Possibly, they’re all huge Rodney Dangerfield fans.
Whatever the case, ever since the New York Giants clinched a playoff berth last season, they’ve seemed to thrive on being overlooked.
The same team that struggled through the middle of the 2007 regular season, to the point where it almost missed the postseason last year, has remarkably become a defending Super Bowl champion with only a single loss in its past thirteen games.
Yet, until perhaps as recently as their 36-31 win in Philadelphia on Sunday night, the Giants have had many doubt their chances of returning to the Super Bowl this year. Even with that win, the Giants, now 8-1, with a two-game lead in the NFL’s toughest division (atop the NFC East), still have their detractors and non-believers.
The emergence of Eli Manning as the Giants’ leader and Super Bowl MVP didn’t convince some; nor did Kevin Boss filling in nicely for Jeremey Shockey. Others disregarded Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw solidifying the Giants’ running game. And, not enough credit was given to Justin Tuck and many other key defensive contributors filling in for the retired Michael Strahan and the injured Osi Umenyiora this year.
No, too many thought that last year’s eleven straight road victories by the Giants, including a magical playoff run through Tampa Bay, Dallas, Green Bay, and Arizona was merely a fluke.
The general consensus this preseason and for the first few weeks of the 2008 regular season was that the Cowboys, and even the Eagles, were the teams to beat in the NFC East.
In fairness, that sentiment was somewhat understandable, considering the talent on the Cowboys’ and Eagles’ rosters and the Giants’ inconsistency before they caught fire when it counted the most last season.
Although, it’s still amazing that there weren’t a lot of ankles broken with the speed and frequency at which so many were jumping on the bandwagons of the Cowboys, Eagles, and even the Redskins, as the Giants continued to quietly rack up wins.
Only now that the Giants are 1-0 against each of their three NFC East rivals this year, are more beginning to take the Giants seriously.
But, certainly not earlier. One would have thought that a 5-1 start by the Giants this year on the heels of last year’s championship, would have changed a lot of minds.
However, many so-called “experts” quipped that the Giants hadn’t been tested, that we’d see the Giants fall back to earth as their schedule got tougher.
Conversely, the Giants said they’d prove their critics wrong, and that’s just what they did, with an impressive string of victories that included a win at AFC contender Pittsburgh, a dismantling of Dallas at home, and a win in Philadelphia. The Cowboys and Eagles, once the pundit picks in the division, are now each a mediocre 5-4, a full three games behind the dominant first-place Giants.
As good as the Giants been, they have much work left to do. They have the toughest schedule in the NFL over the final seven weeks of the season, which will undoubtedly give the Giants’ critics more reason to disrespect and underrate them.
Given how they’ve flourished when attention is paid to others instead of them, the Giants wouldn’t have it any other way.