When the Giants went down 23-6 with 10 minutes to play against the Broncos on Thanksgiving night, it seemed like the time had come to put the ball in Eli Manning's hands and let 'er rip. Winning was going to take a mighty comeback with scores coming fast and often and, most likely, from Manning's right arm. But the Giants started the next series with the same kind of Brandon Jacobs running play that's gotten them nowhere all season.
Will they do the same thing against the Cowboys on Sunday? Everywhere you look, you find a Giant saying that they're a good team that just needs to work harder in order to snap their losing skid. That's the kind of posturing that gets played as being cool in the face of pressure, but the usefulness of that track ran out two losses ago. It's time for the Giants to start playing like the desperate team that everyone but them knows they are.
Manning's the best player on the team, so let him loose. Dallas isn't going to expect the Giants to come out with spread packages, throwing the ball all over the field and attacking on every down, so that's exactly what they should do. No matter what the Giants might say or think, they aren't a particularly talented team so the element of surprise and unconventional thinking are weapons that need to be in their arsenal when they take the field.
The defense should have the same desperate edge. Stop the clever zone blitzing and bring the thunder over and over again. Tell Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora that they each get a free car every time they hit Tony Romo. Sit the unathletic Danny Clark, start rookie Clint Sintim and tell him to play full speed and not worry about making mistakes.
In short, the Giants need to play the Cowboys like a boxer behind on points in the 11th round of a championship fight. Keep doing what put you behind the eight-ball and you know exactly where you're going to wind up. But if throw haymakers and fight like you've got nothing to lose (and the Giants don't have a thing to lose right now), then you might just wind up knocking someone down.
We'll find out quickly if the Giants choose to go out fighting. If not, they might as well just punt on first down the rest of the season. Sounds crazy, right? So does doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.