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I had the unique privilege of watching the Giants in a room full of Giant fans. Unlike most people I suppose, I watch most of my football games on my own couch, by myself. There are certain games that are sporting events, this happened to be one of them. There hasn’t been this big of a football game in New York in a long, long time, Jets AFC Title games included. Sorry Jet fans, but the Giants will always rule New York sports, much like to my chagrin, the Yankees will always draw the headlines.
I was watching the game with the same group of Giant fans that I watched the Super Bowl with, yes that Super Bowl–with the helmet catch and everything. There was an eerie feeling that isn’t present among most Giant fans, confidence. They didn’t think their team was going to win, they knew their team was going to win. The Giants didn’t disappoint, winning semi-convincingly and in the process making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. How did they do it? It really came down to one key play.
The Giants had built a 21-0 lead going into halftime and the rout seemed to be on. The pressure was getting to Tony Romo time and time again. The Cowboys made some adjustments and came out in the second half on fire. They erased the Giants to seven early in the fourth quarter. It was a third-and-seven in the Giants end, after the Cowboys had just scored in three plays to close the game to one possession, when Eli Manning dropped back for a pass. The Cowboys were able to get good interior pressure and it forced Manning to spin left, a la Super Bowl 42, and heaved it down field where Victor Cruz mad a remarkable catch. While Cruz didn’t exactly pin the ball against his helmet, the Giants were leading and not trailing in the game, and Eli didn’t exactly escape from the grasps of a defender, it is hard not to see the similarities between the two plays. At that point, the Cowboys had all the momentum, and had the Giants punt the ball back to them in that situation, it would very likely have been a tied game shortly after. The play allowed the Giants to milk a precious four more minutes off the clock and it led to Lawrence Tynes FG that made it a two score game. They went on to defeat the Cowboys 31-14.
The win gave the Giants the NFC East title and the opportunity to host the Falcons in the early Sunday game. Beyond that, the Giants have lost to the three top seeds in the NFC this season, Green Bay, San Francisco, and New Orleans but as they proved in Super Bowl 42, the regular season is the regular season. That year they lost to the Patriots in Week 17 but came out victorious when it mattered most. This Giants team may not win the Super Bowl, but there is a feeling around this team that they COULD. During the Cowboys rally my friend said something that I felt defines the Giants entire season. He said, “Why are the Giants making this so close for no reason?”