Who would've thought in their wildest dreams that the Giants would need to squeak by the lowly Texans while the equally lowly Dolphins would bust up the Bears at home? Again, that's why they play the games. Neither of the NFC's top two teams played well at all last week, but at least the Giants were able to walk away with a win.
"Everyone wanted to see us blow this team out by 30 points but this is a professional team," Antonio Pierce said.
Head coach Tom Coughlin certainly wasn't apologizing for the win.
"I'm very happy to have won a very difficult game," he said. "I'm proud of our players. They hung in there. Things weren't going our way, obviously, a great deal of the time and the Houston team deserves a lot of credit. We didn't play as well as we can. We weren't as sharp, we didn't play as smartly, but I'll say it again – I'm proud of them. They won a game that was a very difficult game. We're 6-2. That's the position I'm taking."
For making it such a tightly contested game, the Texans should be commended. They could have easily come in and laid down, as many were expecting. Same goes for the woeful Dolphins, who pulled off the unthinkable in the Windy City. But in this league there are no homecoming games, no patsies to play. Every week is a new challenge – and you had better be ready.
For all the talk of New York avoiding its trap game, it was Chicago that got caught in a Bear trap. Miami rocked and rolled to a 31-13 victory. Did the Bears take the Dolphins lightly? Only they can answer that.
Rookie Mathias Kiwanuka claimed that the injury-riddled Giants didn't take anyone lightly.
"I think that saying they made it interesting is an understatement," said Kiwanuka, who posted seven tackles and a sack in place of Osi Umenyiora. "I think everybody will agree that this wasn't our best game. But the fact that we came out with the win, that is the most important thing. People say that it might be an overstatement that you want to take everybody seriously, you don't want to discount anybody; you don't want to take anybody lightly. You see teams like this that haven't shown a whole lot on film and then they come out and play the way they did, it makes all of those statements come true."
Amani Toomer's been around long enough to know that it's impossible to be at the top of your game every single week.
"I think this is one of the harder games to play," he said. "It was real important. For us to win this game was a big deal. We won even though it wasn't our best effort."
Will Demps was unhappy with the insinuation that this wasn't a ‘good' win.
"They are a professional team, too," he said. "They are good. The last couple of games they put some points up. They really didn't get vertical on us, they just dinked and dunked us, five yards here and there. But overall it just shows the composure of our team. Earlier in the year we had that, and we had some trouble handling that. But it just shows the maturity of our team. You have to give those guys credit too. We had to make some corrections, but we did well. And at the end of the day you just count the wins and losses."
"We're 6-2 and nobody expected us to be 6-2," a smiling Pierce added.
It doesn't matter how pretty or ugly the victories are; just that they come. In this topsy-turvy world of the NFL, anything can happen on any given Sunday.
It's why they play the games.
So now let Bears week begin. No it doesn't have the luster it would have if the Chicagoans were coming to town 8-0. But now it gains more importance. Simply put, a Giants victory and Big Blue will be in the driver's seat for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This isn't a strongman competition to determine if the Giants are on Chicago's level anymore. Given the importance of playing playoff games in your own backyard, this is now a game that very well could determine which club goes to Miami at the end of the year.
"We should be focused and ready for this," Eli Manning said. "We should have a good week of practice and hopefully get some guys back healthy who were injured. We have a tough challenge ahead. Their [the Bears] offense is playing well and their defense is one of the best, if not the best, in the NFL. We will be doing a lot of studying, having a great week of practice and go in there and play flawless football. We want to get opportunities to score and not make mistakes. We have to get touchdowns and not settle for field goals."
Plaxico Burress knows the angry Bears will be ready to play.
"It's going to be a national TV game," he said. "They're going to be fired up. They lost to a team they didn't think they should have lost to."
"It's going to be fun," Pierce said. "I think it's going to be a great game."
TGI's fearless forecast? Giants 24, Bears 16.
That's why they play the game...
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