“I have no words for it; I’m actually searching, so if any of ya’ll have anything for me… let me know.” Defensive end Justin Tuck wasn’t the only person struggling to understand what happened. An entire
nation could not believe what happened in the final eight-plus minutes of the fourth quarter this past Sunday. With a 24-point cushion and the NFC East lead waiting, the New York Giants suffered arguably the most embarrassing regular season loss in NFL history; a 38-31 defeat to the rival Philadelphia Eagles.
Two quick throws leading to a Brent Celek 65-yard touchdown started the festivities for the Eagles. An onside kick and a Michael Vick rushing score kept the ball rolling. After two-plus quarters of scoring with ease, the Giants offense stalled in response, and then hurt itself with a false start penalty on its final drive (denying a chance for at least a game-winning field goal).
It ended with a snap that was too high for punter Matt Dodge to handle, forcing him to do the unthinkable; kick to wide receiver/returner extraordinaire DeSean Jackson. Jackson mishandled the punt, but remarkably, was able to hold the ball, shed poor tackling and arrogantly straddled the goal
line before scoring the touchdown. It was the first time in the ninety years of the NFL that a team won a game with no time left on the clock on a punt return touchdown.
The only person in the building who knew a comeback was in the making was Vick. The MVP candidate was bottled up for much of the game thanks to an aggressive Giants defense that dominated at each snap. Vick ran for 61 of his 130 yards and threw two touchdowns, including the game-tying pass to Jeremy Maclin.
The wordlessness wasn’t just from Tuck alone. Though head coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning spoke with the media after the game, the silence from the Big Blue faithful spoke volumes. Not since the infamous 2002 Wild Card playoff game in San Francisco – a 25-point comeback by the 49ers – had the franchise endured a single-game collapse. It felt like eons ago, but the anger and confusion almost matched the shock of that very afternoon.
For fans and media, it matters none that Manning threw four touchdowns for the fourth time in his career or that the team still controls its own playoff fate. Trying to get beyond the “Miracle at the New Meadowlands” takes the mentality of a closer in baseball. As hard as it is, they needed to shake this off quickly.
The saving grace for the team, though, is getting back to work.
It’s “win and you’re in” for the Giants as they make the trek to Wisconsin to take on the Green Bay Packers. New York would clinch a Wild Card playoff berth with a victory and puts a serious cloud over the Packers’ chances to play in January.