On January 26, 1997, the day after I was born in Boston, the Patriots played in Super Bowl XXXI, where they lost 35-21 to the Green Bay Packers. This means is that I am a lifetime Pats fan, so forgive me if this article comes off as a little bias.
The New York Giants have had the Patriots’ number over the last ten or so years. The two teams have met five times since the beginning of the 2007 season. Here are the results:
Week 17, 2007: Patriots win 38-35, completing an unprecedented 16-0 regular season. The Giants race out to a 29-17 lead but come apart late as Pats preserve perfect regular season.
Super Bowl XLII: Giants win 17-14, dealing the Patriots a heart-wrenching defeat as their quest for a 19-0 season comes apart in improbable fashion. Eli Manning and David Tyree provide the heroics.
Week 9, 2011: Giants win 24-20. A late TD from Eli to little-known Jake Ballard is the difference.
Super Bowl XLVI: Giants win 21-17. Mario Manningham gets ’em both in bounds as Giants drive the ball down the field, and a knife into my aorta.
Week 10, 2015: Patriots win 27-26. The Pats’ first win over Big Blue since ’07 includes late heroics from Tom Brady, a dropped INT by Landon Collins, and an incredible 56-yard field goal from Steven Gostkowski as Pats improve to 9-0.
So there you have it. In the last ten seasons, the Giants are 3-2 against the best team in the 21st-century NFL. This team fed off its ability to sneak into the playoff, shock a few NFC teams in the playoffs, and bewilder the usually heavily-favored Patriots in the Super Bowl. When the Giants made it to their two most recent Super Bowls, their rosters kept quiet, knowing that they had nothing to lose, and that chirping probably wasn’t warranted against a squad that was favored by upwards of ten points.
Then came Wednesday, when Victor Cruz (of all people!) opened his mouth and said that the Patriots didn’t want to see the Giants in the Super Bowl.
What an interesting, curious, questionable statement made by a veteran receiver that has spent his entire football career as an underdog. Having played college ball at then-FCS-UMass, then suffering a hideous knee injury in 2014, Cruz has always been quietly waiting to emerge. He obviously deserves to be confident, but his remarks put his team in a strange position.
Now the tides have shifted a bit. The Giants are still likely an underdog to New England. However, the Giants are now faced with a burden that totally eluded them in ’07 and ’11: pressure. New York is good, but they haven’t done anything yet. Cruz’s comments would have been more warranted if we were post-NFC Championship Game, and we knew that the Giants were headed back to the Big Game. Sans remarks, Big Blue could have waltzed right into the playoffs (and likely Super Bowl LI, but that’s just me) brimming with silent confidence. Now, words are out in the open, an opening as large as Plaxico Burress had when he hauled in Eli Manning’s TD pass to go ahead in Super Bowl XLII.
I’m not saying I don’t respect the Giants as a franchise. New York is an organization that does things the right way (well, before the walkie-talkie incident, but I believe that to be a load of bullshit), and their ’07 and ’11 squads deserve nothing but praise for the way they shocked EVERYBODY and put away the Patriots twice.
Victor Cruz’s comments weren’t the Giant way. They’re still a great team, and they have the ability to make it back to the Super Bowl. Cruz and the other 52 Giants had better hope they do. After all, actions speak louder than words.