the new york football giants
17 September 2006 ¬
" Return of the Cardiac Kids.. Giants Go Down to the Wire, Steal a Win from Philadelphia, 30-24.. Following the Prophet Elijah "
For the second consecutive game, Eli Manning prepared to lead the Giants down the field in the waning seconds of the 4th quarter with the game on the line -- and this time, there would be retribution.

In order to discuss this one, you really have to understand that it's a tale of two entirely different football games - 45 minutes dominated by Philadelphia, and 15 minutes in which the Giants capitalized on enough mistakes and established enough momentum to tie the game with seven seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.

There are way too many things that went wrong during the first three quarters to point the finger in any one direction and say, this is what kept us down. The D-Line failed to record a sack and pressured Donovan McNabb maybe two or three times during the contest, something the Giants can't afford after having their secondary exposed against the Colts in Week 1. Sunday looked like more of the same, with Eagles TE L.J. Smith setting up camp in the middle of the field. Sam Madison got burned on consecutive plays by Donte' Stallworth in the 1st quarter, and it's really time to sit down and evaluate whether or not R.W. McQuarters and Corey Webster should be the starting corners on this defense. Clearly R.W.'s on Tom Coughlin's good side, as he split kick and punt return duties with Chad Morton, and he has the speed and explosiveness that the defense needs if it's going to rebound from yielding 275+ passing yards in consecutive games.

On the other side of the ball, the O-Line was completely helpless in protecting Eli from an unrelenting Philadelphia pass rush. The Eagles effectively cycled through eight men on their defensive line, a bizarre and hockey-esque tactic that paid dividends all game, as they constantly had fresh legs on the field. The O-Line also failed to clear any room for Tiki Barber, who had perhaps his worst outing against Philadelphia of his long career. Brandon Jacobs saw limited action, as the Giants trailed for most of the game and Coughlin obviously felt uncomfortable giving the occasional touches to anyone other than #21.

The first drive of the game was the lone exception, ending in a beautiful naked bootleg to a wide-open Amani Toomer to put the Giants up early, 7-0. From there, it was all downhill, with New York incapable of getting anything going on either offense or defense.

Then came the fourth quarter.

Down 17, and with things looking all but decided, Eli Manning put the game on his shoulders. He found Plaxico Burress deep for a bizarre play that resulted in Plax fumbling the ball forward into the end zone, only to have it recovered by the fleet-footed Tim Carter for the touchdown. From there, the Eagles came apart at the seams. Donovan McNabb was flagged for a false start after hot-dogging on the line with 4 minutes remaining in the game deep in Eagles territory, and on the following play, the Giants recovered a Brian Westbrook fumble to set up their second touchdown of the quarter, with Eli throwing a strike to Amani Toomer in the back of the end zone. The comeback was capped off with another great drive from the Giants 20 with less than a minute on the clock and no timeouts remaining, including a spectacular 22-yard pass to Tim Carter as Eli was being hauled to the ground. Jay Feely punched the 35-yarder to tie it at 24 all.

Overtime was no less dramatic. With the Giants taking consecutive penalties to put them to the edge of Feely's range late in the extra session, Eli laid one out for Plaxico Burress at the goal line after picking up the all-out blitz by the Philadelphia defense. Plax came down with it and tumbled into the endzone for New York's first win of the season.

What really strikes me about this game is the persistence that the Giants demonstrated, down late in the game and having been thoroughly manhandled for three quarters. With everything on the line, Eli Manning shook off his frustration and played twenty minutes of football that showed all of us his capabilities as both a quarterback and as a leader for this offense. He finished at a monster 31-43 for 371 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, picking apart an Eagles secondary that went soft in the second half. Although the Giants were manhandled for the majority of the contest, there are way too many weapons on this football team to show such a blatant lack of respect in a game that was by no means decided. And the fact that all of this transpired in a division match makes the victory that much more important.

This is one to remember down the line, as we move towards January. If the Giants make a playoff push and are able to advance through the NFC, it'll be important to remember the game that looked all-but decided and an 0-2 start (including a division loss) that seemed a lock. Instead, New York is heading into a game against the Seahawks at a very confident 1-1. The only question that remains is which Giants team - Jekyl or Hyde - will we see in Seattle?


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