Welcome to Heartbreak

Brendan Rand ’11
Staff Writer

Kanye West’s song title from his album “808’s and Heartbreak” is only fitting after the Giants’ last second 21-20 home loss to the San Diego Chargers. After starting 5-0, the Giants are now 5-4.

The Giants actually had the lead late in this one, having extended their lead to 20-14 with just about two minutes to go, and I watched excitedly as they seemed poised to finally break their losing streak. But I could only watch helplessly as Charger quarterback Philip Rivers, who five years ago was the Giants’ franchise savior for about five minutes before being traded to San Diego, frantically moved his offense and beat the Giants defense left and right 80 yards down the field before throwing the go-ahead touchdown with 21 seconds left.

The Giants had time at the end to try to pull out a miracle before Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning to close out another miserable Sunday for the Giants and their fans.

For me, this loss stung more than the previous three before it. In the other three, I felt that the Giants were not playing very well from the beginning of each game, whether they started off slow or were dominated from the outset. But what made this loss different was that the Giants had I won. They had been leading the game with less than a minute left, and excitement ran high in me. But as Shawne Merriman did his sack dance and the Chargers celebrated, I forced myself through three of the stages of grief:

First, I was in denial. As soon as I saw there was no time left, I shook my head, trying not to shout. “It can’t be over,” I thought. “It can’t end this way. There is probably a second left.”

Then, of course, I went to the anger stage. Almost 24 hours later, I can’t honestly say I’ve moved past this stage. I still cannot believe some of the things that happened in the game, but one particular drive stands out. Late in the game, the Giants were on the four-yard-line and had a chance to increase their 17-14 lead. On the first play, the Giants were called for an Offensive Holding penalty and were placed all the way back at the 14 yard line. So much for knocking on the door to the end zone.

When the Giants were able to reach third and 9, the Giants called a play which I can confidently say I still do not understand: they decided to try to run the ball up the middle and gain nine yards for the touchdown.

WHAT?

Of course, that play did not work, and rather than going up by 10 and sealing the win, Big Blue had to settle for a field goal to lead 20-14. Gee, do you think that haunted them when they lost by one at the end?

Other than struggling on that drive, the Giants also struggled with its offensive line. The line, which in years past has been known for its consistency and success, gave up five sacks to the Chargers’ defense, including two to Shawne Merriman. In addition, the Giants’ secondary was picked apart by Philip Rivers, letting him throw for the three touchdowns that decided the game.

But make no mistake–there were a few bright spots in the game. The Giants’ run defense, which last week was run over by Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and fullback Leonard Weaver, did a nice job of holding down San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson and forcing Rivers into two interceptions. In addition, Eli Manning himself had a respectable game, throwing for two scores and completing almost 75 percent of his passes.

While this game was a lot more competitive than the previous stops on this awful losing streak, the Giants obviously are still missing something that will help them to pull out a victory. With this Sunday, Nov. 15, being an off week for the Giants, hopefully the organization can figure out what it is.