NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — There are some games that a player — and a fan — never forgets.
Winning the Super Bowl in February 2008 was one that forever will bring a smile to the faces of the Giants and their faithful followers. Losing to the Eagles at the Meadowlands in December is one they will never live down.
How can anyone forget the Meadowlands Meltdown? The Giants had a 31-10 lead with less than eight minutes to play, and they not only lost the game, they managed to do it in regulation, squandering a chance to take over first place in the NFC East and ultimately costing themselves a playoff berth.
“Last year will linger with me until I die,” Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said.
The last play is just so memorable.
Giants rookie punter Matt Dodge failed to kick the ball out of bounds in the closing seconds and DeSean Jackson returned the punt 65 yards for a game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation.
Eagles 38, Giants 31.
Do you remember Giants coach Tom Coughlin slamming his clipboard to the turf as Jackson whizzed by the Giants’ bench?
“I think it sticks in everybody’s guts,” said Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who was sidelined with a neck injury. “It’s something you never want to lose a game in that fashion. You never want to be a part of, be on the wrong side of a game like that, so it’s something that everybody is going to remember here. As far as this week, it’s all about this new season and getting a win for this year.”
The Giants (1-1) and Eagles (1-1) will meet on Sunday with both finding themselves tied with Dallas for second place in the division, a game behind surprising Washington (2-0).
Giants tight end Bear Pascoe said the loss last season will motivate the Giants, but most teammates were narrowing their focus to this week.
“If you let games stick with you, you are going to have a bad year,” said safety Deon Grant, who has had the added distraction this week of being accused of faking an injury in Monday night’s win over the Rams.
“If you’re a smart player, and a professional, you deal with what you have to deal with in the offseason,” he added. “I know you heard a lot about it because I heard a lot about it in the offseason. You prepare yourself for the season, to face those guys. This is our third game and this one we’re prepared for.”
Last year’s loss isn’t the only question facing the Giants. The Eagles have had their number in recent seasons, winning the last six games.
“It doesn’t matter because if we won six in a row, I would still want to beat them,” Tuck said. “Everybody puts emphasis on it, but the fact of the matter is that stuff is in the past. It is not going to help us prepare for today. That is what we are doing, we are putting that behind us and focusing on what we need to beat them this year. We can’t beat them last year.”
If there has been a constant in the Eagles’ run over New York, it’s their ability to come back.
The Giants had them last season and everything seemed to turn when Michael Vick hit tight end Brent Celek on a 65-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field with 7:28 to play.
“I’ve watched that game a number of times,” Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Thursday. “My memory is that we didn’t finish the game, we didn’t take care of business, we didn’t finish what we started. I like to see us finish what we start. If we start, we go down to get a win, I want to win. I’m looking forward to playing them again.”
The defense wasn’t the only unit to fail. Special teams and the offense contributed.
After Celek’s score, the Eagles recovered an onside kick and scored.
The Giants offense had a chance to ice the game with about three minutes to go but a false start on tackle David Diehl took New York out of field goal range and set up Vick and company for a game-tying touchdown.
When the offense went three and out, Dodge was forced to punt with 14 seconds to go and the rest is history.
“Last year, we were on the field and had the game and weren’t able to seal the deal,” Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “The year before here, it was the exact same thing. It has been two high-scoring affairs and the two times down there, it has been the opposite. I just think, they have been very close battles that could have gone either way but unfortunately they have been able to make the plays at the end and we haven’t.”
Veteran safety Antrel Rolle was reluctant to talk about last year’s game.
“It is what it is,” Rolle said. “It took place last year. It’s not something that we might ever forget, but at the same time, it’s a new year.”
Will the Giants get revenge for the Meadowlands Meltdown on Sunday? Sound off below…
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