You could see this coming a mile away

OK, quick raise of hands…who's really surprised that the Giants shot an air ball and let the Vikings out of Giants Stadium with a victory? Yeah, that's what we figured. You just knew that Big Blue had one of these in them. There was just no way they were going to continue to stay the course and win all the games they were supposed to.

"It is very frustrating, but the way we didn't execute in a lot of different ways, it is going to be very hard to win," Michael Strahan said. "We basically went out there and gave the game away. It is something like basically getting stabbed in the heart. These are the type of games you look back on at the end of the season and just hope they don't hurt you."

You can't blame the defense, other than to suggest that they played small during the game's biggest moments. During the last three games, the Giants defense has held the opposing offense to an average of three points. In one of the crazier games you'll ever see the Vikings scored on an interception, a punt and a kickoff return. That's never happened before in the NFL – ever.

But the Giants – your Giants – managed to pull it off.

"This one doesn't feel good," said Amani Toomer, who chipped in with a couple tipped passes that certainly hurt the cause. "This one is going to burn for a while. We have a big one next week and we have to get ready for that one. When we needed to perform, we didn't come through. It is a tough way to lose a game."

Whenever your defense absolutely smothers the other team and holds them to ridiculous numbers like 137 total yards and 11 first downs you absolutely, positively have to win the game. Especially when it's a home contest against a bad team.

None of that mattered against Minnesota, who saw Darren Sharper turn into Ronnie Lott. He had three picks and the Giants basically had no answer for him all afternoon. Their only hope, when Sharper was sidelined by an injury, disappeared moments later as he quickly returned to the field to continue menacing Eli Manning and Co.

Speaking of Manning, he was flat-out awful. TGI has been saying since the season started that he had left in him still a three-INT afternoon where he'd cost his club the game. We were wrong. He threw four picks. What's important to remember is that he didn't get any help from his receivers, who dropped a good amount of passes, and that for all intents and purposes he just completed his rookie season, as last Sunday served as Manning's 16th career start.

Manning looked confused and made countless mistakes – both physical and mental. You knew there'd be days like these with young Eli, you just hoped they'd never be this bad. He was that bad against a Minnesota defense that has been playing better of late, but basically is still a lousy unit. Sharper looked like he knew the plays before Manning did. His INT return for a score was the game in a nutshell. Sure the Giants came back late to tie the game, but you can only get away with that for so long.

In addition to the turnovers that killed Big Blue, the usual host of penalties – this time nine infractions for 75 yards – served as quite a victory deterrent as well.

"Today, the issue is the five turnovers and the penalties," Tom Coughlin said. "The penalties, to be honest with you, have been right there all along and finally they got us today. And they will. And they will and you talk and talk and talk until you're blue in the face, but today we didn't turn it around."

But this game will be remembered mostly for the special teams meltdowns, which far exceeded anything the pathetic Larry Mac Duff special teams units produced during that era of special teams disasters. For all the talk of Mike Sweatman and his genius, you sure didn't see any of it against the Vikes.

"It was surprising to get two returns for touchdowns," Michael Strahan understated. "That definitely puts your team behind the eight ball. That goes to show that as good as we thought we were, or the position that we thought we were in, we still have a lot of work to do."

Both specialists placed the blame for the ST screw-ups on their unit's shoulders.

"Basically we let them in the game," punter Jeff Feagles said. "Special teams gave up two scores and the offense throws an interception for a TD and that is the game right there. It is not the end of the world, but we played like crap. We killed ourselves."

"We just played terrible," kicker Jay Feely added. "I think everybody has to take a good, hard look at themselves and hopefully we will realize we just can't show up and win the games; we have to play well. The kickoff return just kills you. It was a bad kick, bad coverage and we gave up a return and we let them seize momentum. They didn't do anything to our defense all day. Special teams should be helping this team. Unfortunately we cost our team the game."

* * *

While this game could have turned on any of a number of plays and decisions, none was more mind-boggling than Coughlin's call to have Manning spike the ball with the Giants at the Vikings 3-yard line and still 85 seconds left to play. Without any timeouts, the Giants surely needed to hurry up, but Coughlin also would have been wise to realize that leaving too much time on the clock for the Vikings, who would only need a field goal to win, was a mistake. Not to mention that Big Blue gave away a down at a critical juncture of the contest.

Coughlin basically said nothing after the game in attempting to defend his decision.

"(We) just wanted to get gathered," Coughlin stated. "We did score a touchdown and a two-point conversion."

Yeah Coach, and you also left the Vikings plenty of time to drill a game-winning field goal that had Giants fans everywhere saying ‘same ol' Giants.'

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