COMMENTARY | With the playoffs at stake, we all hoped the real New York Giants would show up to face the Baltimore Ravens at MT&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, December 23.
Sadly, I think they did.
The Giants (8-7) were crushed by the Ravens, 33-14, in the most important game of the season. As a result, the team's postseason hopes were placed on life support. For the G-Men to make the playoffs now, they must win their season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles and hope for a combination of losses from the other NFC Wild Card contenders. Realistically, the Giants are done for 2012.
This is not the same bunch we watched make an inspiring run to a Super Bowl championship last season. This year's team is soft, small in big spots, simply not good enough. Sure, there have been glimpses of championship form. The Giants have dismantled the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints this season. But they have dropped five of their last seven games and been defeated by a combined score of 67-14 over the last two weeks.
''I feel badly for everyone in that locker room because they can't turn this thing around either,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin told the Associated Press. ''What has happened over the course of the last couple of weeks is very difficult to explain. We just don't look like a well-oiled machine offensively at all.''
Coughlin had no answers for his team's latest spectacular failure, but the box score told the whole story. Big Blue's best players didn't make plays. Eli Manning was held to 150 yards passing, Victor Cruz finished with 21 yards receiving and Jason Pierre-Paul registered two tackles without a sack. Furthermore, the Ravens (10-5) rolled up 533 yards of total offense against a lifeless defense.
It's difficult to watch the defending champs go out this way, especially after last season's magical run, but that's life in the National Football League. Sometimes, you're just not good enough and there's nothing you can say or do about it.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. He proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.