Rock Hoffman
Bucks County, PA native Justin Pugh hopes to be on the field in San Francisco this Sunday for Big Blue. Photo by Andy Lewis /

The “F” and the “L” in NFL, of course, stand for Football League but the thing about games and teams in the NFL is that they are often separated by another “F” and“L” – a fine line. Take the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles for example, one team and fan base can’t wait for the nightmarish season to end while the other expects to be in Minneapolis the first weekend in February for the Super Bowl. A few plays – that fine line – work out differently and both teams might have vastly different records than 1-7 and 8-1.

The Giants started slowly with losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions but week three is where things turned quickly for them when they lost to the Eagles 27-24 on a 61-yard field goal by Josh Elliott as time expired.

At the end of that game, the Giants mad some errors that allowed the Eagles to preserve time so Elliott could try his kick. The Giants offense had come alive with a vengeance in that fourth quarter, they scored 24 points to take the lead but after the Eagles had tied it at 24, the Giants offense fell apart.

They got the ball back at their own 25-yard line with 51 seconds left and three timeouts but they committed two penalties, Shane Vereen got pushed out of bounds and punted on fourth-and-one from the 34 having run just 38 seconds off the clock which probably wouldn’t have been enough time but Brad Wing’s punt went out of bounds after have gone just 28 yards and Elliott made an Eagles team record long field goal after one completion from Carson Wentz to Alshon Jeffrey.

So, that fine line, a few plays at the end of a game, made the Giants 0-3 and the Eagles 2-1 when both could have been 1-2 (depending on what would’ve happened in overtime) but with very different levels of confidence. The Giants would’ve had their first win of the year – in comeback fashion – over a big rival. The Eagles would’ve been losers of two in a row, having given up a 14-point fourth quarter lead to a big rival.

I just know in this league, the way it goes, it’s so cyclical,” said Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh as the team prepared to go to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. “You look at it, who’s the best team right now? Philadelphia is 8-1, they are the best team. They needed a 61-yard field goal (to beat  us). It’s crazy how competitive and close these games are. It really comes down to confidence.”

With a win do the Giants have enough confidence to win the next week on the road at Tampa Bay where they lost – again – on a field goal on the final play? Or the week after that, they lose Odell Beckham Jr. to a season-ending injury and on the next play, Eli Manning fumbles to set up the game-winning touchdown for the Los Angeles Chargers, who win 27-22. Three weeks, three losses by a total of 11 points. That’s a fine line.

With a loss, do the Eagles have the confidence to run out the clock on the Chargers with a nearly seven minute drive to preserve a 26-24 win?

After winning their first three games by a total of 18 points, since then, the Eagles reeled off their next five wins by an average of 18.6 points. The Giants got a win in Denver and had a halftime lead on Seattle before allowing three second half touchdowns to lose 24-7. The seemingly, have hit rock bottom after a 51-17 loss at home to the Los Angeles Rams.

For both teams, there’s been injuries but confident, winning teams overcome them. Teams that lack confidence don’t and locker room dissension also becomes public where good teams don’t have it or they keep a lid on it.

Because of that fine line, Pugh feels one win can turn things around and the Giants could have an impact on the second half of the season.

Go out there, get a win and just change the mentality, the feel, the vibe in the whole building,” he said. “If you come in and the woman at the front desk, she’ll be smiling, everyone will be a little bit happier. So it’s definitely a thing that we need. We need to go out and get a win and just have that one-game mentality. I think Denver was a good example. That’s all we were focused on. Just going out there and playing tough, playing hard, playing physical and they’re going to be hungry, too. It’s going to be two hungry teams looking for a win trying to right the ship, and I think that’s the mentality we have to have.”

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Justin Pugh



10 Nov 17 - Football, Giants, NFL - Rock Hoffman - No Comments