As crazy as it sounds, after reviewing the game again, I am not as discouraged as I was before. The last 31 minutes and 12 seconds of the game were a mess, that's for sure. And the Saints put up 49 points with nearly 600 yards of offense. But it's funny - 3 or 4 plays could have completely turned the game around. What would your feelings of the game have been if the following plays, all "make-able" ones went in the Giants favor. For full effect, I'll give the background and the context.
No score, first quarter, Eli throws a ball about 2 inches underthrown to TE Jake Ballard in the back of the end zone. Ballard gets his hands on the ball, but Saints LB pulls it out of his hands for an INT. If Ballard catches the ball, Giants are up 7-0. If he at least knocks the ball down and prevents an INT, Giants still have a chance to score a TD on later downs or at the very least kick a FG. Saints come down and score a TD and take a 7-0 lead.
Saints score a TD and go up 14-3 late in 2nd quarter. Giants have a 3rd and 10 at their own 20 which Eli converts on a pass to Cruz. Then they have 3rd and 6 at the 34 with 1:38 left, which Eli converts on a sideline pass to Nicks. There is a personal foul for late hit tacked on, so Giants have the ball at the Saints 37 with 1:31 left. Here are the three plays that could have changed the game. Drop by Cruz on easy short pass. False start penalty on Diehl which was a bad call and should have been charged to Saints for drawing Giants into false start. Then Ware drops a screen pass on 2nd and 15 and on 3rd down Eli is rushed and has to throw the ball away. So, set up with first down on the Saints 37, Giants have 3 sloppy plays in a row and instead of going in for a score, they punt back to the Saints. Saints are backed up on their own 12, but hit one simple out pattern which goes for 50 because of a missed tackle by Corey Webster. Saints go in for a score and lead 21-3. Score could easily have been 14-10 Saints or even 17-14 Giants, but because of these few sloppy plays, Giants instead are down 21-3.
Beginning of the second half was even more painful. Giants take the opening kickoff and move downfield for a score and seemingly are almost back in the game down 21-10. On Saints possession, first pass Brees throws is right into the arms of Aaron Ross which he drops for what should have been an INT. Brees makes a few nice plays and moves the Saints in for a 28-10 lead. Giants fumble on their possession and Saints score again, lead 35-10 and the game is now over.
Parenthetically, I can not understand how the fumble was not overturned. The ball came out when his arm hit the ground. The refs said that the ball moved in his hand, but there was no contact and the ground celarly was the only contact that caused the ball to pop out. Ridiculous call.
I don't want this to sound like an irrational fan saying Giants were unlucky and really outplayed the Saints. They did not and their defense was completely skewered. But I am just saying that even in a rout like this where Saints amassed 577 yards of offense, Giants made enough plays to stay in the game. Giants had nearly 500 yards of offense and while some of it was in garbage time when the game was already decided, they were moving the ball all game long. You can't afford to play sloppy and make little mistakes against a dynamic, explosive team and the Giants did.