Tampa, Fla. – It begins with faith. The rest of the world can hear and mock giants. The rest of the world can interpret their words as pure delusion, raising you out of bed as a footballer but not carrying the day on the field during play. The rest of the world can laugh at the words “run.”
But it starts with the giants believing it.
Otherwise we are a vast abyss.
“I think we’re definitely excited about where this team is going,” Giants quarterback Daniel Jones said last week as he and his teammates prepare for Monday night’s intriguing showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
“I think we’ve improved as a team from week to week. But for now, our focus is on this week and on Monday night we make sure we’re ready to play the Bucks and play our best football.”
Added receiver Kenny Golladay: “We have to keep stacking games on the sidelines and coming out with the W’s.”
It all starts with them. It all starts with that. It begins with believing that these kinds of things are possible. It doesn’t matter that you really need to turn yourself into a jumbo pretzel or secure a seventh seed in an extended playoff format to see the Giants run from 3-6 to 9-8 or 8-9.
By the time the Giants kick off Monday night, there will only be one NFC team – the Lions – who are believed to have fewer wins than they do. As the Giants and their fans watch the upcoming weeks and their upcoming opponents after Tampa – Washington! Philly (twice)! Miami! Chicago! – and dreaming of ways to take advantage of the “soft” part of the schedule, players and fans of Washington, Philly (twice!), Miami and Chicago are watching the Giants in the same awful way.
As he watches Mr. Soft Truck in the afternoon of August.
“I know one thing,” coach Joe Judge said. “I knew we were going to give 60 minutes every week an honest effort.”
It’s not us now. No one has ever questioned the desire of the Joe Judge giants, or their intensity, or their competitiveness or their commitment to giving professional effort every week. The question comes up. The question comes at the end of those 60 minutes, what the scoreboard says, what the standings demand.
That is why faith is a wonderful thing.
And the giants have plenty of faith.
He has lots and lots of self-confidence.
All they need is a victory Monday. They don’t need another night when they fight heroism and lash out at the hard-luck losers of the field – they’re there, done-not-enough. The Manning brothers need not serenade them with poetry, as they did in their near-miss Monday game against Kansas City a few weeks ago.
Close but the time for the cigar is over.
Giants need a cigar. He should go to Raymond James, hit the Bucks in the mouth and walk off the field 4-6. They need to ignore the point spread – as of Sunday they are 10.5-point dogs – and the Bucks will be the smart pick to repeat not only the defending champions but at least the NFC champions.
And, yes, for all the franchise headlines built at the expense of the opposing quarterback on Monday night, they must understand that they still have to find a way to beat Tom Brady. And Brady hasn’t lost three games in a row in 19 years. And Justin Tuck and Michael Strahan and friends don’t go through the doors in Tampa to drop blue ghosts on Brady.
“I’ve seen this movie before,” the judge said of his old colleague in New England. “This guy is relentlessly preparing. They are the ultimate competitors, so in terms of what happened in the previous games, none of this has any impact on the game. It is all about how their team executes and how our team executes for 60 minutes.
Exactly. And if giants are going to justify their faith, they prefer to do something special, they must do something really special. It’s hard to take the 3-6 team’s playoff aspirations seriously. Going to 4-6? Maybe we can really talk then. That is all for them. Now comes the hard part. Now we really need to win the football game.