|10-24-2005, 12:29 AM||#1|
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Southern California
Woody Paige on the loss
Toomer again strikes down Broncos
By Woody Paige
Denver Post Staff Columnist
East Rutherford, N.J. - The Broncos-Giants rivalry is about as fierce, bitter, intense and fundamentally essential to society as those between Alaska and Hawaii, Switzerland and Australia.
There's no rivalry.
Think sunburn and frostbite, chocolate and kangaroos, Charlie "Marlboro Man" Conerly and Jake "Jeremiah Johnson" Plummer.
Jake didn't care much for the Broncos' fans before. Wait until he gets an earful this week, and the conversation won't be about girlfriends and Halloween candy.
There was no comeback here. It was a serious give back.
Denver and the New York Giants of New Jersey seldom concern themselves with each other and rarely play.
They live in different worlds and conferences.
So, why is it that three of the most exciting victories in the Giants' storied history have come against the Broncos?
And Amani Toomer had the last-minute touchdowns in two.
The Giants brought the gargantuan, colossal, behemoth Broncos down to size Sunday evening.
Swamp gas, that's what it was.
Eli Manning is now approximately the 14th of the Manning family quarterbacks to knuckle the Broncos. You might remember Peyton from the past couple of playoffs.
Kid brother Eli threw a 2-yard pass to Toomer with five seconds left. Miss Liberty and Ole Miss celebrated with the Giants.
"We put in that play for this game," Manning said.
Couldn't wait a week more, huh?
The Giants won it, and the Broncos blew it. Twenty-four of one, and 23 of the other.
Experts and fantasy freaks in the northeast believe the 4-2 Giants are for real and the 5-2 Broncos are not.
Tom Coughlin wasn't this thrilled about winning since he coached the Jacksonville Jags over Mike Shanahan and the Broncos in the postseason.
But the Giants were happy, happy.
"I think that was the best," said Manning, in the sixth game of his second season.
The Broncos and the Giants were opposed for only the 10th time since the NFL-AFL merger. The series really didn't matter until they met in Super Bowl XXI at the Rose Bowl. The Broncos led 10-9 at halftime, and there was talk that Denver would be a champion in something. Phil Simms, whose son plays QB in the league now, shut up the Broncos in the second half.
Spin ahead to 1998, when Denver arrived at Giants Stadium with a 13-0 record. The Broncos had a legitimate chance of finishing unbeaten. Bob Griese, whose son is in the NFL, and the undefeated Miami Dolphins of 1972 were jubilant when the Broncos were nudged 20-16.
Toomer caught a 37-yard touchdown pass with 48 seconds remaining.
Fast forward to Sunday. A triumph, and the Broncos are in total control of the AFC West and second best in the conference to the, guess, who, Indianapolis Colts and Older Bro.
You couldn't smell a rivalry, though.
After trailing 7-3 halfway through the first quarter, the Broncos seemed to be running toward their sixth victory in a row.
I wrote this note: "Boring, efficient, '77." The Broncos of 1977 played stupendous defense and were capable, not Cain, and able on offense.
"Lucky," I also wrote.
The Broncos had not committed a turnover in 17 quarters after committing five in the first seven.
Plummer had been effective except when opening his potty mouth.
He survived several instances Sunday when he could have been and should have been intercepted.
When the Broncos took a 23-10 lead moments into the fourth quarter, you could lock it up. Whenever they had 20 or more, they won. And whenever they held a team to 20 or fewer, they won.
And this wasn't some rival from Oakland or Kansas City or San Diego or a defending Super Bowl champion.
These were the Gnats, not the Giants.
Even when N.Y. scored with 9:07 showing, the Broncos marched like penguins. Jason Elam missed a field goal. Not to worry. Manning was intercepted by Champ Bailey.
The Broncos marched like penguins again to their 47 before punting. There were on 3 1/2 minutes to go; the Broncos' defense is solid from front to back; Manning had produced one touchdown and nothing much else; and panic had no spot on the Broncos' sideline.
Kiss, kiss, bang, bang. The Giants went from their 17 to the Broncos' 2. Amani was well-suited for the final play. Manning was blitzed by safety John Lynch but saw Toomer dart over the middle and get free.
"I don't know if I went up or down for the ball," Toomer said. He jumped up and came down with the ball.
This feels like the Broncos ought to have won. Mike Anderson rushed for 120 yards, and Tatum Bell added a 37-yard gainer and 60 overall yards.
A total of 191 yards rushing and 194 yards passing. No interceptions. The Giants rushed for 97 yards. One interception.
Where did it go wrong?
Plummer didn't make a lot happen. He could have ended it with one touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. He was suffering from dry (potty) mouth and wet (off-target) arm.
The rest of the offense was complacent, and the play-calling turned passive.
The defense got one turnover in the final period, but needed another. Instead, the secondary played soft against the Giants' receivers. Receptions went for 6, 6, 7, 6, 9, 5, 9 yards.
"We had time," Coughlin said. And room.
Eli had time when he backpedaled and avoided the blitz, and Amani got room when he ran off the cornerback and sprinted over the middle.
The Broncos let Manning, Toomer, the Giants and their hold on first escape. The road gets rougher. If they don't get the home field in the playoffs, this loss will be the reason.
When the Giants acted as if they had just beaten Germany in the World Cup and the Broncos walked bow-headed and bowlegged from the stadium (which had been half-empty in the fourth quarter; how about that apple, Jake?), this began to look a lot like a full metal jacket rivalry.