October 06, 2003
Giants Have Their Own Problems
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, NY -- Like most NFL teams, the New York Giants have their fair share of problems.
The good news for the Patriots is that things seem to be getting even worse for New York.
It appears after the Giants 23-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday that there may be some frustration starting to set in inside New York's locker room. While there will be many who will claim that the Boston media makes this region one of the most difficult ones for a player to have to deal with, the New York market is even tougher. A very frustrated Michael Strahan stood in front of his locker after Sunday's game and apparently could already see the headlines after his team's loss and he wasn't happy with what he believed they were going to be saying.
Nor was he shy about letting the New York media know it.
"Go write what you wish," Strahan told them. "Bash us some more. It doesn't matter to me. We're 2-2, but you guys act like we're 0-4. One thing about the media: You guys have your story written half the time before [the game] is over. You have one [story] if you win. You have one if you lose. So we lost the game. You don't even need my comments to write your story."
"Go sell your papers. Go get excited about us being 2-2," Strahan continued. "I don't quite understand. You guys have been around a long time, but you're writing like it's your first day. It's like, 2-2 and the season's over. You guys have been around long enough to know there's a lot of season left."
To make matters worse head coach Jim Fassel apparently decided to rest runningback Tiki Barber, taking him out of the game with his last carry coming with 7:18 remaining in the 3rd quarter and trailing 13-10. Up to that point Barber had already accumulated 71-yards on 20-carries along with a touchdown against the Miami defense. Fassel reportedly defended his decision, saying that, "I don't have any regrets. All kinds of stuff happens. We lose the turnover battle and now everything becomes questionable. We took him out for a rest.".
The only problem was Barber told reporters after the game that he wasn't tired.
"I'm not the coach; I just do what I'm told," he said. "When they tell me to sit, I sit. I feel like I never need a break, but it's not my decision. I don't like watching people do my job, because I know I find ways to make things happen. It's tough to sit and watch."
What he watched was his team drop to 2-2 on the season. To add insult to injury kicker Matt Bryant pulled a hamstring after connecting on a 43-yard field goal earlier in the game, and punter Jeff Feagles was the only back-up kicker on the Giants roster. He came in and missed a 29-yard attempt wide right which would have tied the game at 13-13 on what was apparently his first ever field goal attempt, and according to most reports it will likely be his last.
Needless to say it adds to a host of problems New York will need to deal with this week, including their defense which is currently ranked 29th in the league, allowing an average of 374.8-yards-per-game. They are ranked 12th against the run but are last in the league in pass-defense, giving up an average 273.5-yards per contest.
However they've been able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and are currently tied for second in the league in sacks with New England and Tennessee, with all three teams totaling 14 on the season. They've also forced more fumbles than any other team in the NFL, with a league leading nine.
From New York's perspective it's a classic trap game, with a relatively healthy team taking on a depleted Patriots team that had seven starters out of action last Sunday.
But Tennessee made the mistake of taking New England too lightly and the Patriots offensive line came out and pounded their defensive front four, pushing them around and opening up holes all afternoon. By the end of the game New England had racked up 161-yards rushing the football, and the result was a 38-30 win over a tough Tennessee team who had embarrassed them during a Monday night game last season.
Despite how well they played against the Titans linebacker Keith Bullock apparently still felt that the Patriots weren't a very good football team and wasn't too happy with the result saying , "we let a mediocre team run up our butts.''
Meanwhile from New England's perspective Sunday's game is a chance to step up against a team that is having their own share of problems. It's no secret that the 26-6 victory over the Giants during the preseason doesn't mean much, especially with the fact that they'd be facing each other early in the season there was obviously very little shown by either team.
Sitting at 3-2 on the season the Patriots are still very much in the AFC East division race, tied for second with Buffalo with Miami leading the division at 3-1. Now they'll need to come up big against what will likely be a tough Giants team who will be looking to keep from dropping below .500 and having to face the tough questions they'll likely have to deal with in a tough New York media market.
Strahan has already reminded reporters that there's still plenty of football left to be played. Hopefully for New England he'll be making the same argument by the time the game is over on Sunday.
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