Palladino: Giants Walking The Tightrope

‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns

Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.

Justin Tuck said it best after Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, and the defense engineered Manning’s 18th career fourth-quarter comeback victory in Sunday’s 20-17 win over the Dolphins.

“We’ll see where we are soon enough,” Tuck said, thinking more about next week’s matchup against the Patriots in Foxborough than savoring this win over the 0-7 Dolphins.

Tuck has a point, of course. The Giants can talk all they want about how tough the Matt Moore-led Dolphins were, or that 145-yard, two-touchdown rushing attack that gashed the defense for three quarters. But the fact of the matter is, the Giants still trailed 17-13 until 5:58 of the fourth quarter, when Manning connected with a wide open Cruz in a Cover-2 seam on third-and-12, Cruz then spinning out of former Giant Will Allen’s tackle at the 12 for the go-ahead score.

Where they will sit in the future has yet to be determined, as Tuck said. But where they are now is quite clear. With four fourth-quarter comebacks in a 5-2 record, the Giants stand as the Flying Wallendas of the NFL — tightrope walkers extraordinaire.

Until, at last, a stiff wind kicks up and sends them plummeting to the ground like Wallenda patriarch Karl and many of his daredevil family.

Then again, as Karl said, walking the tightrope is living; all the rest is waiting. And the Giants, apparently, are waiting for nobody.

They’re 5-2 now, happy with their fifth post-bye victory in Tom Coughlin’s last six years after so many seasons of suffering after the idle week. But the fact that this team couldn’t blow past the Dolphins to get a running start into this next, tough stretch of road, sends up questions about the future of a team that traditionally has started fast and tailed off at the ends of seasons.

Walking the tightrope doesn’t quell the doubters, either. What this squad needs is a stroll, and they’ll probably have to wait until Dec. 18 against disintegrating Washington for that. In the meantime, Giants fans will watch a team that once again failed to mount a decent running game (58 yards, with Ahmad Bradshaw getting 50 of them) and can’t stop the run (145 and two TDs paced by Reggie Bush’s 103 yards).

They’ll watch a team that forced its quarterback into the air 45 times, far from the run-pass balance Tom Coughlin seeks. But to Manning’s credit, he didn’t turn the ball over for a second consecutive game.

And they’ll watch a defense that has now given up seven runs of 20 yards or more in seven games. The big play — yesterday on a 35-yard Bush run that set up a touchdown and a 28-yarder that set up a field goal — continues to hurt them.

But as long as Manning continues to find receivers like the up-and-coming big-play specialist Cruz at the right time, and the defense rises up when it counts, as it did with four sacks and Corey Webster’s third pick in two games in the Dolphins’ last two series, the Giants can remain on that high-wire.

Tuck, back after missing three games with neck and groin issues, would love to blow somebody out.

“I’m starting to see gray hair,” he said. “If anyone wants to look, I’ll show you.”

But for now, he and his teammates will take yet another comeback win and look to the future with guarded optimism.

“We do have to play better,” Tuck said. “New England is a great football team and we know all about them. We’re going to have to play a tremendously better game, especially on the road in a place where they don’t lose a lot of games. We’re going to have to play a whole lot better.”

For now, though, they haven’t fallen off the rope. But it does tend to get awfully windy up Foxborough way.

Are the Giants due for a body blow? Be heard in the comments below…

  • Ben

    The Giants came off a bye week. The Dolphins have been in EVERY game this year, whether people want to acknowledge it or not. I love people who say, ‘Oh, they need a walk in the park win.’ Are you kidding me? A win’s a win. How did the Saints walk in the park win do for them when they got blown out by the former winless Rams? Oh yea, the Saints don’t criticized because they have Drew Brees who is impermeable to criticism. But the Giants have Eli, and people still continue to doubt his improvement these past two years. Last year, everyone points to his interceptions, not his TD totals or his yards. And no one brings up the amount of tipped passes there were in Eli’s season last year. This year, they point to his 3 interception game against Seattle to say he is still not reliable or elite, while no one mentions that Cruz slipped on his route for Eli’s second interception and the third one came in garbage time. But of course, that is not highlighted with Giants. Garbage time points and yards for the Giants are not highlighted, but apparently points and yards and interceptions against the Giants are. It’s is completely hypocritical. The Giants have a very dangerous team and if the offensive line, which by the way is doing a decent job at pass protection, ever gets it going for the running game, the Giants will contend for the Superbowl. Their pass rush is the best in the league and will continue to pummel QBs for the rest of the season. Point being, Eli is elite this year and the Giants, while playing bad teams so far, are what their record says they are, a first place team in a mediocre division. They control their destiny whether people want to say it or not.

  • Robert

    The Giants always play down to the level of their opponents, which may be good against New England since they’ll have to play up. But the G-Men lack leadership and character. It’s hard to replace those qualities. You can’t coach it but you can practice it. Though the Giants can’t even do that. When Strahan left they lost their heart. They lost their emotional and physical leader. Eli Manning has been the Giants been their best player but he’s no leader.

    But the year they won the Superbowl in 4 straight perfect playoff games on the road they had a mediocre regular season and barely made the wild card. So who knows? If the Rams can beat New Orleans, if the Seahawks can beat New Orleans and if the Seahawks can beat the Giants, who knows anything?

    • Ben

      You’re a joke! Eli is not a leader? Wow, you do not know what you are talking about you moron. Talk about re-posting media cliches. You’re a tool and a loser who doesn’t pay attention to the game. Look at the post game comments for the Giants, except for 6’4 diva Jacobs, everyone is deferential to Eli. This is Eli’s team and if you can’t see that, go back watching ‘experts’ telling you what they think the Giants are, not what they actually are. Idiot.

  • Bill

    such a different frame of mind between Giants and Jets. Giants hold a 2-game lead in their division, and the players and coaches take a measured reserved outlook, very cautious knowing the season isn’t even half over yet. Then you get the Jets winning a couple games to finally be one game over .500, and they’re already popping the champagne yet again talking super bowls and ticker tape parades and all that other nonsense that always ends up meaning zilch.

  • Ray

    Great Game Jacobs..put up or SHUT UP you fool…u run like an OLD LADY…TAKE YOUR TALENT ELSEWHERE……..”PLEASEEEEEE”…..

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