The Philadelphia Eagles were among the biggest disappointments in the entire NFL. Yet one team that could claim to be more disappointing than the Eagles was the New York Giants, especially after they throttled Philadelphia on Dec. 30.
The Giants’ 42-7 victory had to leave New York wondering what could have been. While the win left the Giants at 9-7, it kept them out of the playoffs while the 10-6 Minnesota Vikings won the final NFC wild card. But if New York hadn’t been destroyed by the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens in the previous two weeks, it might have gotten back to the postseason after all.
As the defending Super Bowl champions, a playoff berth was supposed to be a given for the Giants. Instead, their inconsistent second-half play ruined their season, as their worst selves appeared far too often. Even when they were at their best, like they were against the Eagles, it either came too sporadically or too late.
If New York had made the playoffs after slaughtering Philadelphia, the Giants would have been poised to duplicate their unlikely Super Bowl runs in 2008 and 2012. But their last-minute dominance was one more puzzling element of a season that ended far too early.
The Eagles and Giants both self-destructed in spectacular, unlikely fashion in 2012. The only difference was that Philadelphia put itself out of its misery far earlier, while New York waited until December to totally implode. But at least the Giants got something to build on by blowing out the Eagles -- and still have two-time Super Bowl champions Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning together.
Every time the Giants are expected to win, they seem to lose. But whenever no one expects anything from them, like in January 2008 and January 2012, they stun everyone. As such, New York is in perfect position to re-emerge in 2013 -- although if that formula still really worked, it would have risen from the ashes in December 2012.
As usual, no one knows what to expect from the Giants in the future. If they can’t figure themselves out next year, then maybe the Eagles will have an easier time re-emerging in the NFC East with a new coach. But the Giants are everything the Eagles are not, due to their championships, so perhaps they will outshine them in their rebuilding process as well.