It maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise that, after the Giants had been recognized as the undisputed best team in the NFL (a mere eight months after, you know, winning the Super Bowl), they would play their worst game in a long time. And that, following a week in which Eli Manning was declared even better than his legendary brother, he would give up three interceptions after having thrown just one through the first four games. You could tell how much things had changed when, as the Browns took a slim three-point lead into the half, the announcers raved about how they’re hanging in there with the big bad Giants. Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that they were saying things like this about the Giants, in week seventeen against New England last year.
This is a Giants team that had grown very comfortable as the underdog, starting last season, and even continuing through the first few weeks this year, when they were rated by some as the third-best team in their own division. As ugly as the final score was, and as poorly as they played, this is a game the Giants could have won with some of the fourth-quarter magic Eli’s gotten so much credit for. Down thirteen with a little over eight minutes to go, Manning led the Giants into the red zone, but instead of firing a touchdown pass to bring it within one score, he fired an ugly interception that Eric Wright returned 94 yards for a touchdown. Game over. The Underdog Giants may have won this game, but the Big Bad Giants didn’t.
What’s funny is this one loss makes them underdogs all over again — not only did they lose to a weak Browns team, but they’ve played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, even catching the Redskins at the right time. Amazingly, they have yet another easy opponent next week — home against San Francisco — and assuming they don’t overlook a team for the second week in a row, they could be 5–1 before the cruel part of their schedule begins, on the road at Pittsburgh. By that time, they won’t be the top-rated team in the league anymore, and Manning will be once again looked at as the goofy guy with the apartment in Hoboken who they traded Phillip Rivers for. They won’t be hearing chants of “overrated” like they did last night, because nobody will be overrating these Giants for a while. That’s a chant reserved for their own fans’ use, which we suspect is how they prefer it anyway.