After squandering 10-point, fourth-quarter leads in each of their first two games, the New York Giants find themselves staring at an 0-2 hole and in desperate need of a win.
In fact, they pretty much have to win against Washington on Thursday.
“I don’t know about have to win, but I do think they’re going to win the game,” legendary Giants tight end and current Giants radio broadcaster Howard Cross said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The good thing about the team is that they (had) 10-point leads. The bad thing is they don’t know how to close right now, and I think that’s just the product of Couch Coughlin really evaluating some of the things he’s thinking about at the close of these games. You can’t get involved or be so emotional that you lose sight of the ultimate goal of winning. Everybody who’s a great competitor – and Coach Coughlin, Eli and all these guys are great competitors – they get so wrapped up in trying to win and things are going crazy. I think this comes down to details. They’ll be sure enough all week long so they know if they get the 10-point lead, they’ll close the door.”
The Giants’ defense has faltered in key situations, allowing fourth-quarter touchdown drives of 76, 72, 91 and 70 yards.
They’ve been awful.
“You’re saying they’re awful, but they had two or three sacks, they made a bunch of plays,” Cross said. “But later in the game, if you don’t stick the quarterback enough, eventually he’s going to eat you up. Matt Ryan, if he’s out there throwing the ball around, having a great day – it’s like a 7-on-7 drill. If you’re not hitting him, if you’re not making him move off his point, they’re going to get killed. The biggest play of the game wasn’t the fumble Eli had on the 9-yard line. It was all the plays that led to the touchdown between the 9-yard line and the 91 yards to the end zone. You got to figure out a way to stop them. You got to figure out a way to get them off the field. You got to figure out a way to make plays.”
And yet, there is hope. Dallas will be without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for at least eight weeks, Philadelphia is lost offensively and Washington, despite its win over St. Louis, is a mess. Can the Giants still win the division?
In a word, yes.
“I think it’s more of the details and the little things that are beating them,” Cross said. “I do believe that there are so many positives. We like to bury people. We like to nitpick and grab at the negative things. All the positive things – they’ve scored a lot of points, they’re actually moving the ball up and down the field, the defense is creating turnovers and they’re creating hits. They’re flying around. They may not stop you late in the game, but all the way up to that last few minutes, they got you. So if the Giants actually put the ball in the end zone instead of kicking field goals one or two more times, it changes everything. So it’s going to be more of can they not make the little mistake? Can they keep their wits about them at the end of the game? It’s more situational football than it is actual execution of football.
Washington ran for 182 yards in its 24-10 win over St. Louis, but Cross expects the Redskins to throw early and often Thursday night.
“If it’s me and I’m the Redskins, I know I’m rushing for 150 or 200 yards a game,” Cross said. “But I’m looking at tape and I’m like, ‘Man, we should really throw the ball on these guys. No one’s really running on them, so are we going to go to our strength and try to run the ball against them or are we going to go and say let’s throw the ball down the field?’ I would throw the ball against the Giants. I would try every play to throw the ball against the Giants because they can’t cover all that well.”