You know what the Giants are? They are a .500 team. They are, to borrow a phrase from their former coach, what their record says they are. And that was 7-7 going into Christmas Eve against the New Orleans Saints.
Boy they had us fooled though, didn't they? We kept thinking they were better than the way they played. We kept thinking the penalties and turnovers and choke jobs were exceptions rather than rules. They weren't exceptions. They were indisputable evidence.
So the Giants kept reeling us in, kept teasing us, until we weren't sure what to make of them. Playoff team? Non-playoff team? Playoff team with Super Bowl potential?
They finally summed things up against the Eagles. The Giants are an average football team, nothing more, nothing less.
Like Atlanta or Tennessee or Buffalo.
Average teams might get you a playoff berth in the 2006 NFC, short for No Freakin' Competition. Average teams might even get you a playoff win.
But average teams won't put together happy endings. The Giants went into the Saints game with as big a shot at making the playoffs as missing the playoffs. A postseason berth would mean they had as big a shot at winning a playoff game as losing a playoff game.
See what I'm saying? Average.
The Giants are so average, in fact, that I'm surprised they didn't meet the precise definition by winning every other game on their schedule. But no, they had to go and make the Seahawks game look like an anomaly. They had to win five straight games, looking an awfully lot like the NFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Then they got some injuries and folded. They lost four straight games, won one, lost one. They took the back road to mediocrity. But it's all the same result: an average team headed nowhere.
The Giants are the worst kind of team to cheer. They are good enough to give you hope and bad enough to give you ulcers. They provide those moments, like in the Eagles loss, when cheering the Lions would be great fun by comparison.
At least those guys will get you a high draft pick.
The Giants? They will get you a No. 16 pick and use it on someone like William Joseph. Then they will come up with a couple excellent later-round picks so we can label their draft, like their team, average.
The Giants are average. They are not, despite our knee-jerk reactions to the contrary, in the class of underachievers. The media have continued to pepper the Giants with questions of them underachieving.
The Giants haven't underachieved. They have played to their potential. Their potential is to be a .500 team, maybe a game better. That's their potential. Don't believe me? Check out their record when the season ends.
The Giants may seem to have talent all over the place. In reality they have a couple stars, a handful of good players and a handful of bad players.
The New York hype machine has overrated their talent. Where is all the talent? At quarterback? Their quarterback is a little better than average. Their tight end and running back are top notch. Their No. 1 receiver is a big talent but often a big headache. Their defensive ends are A1, when healthy. Their linebacker, Antonio Pierce, is terrific but awfully shaky lately.
Who else stands out? The secondary isn't very good. The head coach won't be up for any postseason awards that I know of.
Let's face it, the only thing the Giants do better than everyone else is talk. They were at it again after the Eagles game, talking about getting it together and winning their next two games and being better than what they've showed. Pathetic. Their words are as meaningless as those late touchdowns they scored against Seattle. The Giants have been talking tough for years and they have a grand total of three playoff berths since 2000 to show for it. Let's recap. Their highlight was the 2000 season, capped by Baltimore destroying the Giants in the Super Bowl. Two years later they blew a 24-point third-quarter lead to San Francisco in the wild-card game. And who can forget last year's delicious 23-0 loss to Carolina in the wild-card game.
Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber and Amani Toomer will go down as three of the greatest Giants ever. But if you define their legacy today, the headline is this: three playoff berths in six seasons.
Come to think of it, that's one postseason appearance every two seasons, which is, well, average.
So the Giants were shooting for a fourth playoff berth in seven seasons. Only a couple playoff wins could erase the misery of 2006. And how were the Giants going to win two playoff games, no less their first one since 2000, when they haven't won two straight games in almost two months?
They don't have the makeup to go deep in the playoffs. We've already seen the Giants up against adversity. Finger-pointing at teammates or coaches or the media becomes the norm. There is always a scene to be made, a back page to be developed from the depths of their ignorance.
Yet they may be at their absolute worst when things get tight on the field. Big games and big moments frighten the heck out of these Giants. To say they get that deer-in-headlights look would be unfair to the deer population. The Giants crumble under pressure and wilt under adversity. That's why you always hear the nonsense from their mouths when things go wrong.
The Eagles game was one more example of a Big Blue choke job. Philly scored 14 points in 10 seconds of the final 2:57. The Eagles and officials tried to gift-wrap it to the Giants. Big Blue's go-ahead touchdown with 6:59 left was set up by an atrocious 20-yard pass interference call. The Giants followed their score by allowing 59 yards on the first six plays of Philly's drive.
The Giants just don't have what it takes to win big games. Soon it will all be over. The Giants will lose their final game, clean out their lockers the next day and step into the offseason.
Only then, thankfully, will there be nothing left to say.
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