The game clock expired as Dan Bailey‘s kick split the uprights on Sunday night and with it, the New York Giants‘ season all but expired as well.
New York dug themselves into a hole too deep, opening the 2013 season with a string of six straight losses. Through Week 6, the Giants were arguably the worst team in the NFL and just a complete and utter disaster on both offense and defense.
But as the Giants have done many times before, the team pulled themselves up and made a legitimate run, rattling off four consecutive wins in a desperate attempt to salvage their season. Sure, people can justly point to the weak schedule that the Giants played en route to those victories, however, there is no denying the improvements and fundamental changes that occurred in several areas of the team’s performance.
New York’s defense surrendered at least 30 points in their first five games. They even gave up at least 35 points in four of those five games. However, starting with the fourth quarter in Week 6, the Giants’ defense didn’t allow a touchdown for nine straight quarters. If you take away the Dallas Cowboys‘ defensive touchdown on Sunday, New York surrendered just 17 points to a very explosive offense.
The running game for the Giants is another area that has come a long way. As a team, the Giants did not hit the 100-yard mark in a game until Week 6. The return of Andre Brown has provided the Giants with a stellar rushing attack. Brown has gone over 100 yards by himself in two of the three games he’s played in.
However, one of the few players who continues to consistently underperform is quarterback and leader Eli Manning. Interceptions plagued Manning and the Giants early in the season, and while his turnovers have steadily decreased, his touchdown numbers have been on a decline as well. Manning is on pace to throw for just 20 touchdowns this season, which would be the lowest single-season total of his career.
The Giants cannot be a contender without elite play from Manning, and that has been evident this season. People can no longer point to the failures by the offensive line because they have improved as well. Manning simply doesn’t look like himself, and that is troubling for New York. We’ll see if he can pull it together and show some glimpses of his old self before 2013 abruptly ends.