Saturday, December 29, 2007
Tonight is the night. For all those people who have come to loathe the Patriots this year and for all those who do not want the Pats to go undefeated, their last regular season chance falls on the New York Giants. Tonight there will be more Giants fans than usual. Many people in the nation will have the joyous agony of pulling for the Giants.
After the 1986 season when the Giants won the Super Bowl, two things were obvious. They were the best team in the NFL that year and most people were not surprised when they won the Super Bowl. Except Giants fans. Most Giants fans expected them to lose. The New York Giants exist to tear the hearts out of their fans. The New York Giants exist to fill their fans with expectations and to tear the hearts out of their fans.
This is a franchise that once had Tom Landry as their defensive coordinator. While Landry was running their defense, a guy named Vince Lombardi was their offensive coordinator. Both are in the Hall of Fame as two of the NFL's greatest coaches. Who was the shining star who was vital for the Giants to keep instead of these two? His name was Allie Sherman. Allie Sherman is not in the Hall of Fame. He is best known for having a song in his honor entitled, "Goodbye Allie." It was the song of Giants fans hoping for the day when he would finally be gone.
Interestingly enough, tonight the Giants have nothing to lose. No Giants fan will be really angry if they lose to the Patriots. After all, the Pats are the best team in football this year. The Giants were predicted to win 4-6 games this year and they won 10. This was Coughlin's swan song year and he probably earned a right to come back. The Giants exceeded expectations and many people do believe that they can defeat the Bucs next weekend and at least have a second round of playoffs. That is where the hopes of the Giants fans really lie. The Patriots are a fun diversion and if they lose and stay healthy, no problem.
But here is what is facing the Patriots. They are playing at the Meadowlands. The wind at Giants stadium does not blow north or south or east or west. It blows, north, south, east, and west all at the same time. It swirls. For a team that relies on the pass as much as the Patriots do, a swirling cold wind in East Rutherford is not a friend. The Giants lead the NFL in sacks. This little statistic means that Giants defensive players spend a lot of 'close up' time with opposing quarterbacks and opposition QB's spend a great deal of time meeting the dirt with a large man on top of them driving their face into the ground. Joyfully. The Patriots need Tom Brady to lead them to the Super Bowl. The idea of him being hit as often as he might be hit is not a happy one if I'm a Patriots fan.
I expect the Patriots to easily defeat the Giants. My guess is that they will attack with short, quick passes and the Giants pass rush will be neutralized by speed.
But it might be fun to dream....
The thing is, for all of those who are Giants fans for a night, prepare to delight on the joyous agony that we long term Giants fans have endured for years and years and will continue to endure for the future.