L.T., Harry Carson
Midway through this past Sunday's afternoon affair with the middling Jaguars of forgettable Jacksonville, a vast, fed-up portion of Meadowlands denizens stood in unison and booed the living you-know-what out of the home side.
In an absolute must-win game, in what has become the annoyingly habitual style of the past season and a half, the New York Football Giants were laying an egg...no, not just an egg, a full on grease concocted omelet with finger thick sausage and oozy on its own bacon...against David Garrard and company.
Okay, Maurice Jones-Drew, he's outstanding; Marcedes Lewis, you wouldn't kick him to the curb; Mike Sims-Walker, the hyphenated man (sure, someday, dream upon a star and he might become the dominate receiver the Jags wholly crave), but let's face it, you can't take a flawed Jacksonville contingent at home with the season on the line you better start thinking of alternative plans for January...that is if your plans included anything to do with football glorious Sundays, the Sunday of all Sundays, Super Bowl Sunday, located in Dallas this year with the big screen, curvy cheerleaders and everything you could possibly want, except the Cowboys, but that's only problematic in 2010 if you wear sharp spurs, pointy boots and smart sun-shielding head gear. Them Cowboys is out, that much we know for sure.
Leading up to 1 p.m. Giant fans all across the nation were calculating...we've got injuries, no touchdown machine in Hakeem Nicks, no sure-fire third down receiver in Steve Smith. Promising 6'6" backup Ramses Barden, nope, center Shaun O'Hara, sorry, left tackle David Diehl, we kid you not, on top of which exceedingly pleasant comeback story of the seasonal midpoint stud tackle/guard Shawn Andrews would sit against the Jags with recurring back issues (will he ever get on the playing field again?), leaving the critical left side of the O Line manned by the neophyte tandem of William Beatty and round bottomed, battler Kevin Boothe.
What to do? Well, first, the obvious, dominate defensively. When NY Giant fans over the age of 35 or 40 think of dominant defensive efforts, the first thing that comes to mind is '86. L.T., Carl Banks, Lenny Marshall, Harry Carson: That group would shut you down, make you wish you had other things to do on a blustery Sunday afternoon.
On the offensive side there was a highly effective lunch pail line, with Little Joe Morris running hard, one amazing, gutsy tight end in Mark Bavaro, another who should have achieved greatness in Zeke Mowatt (salami leg, but he still caught plenty of big balls) and a big-armed Q.B. who threw plenty of interceptions, even more than the guy the G's have slinging now, though that's been forgotten in the glow of No. 11's after-career as broadcaster to the NFL stars.
Wide receivers? Not so much. Lionel Manuel, Bobby Johnson, Phil McConkey: They seemed okay at the time, but only because the Parcells' system was working. Play D, work the clock, put some points on the board, all good.
So if it worked then, why not now? Remnants of a lunch pail line? Check. Big strong, pass catching tight end in Kevin Boss? Check. Travis Beckum to fill the role of Zeke Mowatt? Naturally. Hard runners in Jacobs and Bradshaw? You better believe it. Capable if occasionally mistake prone QB in Eli Manning? Maddeningly so! And what about that No. 1 ranked D?
Bingo, bango, put it all together and what do you get? A 17-6 halftime deficit and a generally veteran Big Blue fan base ready to pull it's collective hair right out of its collective Big Blue skull. That's what.
Yes, it did finally turn out okay. The Giants' one remaining wideout of note, Mario Manningham, played big all day, Eli Manning turned it on, Boss eventually found his inner Bavaro and finally, in the last moments the Giants D played like, well, the Giants D.
It's supposed to be the stuff of legends around here, back to the days of Sam Huff and Andy Robustelli, L.T. and the gang, Strahan and Co. gave us a beautiful run in 2007...it's the stuff that makes championships, an unrelenting, hit 'em 'till it hurts, united force on the field.
The kind that makes even the steadiest QB's quiver. If the New York Football Giants of 2010 and possibly 2011 expect to go anywhere they'll need to play like their predecessors in '86. They'll need to shut down the opposition, play like champions.
They'll need to play like Giants.
That's it for today,