The Bitter Taste of Last Place
Week one of the NFL season has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Half of the NFL teams sit comfortably at 1-0 while the others dread the transition into week 2 standing at 0-1. In an unlikely turn of events, two particular NFL squads have found themselves at the bottom of their respective divisions chasing the unpredictable teams that sit above them.
The defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and the seemingly elite Green Bay Packers are winless after week 1 of the 2012 NFL season. An unusual start for both teams, who were predicted early on to take their division crowns, but as fate, coincidence, or even just dumb luck are concerned, both squads are experiencing the bitter taste of last place heading into week 2.
The New York Giants came off an unpredictable 2011 season as another favorite to head to the Super Bowl this year. The 2012 season began with a Wednesday night showdown with the G-men taking on their biggest division rival in the Dallas Cowboys. Much anticipation and excitement loomed large over this game with many not even taking a second glance at the Cowboys considering they’re the same team from a year ago, but with maybe a few more issues on and off the field that are in need of dire attention. But, America’s Team showed up to play and outperformed New York in more ways than one.
Dallas, having had to answer for their lack of a number three wide-out found that the unlikely Kevin Ogletree answered a lot of waning questions as he ate up the Giants secondary grabbing eight passes for 114 yards and two scores. Tony Romo’s arm was another highlight considering his poor pass protection. His second half play lifted Dallas to new heights as he continued to pick on Giants corner Justin Tryon. DeMarco Murray was a standout as well, rushing for 131 yards. He evaded even some of the best Giants pass rushers even though Jason Pierre Paul had a fantastic outing. But, the New York D-line depth is lacking talent due to injury. Overall, the Giants just couldn’t match up against the relentless Dallas offense. It was a stunning defeat that no one saw coming, but unfortunately for Big Blue this was only the first hint of bad news the Giants were going to get heading into the weekend.
Other NFC East opponents, the Washington Redskins, now led by number two draft pick Robert Griffin III, and the ailing Philadelphia Eagles posted wins on Sunday following the Giants defeat, pitting the Giants in last place in the East, a spot New York isn’t too familiar with. So, what’s next for Tom Coughlin and company? Is this the beginning of the end, or was week one just a fluke in a seemingly promising season for the Giants? Week 2 the Giants will take on the frail Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s not too late to get back into the game as they say, but then again it’s all too early to tell.
Flipping over to the NFC North, you have the 2010 Super Bowl Champions, who despite a one and done in last year’s postseason, were expected to come out guns blazing in the week one opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Instead, the Packers slumped back and watched as the gold diggers ran and passed up and down the field against them. The Packers run game in newly acquired Cedric Benson was despicable as Benson merely managed eighteen yards on nine carries. This in turn forced the offense to lean on the arm of Aaron Rodgers, who played very un-Rodgers like, and couldn’t muster any momentum in the game. His fourth quarter interception seemed amateurish and Green Bay was simply outplayed by San Fran. Green Bay’s defense was also disastrous giving up way too many big plays down the field. The secondary was eaten alive, much like New York’s was just a few days previous. The Packers were the expected favorite to win the NFC North this year, but other favorites in the North are emerging as better candidates.
The Bears, Lions, and Vikings all won their games during week 1, thrusting the Packers into a place they haven’t tasted in quite some time. The Bears dismantled the Colts, while the Lions got lucky against the Rams, and the Vikings played solid against the Jaguars leaving only the green and gold the unlucky ones.
Now with a 0-2 start looming in a division rivalry match-up on Thursday night, the Packers are looking to turn things around before the division runs away with another team at the top.