Over the course of the past week, two disgruntled NFL players have publicly stated their opinion that the New York Giants did not, in fact, beat them in the playoffs, but that their respective teams gave away a victory. It started on Tuesday when Green Bay Packers LB Clay Mathews stated that his team "beat themselves" in the NFC Divisional round that ended their season. While the Giants' brushed off these comments with humor, on Friday, another casualty of Big Blue's improbable 2011 Super Bowl run decided to open his mouth.
Before his team's preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner addressed his feelings toward the 2011 NFC Championship game.
"We felt like it was ours to lose,” Whitner said. “Especially after we beat the Saints, we felt like it was ours to lose. We felt like the Saints and Green Bay Packers were the two best teams in the playoffs and once they went down we felt like it was ours to lose, and we let it slip through our fingers.”
Although Clay Mathews' comments came off as childish and even ignorant, Donte Whitner's comments are actually partially accurate. When 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams fumbled in overtime to give Big Blue the ball in field goal range, the game did in fact slip through the 49ers fingers. However, what Donte Whitner fails to mention, is that the New York Giants forced it out of their fingers. On the play, Giants LB Jacquian Williams hustled down the field and jarred the ball loose, it wasn't like Williams dropped it on his own.
However, the fact of the matter is that last season is over. Although 2011 will live forever in the memories of Giants' players, coaches, and fans alike, 2012 represents a whole new challenge. With many so called "experts" predicting Big Blue to finish third in the NFC East this upcoming season, and with Tebowmania making its' way to NY, Big Blue had flown under the radar throughout the offseason.
Many believe that they got lucky a year ago, but it takes some luck to win the Super Bowl. No team has ever won a championship without catching a few fortunate breaks along the way. That being said, the 2011 New York Giants won the Super Bowl because their pass rush got healthy, their quarterback was elite, and the rushing game has a resurgence. If their opponents would rather focus on their own errors as the cause their shortcomings, that's fine also. No matter what anybody says or does, the results on the scoreboard are going to remain the same.
Hopefully, as the seasons begins to kickoff, we can stop hearing about how the Giants have been lucky, and start hearing about how they have assembled a core of young, talented players that will put them in a position to be competitive for years to come. Don't count on it though.
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