There was a stretch of the fourth quarter yesterday where it appeared the Giants defense had gotten its swagger back. Fred Robbins sacked Philip Rivers on the Chargers’ first play of the quarter; they’d go three and out on the drive. Following an Eli Manning touchdown pass to Kevin Boss to give the Giants the lead, a pumped-up Justin Tuck stopped a third-down double reverse for a loss. On the first play of the Chargers’ next drive, Terrell Thomas returned a Rivers interception to the San Diego four. In hindsight, it’s really too bad he didn’t score.
After the offense could only muster a field goal — Chris Snee’s ten-yard holding penalty on first and goal turned out to be devastating — Phillip Rivers drove 80 yards on eight plays in 1:46 to win the game. No more swagger for the defense — only the realization that they’d blown the game, and taken another big step toward blowing the entire season. Somehow, first and goal from the Chargers’ four with 3:14 to go and a three-point lead turned into a San Diego victory. And somehow, a perfectly good 5–0 start has become a nightmare 5–4 record heading into the bye week — with a tough schedule awaiting them on the other side.
If the Giants season could be summed up in one play, it came in the first quarter yesterday. The Giants lined up for a field goal, snapped the ball, but instead of kicking it, Lawrence Tynes ran past the ball, almost as if it was a fake that only he knew about. You don’t need us to point out the significance of a botched field goal in a game you lose by a point. (Tynes said after the game that holder Jeff Feagles had both hands on the ball so he couldn’t kick it.) At the time, though, no one knew what was happening. No one saw this broken play coming, obviously, but they knew it wasn’t good, and there was nothing they could do to fix it. All Feagles could do was get up, scramble, and look for a solution that wasn’t there. Now, the Giants as a whole have two weeks to start finding some solutions before it’s too late.