It's not often that a team with a 23 point lead needs to escape with a victory, but the New York Giants barely escaped with a crucial divisional 'W' against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, winning 29-24 thanks to a few unclipped fingernails.
The recipients of a gratuitous six Cowboys turnovers and plenty of other miscues along the way, the Giants still needed to be rescued by some HD-quality replay footage at the end of the game. Replays ended up showing the very tips of Dez Bryant's fingers landing on the white strip of turf beyond the back edge of the end zone, making his last-second touchdown grab be reversed and correctly called as out of bounds, leaving the Giants margin of victory intact.
With the win, the Giants improve to 6-2 on the season, and open up a cozy lead over the rest of the NFC East, where all three other teams currently have a losing record, and a negative points differential.
It's worth noting that the always highly touted NFC East is actually one of only two divisions in the NFL right now which houses three teams with negative point differentials, showing a substantial drop-off in the quality of the teams calling the East home. The NFC North and West, by comparison, have just one team each in the negative.
Still, before the Giants and their fans get too comfortable with that 6-2 record and 1st-place positioning, it's worth taking a look back at some recent history. As I warned last year, and the year before that, a hot start through the first half of the season is to be expected in New York. It's the second half meltdown you have to worry about.
Since Eli Manning's first full season as a starter, 2005, the Giants have started at 5-2 or 6-2 every single year. This year marks the eighth straight season they have achieved that first half record.
While in the previous seven seasons they have astonishingly won two Super Bowls, that stretch also includes three first round playoff losses following ho-hum stretches to close the year, and two seasons where they fizzled and didn't qualify for the postseason at all.
Any fan would be more than happy with two recent championships, and I certainly am. However, a hot start for the G-Men is far from a sign of positive things to come. It's more of a harbinger of a second half struggle.
When you look at the remaining schedule for the Giants, even the most pollyanna of fans may find themselves agreeing. Remaining games on the schedule include away games at Cincinnati, Atlanta and Baltimore, home games against Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New Orleans, and divisional showdowns against Washington and Philadelphia. While some of those teams now appear wounded, it's still a who's who collection of recent Super Bowl winners and MVPs, and playoff teams from last season.
So, 6-2 is great. Nevertheless, recent history has me feeling fairly uncertain right about now.
Sources: Fox TV Coverage, NFL.com, Giants.com, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN
Jake Emen is a lifelong Giants fan from New Jersey. He also runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing at the site, or you can follow ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.
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