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Osi Umenyiora: No question the Giants are the best team in football

After their dominating 42-14 win over the Houston Texans on Monday night, most experts, analysts and fans are calling the New England Patriots the best team in football. Osi Umenyiora agrees that no team is playing better than the Patriots right now, but he still feels as though the New York Giants are the team to beat.

“When the Giants are playing our best, there’s no question we’re the best team in football,” Umenyiora told ESPN 98.7 on Tuesday, via the Star-Ledger. “We’ve just been inconsistent. So if we can play the way we’re capable of playing – the way we played against San Francisco, the way we played against Green Bay, the way we played against the Saints for the majority of the game – I don’t think there’s a team that’s better than us at all.”

The Giants are the reining Super Bowl champions, so technically they are still the team to beat until the trophy changes hands. In terms of going head-to-head with New England, history certainly tells us New York has the edge. That being said, consistent play is one of the factors that determines who the best team in football is. The Giants have been able to get hot at the right time in past seasons, and they’ll have to do it again this year as they have just a one-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins in the NFC East.

We know the Giants hardly lack confidence and love to let everyone know about it. They have proven they can beat the NFL’s best teams when they play their best football, but that can be said about a lot of teams. If the G-Men don’t find that consistency of which Umenyiora speaks over the last three games of the season, they may not have a chance to defend their title in January and February.

H/T Pro Football Talk
Photo credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Antrel Rolle: Slumping Giants need to respect no one and be more nasty

For whatever reason, the New York Giants seem to fall asleep in the month of November and into early December every season. Fortunately, they tend to turn things on at the end of the regular season and during the playoffs. After losing three out of their last four — including a game to the Washington Redskins that has made the NFC East race incredibly tight — Tom Coughlin will need his players to be their usual selves in December.

Safety Antrel Rolle believes one of New York’s biggest problems has been its attitude.

“I think we just need to get back to being a little nasty, having a nasty attitude,” Rolle told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. “Like I said, don’t do anything that’s out of the line of football, but have a little nasty attitude, get a little bit more dog in us, and go out there and play the game. Play the game physical, play the game tough, play the game hard, and we’ll give hugs and kisses after the game.

“But while that game is going on, we respect no one. And that’s how the game of football needs to be played.”

December also happens to be the month when Rolle turns into a quote machine, but that’s an entirely separate discussion. The Giants are now only one game up on the Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, and both teams have shown signs of coming as of late. Uninspired play could be to blame for New York’s recent rough stretch, but it should also be noted that their schedule has been brutal with seven straight games against teams that are now .500 and above.

And it doesn’t get much easier. The Giants close out the season against the Saints, Falcons, Ravens and Eagles. They could very well need to win three of those games to win the NFC East. Getting a little more nasty would be a solid place to start.

Tom Coughlin: Giants defense was ‘soft’ against Steelers

The New York Giants lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend for a number of reasons, one of them being their poor play defensively. One of the reasons the Steelers were able to overcome a number of poor calls from the officials was that they moved the ball and established a solid running game. On Monday, Tom Coughlin called his defense out for the lackluster performance.

“It was soft, no question,” Coughlin said according to The Star-Ledger. “It was soft early. We came back and played a little bit better and then they had their breakout there at the end of the game.”

Even Justin Tuck agreed that the Giants’ defensive front seven was “mushed” around by the Steelers offensive lineman. Considering the fact that Isaac Redman ran for 147 yards on 26 carries, that seems fairly obvious.

“Not to the point where they were more physical than us,” Tuck asserted. “But to the point where you got a guy in the gap and Redman was just behind his guard, behind his guard, and a guy jumps out of his gap trying to get around to get to Redman and he kind of like filters forward for three more, four more yards, and that’s just us got to do a better job of escaping blocks and getting to the ball carrier.”

Redman gained 74 yards after contact, so the Giants clearly did a poor job of tackling. That is likely wear Coughlin’s assertion that his defense was soft comes in. New York should have an easier time against the Bengals and BenJarvus Green-Ellis on Sunday. If not, they could turn the NFC East into a much tighter race than it needs to be.

Giants lose to Steelers despite help from referees on questionable calls

The NFL replacement referees have not been around for over a month, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that watching Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers-New York Giants game.

The Steelers overcame at least two bad calls from the officials to beat the Giants 24-20.

In the second quarter, the Giants were down 7-0 and had a third-and-goal from the two. Eli Manning scrambled after not being able to find anything in the end zone, and then he fired for Victor Cruz. The ball was nearly intercepted by Steelers CB Ike Taylor, who stepped in front of Cruz. Safety Ryan Clark came across and crushed Cruz, laying him out with a shoulder-first hit. Clark was penalized for a personal foul after the officials say he hit Cruz in the head. Replays showed that he led with his shoulder.

