tramon Williams.
MANNING: For all the good he did in the first half, he got fooled badly as he looked for Ahmad Bradshaw in the flat at the start of the second quarter. He never did see linebacker Clay Matthews jumping the route, and Matthews returned his interception 38 yards for a touchdown and a 14-10 Green Bay lead.
Aaron Ross: He stayed in zone coverage as Donald Driver came completely free in the end zone for an easy touchdown and a 21-17 Packers halftime lead. Blown coverage all the way.
JEFF TRIPLETTE: The referee made a horrible review of Greg Jennings' third-quarter touchdown, upholding the score despite the fact that Jennings was obviously bobbling the ball on his way out of the end zone. The score put the Packers up 28-17 with 9:50 left in the quarter. Several questionable penalties, too, especially on the Jacquian Williams illegal contact on third-and-10 in the fourth quarter, allowing the Packers to advance and change field position. The Giants went three-and-out on the next series.
LAST DRIVE: The Giants had a chance to send it into overtime, but the pass defense was unable to stop Rodgers. First, he hit Jermichael Finley for 23 yards, and then Jordy Nelson caught one for 27 yards over Antrel Rolle. An 18-yard throw to Greg Jennings set up the final field goal. Rodgers had little pressure on him thanks to the Packers' blitz pickup, and the Giants' DBs were left on islands against some of the best receivers in the game.