New York Giants: Can They Defend What Cannot Be Taken?

Frank LiveraContributor INovember 1, 2008

On Feb. 3, 2008, the once seemingly-impossible task of the New York Giants defeating an unbeaten New England Patriots team in Super Bowl XLII became a reality, leaving the entire planet in utter disbelief.

After a slow-paced first half, the teams began exchanging points late in the game. New York quarterback Eli Manning lead his offense down the field, and after a miracle helmet catch by wide receiver David Tyree, the Giants took the lead over the team that rewrote the history books.

After stopping another game-winning Super Bowl drive by two time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, the Giants hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 1990.

The seasons leading up to their Super Bowl run were full of criticism. Many began to question Eli Manning's ability at quarterback. Others would criticize Head Coach Tom Coughlin's will to win.

On top of that, the typical New York media would rip into the Giants' offensive line's discipline for false-start penalties that cost the Giants a load of yardage. In the 2006 season, the Giants started 6-2 but finished with a record of 8-8. The media flared at this lack of consistency in the second half of the season.

The criticism carried over to the 2007 season, where the Giants had a rough start, but eventually won six straight games. In the final game of the 2007 season, the G-Men were the last team with a chance to stop the Patriots' shot at a perfect regular season.

After a close game, Big Blue fell 38-35, but since the media had more of a field day with the Patriots' Spygate Scandal, the Giants were still praised for nearly defeating the unbeatable Patriots. Heading into the postseason with confidence, the Giants rolled through Tampa Bay, the No. 1 seeded Dallas Cowboys, and the Green Bay Packers in one of coldest games ever played at Lambeau.

After ripping through the best teams the NFC had to offer, Big Blue hoped to ride the wave of confidence that washed up on Super Bowl XLII's shore. As stated earlier, the Giants pulled out a miraculous victory over the previous unbeaten New England Patriots.

It's amazing how things can change over the course of a year. In 2006 and early 2007, the Giants were criticized more than any other team in the NFL. Now, in 2008, they are put over as God's Team.

Eli went from a shaky first-round pick living in his brother's shadow to apparently one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Coughlin became a football genius. And that offensive line is "just so good."

Many expect the 2008 Giants with a record of 6-1 to repeat as Super Bowl champs. To me, as a spectator and critic in my own right, they have yet to prove anything this year.

Sure enough, they did shock the entire face of the Earth last year, including me. The Giants have played teams such as the St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the San Francisco 49ers.

Only two of those teams has a winning percentage of over .500. They have yet to play a division rival in the mighty NFC East. Don't get me wrong, I do respect the play of the New York Giants, and I will assure that they will be playing in this year's postseason.

My point is, where did the criticism go? They're still the same team, minus defensive end Micheal Strahan of course.

Does one Super Bowl win change an outlook on a team 100 percent? The media plays the Giants out to be flawless, but many writers and critics alike, such as myself, believe that they still have much to prove to be known as the "Defending Champions" rather than the 2007 champions.