Nine years ago, a signature loss was as good as a win. Not so Sunday night.
The Giants are desperately in search of a late season signature victory that can jump-start a January run just like their three-point loss to the undefeated Patriots in the final game of the 2007 season set the foundation and provided the momentum for their amazing dash to a Super Bowl title.
Does anybody really believe right now the Giants, despite their 8-4 record, are primed for another Super Bowl run?
They stepped up in class last week in Pittsburgh after a six-game winning streak against teams that are now a combined record of 23-48-1 with only the Ravens over .500. Although this is not a vintage Steelers team, the Giants’ performance left the impression that their record is just a product of their weak schedule.
Now they get the sizzling hot Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Dallas has put together a franchise-best 11-game winning streak after losing its opener to the Giants.
This is a different Cowboys team.
Rookie Dak Prescott, despite being the MVP of the NFL’s preseason, was starting the first game of his career. He completed a season low 55.6% for 227 yards with no TDs and no INTs. The Cowboys have transitioned from an explosive quick-strike offense with Tony Romo to a grind-it-out approach with Prescott, but still have scored at least 30 points three times, which is three more times than the Giants.
The key for the ‘Boys: Prescott is protecting a shaky defense by throwing just two INTs. He has 19 TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott, another rookie, was limited by the Giants to just 51 yards with a 2.5 yard average, both season lows. During the 11-game streak, Elliott is averaging 112 yards with a 5.3-yard average.
Prescott and Elliott are much better now than they were in September.
Back then, it would have been embarrassing for the Giants’ defense, fortified by GM Jerry Reese’s $200 million free agent shopping trip that added Olivier Vernon, Snacks Harrison and Jackrabbit Jenkins, to lose to a rookie quarterback. Big Blue won, 20-19.
Now the script is flipped. Beating the Cowboys for the second time, when no other team has beaten them once, could be the equal of losing to the Patriots nine years ago.
Remember how Tom Coughlin, even with their playoff seeding locked up, decided to play it all-out against New England to establish momentum for the playoffs? The Giants pushed the Patriots so hard Bill Belichick soiled his hoodie. The 38-35 loss was inspiring. The Giants then beat the Bucs, Cowboys and Packers on the road in the playoffs and upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
No matter how well the Giants play Sunday night, a loss does them no good. They need to beat Dallas. They also need to get the offense going. In Ben McAdoo’s two years as offensive coordinator, the Giants scored 800 points in 32 games (420 in 2014, 380 last year) with teams that finished 12-20. That’s 25.6 per game. This season, the Giants, who are 8-4, have scored 245 points, an average of 20.4.
Even with a victory, the Giants will still be two games behind the Cowboys with three to play. Big Blue would win the tie-breaker, but that’s a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time. But a victory could give the Giants the confidence to run the table and beat the Lions at home and the Eagles and Washington on the road and head into the playoff as a dangerous wild-card team, just as they were in 2007.
ADDING SOME PEPPERS
The Jets are right on target for a top-five draft pick. They have so many needs: Nickel linebacker, safety, cover corner, edge rusher, slot receiver, running back, kick returner, punt returner, wildcat quarterback. What to do?
One draft can’t possibly address all their deficiencies.
Unless the Jets take Michigan’s do everything Heisman finalist Jabrill Peppers.
He plays everywhere. Not all at the same time, of course, but with an imaginative coach, Peppers can divide his time and be a dangerous returner, add explosion to the offense out of the backfield or split out, play close to the line of scrimmage and blitz, make defensive plays in short and deep middle, provide coverage in the secondary.
“He’s good at football,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Peppers, who will go high in the first round, is so good at so many things he would become an instant hero to Jets Nation. He’s a Jersey kid who would become the face of the franchise.
Coaches always tell players, “The more you can do, the more valuable you are.”
He is 6-1, 208. He runs a 4.34 for the 40.
The only thing he can’t be is be the Jets starting quarterback.
Well, then again, maybe he can.
OVER THE HILL
Chiefs fans were chanting rookie Tyreek Hill’s name Thursday night when KC beat the Raiders and the rookie had a 36-yard TD catch and 78-yard punt return for a TD. He also caught the tying two-point conversion two weeks ago with 12 seconds left in Denver in a game the Chiefs won in OT. That’s a little different reaction than the indignation in KC in April when the Chiefs picked him in the fifth round. Hill, who acknowledged the fans had every right to be mad at him, was kicked off the Oklahoma State team after a domestic violence incident in December of 2014 that led to him pleading guilty to domestic abuse by strangulation, a felony, and being placed on three years’ probation after he choked and punched his girlfriend, who was eight weeks pregnant. “I did something I shouldn’t have done,” he told the judge. “I let my feelings take control of me. I wasn’t thinking. I just reacted and hit her, choked her. I’m real sorry for that.” He played last year at West Alabama. Hill is supporting the woman and her son. He is also attending classes and therapy sessions. “I made sure I do those things in order to be a better person,” Hill said. “I’m real dedicated. I’m going to stick to it so I can be a better man, a better citizen for the community and a better father for my son.”
Curtis Martin was my Chalk Talk guest at WFAN last week. He spoke about his desire to own an NFL team. That prompted a question from the audience. “Can you please buy the Jets?”… Jeff Fisher signed a two-year contract extension through 2018 before the season. The Rams are 4-8 in their first season back in LA and it’s almost as though things don’t count until they move into their new stadium in 2019. Fisher is 31-44-1 in five seasons with the Rams. He needs one more loss to lock in his fifth straight losing season and tie Dan Reeves for the most regular season losses in NFL history with 165. Reeves did it in 23 years. What Fisher has done is even more impressive. He’s about to get there in his 18th year. The Rams are 1-7 after an early three-game winning streak. ‘I’ve got some work to do here to finish up strong,” Fisher said. The Rams were featured on “Hard Knocks” this summer. Fisher delivered this memorable line to his players in a team meeting: “I’m not f—— going 7-9 or 8-8 or 9-7, OK? Or 10-6 for that matter. This team’s too talented. I’m not going to settle for that. I know what I’m doing.” Now that’s funny. Fisher actually signed the deal in the summer but the Rams never announced it. That has led to speculation Fisher could still be fired after the season. He does have close ties to the organization. His agent is Marvin Demoff, the father of Rams executive VP Kevin Demoff. Fisher is also the co-chairman of the powerful competition committee and he did the NFL a big favor in 2014 when he drafted Michael Sam in the seventh round. Sam was the first openly gay player drafted. Even though Fisher released Sam in the final cut in training camp, it would have made the NFL look bad if he went undrafted.
I LOVE L.A.
The Chargers have until Jan. 15 to exercise their option to become the Rams’ tenant in Los Angeles. It would be a shame if the Chargers left San Diego but the recent proposal raising hotel tax to help build a stadium/convention center was rejected in a public vote. If Chargers pass on their L.A. option, the Raiders would have a one-year L.A. option. But Raiders owner Mark Davis is intent on moving to Las Vegas. There could be a vote of NFL owners in January.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News