It was another Giants coach of another time who said what is probably the defining truth of the NFL. No, not that old offensive coordinator named Lombardi, although “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” — no matter how precise the wording he used when he uttered it, is the one more people remember.
No, this was Bill Parcells, as his Giants were grinding through an especially wearying stretch of the 1989 season — the one that would end, ignobly, with Flipper Anderson dashing through the tunnel at Giants Stadium.
“You don’t get any medal for trying something,” Parcells said. “You get medals for results.”
Thirty-one years later, Parcells’ words live weekly with the Giants. While the other football team in town has achieved little mystery to go along with its weekly misery — it gets bludgeoned every time out of the gate — the Giants have assembled their 1-6 record with more than a few stomachaches along the way.
In truth, they’ve only been clobbered in one game — Week 3, at home, against a depleted 49ers team. The Steelers beat them in the opener, 26-16, but if you watched the game you know just how competitive the Giants were most of the way. Every other game, one way or another, has been a crapshoot.
— Bears 17, Giants 13 went to the game’s final play, the Giants on the Bears’ 10-yard line, Golden Tate flagged for offensive interference in the end zone.
— Rams 17, Giants 9 wasn’t over until Daniel Jones was picked off at the LA 5-yard line, 52 seconds left in the game.
— Cowboys 37, Giants 34 ended at the gun, Greg Zuerlein booting a 34-yard field goal as time expired.
— Giants 20, Redskins 19 wasn’t decided until Riverboat Ron Rivera opted to go for two points and the win late in the game.
— Eagles 22, Giants 21 ended with Philly scoring twice in the game’s final five minutes.
So the question is: Is that better? Is losing week after week, after turning in representative efforts, better than what the Jets do week after week, entering the sausage grinder? It should be, on one level: better to have your heart broken as a fan than to never have your heart in it at all, right?
Still, eventually, these things add up. They multiply. And when the Giants host the Bucs at MetLife Stadium on Monday night, it is awfully easy to see how they might give the Bucs fits, despite the differences in their record and their immediate expectations. The Giants have a long and fun history with Tom Brady and ought to be able to get to him a few times Monday. We know how that’s worked in the end.
The Bucs defense ought to provide a special challenge for Jones, but the fact is that, while he tends to have his weekly dalliances with poor choices and worse execution, he’s already faced substantive defenses in the Steelers and the Rams and played pretty well. It just gets old getting a slap on the back at game’s end, the message: Get ’em next week.
At some point, next week has to actually arrive.
Jones was asked this past week how much winning one of these winnable games would mean for him and his teammates.
“I think it would certainly do a lot for us,” he said. “When you look at a lot of these games this year, we’ve been close. It’s come down to a couple plays or a possession there at the end. When you look at it, you have to look at the entire game. I think you can see a lot of positives, a lot of things we’ve done well.
“We have to find a way to finish. I think you can take good from it, you can certainly take a lot of positives from it and learn from what’s led to us ultimately not getting the results that we’ve hoped for. I don’t think it’s black and white. There are positives to take from it, and we have to build off those. We certainly have to correct the things that have kept us from winning those close games.”
No better time than the present.