An Opening loss may be a good thing.
Don’t panic Giants’ fans. The 24-hour sports cycle washed, rinsed and dried the Giants-Cowboys game many times.
While it was the first loss by a defending Super Bowl champion in their opening game in many seasons (Denver in the 1999 opener -- also the first game without Elway) let’s not forget two things:
1. A Super Bowl champ was bound to lose eventually. Green Bay came mighty close last year and others have in recent seasons.
2. The Giants treat their home games with near hostility. Since the start of the 2007 season they have won two Super Bowls but their home record is an astounding 23 wins and 18 losses.
Giants fans pay thousands for season tickets.
They might be better off unloading those to visiting fans and going to all away games.
The old cliché of “it’s only one game” applies here and should be repeated like a mantra by Giants’ fans. A quick look at recent defending champions’ opening games offers little illumination on the next 15 games and playoff results in their quest to defend.
2007: Colts 41, Saints 10. After just crushing a good Saints team (a 2006 NFC Championship game loser), the Colts should have been on their way to a repeat.
The Colts won the Super Bowl on the back of a great offense and just-in-time defense.
The offense dominated with a 31 point second half. The defense frustrated the awesome Drew Brees and his array of weapons. The Colts were on their way -- to a home loss in the Divisional Round in the playoffs.
2008: Giants 16, Redskins 7. Like the Super Bowl run the previous few months the Giants' defense stifled the Redskins (a 2007 playoff team). The Giants offense eventually also caught fire and they would roll to an 11-1 start -- only to stumble (thanks to Plaxico’s stumble) at the end to a 1-3 finish and home loss in the divisional round of the playoffs.
2009: Steelers 13, Titans 10 OT. Two rugged smash-mouth teams beat each other to a pulp in the opener. This was a bit of a harbinger of the season. During a five game stretch the offense reprised their opening night struggles and kept the Steelers out of the playoffs. Injuries took their toll as well.
2010: Saints 14, Vikings 9. Like the 2006 Indianapolis Colts the 2009 Saints' defense was suspect. The 2010 defense repeated the 2007 Colts feat of looking awesome in the opener.
The Saints' offense took a break in this game but you knew they would be back. However, the offense did take a step back by scoring almost a touchdown less in 2010. Injuries to the shaky defense and a Skittles-fueled Marshawn Lynch ended the Saints’ effort to repeat.
2011: Packers 42, Saints 34. Like a Madden game gone wild the Saints and Packers lit up the scoreboard at Lambeau Field a year ago. That game showed that Green Bay and New Orleans could score like crazy but couldn’t play a lick of defense.
Both would regret that. Green Bay became the latest NFC No. 1 seed to get embarrassed at home in the divisional round of the playoffs.
A few things may have been learned this past Wednesday but other trends just have to wait a few more weeks. Just remember this Giant fans: the 2007 team was 0-2 and just looked awful in the first two games that season.
The 2011 team got beat by the Redskins in the opener. The Giants bucked the recent trend by champions of winning the opener the following season.
None of the teams we studied here repeated so this may be just what the Giants need to collect their fifth Lombardi Trophy.
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