Bah, Humbug! These Giants Still Aren't True Contenders
In reality, though (which is where they hold the playoffs), the Giants are still in trouble. Their joke of a 45-12 Monday night victory over this joke of a division rival proved nothing about the Giants except what we already knew -- that when the opponent is a creampuff, they will swallow it whole. They still face a challenging final two weeks with the same don't-bother-bending-just-break defense that ran their season into this ditch. And even if Dallas or Green Bay falls apart and helps the Giants get into the playoffs, there's no evidence that they're going to beat anybody once they get there.
No, these Giants are still frauds. And bullies. They are 2-6 this year against teams that currently have winning records and 6-0 against the rest of their schedule. Jon Gruden said on ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast that the Redskins have only beaten one team with a winning record, but the fact is the same can be said about the Giants, whose two such victories came on the strength of their deep-seated hatred of the rival Dallas Cowboys. Otherwise, they fattened up early against Washington, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Oakland, then they spent October and November getting outscored and outclassed by the Eagles, Saints, Chargers, Broncos and Cardinals. You know -- playoff teams.
So the fact that they came down here and ate up the pack-it-in Redskins is supposed to make us think they're contenders again? Please. Bobby Boucher and the South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs could beat these Redskins. The best thing that came out of this for the Giants was that their defense got to remind itself what it felt like to sack a quarterback.
"We've been very inconsistent," defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. "Sometimes we play well and other times we don't. I think (Monday) was the first time we all played well together in a while."
This is easily explained. The best way for the Giants to make sure their defense doesn't give up any points is to keep it off the field. That's how they won this game. They held the ball for 21:51 of a possible 30 first-half minutes, rolling up a 24-0 lead that eradicated whatever minuscule amount of fight the Redskins still had left in them.
By the end of the first half, the Redskins were literally not even trying to score. They lined up to kick a field goal that would have cut the lead to 24-3 and -- especially since they were getting the ball to start the second half -- kept the game well within reach against a defense that had allowed the fifth-most points in the league over the season's first 14 weeks. But instead of kicking, they ran a bizarre, poorly designed fake that resulted in an interception that the Giants nearly took back for a touchdown.
"We didn't rewrite the book," Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. "I think we just rediscovered what we knew was there."
Namely, a lousy opponent. The Giants recorded five sacks in this game. That's more than they had in their previous three games combined. And of their 31 sacks this year, only 10 have come in those eight games against teams with winning records. Sack a quarterback who's got a chance to play in the second week of January, then we can talk.
"Everybody keeps reminding me of things we've not had success with," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "How about something we did? We won the game. We were the team that had more at stake, and I think we played that way."
Of that, there can be no doubt. The Redskins played as if not even their pride were at stake. The only time they showed any real heart was when Albert Haynesworth got into one of those senseless, helmets-still-on fistfights with aspiring boxer Brandon Jacobs -- a fight for which Haynesworth was penalized and Jacobs was inexplicably not. But after the game, even Haynesworth sounded totally defeated. Discussing his incredibly lucrative decision to sign with the Redskins last offseason, Haynesworth said the experience hasn't been what he expected. He said he thought he'd be rushing the passer more, as he had in Tennessee, and complained that the Redskins' defensive schemes don't allow him the freedom he needs to be the havoc-wreaking disruptor they signed him to be.
"Totally different from what I thought," Haynesworth said. "If they would cut us loose, it would be a whole lot better."
You could describe Haynesworth's postgame remarks as veiled shots at coach Jim Zorn, except that they were delivered with complete calm (resignation, even) and they weren't veiled. With two games left in the season, Haynesworth sounded as if he were talking about a year and a coach that were already over.
"Disbelief, I guess," Haynesworth said when asked what he was feeling. "I don't think this team is that bad or our players are that bad. The score and the record say we're horrible, but I don' t know. I think we're all going in different directions and we just need somebody to lead us in the right direction."
So yeah, the Redskins have shut it down. But the Giants, thanks in large part to Washington's lack of effort, have life. They have tiebreaker advantages. They have hope that, if they can beat another losing team in Carolina next week, they can get to Week 17 with a chance to make the playoffs.
"We just want to win out and see where that takes us," running back Ahmad Bradshaw said.
Hey, anything can happen in this loony league, and things can look different from week to week. But we've seen the Giants play 14 games now, and we know what they are. When the opponent is a weak one, they're a monster. When the opponent is a playoff team, they're a sieve. So even if they made the NFC playoff field, they'd be the worst team in it. And it would be a major upset if they won even one game.
That's reality, folks. The Giants could still find their way into the playoffs. But they won't be lucky enough to find the Redskins there to play if they do.