Monday, January 2, 2012

The New York Giants Won A Professional Footbal Game Last Night

I enjoy football, which I've probably mentioned once or twice. The only problem with this is that the I follow a team called the New York Giants. True, it could be worse. After all, I need to look only at the other tenant of the Giants' home stadium to know that it's perfectly easy for a franchise to go 43 years (and counting) without a whiff of a championship. Or I could be a Cardinals fan and go six decades. It's clearly not the worst station in life.

Oh, but the Giants have a way of making pain real in a particularly special way, and the last three seasons were delightful examples of that. In 2008, the Giants seemed destined for a second Super Bowl title in a row until Plaxico Burress got his own leg in his sights. Literally. After that cataclysm, the Giants started off 2009 5-0 and looked like world beaters again before a late collapse caused them to miss the playoffs for the first time in five years. In 2010, Big Blue had its own destiny in its hands before getting dismantled by Green Bay in the second to last game of the season and thus losing control of its fate. The Giants would miss out on the postseason despite beating Washington in the final week and going a solid 10-6 that season.

So this year, when the Giants went 6-2 to start the year punctuated by a thrilling victory at New England that yours truly was in attendance for, it seemed like there were two distinct possibilities. A) New York was back and ready to make a solid run at the division title and deep run in the playoffs, or B) the inevitable collapse was on its way.

Four losses in a row later and it seemed pretty obvious which option was the likely outcome, particularly with a defense that looked more like a dairy product from Geneva than a professional football team.

Oh, but this season was a bit of a surprise, and with a little help from those lovable Choketacular Boys from Dallas, New York was able to make a run and force a winner-take-all de facto NFC East Championship Game at the Meadowlands on the final night of the season. While it was technically still a regular season game -- also the 100th meeting between the Giants and Cowboys all time -- last night's showdown was, more or less, a playoff game, and as the closest thing to a playoff game Giants fans have had in three years, I was pretty excited about it. While there were moments of anxiety, particularly in the third quarter, most of the game was a thorough dismantling of one of Big Blue's biggest rivals -- including a first half that was far and away the most complete first half the offense and defense played all season.

At the end of the night, the Giants had laid a whuppin' on Dallas and claimed their first division title in three years.

Now, I don't want to get too far ahead of what the team has accomplished, which, in its most immediate, clearest sense, is a 9-7 record and a playoff berth by the grace of its mediocre division rivals. The next step is a first-round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday -- the first time the teams have played in the postseason if I'm not mistaken -- and Atlanta is no slouch either. The Falcons' offense is just as if not more potent than New York's and the defense might have been better for most of this season.

But to anyone who saw the Giants dismantle the Cowboys last night, the offense looked as potent as its been all season, while the defense finally appeared to be healthy and dominant at stretches for virtually the first time this year. With those things considered, it would be very easy to get carried away and start talking about this win being the spark plug for a potential Super Bowl run, much like the club's narrow loss to the 16-0 Patriots in 2007. In fact, some people are already doing it. But I refuse to be among that crowd. It's about as premature as giving birth to a baby two weeks before it's conceived, particularly considering the various other items on the sports landscape I'll have to deal with before then, including multiple bowl games and a particularly big hockey game this afternoon at 3 that all of you should be watching.

It is hard to not get excited though.

It's very possible that I'll be singing a much more morbid tune in seven days time, but for now, Big Blue is looking good with its first postseason berth in three seasons. And I wish it was already Sunday at 1.

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