Keidel: Back-To-Back Wins Have Giants Feeling Good At End Of Season

Despite A 4-11 Record, Things Feel Like They're Looking Up

Jason Keidel
December 23, 2019 - 1:08 pm
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With the savage mood swings in an NFL season, it's easy to feel lost one week and elated the next. 

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Two weeks ago, the Giants were mired in a coach-killing losing streak. Their wunderkind rookie QB was hurt and their superhero sophomore running back was limping through the motions. They were 2-11, jousting for the top draft pick and sharpening the guillotine for those responsible. 

Yet here we are today, an unusually cheerful Monday, with the Giants fresh off a track-meet, 41-35 win over the Washington Redskins, and owners of a two-game winning streak. And instead of looking like hobbled, high-ceiling bystanders, Jones and Barkley are building blocks for a team that so desperately needs them.  

The Giants are, for this week at least, the G-Men again.  

Sure, they just beat the Dolphins and Redskins - two teams with a combined 6-22 record at the time Big Blue faced them - with one team (Miami) purging their roster for top draft picks, while the other (Washington) winds up with a top-five pick just through annual incompetence.  

But wins are gold in the NFL. The haunting NFL acronym "Not For Long" applies to the old and young alike, to the newly-hired and newly-minted. To quote a former assistant coach for the Giants, "No days off" is the mantra of winners. So, while there may be marginal moves in the standings, there are no useless wins in pro football. 

Giants running back Saquon Barkley carries the ball past Washington Redskins nose tackle Daron Payne in the second quarter at FedExField on Dec 22, 2019.
USA TODAY Images

As Boomer Esiason noted this morning, Dave Gettleman looks a little smarter this week than he did two weeks ago, when his team seemed broken and bereft of talent. We had all but canned Pat Shurmur, started an informal search for his replacement and ached for next year to be here. Shurmur may still lose his job, especially if they finish the season 4-12, one game worse than last season. But even the embattled coach has to feel a bit better after two straight wins. 

Perhaps it's prisoner-of-the-moment stuff, but for now the Giants look like they are planted on a few building blocks - most notably at quarterback. Jones tossed five touchdowns, posted a 132.1 passer rating and didn't burp the ball to the other team as he had so many times this season. The former Duke QB had become a mass of conflicting impulses, with equal parts touchdown and turnover, with 11 interceptions and 12 fumbles in ten starts entering Sunday's game in Washington.

And Barkley looked like, well, Saquon Barkley, on jet fuel. The all-world halfback rumbled his way to 189 rushing yards, averaging 8.6 yards per carry, to go with 90 yards receiving, while scoring two touchdowns and making FedEx Field his personal Playstation. Kids dream of such games in Pop Warner, Barkley does it in pro football, against the best athletes in the world, dashing past defenders as if they were in snow shoes. 

Nothing beats a two-game streak like a three-game exclamation point to end the season. A shootout against the dysfunctional Redskins won't mean much if they flop next Sunday at Philadelphia, against an Eagles franchise that has made it acid rain on the Giants. From Herm Edwards to DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have pieced together a highlight reel / horror film that’s 40-years-long, starting with the “Miracle at the Meadowlands” in 1978.  

How sweet it would be for the Giants to shave the Eagles' playoff chances. It would serve the twin-goals of hurting an old foe while proving that they still follow Pat Shurmur. But if they tank, Big Blue could watch their coach get pink-slipped. The NFL is moody like that. 

You can follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel

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