Russell: A Bad Afternoon End A Fun Giants Season

Aaron Rodgers finally has more playoff wins at Lambeau Field than Eli Manning. Ben McAdoo is still looking for that first playoff win. And there will be no Giants-Cowboys III.

The 2016 Giants season will join years like 1997, 2005 and 2008 that had a fun regular season ending with a tough afternoon in the playoffs.

The comparison to the 1997 might make the most sense. Each team had a first-year head coach and was coming off a 6-10 season. The 1997 squad was 1-3 before finishing 9-2-1. This team was 2-3 and went on to finish 9-2. There were questions about the offense (Dave Brown started the 1997 season, just as a reminder for anyone who complains about Eli Manning) but New York pulled through to make the playoffs.

This Giants team was the best since the 2011 champions. This season obviously didn’t have endings as happy as some others, but the regular season may have been more entertaining than any other since 2008, maybe even more than the 9-7 Super Bowl XLVI team.

After beating the Cowboys and Saints by a combined four points, the team struggled.

The Giants lost three straight and the revamped defense wasn’t too impressive. The offense looked lost at times from a combination of conservative play calling and poor execution.

They sleepwalked through the first quarter against the Ravens and were in danger of falling to 2-4. Then came a late touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. and Big Blue was at the .500 mark.

Landon Collins’s pick six against the Rams was the highlight of a 17-10 win in London, where New York overcame another 10-point deficit and a lack of offense to win.

Then they beat the Eagles in a game where the Giants led 14-0 and held on for a 28-23 victory. A Monday night win over the Bengals features a touchdown on fourth and goal early in the fourth quarter. Wins over the Bears and Browns pushed the winning streak to six.

A loss to the Steelers and an injury to Jason Pierre-Paul had people wondering if the Giants would fall apart in the final quarter of the season. Then they gave the 11-1 Cowboys their second loss of the season in a 10-7 battle. New York beat Matthew Stafford and the Lions 17-6 in a game that sent Detroit into a tailspin and almost assured New York a playoff spot.

They lost at Philadelphia on a Thursday night but clinched a playoff berth when the Saints beat the Bucs. And even with nothing to play for, Big Blue went into Washington and played spoiler by beating the Redskins 19-10 with one final late win.

Damon Harrison arrived from the Jets and was named All-Pro. Landon Collins was like a completely different player from his rookie season and was also on the All-Pro team. And Beckham Jr. proved he should be a Pro Bowler for years to come.

No, the Giants season didn’t end on a high note. And there will be legitimate questions about whether New York should draft a quarterback in case Manning’s best years are behind him, just one season after his 2015 Pro Bowl campaign. And they need to improve the running game if they want to avoid the third and long situations they were consistently in.

But once the letdown of that happened in Green Bay subsides, hopefully this 11-win team can be appreciated for the close wins they had and bringing the Giants back to the playoffs.

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