One of the “genius” reporters — after the Giant’s 26-23 overtime win over The Bengals — asked Tom Coughlin, “Why do you think the Giants came out so ‘flat?'” To which Coughlin replied with one of those icy, pre-softer-gentler, Tom Coughlin scowls. “Don’t give me any of that ‘flat’ stuff! Those guys (The Bengals) had a lot to do with it. They played a hell of a game.” And he’s right. The Bengals really did battle — but they still lost and the Giants still won. Why?
The Bengals played with great intensity — as did the Giants. The Bengals had a good game plan — as did the Giants. The Bengals played like they desperately wanted the game — as did the Giants. The Bengals made adjustments and so did the Giants and when the final stats were computed, there was very little difference between the teams: Passing yards, Giants: 289. Passing yards, Bengals: 245.
Rushing yards, Giants: 117 on 25 carries. Rushing yards Bengals, 102 yards on 27 carries. Time of Possession, Giants: 33:06. Time of Possession, Bengals: 33:15. Turnovers for both teams: 0. The only stat heavily favoring the Giants was, Giants sacks – 6. Bengals sacks – 0. So, why did the Giants prevail? Heart.
They reacted to every Bengal’s score the way a great champion fighter responds to every punch — with a harder punch: Bengals go up 3-0. Giants go up 7-3. Bengals go up 10-7. Giants tie them at 10-10. Bengals go up 13-10. Giants tie them at 13-13 and then go up 16-13. Bengals go up 20-16 — and, with a little over 4 minutes to play, the Giants march down the field and go up 23-20. Bengals tie it at 23-23 and, in overtime, the Giants win 26-23. The Giants answered every punch in the mouth with an equal or better punch in mouth because champions have heart; and that goof-ball reporter who asked why the Giants were so ‘flat,’ missed the point entirely.
The Giants weren’t ‘flat.’ The Bengals came out smoking, with blood in their eye. They were excited and determined and — very, very desperate. They had a take-no-prisoners attitude. This was the perfect time for a team with no heart to fold — but the Giants didn’t fold because they have a champion’s heart. They matched Cincinnati’s intensity, determination and desperation and prevailed. It’s what champions do. Flat my ass!