Yesterday’s much-anticipated game between the Giants and the Saints was supposed to answer the question of which team was the best in the NFC. And it did, by the end of the first quarter. By the end of the game, you were made to feel silly for asking the question in the first place, and a new question had emerged: Is it possible the Giants aren’t even in the discussion?
It’s almost funny how losing a single game can change the perception of a team — especially a game the Giants weren’t favored to win in the first place. If they’d come away with a victory, they’d have been the toast of the NFC. Even a competitive loss would have whetted everyone’s appetite for a potential meeting in the playoffs. But the Saints so thoroughly dominated the Giants yesterday that it at least raises the question of whether the Giants really are an elite team, and whether their performance through the first five weeks was just a reflection of their terrible competition. Or worse still: Is this team no better than the one that finished the 2008 season losers of four out of five?
That’s probably not the case. Teams are entitled to have a bad day, and if that bad day happens on the road, against a team as good as the Saints, then a 48–27 game happens. If it hadn’t been at the expense of the Giants defense, the offensive show put on by Drew Brees and friends would have been fun to watch: Seven different players scored touchdowns, five of which came before the half. (Brees’s first-half stats: seventeen for twenty passing, three touchdowns, and 247 yards.) That said, it was embarrassing how much time Brees had to operate; even a lesser quarterback would have torched the Giants yesterday. At least it could have been worse. Just ask the Titans.