Maybe being road warriors is the only way these Giants will be able to do it.
After the offense sputtered down the stretch, scoring a total of seven touchdowns in the last five games (including the postseason), Plaxico Burress has become a convenient scapegoat. As has Kevin Gilbride.
But nary is there blame for the unheralded Meadowlands wind that has come to define Giants Stadium.
The game against the Panthers, which was the only game in which the Giants scored an offensive touchdown in meaningful time from December-January, was the first Giants home win during December since 2005.
The Giants have made the playoffs every year during that span, which makes that statistic even more alarming. A competitive team should find ways to win at home when the games are the most crucial. These Giants with a similar core group of players have found ways to lose.
During their first Meadowlands match up against Philadelphia, the Giants looked even more inept on offense then they did in their playoff loss on Sunday. The running game was much more efficient this time around, but their passing game was clearly off from the very beginning. A combination of few passing weapons, a good defense, and strong winds contributed to that.
Down 20-11 in the fourth quarter, the Giants realized they couldn’t pass the ball and ran it 11 out of 12 times, rather then taking chances down the field. They relinquished any threat of the passing game, as well as any chance of a quick scoring drive to give them a better chance to win the game.
Doesn’t sound like home field advantage to me.
The unfortunate thing is that there is little hope this disturbing trend will turn around. Why? Eli Manning. The quarterback who was beginning to make a habit of playing his best ball when it matters most looked atrocious yesterday, with no assistance from the howling wind.
The problem with Eli is that his ball rarely is thrown with a clean spiral. The game-winning touchdown lob to Burress was an anomaly, a gift from Eli to the NFL Films gods to enhance a camera-shot that will go down in Giants lore.
The fact is he can’t consistently throw a tight spiral. And if you can’t do that in the Meadowlands, there is no chance of having success. Not a shot.
Is there any good news? Possibly. 2009 will be Giants Stadium’s last hosting Giants (and Jets) football games. In 2010 they move into their state-of-the-art new stadium that is located about 50 yards behind the current stadium.
It’s unlikely, but can the new stadium serve as a “Quarterback’s Park?” Could the architecture of the stadium be altered enough so the winds that usually wreak havoc on passing games late in the year suddenly become irrelevant?
For the Giants’ sake, Jerry Reese and company better hope so. Otherwise, they should start building for the Wild Card.
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