Excerpt: "Earlier this season, Bengals receiver A.J. Green dropped what he thought was an innocent comment during a radio interview on WFAN. He said, after watching the evidence on the game tapes, that there were holes to be exploited in the Giants’ defense.
Around here, it sounded like a brazen claim that challenged the Giants’ bravado. They were expected to take umbrage. Instead, they took shelter. Green and his teammates went out and found those holes in a 31-13 romp, part of a 2-4 stretch that has the defending Super Bowl champs flirting with missing the playoffs.
And it’s all because the Giants’ defense keeps missing the bell, one that might toll for their season if they don’t figure it out Sunday in Baltimore against the Ravens.
The Super Bowl street cred is gone. They can’t win games on reputation.
“No doubt about that,” Osi Umenyiora admitted Thursday. “That might be our problem because we all feel like we’ve done this before, we can do this again. We believe in the talent and we can always rise up. Then we put ourselves in this corner. Now we have to fight our way out of it.”
This is a little more than a corner. A year ago, they needed to make the playoffs by winning a road game against the Jets and a season finale against the Cowboys. While the listless Eagles await them in at home in week 17, they’ve first got to go into a tough place to play against a team nearly as desperate to regain its mojo. Although the Ravens have clinched a wild-card spot, they are trying to end a three-game losing streak, two of them at home, where they had won 15 straight. In a way, that makes them more dangerous than had they been on a roll.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, too, has another card to play. He’s been coy about the possibility of activating Ray Lewis, who has been on injured reserve with a designation to return with a torn right triceps. Lewis has been practicing for a couple of weeks now and, according to defensive coordinator Dean Pees, looking like his old self.
In order for him to be available for the playoffs, the Ravens would have to activate Lewis for either of these last two games. Since the season ends on the road in Cincinnati, this week gives them their best emotional bang for their buck. There is perhaps no other player in the league who can lift his team just by being on the field." Read more...