BY CHAYIM TAUBER
The Giants have now won two straight (against third-string quarterbacks).
The Giants are right back in the playoff hunt (in the most underachieving, awful division in football).
The Giants defense has shutout opponents (the aforementioned third string quarterbacks) for 10 straight quarters (during which time their offense has scored three, two of them on 1-yard runs).
Is their cause for optimism? Sure. Winning two straight beats the hell out of losing six in a row.
Is their cause for celebration? Hell no.
What the Giants have managed to do is prove that little more than Josh Brown’s right leg and a defense focused on stopping Adrian Peterson/LeSean McCoy is necessary to defeat a third-string Quarterback in the NFL.
Once the threat of Michael Vick was eliminated from the Giants game – the defensive gameplan became a singular, focused mantra: “Don’t let Shady beat you”. And they didn’t.
The Giants win over Philly coupled with Matt Stafford’s heroics against the Cowboys and the Redskins loss to Denver leaves the Giants a measly two games out of first place in the division. It also means that in all likelihood, the Giants will not be trading beleaguered wide receiver and impending free agent Hakeem Nicks.
Nicks has been embroiled in trade rumors for weeks because of his impending free agency, the emergence of Reuben Randle, and what appeared to be like a lost season. The major concern following wins against teams without a true starting NFL Quarterback is that the Giants are cashing in fool’s gold and are holding onto their chips despite needing a miracle to reach the postseason. Should the Giants fail to reach the postseason, it would mark the fourth time in five years that the Giants have missed the playoffs under Tom Coughlin.
The trade deadline will come and go, 4p.m. E.T. Tuesday to be exact, and the Giants will in all likelihood, stand pat. They have a bye this week giving them an extended break to revel in beating Matt Barkley and Josh Freeman before they have to put the pads back on and take on the Raiders in what is the last game they should be favored in all season. The Second half is hellacious with games against Seattle, Green Bay, and Dallas at home as well as two games against the rejuvenated Redskins and games at Detroit and San Diego.
The odds of the Giants making the postseason as it currently stands are pretty slim. Still, in a division that goes down to the wire every season and a team that seems to go on a remarkable run annually, slim is still enough for Giants fans to believe and for their front office (Jerry Reese in particular) to not sell off aging stars like Tuck and Nicks- players unlikely to return next season anyway.
Whether beating Philly was a gift or a curse is yet to be determined but for now, there’s a bye week and a whole second half of the season to play so Giants fans may as well keep their heads up. That seems to be the message the front office is ready to send.