At the conclusion of anything in life, we all do some reflecting, remembering the journey that reached the destination. Football is no exception. Whenever your team’s season ends, you can’t help but think back to moments during the season and how they ended up like this.
So for a New York Giants fan like myself, what was anticipated to be reflection has turned into memories only alcohol can dissolve.
This weekend’s playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was kind of like a triple play of misery. Not only did they lose in the playoffs at home, but they lost to the Eagles, and lost as the No. 1 seed to the last one that a month ago was thought to be dead.
Two years ago, the Eagles also beat the G-Men in the playoffs but under completely different circumstances. The Giants were the road team and really didn’t even belong in the playoffs.
There was something different in the air at Giants Stadium, and I’m not just talking about the frostbitten wind coming in. Usually before a Giants game, I have nerves, fear, as well as anticipation. But that day, for the first time in awhile, I woke up with confidence.
All the cards were falling into place (no pun intended), with the Cardinals upsetting the Panthers, the only team I thought was a threat to the Giants title defense, and earning a spot in the conference championship game.
I knew there was no way that the Cardinals could come into Giants’ Stadium and dethrone the Giants. Unfortunately, I will never know.
The Giants started off in typical Giants fashion, missing opportunities and playing like they weren’t awake yet. But that was fine. There were so many games that started that way and the Giants were able to get the W.
So even as they were down 20-11, I still was not panicking. I was still running notes in my head comparing what time I arrived this morning to tailgate for this game, and what time I should leave for next week’s championship game.
I was holding back all of my hateful jokes about the birds, such as Andy Reid’s kids getting arrested again, or Donovan McNabb thinking this game could end in a tie, and some others I can’t really say here. But every Eagles chant against the Giants was deserved. With the way they played, they wouldn’t even have beaten the Detroit Lions.
But it wasn’t just the playing, but also the play-calling. Brandon Jacobs had been injured at the end of the season, and maybe the coaching staff forgot how to use him. Had they forgotten that he is the best back at running right up the middle and grinding through the defense?
Perhaps they confused him with a former No. 27 on the team, Rodney Hampton, because they kept running him to the outside. On two consecutive fourth-down failures, the Giants kept running to Jacobs, and even with one of them, did a direct snap to him. Who did offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride think he was calling plays for, the Miami Dolphins?
Losing is one thing. But not scoring a touchdown and missing two field goals just left me the feeling of betrayal. For once I was not mad at a Giants loss. It was more sadness, like someone just walked up and slapped me in the face. No, it actually felt like someone crouched behind me, and someone else pushed me down and I toppled over the person behind me.
At the beginning of the season, heck, at the beginning of the playoffs, who could have ever guessed the NFC Championship Game would be played in Arizona, and not only that but between the Cards and the Eagles.
This marks the first time in NFL history that a fourth-seeded team has hosted a conference championship game. If either of them wins the Super Bowl, they would have the worst record of any team to do so.