Plax Hangover Dooms Giants – Or Does it?

So, did the Plaxico Burress ordeal finally catch up with the Giants? Or were they just due to lose a game? After all, with seven straight wins and the division title basically theirs heading into the game the pressure was hardly on New York last Sunday.

Sure they lost their first home game of the year. And sure they dropped their first division – and conference – game of 2008, but at the end of the day, this one really didn't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

Yes, it would have been nice to wrap up the NFC East title on their own terms. But if the Giants end up with the top overall seed20and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is still very likely at this point, then this loss really didn't mean a whole lot. Or did it?

After the game you needed about 17 hands to count the ‘distraction' questions that were posed to the Giants. To a man, they said that with or without Plaxico Burress, they just didn't play well enough to win. The first part of that statement is debatable. The second, not so much. Not surprisingly, Tom Coughlin wasn't buying into the fact that the Plaxico-less Giants weren't as focused as need be.

"I don't necessarily agree with that," he said. "We didn't play well. We didn't play the way we have been playing. We are a better football team than that, but as far as all those other things go, that is all speculation."

Derrick Ward was also steadfast in the belief that with or without Plax, the Giants would have been cooked against the Birds.

"It would have been the same thing if Plaxico was out there," Ward claimed. "It was just us not playing good football."

The fortunate thing for Big Blue is that regardless of why they lost this game, they're still in great shape going forward. To be honest, it would take a collapse of epic proportions for the Giants to miss out on finishing as the NFC's top team. While this loss was certainly surprising, New York's track record makes you believe that they'll right the ship in plenty of time to make a serious run at the Lombardi Trophy.

Were they absolutely, positively awful against the Eagles? Yes, they sure were. Does it mean anything other than their second loss of what's sure to still be a memorable campaign? Most likely not.

Justin Tuck put it as simply as can be.

"We got beat," he said.

It is that simple. The Eagles were more desperate, more focused, more physical and, despite beating up on the Giants, remain on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The Giants, through the first 13 weeks of the season, earned the right to lay an egg.

Both New York's running backs, who were much less effective than usual due to Philly's strategy of stuffing the box, emphasized the positive in defeat.

"I'm kind of glad stuff like this happens," Brandon Jacobs said. "We realize we can be beat. You never want to lose, but this is a humbling experience."

"We have a lot of stuff to work on," Ward added. "We're not invincible. We're just gonna have to find a way to get it done.

"We have to be humble, and hold our heads up high. Nobody's perfect. We learned that from the Patriots last year."

If nothing else, the Giants learned from New England that it doesn't much matter what happens in Weeks 13-17. It's what happens after that that really matters. If New York can refocus and learn from its embarrassing loss to Philly last Sunday, they'll be all the better as a result.

Plax, take 17

There's no such thing as too much Plaxico Burress discussion. The main focus of the Giants fans and New York media is still on big number 17, despite the fact that he wasn't even on hand for the 20-14 loss to the Eagles.

TGI will now shed a little more light and opinion on Burress, because too much is never enough when it comes to Plax.

Plax I: Despite the loss to Philly, TGI strongly believes that the Giants can win the whole thing without Burress. While we're also well aware that the Steelers were able to bring it all home the year after Plax departed, they won that championship via their defense and running game. His absence likely didn't contribute much to their cause. Like Kevin Gleason writes later in this issue, the Giants might be better off without Burress, but they are absolutely, positively not a better team without him. With that being said, they are still plenty deep and talented enough to win the Super Bowl without him.

Plax II: There has been some confusion regarding Burress' availability for the playoffs. By placing him on the reserve-non-football injury list, the Giants lost the services of Burress not just for their final four regular-season g ames but for the entire postseason as well. While the jury is ultimately still out on whether or not Burress is finished as a Giant, there's no debating that he's finished for this season.

Plax III: Yes, you heard right. The NFL Player's Association did, indeed, appeal Burress's suspension. But let's just say it wouldn't be prudent to hold your breath while waiting for the Giants' decision to be overturned. Plax is done for '08, plain and simple.

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