To get blown out by the Bengals, a team that seemed constitutionally incapable of blowing out anybody before yesterday, requires the confluence of many breakdowns: coverages must be blown, pass rushers must take the game off, the quarterback must regress back into shell-shocked rookie form, the offensive line must be whipped, backs must fumble, and receivers must drop balls.
The Giants succeeded in all of these missteps on Sunday, making the 31-13 loss everybody’s fault, though some players (David Diehl) deserve more blame than others (Prince Amukamara, Andre Brown).
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—For all the talk so far this season of the Giants’ struggles to pressure the opposing quarterback, relatively little has been said about their ability to protect their own.
Lost amid the excitement of Eli Manning's giveth-and-taketh-away routine with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense on Sunday were some auspicious signs about the return of the Giants’ running game.
You remember the running game, don’t you? It was so dominant in 2008, when the Giants led the league with 2,518 rushing yards, at 5 yards per carry, that writers were touting the offensive line for league MVP. But it slipped to the league’s worst unit last year, and the Giants’ ability to pass their way to a Super Bowl officially retired the old cliché that teams must “establish the run," and replaced it with a new one, that “the N.F.L. is a passing league.”
Still, it helps to have a good running game.
The big prize is still two weeks away, but whatever happens, the Giants’ second N.F.C. Championship in the past four years ensures that the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning era will go down as one of the great ones.
Which means that guys like David Diehl, the team’s workmanlike offensive lineman, will see their individual shortcomings whitewashed by nostalgia, and will be remembered instead for being part of something glorious.