Will We Ever Learn?

Are you kidding me? A hat trick of pick-6s? Four INTs? You bet. These Giants were supposed to be different. Eli Manning was supposed to have matured some. Yeah, we know, they're still playoff-bound.

But you saw all you needed to see last Sunday at Giants Stadium to realize that this club is headed to its third straight one-and-done postseason appearance. You can put that in the books.

As for me, I should be ashamed. It was only one issue ago that I argued with colleagues Keith Idec and Kevin Gleason that Eli Manning was a Top 10 quarterback. How embarrassing, as much for me as him. To say that I'll be buying the brews next time out would be an understatement. By the way, is it too late to change my ranking for Eli and put him in the bottom 10?

"The interceptions for touchdowns, there is no excuse for it," Tom Coughlin said. "You are not going to be able to win a football game when you give away the points that we did with the three scores and then the ball on the eight-yard line."

Of course too much is always made of the quarterback's performance. But when you trade the shop for a guy that's pretty good one week and awful the next, you can't be too happy. You want the icing on the cake? That came when Manning allowed himself to run backwards seemingly forever before falling down and taking a 26-yard sack on fourth down in garbage time. Yup, it was that kind of day – for the QB and all his mates.

Sure, Manning threw three touchdown passes against Minnesota. The problem was all three were scored by the Vikings. Manning, who was coming off a 100.7 QB rating in Detroit, responded with a miserable 33.8 rating against the Vikes. It was like the defense knew what was coming – or Manning didn't see the defenders. And did we mention that he had one pick overturned by a coach's challenge? He was that close to having an even significantly lower rating.

And you can blame former Giants tight end Visanthe Shiancoe all you want for prepping Minnesota's defense. The Manning-led offense was flat-out awful. Eli said it wasn't any worse considering that his brother Peyton was on hand to watch the massacre. But that's extremely difficult to believe at this point.

"Well, it wasn't good," Manning said of his performance. "When you throw four interceptions it is never a good day. They took advantage of it and scored on three of them. Every one has its own story. One of them was a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage where I was throwing to (Jeremy) Shockey for a touchdown and the ball got tipped and that is just the way things go sometimes. We didn't catch any breaks and we didn't perform well and they took advantage of it."

Of course the 7-4 Giants are still sitting pretty in the NFC, which just shows what a joke the whole conference is, this side of Dallas and Green Bay, of course. Wherever the Giants go for the opening round of the playoffs during January's first weekend, you can all but guarantee that they'll be sent back home in short order.

And no, Manning wasn't the only one to blame. There was plenty of that to go around. You had Michael Strahan missing a key third-down tackle on more-elusive-than-usual Tarvaris Jackson, failing to bring the signal-caller down despite having him around the shoulders. Instead, Jackson scampered for a 19-yard gain. Only a few plays later, Minnesota had a third-and-four from the Giants 21 yard-line. They didn't even need to run the play. Fred Robbins jumped offsides and the Vikes were able to run a few more minutes off the clock. Now Robbins was one of the very few players that shouldn't feel guilty for cashing his game check this week. He finished with a team-high eight tackles and 1.5 sacks.

But there were few others that should be able to look themselves in the mirror after this one. This was a total and complete embarrassment. As much as the Giants stated that they needed to forget about this game as soon as it ended, they'd be wise to keep it somewhere in their recall for fear of repeating such a lousy performance. This game showed that no matter how good the Giants think they are, how mature they've supposedly become or how much better Coughlin now connects with his players these days that, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. Any team capable of this type of showing – at home, no less – is not a team worth anyone taking seriously.

Surely you've already read in plenty of places how the Giants lost to the Vikes in a similar situation two years back. You know what that means? Absolutely nothing. The Vikings have no magic spell over the Giants; New York just came out sleepwalking and was pounded accordingly. This would have happened against the Dolphins. Actually, it almost did, less than a month ago. We should have known then what was going on here. We looked at the win in Detroit as a nice road victory. What it was actually was a close win against a team slightly worse than the Giants.

Make no mistake. This team is almost definitely still going to the playoffs. But we all know they don't deserve to and that they're headed for a very short postseason stay.

SP Pride

You trusty editor is a very proud alum these days – and no for once I'm not talking about Penn State, although that always remains the case. South Plainfield High School is prepping for the North Jersey Section 2, Group III championship game.

The Tigers, led by center/LB Scott Barton and the captain trio of Kyle Darr, Kyle Smith and Christian Cole, are playing for all the marbles this Sunday. The location? No place other than Giants Stadium. The last time the Tigers made it all the way to the state finals yours truly was catching passes for the green-and-white (now green-and-black). Hopefully there'll be quite a good turnout at The House That Parcells Built for the 11 a.m. kick on Sunday. The game fits in nicely before the Giants face off with the Bears in Chicago. Come on out and watch some real football.

Best wishes go out to coach Phlip McGuane and the rest of Tiger Nation. Go SP!

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