Big Blue Comes Up So Small

"They just wanted it more than we did." – Brandon Jacobs

You bet they did. That's exactly what New York's hulking running back said in the wake of New York's embarrassing 23-11 loss to the Eagles. I don't know what's worse: the fact that the statement was blatantly obvious to anyone that was within 100 miles of Giants Stadium. Or the fact that it was so obvious to everyone in New York's locker room that Jacobs had no problem admitting it.

Every team loses games. Even the mighty 2007 Patriots dropped one, as we all well know. Sometimes the execution isn't there. Other times, it's the preparation. Injuries have wreaked havoc on the best of teams. Bad calls and bad bounces have also been known to send football clubs to defeat.

But being outworked and out-willed by the Eagles of all teams? The Giants, the Super Bowl champs? That's the unbelievable part about all of this. The team that wouldn't say die on the road four consecutive games last season under the brightest of NFL lights didn't fully show up to play against hated rival Philadelphia – at home? If only the Giants players had the hatred of Philly that those drunken car-smashing morons in the parking lot harbored, Big Blue would be playing Sunday for the NFC Championship.

Instead, it's the Eagles and Cardinals fighting for the right to go to Tampa and play for all the marbles. We all know the Giants are better than both of those teams. Unfortunately they just couldn't match Philly's desire and intensity when the playoffs rolled around. If the Giants played the Eagles 10 more times, they'd probably win=2 0seven or eight. But in the NFL's version of March Madness, you only get one life. One loss and you're out. That's why it's tantamount to put all your eggs in that Sunday's basket.

New York advanced last season plain and simply because they wanted it more. Heck, that was the NFL's slogan last postseason: ‘Who Wants it More?' The answer last year was the Giants, and the kudos and credit they earned and received for that classic postseason run can never be taken away or tarnished.

But at the same time, they proved early last winter that they're capable of big things, these Giants. This time around they entered the tourney as the top dog. No sneaking up on anyone this January. They spent all season proving to the rest of the NFC that they were the conference's top dogs – and they had the top seed and home-field advantage to prove it. Boy did that ever disappear fast.

Faster even than Antonio Pierce and Amani Toomer in the postgame locker room. The talkative Pierce refusing to stand and answer the tough questions isn't surp rising at all, especially after he was by far the worst defender on the field in yet another crucial contest. But Toomer? He knows better. No amount of frustration – and heaven knows there had to be plenty – could cause the classiest Giant of all to act so badly out of character, right? Right? Unfortunately that wasn't the truth.

Listen, if I were a player the last thing I'd want to have to do after a tough loss is answer questions about what went wrong. But that just comes with the job description. If you want to stand up on a pedestal and pat yourself on the back and say ‘I told you so,' as Pierce so often does, then you have to stick around when the going gets tough. That goes for Toomer too. They both know better. They certainly owed the fans, organization and, especially their teammates that did take the heat more.

Yet these guys, especially Pierce, like to be considered leaders. A leader is someone like Jacobs, who can look the media squarely in the eye and tell the truth, no matter now much it hurts.

"We couldn't match their=2 0intensity," Jacobs admitted. "Once you have a situation like that and can't take advantage of it it's pretty bad. When you play against a good team your intensity is supposed to be high and I don't think it was high enough."

Again, the Giants just didn't want it enough, and that's why they lost. But before you come down too hard on Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and the other Pro Bowlers just ask yourself how badly could guys like Pierce and Toomer have actually wanted it if they had one foot practically out the door before the game even ended?

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