DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 22: at Ford Field on December 22, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
The offseason will be filled with discussion of what the Giants are lacking, what they need. And in about a week’s time, there will be plenty of time to ponder that in great length — months and months of time.
Today, though, it’s time to give the Giants their due for what they are, a team that was skilled enough, tough enough and prepared enough to knock off a talented Lions club in Detroit on Sunday.
“We certainly demonstrated resiliency,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after Sunday’s 23-20 overtime victory at Ford Field. “We demonstrated mental toughness.”
All things considered, this was the Giants’ best win of the season.
With a victory against the Giants, the Lions would have drawn even once again with the Bears in the NFC North and would have been able to win their division with a victory at Minnesota next week. The Lions had every reason to dig deep and pull away from the Giants down the stretch.
Indeed, that seemed likely to happen. The Giants, who held a 13-3 halftime lead, were overpowered by the Lions for much of the second half, with Detroit scoring 17 unanswered points to take a 20-13 lead.
Then, the Lions made a mistake that snowballed on them. With around five minutes left and Detroit facing a 3rd-and-7 at its 22-yard-line, quarterback Matthew Stafford’s pass was a little wide of tight end Joseph Fauria. The ball deflected off of Fauria’s hands and into the hands of Giants safety Will Hill, who sprinted away for a 38-yard touchdown to tie the game with 4:57 left.
Still, the Lions had their chances to rally. The Giants gave them two free possessions late in the game with an Eli Manning interception in the final two minutes of regulation and an Andre Brown fumble on the first drive in overtime. However, the Lions couldn’t capitalize against a Giants defense that had a strong day, limiting Detroit to 279 yards on 65 plays. After Hill’s pick, the Lions earned just one first down in their final four drives.
While the Lions were unable to finish, the Giants closed the deal with boldness and intelligence. Facing a 4th-and-7 from the Detroit 42 in overtime, the Giants elected to go for it, and Manning hit Jerrel Jernigan for 15 yards. On the play, Manning stepped up in the pocket under pressure and fired a low strike to Jernigan.
Then, in a brilliant play, the Giants hurried to the line and snapped the ball before the play could be reviewed to see whether Jernigan had completed the catch. Manning hurriedly handed off to tight end Bear Pascoe, who gained two yards.
“Fourth down, you can’t risk it,” Manning said after the game, according to the club. “You kind of get a play run quickly and the fastest thing is to get a right call and it was something that we practiced.”
Three plays later, the Giants’ quick thinking paid off, as kicker Josh Brown connected on a 45-yard field goal to win the game.
Out of playoff contention, and one week removed from a shutout loss to Seattle, the Giants bounced back on Sunday.
“Good character, tough kids," Coughlin said afterward. "Taken a lot of shots this year, quite frankly have earned the criticism. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But we’ve been able to stay focused, and we’ve been able to touch on some real deep values that get overlooked when people are telling you you got nothing to play for. You got everything in the world to play for. I think the way they played tonight was a good demonstration of that.”
The Giants should feel proud today, for their pride and preparation was evident on Sunday. This win was testament to their professionalism.