AP Photo - David Zalubowski
Isn’t it a little early to be throwing in the towel? My goodness was that ever as embarrassing a game as we’ve seen around here since, well, last year’s terrible home playoff loss to the Eagles. At least in that one, the Giants showed up; they just played awfully.
Last Thursday night in Denver, with the entire sporting world watching on television, and the entire season on the line, New York laid an egg of epic proportions. No longer is Sunday’s matchup with Dallas, the last visit of the hated Cowboys in Giants Stadium history, a battle for NFC East supremacy. Now it’s a battle for the Giants to realistically stay alive in the fight for a playoff berth. A Giants loss and your ‘heroes’ can pretty much kiss the final four games of the season goodbye.
How, exactly, does a team two years removed from winning it all not show up at all in such a key contest? It’s because this team has no leadership, pride or toughness. It was that simple. The Broncos were in their own nosedive, having not won a football game in more than a month. Yet they showed up ready to play, as if their football lives depended on it.
“We just did not play well,” Tom Coughlin said. “We did not play as physically on either side of the line of scrimmage as we could. I’m very disappointed in the caliber of our play. I’m very disappointed in the outcome of the game.”
He should be very disappointed in the caliber of players in his locker room. You can give all the credit you’d like to Osi Umenyiora, who was so desperate to make something happen that he lost his head, both on the field and the sideline, and kind of made a fool of himself in the process. But perhaps Umenyiora should have done more to ensure that he’d make one tackle – just one tiny little tackle – during the game and leave the theatrics to others.
This isn’t to pick only on Osi, who’s a Pro Bowl player and one of the very few leaders this team has. But leaders lead via actions or their words ring hollow. That’s exactly what we saw in Denver.
“We really didn’t show up,” Barry Cofield said. “We didn’t play well enough to even have a chance to win.
We have a long way to go. … After a performance like that, you have to restart, you have to hit the reset button. You have to decide if you’re going to be a team that can compete, a team that is going to be respected around the league or a team that’s going to show up like we did. It’s really up to us.”
But the problem is that it was up to them coming into that game, and no one did anything about it at all. What could possibly give anyone any confidence going forward?
For the past several seasons, the Giants have been among the game’s best at running the ball and stopping the opposition’s running game. They were flat-out beaten by the Broncos in both facets.
“We have to play harder on offense than what we did,” said Brandon Jacobs, who rushed for only 27 yards on 11 carries. “We looked terrible as a unit, and we have to play way better than what we played. If we don’t, we’ll never have a chance to do anything.”
Unfortunately for Jacobs and his mates, that might already be the case.
“The players have to look at themselves in the mirror,” Cofield said. “We can go up or down. This can be the closing statement to our season or this little break right here can rejuvenate our team. I think we have the leadership and the coaches. It’s just going to be a choice.”
A choice that the Giants appeared to have already made when they failed to even show up for their biggest game of the season, in the process giving their fans absolutely nothing for which to give thanks.