By Jason Keidel
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For a few years now, we’ve regarded the Giants’ consistent inconsistency with a kind of haughty humor, a wink and nod, knowing that Big Blue operated on their own clock. Like football salmon, no matter the climate around them their instinct would somehow guide them to the same destination every year.
They’ve always had some metaphysical faucet or fountain from which they sipped, gulped or fueled just in time for the playoffs, during which the NFL’s quintessential road warriors would gallop through domes, freezing rain and frozen tundras on their way to another Lombardi Trophy.
But lost on us, and perhaps on them, is the fact that they pull this trick once a year, but never consecutive years. After their historically jarring upset over the undefeated Patriots in 2007, they stormed out to an 11-1 start in 2008. Then Plaxico Burress decided it was a good idea to slide a glock under his Joe Boxers and saunter into a nightclub, where he promptly fired a round around his privates, ruining the Giants’ season, his Giants’ career, and a possible dynasty.
Though that squad was clearly the best in the NFL, this Giants team isn’t the kind of chalk to walk through a regular season. It seems their schizophrenia – whipping San Francisco and Green Bay one week, then losing to much weaker clubs the next – has finally crippled them beyond repair.
While the Giants have flipped the script over the last five years, staggering into December and then flying through January, they haven’t been THIS bad this late during either Super Bowl run. You can’t lose games 14 and 15 by a combined 67-14 and expect to do anything in the playoffs. Now the Giants not only have to beat a still-feisty Philadelphia Eagles, but also must lean on scoreboard largess.
Eli Manning isn’t playing like, well, Eli Manning. Ahmad Bradshaw is a certified stud, but he’s an eternal, week-to-week proposition because of brittle limbs. Their vaunted defensive line has devolved from important to impotent, their secondary has been shredded by injuries, and the Fire Department is still wiping the ashes from Corey Webster’s uniform.
Now the Giants must beat Philadelphia – which is never assured, despite the imminent anarchy the Eagles are about to endure once ownership detonates the entire hierarchy – and perform some sort of rain dance to persuade the Cowboys, Vikings, and Bears to lose.
This season isn’t so much a symposium on the Giants’ overall stability as much as a microcosm of the NFL, sports and life in wide view. Simply, we just aren’t built to handle prosperity, hence the inherent hurdles in repeating as champions.
The Giants have the same coaches, players, and talent, but not the temerity. And it’s too late to bestow it upon this group of G-Men, who seem doomed to an early vacation, right next to the Jets, which is never a pleasant destination.
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