Thursday, January 16, 2014
Five moments that shaped the season: No. 2
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
It's almost over. I promise. And who knows? Perhaps you as a New York Giants fan are experiencing some sort of catharsis as you live through our daily look back at five moments that shaped the Giants' 7-9 season. I won't pretend the memories are pleasant, but I hope you're finding that they've at least been presented in an entertaining way. Laugh to keep from crying, maybe. Who knows?
No. 2: Picked off in the Windy City
Yes, it was a cool Thursday night, Oct. 10, in Chicago and the Giants were beyond desperate. They were 0-5 and in need of a win, and Eli Manning had thrown interceptions on each of the first two possessions of the night to run his league-leading total to a stunning 14. Yet somehow, Manning and the Giants had the ball in the final minutes of the game trailing by only six points. Manning converted a third-and-7 from his own 28 with an 11-yard pass to Hakeem Nicks. And strong runs by Brandon Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott had moved them to the Bears' 35-yard line with two minutes to go. In between those runs, Manning had nearly thrown his 15th interception of the year -- a pass to tight end Larry Donnell down the right side of the field that very well could have been picked off by Bears cornerback Tim Jennings but wasn't. The Giants had gotten a break, and they had a chance.
But on second-and-9 from the Chicago 35, they ran that same play again, this time with tight end Brandon Myers. For weeks afterward, there would be debate about whether Manning's throw was too high (which it was, a little) or whether Myers should have been able to catch it (which he should have, really), but the debate was all hollow because the result was what counted. It was Jennings who caught it, sealing Manning's third interception of the game and 15th of the season and ensuring the loss that would drop the Giants to 0-6.
They would win their next game, 11 nights later against the Josh Freeman-led Minnesota Vikings. Heck, they would win their next four and stay mathematically alive. But that night in Chicago, when Manning's final pass was picked off and he stood in a news conference close to tears and unable to explain why he couldn't win games anymore, was the night that made it clear this wasn't going to all be OK after all.