And Now, We Wait...
Giants close out the season 12-4; Big Blue backups push the Vikings to the brink in grabbing the NFC North Title.
Grey Reugamer. Kevin Boothe. Adam Koets. Those were three of the five offensive lineman in front of QB David Carr. Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware were his runningbacks. Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss and TE Darcy Johnson were Carr's receiving targets. These were the players on the field for the majority of the second half of today's game - the players that contributed in taking a 19-10 lead on the Vikings with 5:31 left in the 3rd quarter, and the players that held the lead until the last second ticked off the clock as Ryan Longwell kicked a 51-yard field goal for the 1 point win.
The victory gives an NFC North division title to head coach Brad Childress' team who'll host the Eagles on Sunday at 4:30pm. Philadelphia made it to the dance, thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears collapsing like a house of cards. Oh, yes - and a very impressive 44-6 walloping of a Dallas Cowboys team that shocked many of us into realizing we actually thought were good just a few weeks ago.
Getting back to our game... The highlight for Giants fans was Derrick Ward, who's 77 yards on 15 carries today pushed him past the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. In tandem with Brandon Jacob's 1,089 yards, they become the fourth pair of backs to rush for over 1K in the same season for the same team. The other three paires were Larry Csonka & Mercury Morris (1972); Franco Harris & Rocky Bleier (1976); and Kevin Mack & Earnest Byner (1985).
The backups were solid today, and put forth a valiant effort against a very good defense and a hot quarterback in Tarvaris Jackson. Ultimately, Terrell Thomas slipping and falling to the turf as Bernard Berrian bolted down the sideline was the difference in this contest. Berrian's 54-yard touchdown pulled Minnesota within 2 points in the fourth Quarter. John Carney, who hadn't missed a field goal all season that made it past the pile up at scrimmage, missed slighty wide to the right on his fifth attempt of the game with just 3:22 remaining (Carney finishes the season with an amazing 35 of 38 - other than the miss today, the other two "misses' were blocked attempts). The Vikings took over at their own 38 and managed 30 yards in 9 plays, but it was enough to allow Longwell a shot. Adrian Peterson also had a big play for a touchdown in the first half, when he found a seam to the right of the line and sprinted 67 yards for the end zone. Other than that run, Peterson had 20 carries for 36 yards as the Giants D-line held him in check all day.
It was an interesting game from the perspective of a Giants fan. The loss means that Tom Coughlin's team lost three of it's final four games down the stretch, which is definitely not the way you want to head into the postseason. But this loss doesn't feel like a loss in the traditional sense; The Giants certainly didn't hand this game to Minnesota, and they played hard right through to the end. But I look at the names above, and remember that it came down to the very last play. And I remember that it was without the services of Kevin Boss, Brandon Jacobs, Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield, Aaron Ross - and without Eli Manning, Amani Toomer and the majority of the starting offensive line for the second half.
And I remember seeing veteran CB Sam Madison carted off the field in the 3rd quarter with a broken ankle.
I'm OK with this loss. I'm OK with waiting for two weeks to see who'll make the trip to the Meadowlands.
I'm OK, and I think the Giants are OK. And now, we wait.