FOX NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira disagreed with the call. “That is not a blow to the head and not a foul. Pass had not even hit the ground yet,” he wrote on Twitter.

Instead of having a fourth-and-goal from the two, the Giants were first-and-goal from the one and scored on the next play. That was a four-point difference.

The Giants benefited from another questionable call a few plays later.

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Giants players rip DeAngelo Hall for not giving Eli Manning credit on game-winner

When Eli Manning connected with Victor Cruz for a 77-yard touchdown that gave the New York Giants and comeback win over the Washington Redskins, DeAngelo Hall was not impressed. Rather than seeing it as another tremendous fourth-quarter comeback from a resilient Giants team, Hall saw it as a gift from his team.

“Ultimately he did because he made the play to beat us, but I don’t feel like he made that play,” Hall told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday. “I feel we gave him that play. We just had one guy set his feet and one guy not do this. I could have thrown that ball and he would have scored. It wasn’t something where he was a rocket scientist and he figured something out. We just played that as bad as possible.”

You don’t have to look at the play all that closely to know that it was terrible coverage, so in a way you can see what Hall is referring to. That being said, the Giants and Manning still had to call the right play based on the defense they saw and then execute it. That’s why some New York players feel that Hall’s comments were disrespectful.

“DeAngelo Hall is not that smart,” Justin tuck said according to Ralph Vacchiano of the NY Daily News.

USA TODAY’s Mike Garafolo said Victor Cruz called Hall’s comments “a little disrespectful” and Manning even stepped out of character a bit and fired back at the Redskins corner.

“I didn’t think it took a rocket scientist to figure it out either,” Manning said. “That was the coverage they messed up. As an offense, you have to take advantage of that.”

The “we beat ourselves” excuse is one of the lamest in sports, and one that the Giants have heard before on numerous occasions. Hall is also known for having a big mouth, so it doesn’t surprise me that he tried to take credit away from his division rivals. All that matters is the Giants got one in the win column and Washington took a loss. Whether Hall feels they earned it or not really isn’t relevant.

Helmet smack to Pro Football Talk
Photo credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Mathias Kiwanuka rips Jerry Jones: Giants have been whooping his ass for a long time

The defending Super Bowl champion Giants probably didn’t need any added motivation to make them want to beat the Cowboys this upcoming season, but they got it anyway. Speaking to a group of fans about a month ago, Jerry Jones urged people to come on out to Cowboys Stadium and watch Dallas beat New York’s ass this season. The comment did not sit well with the Giants locker room, but most of them laughed it off. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka says he understands why Jones would say something like that.

“He should. I mean, the Giants have been whupping his ass for a long time,” Kiwanuka told the Boomer and Carton Show according to The Star-Ledger. “It’s gotta be tough on the outside looking in on all of these championships lately. That’s the feeling I feel like everybody in the league has and everybody should have because we’re here on top and everybody should be wanting to knock you off.”

Trading shots back and forth leading up to and during the season is certainly nothing new for these two rivals. Given the recent history of the two franchises, Jerry would have probably been wise to not make that comment. New York has won two Super Bowls this decade. The Cowboys have won nothing.

Does the banter mean anything at the end of the day? Not really, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a newspaper headline of Jerruh saying his team is going to whoop New York’s ass is hanging in the Giants locker room when the season opens on Sept. 5.

H/T Pro Football Talk
Photo credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Eli Manning: The Giants are not a dynasty

Whenever a team wins multiple championships with most of the same key players, people are bound to start throwing the word “dynasty” around. It happened with the Patriots earlier in the 21st century and it is happening with the Giants now. New York has won two championships in four seasons. If they win a third within the next year or two, you can expect even more people to call the Giants a dynasty. However, Eli Manning says his team has not gotten there yet.

“No, no, we’re not (a dynasty),” he said on NFL AM Wednesday according to Pro Football Talk. “We had a little break — the two years prior to last year we didn’t make the playoffs. We’ve got work to do. We have good players on this team, we have the potential to be a playoff team and to make a run once we get into the playoffs.

“It’s a matter of going out there and proving that, and everybody going out there and playing to their level of play. That’s what our challenge is, and we know each year if you don’t come out and give it your all and play to the best of your ability you’re not going to win football games. So we’ve got to maximize our talents.”

As you can see, Manning tried his best to avoid the question. Ultimately, he gave the right answer. Even if he believes the Giants are a dynasty, taking the Michael Vick approach and telling everyone about it doesn’t benefit the team in any way. If Manning says New York is a dynasty, that means he already feels like the team’s place is cemented in history and they have very little left to accomplish. While that may be true, what happened last year has no bearing on the 2012 season.

Photo credit: Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE