As the National Football League community continues to gush over Michael Vick’s riveting comeback from a self-inflicted two-year exile, the New York Giants will attempt to write the first chapter of their own redemption story at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday evening.
After a 41-7 rout of the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9, the Giants appeared to be among the viable candidates for the mythical title of best team in the league. Clearly, a distinction that no squad has a legitimate claim to this season.
However, New York’s candidacy and five-game winning streak became a distant memory in the wake of an inexcusable 13-point home loss to the 2-7 Dallas Cowboys. And, to add insult to injury, the G-Men fell to the same team whose interim head coach was making his debut and featured Jon Kitna as its starting quarterback.
So instead of maintaining a one-game lead in the NFC East, the Giants, along with the rest of the country, watched the NFL’s poster boy for redemption turn FedEx Field into his own personal playground. And with the record-breaking triumph, the Philadelphia Eagles pulled into a dead heat with Big Blue for division supremacy.
Interestingly enough, the last time New York strung together five consecutive victories was a little over one year ago, when they jumped out to a 5-0 start to kick off the 2009-10 season. However, this was followed by losses in eight of their last eleven games to finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
In light of this disappointment, this season has been about redemption for the Giants. Redemption for the unfulfilled promise of last year.
Similarly, New York will be seeking redemption this weekend, in particular, after a deafening hiccup in what has otherwise been a solid season.
It won’t be easy though.
In Michael Vick, who’s rapidly filling the pages of his own redemption story, the Giants’ defensive unit will be attempting to neutralize the most dynamic player in the league who, by the way, deserves serious consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award.
This season, Vick has 11 touchdown passes, no interceptions and a league-leading quarterback rating of 115.1, as well as 341 rushing yards and a robust rushing average of 7.8 yards per attempt.
But, in striking contrast to last season, the Giants are tops in the NFL in total defense, second in the NFC in pass defense (fourth in the NFL) and second in the conference (third in the NFL) in rush defense.
When all these factors are taken into consideration, one could argue that this is a classic case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
Ironically, another way to view the Eagles/Giants match-up is as the intersection of the redemption road for Michael Vick with that of the New York Giants, in a town commonly known as the “City of Brotherly Love”.
The winner takes a stranglehold of the NFC East, while the loser falls into a four-team battle royal (Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) for the two conference wild-card spots.
The stakes couldn’t be any higher for the Philadelphia Eagles and, especially, the New York Giants, who can ill afford to stir up the ghosts of collapses past with a second consecutive loss.