New England’s Giant Problem

Tom Brady and the Patriots have struggled against the New York Giants in recent years. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Originally published in The Fordham Ram on November 18, 2015.

I can’t explain it. I couldn’t explain it the first time it happened, and I still can’t, even after Sunday night. It surprised me, too: the Jaguars are somehow competent this year!
This isn’t about that though. This is about the Giants, Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin and their continuous crusade to destroy everything the Patriots try to do. Obviously, this originates back in 2007 with the David Tyree catch, which I would acknowledge as one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen if I didn’t hate it so much. This ended the incomplete perfect season and is the only time that my football fandom brought me to tears.
Then it was 2011. The Patriots were a mess of injuries. Julian Edelman was forced to play defensive back throughout the year and the Super Bowl. And once again, after multiple borderline garbage seasons, the Giants miraculously ended up in the Super Bowl. And with a mix of amazing plays (Manningham’s catch, Welker’s almost-catch, Gronk’s almost-game-winning Hail Mary catch), the Giants won again.
This sounds nitpicky, considering how good the Pats have been, but it’s always the Giants. Eli had only lost to the Patriots once, in the final game of the regular season of the 2007 season where… well, let’s not talk about that again. In fact, Tom Coughlin was 5-1 in his career against Bill Belichick, spanning back to when Coughlin was the coach in Jacksonville and Belichick in Cleveland.
Notice how I used the past tense there? No? Read it again, I’ll wait. Okay, so you saw it? Good. Well it’s because it’s no longer true following this past Sunday’s Giants-Patriots matchup. And I’ll be honest, the Patriots were extremely lucky.
Multiple aspects of this game made it another typical Patriots-Giants game. The first is the relative poor play of the Giants coming into the game. Sitting at 5-4 in a weak NFC East, they seemed mediocre at best and the Patriots, undefeated and with one of the best offenses in football, were expected to come away with an easy win like a Ronda Rousey fight (topical jokes!). Then a key Patriots player got hurt, with leading receiver Julian Edelman injuring his foot and not returning.
And then came the heart-stopping end game parallels that almost caused the destruction of the Alumni Court South student lounge. It started with what seemed like more heroics from Eli and a total collapse of the Patriots offense, but when Odell Beckham Jr. sort of caught a touchdown, but sort of didn’t, the Giants had to settle for a field goal to take a 26-24 lead with just over a minute left. And then, as we’d all seen before, Brady once again almost threw away the game. He threw a lame duck that was caught by the Giants defense, but was jarred out when he hit the turf, and they promptly gained new life in the game. They promptly did just enough to give Stephen Gostkowski a 54-yard field goal try, which he just barely made with one second to go, followed by a heart-attack inducing attempt at a Music City Miracle.
But the Patriots finally got over the Giants hump. Until the Super Bowl, probably. And I still can’t explain why it’s always the Giants.

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