The 2012 NFL season is now over for the Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants. Until a new team earns the crown on February 3rd, the Giants are still the Champions. However, they will not be defending their title after being eliminated from the playoffs when the Bears defeated the Lions in week 17.
At this point, all we can do is look back on the season and look for answers to determine how the Giants ended 9-7 and missed the playoffs. The Giants 2012 season had a mix of good and bad moments, but just when they would look like they were turning it on and getting ready to make a run, they would falter and take a step backwards. When I look back on the season, I am not just looking at the games that cost the Giants their season, but what are the key plays that cost the Giants an opportunity to repeat? I gave it a shot, and below are the four plays from the Giants 2012 season that I believe hurt them the most:
1) Week One: DeMarco Murray’s 48-yard Run
In the NFL’s season opener and the Giants home opener, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Giants, 24-17. The one play that I can’t shake from my memory is when DeMarco Murray shook off two tackles; one from Mathias Kiwanuka and one from Justin Tuck; and then took off for 48 yards. At the time there was 4:32 left in the third quarter, the Cowboys were back on the 27 yard line on second down with three yards to go. The play looked doomed from the start, Kiwanuka had Murray in dead to rights for a two yard loss, but Kiwanuka failed to wrap-up and Murray bounced backwards right into Justin Tuck who missed a tackle that would have resulted in a three yard loss. Following the two missed tackles, Murray was able to beat the Giants defenders to the edge and took the ball 48 yards all the way to the 25 yard line.
The Cowboys only ended up scoring a field goal and increasing their lead to 17-10, but this is the play that stands out as the moment when I knew the Giants weren’t going to win the season opener.
2) Week Four: Lawrence Tynes missed field goal
This was much more than just a missed a field goal, the play that added ten yards to the attempt was almost as significant as the miss itself. In week four when the Giants were playing the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, the Giants downfall started on a 2nd and 9, two plays after a defensive pass interference penalty was called against Nnamdi Asomugha to put the Giants in range for a Lawrence Tynes 41 yard field goal attempt. However, following the penalty, Eli Manning went for the Eagles jugular by targeting Ramses Barden deep downfield on the right sideline, but Barden was penalized on the play for offensive pass interference which set the Giants back another ten yards. The penalty forced a 51 yard field goal attempt that Lawrence Tynes missed by coming up short. This series of plays was the difference between a week four win and loss.
3) Week Nine: Mike Wallace’s 51 yard touchdown
In week nine, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many Giants fans used the game as a distraction to get away from the devastation, the Pittsburgh Steelers were even forced to travel to Metlife Stadium on the day of the game. From the get-go, the Giants played a horrible and sloppy game, but despite their poor play, they led 20-10 at the end of the third quarter. Not even a minute into the fourth quarter, the Steelers stole all the momentum when Ben Roethlisberger connected with Mike Wallace for a 51 yard touchdown to close the Giants lead from ten points to three points. The Giants weren’t able to score again, and the Steelers finished their fourth quarter comeback when Isaac Redman ran it in with 4:02 remaining in the game to take a 24-20 lead, which was the games final score.
4) Week Thirteen: Lawrence Tynes missed field goal
Unlike the previous three plays, this play occurred in the first half. In week thirteen when the Giants played the Washington Redskins in a Monday Night Football NFC East battle, Lawrence Tynes missed a 43 yard field goal early in the second quarter of the game. At the time the Giants were down 3-7, and they had plenty of time to make-up for the miss. But at the end of the game when the final score was 16-17, I couldn’t help but wonder how different the game would have been had Tynes been able to convert the field goal attempt.
Although there is no telling how the remainder of the season would have played out had any of those four plays went in the Giants favor, but I do believe that all else held constant, if just one of the four plays from above went in the Giants favor, they would now be preparing for the playoffs. But then again, Cowboys fans can say the same thing about Dez Bryant’s fingers.
What do you believe were the turning points in the Giants 2012 season?