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The Giants responded to the challenge given to them by everyone infuriated by the way they played against the Saints on Monday night and showed buckets of fight against the Packers.
Unfortunately, fight alone isn't enough to beat a team as good as Green Bay is this season. The Giants were in the game until the final minutes, but they couldn't find a way to avoid a 38-35 loss at the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon.
The Giants tied the score with 58 seconds to go on a great catch by Hakeem Nicks to cap another thrilling fourth-quarter drive by Eli Manning. They needed two and got it on a gutsy draw call to D.J. Ware, but they left Aaron Rodgers too much time.
Rodgers completed four passes to move the Packers down the field in the blink of an eye to set up Mason Crosby for a 31-yard field goal. Crosby hit it and the Giants were moral victors, but actual losers.
While this makes four straight losses for the Giants, leaving them at 6-6, there's a very different feeling in the wake of this game than there was after the previous three. Part of that is because the Cowboys imploded on themselves in Arizona, leaving the Giants just a game back with four to play and part of it is because the Giants showed up and played better than they have at any other point during this losing streak.
They played with a sense of urgency that's been missing from the team all season, starting with Eli Manning's 67-yard touchdown to Travis Beckum on the first drive of the game and continuing through a rebound from the pass rush that went absent during the losing streak. The Giants kept throwing haymakers on both sides of the ball all day, but, in the end, they were simply outpunched by Rodgers.
There's no particular shame in that this season. Rodgers, who threw four touchdowns, is operating at an insanely high level and this game probably wouldn't have been as close as it was if his receivers didn't drop a slew of balls over the course of the game.
Of course, some Giants fans will likely look at a couple of calls from the officials and wonder how differently things would have played out if they went another way. Greg Jennings didn't seem to have full control of a touchdown catch in the third quarter, but it was ruled that way on the field and upon review, and a sketchy illegal contact call on linebacker Jacquian Williams allowed the Packers to milk some clock while gaining a few extra yards in the fourth quarter.
That meant the Giants got the ball deep in their own territory and a poor punt by Steve Weatherford gave the Packers the ball near midfield late in the fourth. Rodgers wound up hitting Donald Driver for a score on that drive, extending a one-point lead to an eight-point bulge and ultimately leaving the Giants as losers once again.
The refs can't get all the blame, however. Manning had a shaky first half with an interception that Clay Matthews returned for a touchdown and a fumble just before halftime that robbed them of a chance to put points on the board.
All of that was prologue to the marvelous ending that felt just a little bit like the loss the Giants suffered to the Patriots in the final week of the 2007 regular season. They pushed an undefeated team to the limit that night and found a way to beat them the next time around.
Will there be a rematch this time?