16-0, 589 points on the regular season, 50 TD passes for Tom Brady, 23 TD receptions for Randy Moss. All records, the individual ones just barely, but they all basically mean jack unless the Patriots seal the deal in just over a month or so. This has not stopped the broadcast media from pulling a Jerkcity-style “HUALGHUALHAULAG”-cum chugging on the team already.
That said, last night’s game is evidence of why Coach Hobo has had his starters play all four quarters; why he’s allowed the accusations of running up the score not to faze him — because that first half was a Giants first half from the opening drive on. Eli Manning looked crisp, Brandon Jacobs eventually wound up doing damage as a rusher and a receiver out of the backfield, and Manning to Burress was working. The Giants D-line was doing what all teams need to do to even have a chance at beating New England — getting in Tom Brady’s face early and often.
Problem is that the game consists of two halves, and Belichick’s refusal to let up on his starters created the expectation that allows them to come back in second halves, make adjustments, and control the game again. The Giants were only up by 5 at half-time, and scored only one meaningful touchdown in the second half — it put them up 28-16, and then, either the defense would not put the screws to the Pats, or the Pats are just too good to let that happen to them, even when facing a 12 point deficit (not much, but better teams know how to lock that up), and when it was 38-28 in the fourth quarter, the failure of coach Tom Coughlin and Manning to manage attempts to erase a two-score deficit with 3:30 left was expected, sadly.
The Giants needed to play their starters, as they had looked alternately out of sync and brilliant depending on the quarter or even the series. But losing guys like Kawika Pittman hurts, and you wonder if it will come back to bite them next Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Photo: AP/Julie Jacobson
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