That, my friends, is called getting your just deserts. I'm not going to sit here, on my high blogging bench, and say the team didn't want it enough. Or that they didn't try. I don't think that's the case, at all...Coughlin is a good coach, and I'm sure the whole team was fired up. But with the 2009 Giants, the success/failure formula was simple:
1) Get an early lead = chance of success.
2) Face an early deficit = assured failure.
The defense just cannot play from behind. Giving up the first score is like stepping on a patch of mud at the very top of that slippery slope. The rest is scripted. In that sense, the biggest play of the game might have been Manningham's fumble on the first drive. With the Giants marching downfield, he caught a ball at the Panthers' 15 and was stripped. Carolina recovered and started their own long drive which culminated in a touchdown. Then the Giants went 3-and-out, Carolina scored again, things got desperate, our defense got worse, and before anyone could catch their breath, the Panthers had scored on 5 of the first 6 drives to take an insurmountable 31-0 lead.
But if Manningham had held on to the ball, and if the Giants had gone up 7-0? Who knows...normally you can't say one drive made a difference in a game that ended up 41-9, but it's a Jekyll and Hyde story with these guys. Look how well we played with a lead against Washington, and really, is Carolina that much better? (Possibly.) Our defense just stinks, and they need to be spotted at least 7 points to have a fighting chance.
Of course, that won't happen against good teams. Sometimes you have to take an early punch, and Bill Sheridan, our new defensive coordinator, constructed a unit with the world's largest, fattest glass jaw. It's infuriating, actually, and I hope he gets what he deserves this offseason (wow, that sounded extreme...I just want him to be fired). When you look at our 8 wins this year, it's Dallas twice and then six scrubs. For a team that won the Super Bowl two years ago and finished with the #1 seed in the NFC last year, that's totally unacceptable.
The only upside to yesterday's game? It produced a classic distraught Eli photo:
And that's it. Dallas scored a stunning win at mighty Washington last night, so our playoff hopes, previously hovering in the toilet, are now flushed. This is good and bad.
Good: Now I can enjoy the playoffs without waiting for our defense to meltdown and ruin my weekend.
Bad: FUCK THIS, THE GIANTS ARE NOT IN THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2004. SERIOUSLY, THIS IS BULLSHIT.
If I don't move on, the ranting will get worse and my shift key will break (I don't use caps lock, I just hold down shift with my left palm and type one-handed).
I was on a train for most of yesterday afternoon, listening to the G-Men on the radio, so I missed a lot of the NFL action. Luckily, I was home in time to see the end of the unbelievable Jets-Colts game. Yo, Colts head coach, Jim Caldwell, let me tell you what you got:
Balls, you say? But Seth Curry Saves Duke!, isn't Jim Caldwell a coward? Shouldn't he have gone for the undefeated season?
Hellll no. A coward would have played his troops for 60 minutes in a game that didn't matter just because the media and a few dumbass fans like the way 16-0 looks on a sports page. Did it help New England to go 16-0 two years ago? Nope. You could argue that the mounting pressure played a big role in their lackluster end to the season and eventual loss to the Giants. Why do you want to bring that on your team? There's enough pressure just getting through the postseason without the weight of history burdening your shoulders. Good for Jim Caldwell.
Still, that was unbelievable. I mean, Indy goes up 15-10 in the third quarter, the crowd is going wild, the announcers are pumped, Peyton Manning looks like a wizard, and the dude folds up shop. At 14-0. At 14 and fucking 0. Cojones, man. I seriously admire the dude now, because he legitimately does not give a one-eighth of a flying fuck what any man thinks. I hope they win the Super Bowl.
Even more hysterical: The Jets looked like goners last week, coming off an ugly loss to the Falcons and dropping to 7-7 with Indy and the Bengals to finish their year. But now it looks like that scheduling is divine, because just like Indy, the Bengals will have nothing to play for next week and are likely to rest a lot of their guys. And a bunch of teams lost yesterday, so now the Jets control their own destiny.
Here's the situation: a New York team with a great defense and questionable offense is going to make the playoffs as a wild card, and every game they play will be on the road. Sound familiar? I'm not making any predictions here, but I also wouldn't want to be facing the Jets in round 1 if I'm New England or Cincinnati.
Ugh, it's that time again:
THE UNGODLY BOWL PREDICTION EXTRAVAGANZA OF MISERY
Goals which would take a miracle:
25-9 straight up
20-14 against the spread
4-6 straight up
2-8 against the spread
So there's that whole comical attitude you can take when you follow sports and your predictions are terrible for a certain series of events, where you throw your hands in the air and muster a sheepish smile and go 'what can ya do!?' But at this point I'm a few steps beyond amused self-deprecation; I'm pissed off. 2-8 against the spread, seriously? I fucking watch so much college football! How can this happen? How can I not be over .500 picking straight up? This is ABSURD. I'm on the verge of losing all pride and credibility, and it does not sit well, my friends.
Some of these losses are maddening. For example, I missed Kentucky covering the spread last night by a half point. And to start the fourth quarter, they had the ball on the 50 after a lousy Clemson punt, down 1 and with momentum. But they called some stupid trick play that lost five yards, and went three and out. Additionally, any team favored by more than ten points inevitably loses, and it's inexplicable. Nevada and Fresno, screw you both. You lost to chumps. Then I didn't realize how bad the Pac-10 was, so that burned me, and by the time it registered the timing was bad enough that I picked against Pete Carroll, one of the best coaches in the college football, against an east coast slouch in a game taking place in California. How dumb can I be? Then you've got those pesky underdogs, who are now 6-4 straight up. Give me a break, right?
So here's my excuse: everything is chaos with these mid-level bullshit teams, and a lot more depends on coaching than I originally thought. When you have a month to prepare for a team, an important element is how well the coaching staff can utilize that time. It also means you can basically throw out the results from the last few weeks of the season, since momentum (good or bad) dies in the interval. But now that the big games are starting, and the teams are ones I've followed more closely throughout the year, I'm going to start getting better. That is a motherf$#*ing promise, right there.
Today's game: Georgia (-4) vs. Texas A&M, 5PM
Even after Kentucky let me down, I still like the SEC over most conferences. That's especially true of the Big-12, who were overrated last year and only got worse in '09. A&M hasn't won a bowl game since 2002, and I don't see them starting now. Georgia had only two bad losses, against Florida and Tennessee, and I'm willing to give them a pass on those. What really scares me is that they fell to Kentucky in the second-to-last game of the year...but then they beat Georgia Tech on the road to finish up. A&M is a strange team; they always win or lose big. But they also seem to give up mega-points almost every week. This is not a gimme, but Georgia should win by about 10.
I Like: Georgia straight up and with the points.
Last point: if there was a weekend awesomeness scale today, the lowest entry would not be the Giants loss; it would be Urban Meyer having to step down because of heart problems. I've always liked him, and along with Nick Saban and Pete Carroll, he's one of the game's three greatest coaches. This really stinks, and college football just suffered a bad loss.
I now leave you with a strange video to a great song in honor of the Carolina Panthers, whose barrel of whoop-ass is still trickling through the swamplands in New Jersey.