Giants Saved Their Season in DC

The Giants defense had to get better, mostly because it couldn't get any worse. So the Big Blue "D," the trademark of a proud franchise, finally figured things out in the second half against Washington.

Mathias Kiwanuka was in position more than not, though Aaron Ross stared a hole through him after Chris Cooley's second-quarter touchdown catch. Linebacker Kawika Mitchell, the quietest free agent since Carlos Emmons, finally made some plays. Cornerback Sam Madison had a tremendous game. And even Michael Strahan, amazing as it might sound, got his hands on the quarterback down the stretch.

So why am I still talking about the Washington game? Because this will be the game everybody comes back to when the Giants make a playoff run, that's why. They were absolutely dead in the water, an 0-2 record and a 14-point deficit at halftime. Another lousy half would have kick-started a furious round of criticism directed at the Giants and their coaching staff. You can almost bet the team would have countered with some form of second-guessing and backbiting inside the locker room.

The Giants season was on the line.

But they played defense the way coordinator Steve Spagnuolo drew it up and the Giants are back in the season. They have Philadelphia on Sunday night, a Philly team that put up 56 points and 536 yards on Detroit a week earlier. But the Giants suddenly could afford a loss, though obviously not preferably, because of that wild win in Landover.

The Giants have the goods to make a nice run leading to the start of the second half on Nov. 11 against Dallas. The Jets await next Sunday, and let's face it, their defense is almost as bad as the Giants defense the first two weeks. The Giants should put up a big number against the Jets, who let a lousy Dolphins team score 28 on them.

Then there's Atlanta, maybe the worst team in all of football, a sad assessment given the number of God-awful teams in this league. The Giants then return home to play San Francisco before taking the hideous road trip to London to play that aforementioned lousy Miami team. I mean, you can talk parity all you want, but any good team has to make a run against the Jets, Atlanta, San Francisco and Miami.

Figure the Giants tripping over themselves in one of those games – because they always do – and they still will be staring at 4-4 or 5-3 depending upon the outcome of the Eagles game. In today's NFL, that's what you call positioning yourself for a playoff run.

But we get ahead of ourselves. The Giants-Jets game will showcase two playoff-caliber teams but one of them with greater obstacles. The Giants are in much better shape than their fellow stadium tenants. The Jets don't have anything resembling a pass rush, which is complemented by them allowing huge chunks of real estate on the ground. The Jets can score, give them that, but they don't have the kind of weapons the Giants have on offense.

The Giants also have a much kinder schedule. Even with opponents getting tougher in the second half, the Giants have relative cupcakes Detroit, Minnesota and Buffalo on their schedule.

The Jets still have to play Philly, Cincy, Washington, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New England and a fast-improving Tennessee team. That's one tough road right there.

But the "P" word wasn't much of a reality for the Giants until the second half of the Washington game. Suddenly it's never too early to start thinking about the playoffs. The Giants are back in the game. They are back in the season. One 30-minute span changed everything.

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