Giants Have Steelers to Thank for Division

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – The Giants will take it. No, they didn't exactly handle their own business as they would have liked. And yes, they were all long gone from Giants Stadium before they officially became NFC East champs. But they'll take it.

No ifs, ands or buts about it. With Pittsburgh's comeback victory over Dallas, the Giants clinched their first NFC East crown since 2005, Tom Coughlin's second year at the helm.

    The fact that New York was unable to wrap the division up on its own merit meant little. Big Blue accomplished its first goal of 2008. This is the first time in franchise history that the Giants have reached the postseason in four consecutive seasons.

    Despite the division title, the Giants still need to win in Dallas next week in order to clinch a first-round bye. After that, the next order of business will be wrapping up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Despite the disappointing loss to Philly, it sure appears as if the NFC's road to Tampa goes through Giants Stadium.

    As it now stands, the two teams closest to New York in the NFC standings are the Panthers and Buccaneers, who both stood 9-3 heading into their matchup last Monday night. A host of 8-5 clubs sit right below the NFC's top three – the NFC North-leading Vikings, the NFC West-leading Cardinals, Falcons and Cowboys. The Redskins were 7-5 heading into their Sunday night tilt against Baltimore. 

    Jacobs: We beat ourselves

    Brandon Jacobs rarely minces words. Last Sunday was no exception. And big number 27 didn't exactly praise the Eagles for a game well-played. Instead, he blamed his Giants for New York's second loss of the season.

    "We beat ourselves," Jacobs said. "We just couldn't get it going. We couldn't execute."

    Big Blue won 11 of its first 12 games by outthinking and outmuscling its opposition. It was unable to do either against the Birds.

    "We weren't as physical as we can be," Jacobs said. "I think there were a lot of mistakes that we made; a lot of bad reads by the running backs. Just all-around, everybody didn't play as well as they could."

    Jacobs not only made headlines with his quotes, but his knee as well. He was forced from the game due to the same knee injury that forced him out of action against the Cardinals on Nov. 23.

    "I didn't cause any more damage to (the knee)," Jacobs said. "It was a little pain. I (hurt it) it every game. This time I did it real good."

    Jacobs was asked if he was healthy enough to return to the game.

    "I could have, but why?" he asked. "We couldn't get anything going."

    No they couldn't. Unfortunately Jacobs wasn't the only casualty on the day. CB Aaron Ross was also forced to the sideline with an ankle injury. 

    Blowin' in the wind

    At least Eli Manning didn't throw any interceptions. Besides that, though, Manning was unable to get into any rhythm against Philadelphia. While the wind was obviously a major factor, Manning, who completed 13-of-27 passes for only 123 yards, refused to use the elements as an excuse.

    "Well, obviously it was windy out there and tough to get the ball down the field," Manning said. "We had to try and throw underneath a little bit and throw in the middle. When you start throwing stuff down the field and outside, the wind will affect it. We still could've thrown it better than we did. I didn't throw the ball well; our passing game wasn't effective. We didn't convert on third downs (three-of-11) and it just made it tough for us."

    Ironically, perhaps the biggest miscue of the entire game came on a beautiful Manning pass. He had Plaxico Burress' replacement, Domenik Hixon, streaking down the middle of the field. However, Hixon, who had beaten Eagles CB Sheldon Brown, was unable to handle the pass. The Giants were never the same from that point on.

    "No excuses," Hixon said afterward. "I should have caught the ball. Didn't look it in. I just didn't look the ball in."

    Hixon was still smarting after the contest.

    "Very tough," he said. "We knew what was at stake." 


    The Giants scored their first points on Kevin Dockery's 71-yard return of a Justin Tuck blocked field goal. It was their first touchdown on a blocked field goal return since Oct. 1, 1978, when George Martin brought one back 78 yards at Atlanta. The field goal block was the Giants' second this season; Fred Robbins blocked a 38-yard try by Baltimore's Matt Stover on Nov. 16.

    The touchdown was the second of Dockery's career. He scored on a 96-yard interception return at Dallas on Oct. 23, 2006. 


    Jacobs led the Giants with 52 rushing yards to increase his total to 1,002 yards. It is his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. He ran for 1,009 yards in 2007. 


    The Giants beat the Eagles on Nov. 9 in Philadelphia, 36-31, so the two teams split their season series for just the fourth time in the last 24 years. The teams also split their season series in 1990, 2002 and 2006. The Giants won both games in 1985, ‘86, ‘87, ‘93, ‘94, ‘97-2000, 2005 and this year (11 sweeps). Philadelphia swept the series in 1988, ‘89, ‘91, ‘92, ‘95, ‘96, 2001, 2003 and 2004 (nine sweeps). 


    Needless to say, much of the numbers to come out of this one weren't pretty.

    The Giants' streak of victories over teams with winning records ended at six, one shy of the NFL record set by the 1970 Minnesota Vikings

    The Giants, who entered the game with an NFL-best 29.3 points per game, did not score an offensive touchdown until 15 seconds remained…

    The Giants gained 211 yards, their lowest total since they had 142 yards vs. New Orleans on Dec. 24, 2006…

    The Giants' 88 rushing yards was their third-lowest total of the season (83 at Pittsburgh, 87 at Arizona) and their 123 passing yards was their second-lowest total (119 vs. Dallas)…

    The Giants' time of possession of 25:06 was their lowest of the season. The previous low was 27:35 at Cleveland on Oct. 13, the only other time they held the ball for less than 30 minutes this season. 


    The Giants' inactive players were kicker Lawrence Tynes, running back Danny Ware, cornerback Sam Madison, tackle Adam Koets and defensive linemen Jerome McDougle, Jeremy Clark and Leger Douzable. 


    We're not just issuing this correction because we're scared of Derrick Ward, although that might have just a little something to do with it. In last issue's Game Notes, TGI reported that it seemed as if Ward implicated himself and placed himself at the scene of the Plaxico Burress crime. We feel slightly better knowing that the NYPD also named Ward as the third Giant present, along with Burress and Antonio Pierce. However, it was actually Ahmad Bradshaw, not Ward, who was at the Latin Quarter nightclub on that most fateful of evenings. Our deepest apologies go out to Ward. Please take it easy on us, Derrick.

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