Commentary

The Giants' eight minutes of infamy

Say what you want, but Big Blue's season ended with DeSean Jackson's punt return TD

Updated: January 9, 2011, 3:13 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

The defining moment of the New York Giants' 2010 season came in eight minutes and 17 seconds. That was the amount of time it took Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles to erase a 31-10 lead and ultimately end the Giants' postseason hopes.

In eight minutes, the Giants went from potential NFC East champions to sliding straight out of the playoffs and into a second straight offseason of frustration.

Disastrous speed dates don't even go this bad.

"It really came down to one bad half of a quarter for us, but I don't think when that happens that means you have to blow the whole thing up," team president and CEO John Mara said.

No matter what some players tried to say, there was no denying that the Giants' 2010 season was decided by an unbelievable eight-minute collapse against the Eagles.

As Osi Umenyiora repeatedly said, had the Giants made just one more play, they could be division champs and in the playoffs.

• If Kenny Phillips had been able to tackle Brent Celek, the Eagles wouldn't have scored on a 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run that started a 28-0 run to finish the game.

• If Tom Coughlin put his hands team on the field for the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles might not have converted an onside kick with 7:28 left that lead to another Philadelphia touchdown.

• If the Giants defense was able to tackle Vick, the Eagles' quarterback might not have had scrambles of 35, 33 and 22 yards. On the 33-yard run, Vick converted a third-and-10 from the Eagles' 12. On another scramble, safety Deon Grant had a clear shot at Vick only to come too high and see the elusive quarterback escape.

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesDeSean Jackson has shown the ability to be one of the NFL's top big-play threats.

• And finally, if rookie punter Matt Dodge was able to punt out of bounds, as instructed, DeSean Jackson would have never been able to end the game with a 65-yard punt return that was the play of the year.

After all that, the Giants still had an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth the following week, but they were demolished in Green Bay, 45-17.

Players and coaches said they saw no signs during practices of a hangover from the demoralizing debacle the week before. But the score indicated otherwise, as the Giants were hammered by another hot quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.

"I'm not going to lie, that game took a lot out [of us], I know it took a lot out of me," safety Antrel Rolle said of the Philly loss on his weekly spot with WFAN radio this week. "I try my best to have amnesia just to let it go, but I don't know. ... That is the worst loss I've ever faced since I've been playing football at the age of 6. I have lost national titles and Super Bowls but I have never experienced a loss like that."

Certainly there were other games the Giants should've and could've won. They lost 29-10 against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 after suffering a meltdown and were flagged for 11 penalties. And they should've taken care of business at home against the Dallas Cowboys, who beat the Giants, 33-20, in Jason Garrett's debut on Nov. 14.

Also, there was the 27-17 loss to the Eagles at Philadelphia the following week, when they led 17-16 in the fourth quarter before surrendering a 50-yard touchdown run to LeSean McCoy on a fourth-and-1.

General manager Jerry Reese said he was disappointed in the big plays the Giants allowed this season. Opponents scored five touchdowns of 50 yards or longer this season.

"I look at a lot of issues that added into this factor," defensive end Justin Tuck said of missing the playoffs. "I know, to a lot of people, [the Eagles loss was] the standout issue. It was resounding, I guess, but we lost other games, too. If we win some of the other games, that game isn't as important as it was. I don't think that ruined our season. It's high on the list of things that I wish I could take back for this year, but that one incident didn't ruin our year."

Of course, if the Giants (10-6) were just able to stop one of those explosive plays in the Eagles collapse, they would've been talking about their upcoming playoff opponent last Monday instead of what went wrong.

"If we make one play on either side of the ball or on special teams or anywhere, make one first down, the result is different," Mara said. "Yeah, you ask yourself that quite a bit."

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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