The Giants closed out the regular season by winning their final three games, all against NFC East teams. Then came the disastrous wild-card playoff, in which New York blew a 16-point halftime lead at home and lost to Minnesota, 23-22. Afterward, the defense, which fought among itself on the field and on the bench, wore the goat horns, but a lot of things went wrong toward the end of that game, and the Giants did have a nine-point lead and the ball with 3:51 left. Maybe if they had picked up one more first down and burned a little more time off the clock...and maybe if the Vikings hadn't scored so quickly...and maybe if Minnesota's on-side kick with 1:30 left hadn't bounced off Calloway's hands, setting up the Vikings' game-winning field goal....
That's a lot of maybes. The point is, the Giants weren't playoff hardened. "We were ready to play that day," Fox said, "but we were young. We needed to grow. The game was big for us, maybe too big at the time. But you learn from it. It makes you hungrier next time around."
The Giants are hungrier. Fassell says Kanell is ready to take it to the next level. So is Fox's defense. This team is for real.
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