Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Giants survive in Miami, three-way tie for NFC East lead


It was not pretty on Monday night. Call a match-up of two teams who did everything in their power to lose a football game, and at the end of the day it was the Dolphins who made more bone headed plays than the Giants as New York pulled away with a 31-24 win in South Beach. The Giants (6-7) now find themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East.

How many people want Tom Coughlin fired now? Didn't think there would be too many after Monday's win.

Give a lot of credit to the Giants in this one. For a team that has seen far too many leads late in games disappear, the Giants mounted three different comebacks against the Dolphins on Monday Night Football, and pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to incredible heroics by Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.

The Giants trailed by scores of 7-3; 14-10; 17-10 and 24-17, and never wavered. It wasn't pretty either. The Giants allowed two rushing touchdown's to Dolphins running back Lamar Miller, who hadn't had a rushing touchdown in well over a month. They even let Ryan Tannehill pick them apart at times, including a 47-yard bomb to Kenny Stills to give the Fish a seven point lead in the third quarter.

Yet, the Giants never gave in. Perhaps the turning point of the night came late in the second quarter when Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr for 45 yards to the Dolphins 30. Tack on 15 more yards for pass interference and the Giants were in business. Two plays later, Manning found Will Tye in the back corner of the end zone for the tying score. The Dolphins were out of their element.

After Miami quickly took the lead in the third quarter, the Giants grinded out a 9-play 80-yard drive that culminated in Beckham Jr. making another incredible catch in the corner of the end zone on his tip toes. It looked initially that Beckham had his front foot out of bounds, but after further review, the call was overturned and Beckham was awarded a touchdown, after one of the images clearly showed enough grass between Beckham's foot and the sideline. Suddenly it was 24-all.

The Dolphins would never answer again. They wound up punting on their next four possessions, and only once got into Giants territory, as they shot themselves in the foot with countless dumb penalties. Overall, Miami was penalized 12 times for 123 yards.

The Giants finally put the game to rest with 11:13 to play in regulation when Manning hit a wide open Beckham Jr. down the middle of the field at the 40 yard line, and the speedy wide out did the rest, dashing past stunned Dolphin defenders to the end zone for a 84-yard touchdown. It was the second longest of the season for Beckham Jr. who had an 87-yard TD against the Jets the week prior.

With the 31-24 win, the Giants are now in a three-way tie atop the NFC East. In addition, the win also means Big Blue will play at least one more primetime game in two weeks when the visit the Minnesota Vikings at frigid TCF Bank Stadium.

But, before the Giants see the Vikes, they have to tussle with the 13-0 Carolina Panthers. This will be no easy test, and the Giants have lost their last two home games, but the Giants can take solace in knowing the franchise has been here before. In 1998, a 5-8 Giants team ruined the 13-0 Broncos dream of a perfect season with a 20-16 win at the Meadowlands. And we all know what happened in 2007 when the Giants knocked off the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl.

While it is certainly a tall order, the Giants desperately need the game against Carolina. With Washington and Philadelphia still ahead of the Giants in the standings, Big Blue must win out in order to best assure themselves a division title. 8-8 could also get them in, but they must win this week and get some help.

Things are about to get interesting around New York here in late December for both the Giants and Jets.

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