What a difference seven weeks makes. The only way is up for the New York Giants who even at 1-6, are astonishingly just three games behind in the NFC East. The long road well, home, begins now.
In a division where seasonal records are ultra-competitive for all the wrong reasons, any team that can gather a little momentum from this point on has got this one in the bag. It’s unthinkable and indeed unprecedented that a team that begins the NFL season 0-6 could be considered as potential postseason contenders but then again, this is the Giants.
In case any of us have forgotten, this is the only franchise in history to win a Super Bowl with under 10 regular season wins. Much like in 2011, unlikely runs towards the playoffs are what this team is all about. It is maybe also worth noting that the Giants have put together winning streaks of four games or more in each of their last seven seasons, something that would do very nicely right about now.
Granted, it might be clutching at straws a little, but surely it’s not like New York to get carried away right? Coach Tom Coughlin will certainly be doing his utmost to ensure this doesn’t happen. After all, the performance on the night was nothing to write home about given the obvious deficiencies of the opposition; it was workmanlike, but by no means spectacular.
Nothing will keep the Giants grounded more than the fact that their first ‘W’ of the season came gift-wrapped by the Minnesota Vikings. The visitors fluffed two standard interception opportunities in the game, one of which would almost certainly have been returned to the house, and fumbled two punt returns to give the Giants optimum field position close to home.
The ugly contest would not have been much of a spectacle for the neutral. Rueben Randle’s 23-yard touchdown grab, his fourth in three games, was arguably the only aesthetically pleasing sequence of the evening. Even in victory, the Giants are left with as many questions as they have answers.
Issues remain with the offensive line that continue to be confused when facing blitz schemes, while the Giants were consistently losing yardage on run plays with the lack of protection up front. The special teams play which was highlighted last week also remains a concern; the Giants turned the ball over on a punt return and also allowed their third punt-return touchdown of the year. The season record currently stands at four.
Forgive the pessimism, for it wasn’t all negative in defeat. Peyton Hillis had a memorable debut, though he made more impact as a short-pass receiver than he did on the ground. He finished with a useful 81 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
Eli Manning had no interceptions for the first time all season. The fact that this is such an achievement says a lot about the two-time Super Bowl MVP as of late. In another first for the 2013 Giants, their defense came to the party, most notably on the front-seven where Jason Pierre-Paul was more active than we’ve seen him so far. The defensive line swallowed up Adrian Peterson for his worst game of the season, which really does speak volumes.
There aren’t many teams worse than the Giants in the NFL this season, but the Vikings are certainly one of them. To label quarterback Josh Freeman as rusty would be an understatement, and his showing has certainly left Leslie Frazier with something to ‘Ponder’ down the stretch. As for the Giants, do they dare to dream? One step at a time Big Blue — onward and upwards to Philadelphia.