from Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
New York talk shows crackle with energy, microphones and phone lines come alive, finally spared from a chat dominated by doom and gloom.
Over the past week, the Big Apple has allowed itself to bask in newfound, possibly fleeting, NFL glory. A collective big blue smile flew out of the Meadowlands and spread across much of the city.
Imagine, just imagine — but whisper it quietly — what might happen if the Giants actually managed to win another game?
All it took was one nail-biter for victory, facilitated by an enlightened “go for the win” call with incredible audacity, illuminated by masterful side pep talk.
And everything feels different.
Forlorn grumpiness gave way to genuine excitement. Giants fans remember that being a Giants fan isn’t so bad after all, and you don’t need any encouragement to get aboard the blue train.
Suddenly, head coach Brian Daboll looks like a fearless leader who can overcome those years of painful persistence. Daniel Jones, the type of hero who responds to an urgently expressed challenge. Saquon Barkley, a ball-carrying superstar fit for the big city.
If this all feels a bit overwhelming, so be it. Because we have to forgive New Yorkers their overexcitement, given that there’s been so little to draw inspiration from in recent years.
The last postseason game at MetLife Stadium was in early 2014 — because New York was hosting the Super Bowl then. The Giants have played just one home playoff game (2011 season) since the site was remodeled. The Jets have had none in that span.
The Giants’ current 1-0 mark is the first time they have boasted a winning record at any point since 2016. New York is the FOX Bet -133 favorite to host the Carolina Panthers this weekend (Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX), and that doesn’t happen too often either.
New York Giants
All of this has led to a new energy that is upbeat, exuberant and uncompromising, and it seems to start with the coaching staff. Daboll yelled at Jones during the fourth quarter of the team’s thrilling 21-20 win over the Tennessee Titans last weekend, furious that the quarterback missed a scoring opportunity.
Jones came back strongly and set up a key downfield tackle before Daboll’s bold pick to go for two allowed Barkley to cross for the winning score.
“We will be aggressive,” Dabol told reporters. “That’s what we want to do. That’s the mindset I want the players to have.”
After years of muttering apologies and empty promises, the message is prouder — and certainly louder — as summed up by defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s exhortations to those in attendance to scream hoarse on Sunday.
“I know New Yorkers are loud,” Martindale said. “We have to be loud in this stadium. If you want to be a part of changing this culture here with the Giants, be loud. Make this place rock. [opposing teams] I don’t want to come to our stadium.”
That’s probably exactly what you want to hear if you’re a member of a fanbase that’s always high on the list of the NFL’s most tortured supporters.
Saquon Barkley, Giants host Baker Mayfield & Panthers
Carolina finds itself a slight underdog by 1.5 points against New York. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharp predict the outcome.
Yes, the Giants are the only team other than the New England Patriots to win more than one Super Bowl in the past 15 years. But they were really bad at every step in between, snuffing out hope when it looked like it was blossoming.
There never seemed to be an excuse to be excited, never a reason to believe, never an early season to lift spirits. Just a waste, every year, then some more.
When things are going well, New York can turn on its interest in an instant. Jets fans fell temporarily in love with unexpected QB Mike White last season before the romance quickly dulled amid multiple interceptions and a quick return to roster depth status.
Giants fans are now fully engaged. The Panthers and Baker Mayfield were unlucky to lose their opener against the Cleveland Browns, though they’re not discounts. But no one thinks about that, not when the juggernaut feels real, somehow – amazing – after just one point triumph.
In truth, all the Giants have is a platform, and a fragile one at that, a momentum boost to build on, but only if things continue to go right over the next few weeks.
But this is New York, this is a group of fans who have forgotten what good news feels like. Hope is always delicious, even when we know it can be drunk from a poisoned chalice.
For now, enough is enough for the Giants.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and contributor to the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter at @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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