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Sunday's Loss Was Good for the Giants

Losing exposes flaws that winning can hide until they are too late to fix

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Sometimes a good butt kicking is just what the doctor ordered.

    It's funny that the biggest response to Sunday's Giants loss has come from former linebacker Antonio Pierce.

    If you haven't yet heard, Pierce offered some harsh words of criticism to Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck for not playing through their injuries, which Pierce deemed not serious because they don't require surgery, like he thinks true leaders of the team should do.

    That's pretty rich coming from a player who missed seven games in his final season with a neck injury that didn't require surgery and even richer from a guy who hasn't had a look at any medical information. 

    That cheap "analysis" makes headlines, but it doesn't do much of anything to address why the Giants actually lost the game.

    We can feel pretty confident about this because all of the things the Giants did wrong on Sunday were things they did wrong when Tuck and Jacobs were on the field during the the three wins leading up to the loss to the Seahawks.

    The only difference was that the Giants didn't wind up winning the game this time. And, strange as it may sound given how precious wins are in the NFL, it was probably a good thing for the Giants that they lost on Sunday. 

    Too often we write narratives about teams who play poorly but win that peg them as just knowing how to win. There's no doubt Eli Manning plays well in the fourth quarter and it always helps to have veteran players that don't lose their nerve when they fall behind, but such false narratives merely serve to obscure the reasons why teams continually find themselves behind the eight ball.

    The Giants problems are obvious on both sides of the ball. They were just as obvious in the win over the Cardinals, but all anyone wanted to talk about was Eli's fourth quarter magic and how the team came back from behind in the second half two weeks in a row.

    No one wanted to be bothered with the fact that they can't run the football behind an offensive line that is a shell of the kind of group that Tom Coughlin says he wants to have on his football team. They aren't much better at protecting the passer, something that should be alarming given the return of Manning's turnover issues the last two weeks.

    On defense, the Giants can't do all that much unless they swarm the quarterback in the pocket. The run defense, or lack thereof, has drawn more notice, but the pass defense isn't particularly good when quarterbacks are given enough time to find targets down the field.

    Despite all of those problems, the Giants probably should have won on Sunday. They didn't win, though, and that means they have to take a much harsher look at themselves than they did after their three wins had them patting themselves on the back and celebrating their fabulousness.

    That's what makes Pierce's criticism of Tuck so ridiculous. Tuck missed that last-minute win in Arizona, but you heard nobody doubting him simply because the Giants won a game in which they didn't play any better than they did at home against Seattle.

    Losing shines a different light, and a beneficial one, so long as it is spotlighting the right things.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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