"There won’t be any more blowing smoke up their rear ends as far as last year is last year, this year is this year."
That was Tom Coughlin after the Giants' 24-17 loss to the Cowboys on Wednesday night and he couldn't be more right. The only part of last season that came to mind while watching the Giants was the four-game losing streak that had people writing off the Giants.
Was complacency really a problem for the Giants last season? We always thought the team's angry reaction to people suggesting they weren't really the best team in football was because they felt disrespected, but perhaps it really had to do with the team feeling far too good about themselves and wanting everyone else to share that good feeling.
It did seem like the Giants were content to wait around and let Eli Manning bail them out the way they did last year, but Wednesday night became a painful illustration of how dangerous a style that is to play every week. Manning's great, but his fourth quarter play last season was too good to be considered sustainable.
So maybe this was a wake-up call for a team that needed a reminder that winning the Super Bowl matters in the extreme short and long terms, but it doesn't mean a thing when you get back on the field. We'll start finding out if they got the message in 10 days.
Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly from Wednesday night.
UGLY: If there's one player on the Giants you'd worry about getting too caught up in last year, it would be Victor Cruz. He spent the offseason writing a book and appearing at every red carpet in the civilized world, which makes it easy to question if his mind has been on the right things after three drops and an incredibly stupid penalty on Wednesday night.
GOOD: Jason Pierre-Paul, the other 2011 breakout star, had no such problems. He collapsed the pocket to force an interception, blew up running plays in the backfield and showed that there's more where last year came from.
BAD: Did Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora even play?
UGLY: David Diehl's problems as a pass blocker have been obvious for a few years now and moving to right tackle didn't do anything to alleviate them. DeMarcus Ware eats up good tackles so it's no surprise that he used Diehl as a turnstile all night.
BAD: The injury problems at cornerback are getting ridiculous, though only slightly more ridiculous than Justin Tryon looked trying to cover NFL receivers. It didn't help that Corey Webster failed to hold up his end of the bargain during a terrible night that included getting toasted by Kevin Ogletree for a crucial touchdown.
UGLY: A general question for the Giants' defensive backs and coaches, have you ever seen a slant pattern before?
GOOD: Domenik Hixon made a terrific catch on the one big Giants passing play of the night and looked just fine in his return from a second torn ACL. The Giants will need a third receiver to step up and Hixon made a strong case for himself Wednesday.
UGLY: Mathias Kiwanuka after the game, via Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger, "I haven't been held this much since I was a baby." Tuck retweeted this so there may be more whining coming from the Giants after a game that saw the Cowboys penalized 12 times. The refs missed some calls, something that happens every night and are only used as excuses by those who prefer to have smoke blown up their rear ends.
BAD: David Wilson's fumble was predictable since he fumbled all the time at Virginia Tech and was accurately described as a boom/bust player coming out of college. We get why Coughlin benched him, but the Giants can't bury him if they hope to make something out of a running game that contributed zero to the effort with Ahmad Bradshaw.
UGLY: Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has never been popular with Giants fans. That won't change after he devised a way for the team to fail to score from the 2-yard-line after Michael Boley's interception and generally called a game that appeared to be blind to the Giants' strengths.
GOOD: It's just the first game. The Giants lost that one last year too.