‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Ernie Palladino is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
Not to sound like one of those nay-saying sourpusses, but the Giants shouldn’t get too happy about themselves after their 27-24 win over the Bills.
Oh, sure, they head into the bye week at 4-2. And being tied for the NFC East lead with Washington, whose bubble appears ready to burst into many pieces after the Skins’ 20-13, Rex Grossman-fueled loss to Philadelphia, is nice and all.
But the fact remains that the Giants simply can’t keep walking this tightrope and expect long-term success. Prosperity must be enjoyed and fostered, not thrown away.
And the Giants continue to toss it off as a disposable item.
Take it from the third quarter. The Giants go up 24-17 on Ahmad Bradshaw’s athletic dive into the end zone for his third touchdown. Corey Webster gets his first pick of the year on the Bills’ next possession, and the Giants are set up nicely to take a two-score lead.
So what happens? The drive stalls and the field goal unit doesn’t block Alex Carrington, and he blocks Lawrence Tynes’ 51-yard field goal attempt. And that leads to a 12-play, tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter where the Bills see exactly two third-down situations and convert a fourth-and-1 on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s sneak.
And they might even have lost this one had it not been for Webster’s second interception at the Bills’ 4. Another couple of inches on the throw to Stevie Johnson and the receiver would have had a touchdown. Instead, the Giants started back, only to cause the crowd to gasp as Eli Manning went to the air on third-and-goal from the 5 and nearly got it picked off. Just what the Giants would have needed, another ending like the Seattle game with Leodis McKelvin running one back like Brandon Browner.
Instead, it all came out fine as Tynes hit a 23-yarder for the winning points.
For sure, there were plenty of good things that happened for this injury-battered squad. The running game produced 122 yards, 104 of which went to Bradshaw. And Bradshaw did produce the pivotal offensive play of that final drive, a 30-yard misdirection on which he stiff-armed the cornerback.
There were the interceptions, the drawing of two pass interference calls on Drayton Florence, a once-solid cornerback who has seen better days, and some good second-half run defense from a unit playing without Justin Tuck. And Manning didn’t throw an interception, a great comfort the week after a three-pick game.
So the Giants will have plenty to smile about as they idle their engines and await a post-bye matchup with weak Miami.
Still, despite winning, they continue to give off this disturbing 8-8 vibe. Teams just don’t survive by waiting until the fourth quarter to turn it up. The Seattle game proved that. And the Bills came within one great Corey Webster play of proving it again.
“I don’t think we put a complete game together yet,” Webster said. “We’ve been striving to finish and win the fourth-quarter battle. We did just that.”
But how long can they continue to beat the fourth-quarter odds?
The bet here is not long.
Best to use these next three days before their extended bye weekend to tighten up the defense, find some consistency on offense, and hope that key players like Justin Tuck, Brandon Jacobs, and Chris Snee get back.
If this team starts feeling too good about itself, it could be in for a big letdown.
How are you feeling Giants fans? Leave a comment below.