Patriots 38, Giants 35

“The only outcome I™m rooting for would be Jared Lorenzen putting up crazy numbers against N.E. backups, thus leading to a public outcry for Eli™s benching against the Buccaneers. Sure, it™ll never happen, but neither will New York™s first-stringers be allowed to risk injury late in the game, not if Coughlin has an ounce of smarts remaining.”

Ahem. So much for any expert prognosis that one of both of these teams would send the scrubs in. Despite having nothing whatsoever to play for (beyond individual records and making Don Shula cry), the Patriots and Giants turned an otherwise meaningless contest into a genuinely competitive, if not compelling game. I’ll still contend this was a mere historic footnote compared to what’s in store during the postseason, but there’s a lot to take away from this one. For instance, knee injuries to Giants LB Kawika Mitchell, safety Craig Dahl and center Shaun O’Hara, all of whom were sacrificed to the all-important cause of trying-to-knock-the-Pats-off.

That said, I won’t go nearly as far as WFAN’s Mike Francesca, who along with characterizing last night’s game as “everything that’s good about the NFL”, unloaded on Giants fans who sold their tickets. “How stupid did you feel,” bellowed Francesca, “watching your Giants leave the field to an enormous ovation at the end of the first half…if you managed to cozy up to a television.”

Just out of curiosity, how many games at the Meadowlands has Francesca paid to attend in late December? It’s kind of amazing to hear WFAN’s listeners accused of disloyalty by a guy far too smart to actually sit in row ZZZ in freezing temperatures. And who amongst us wouldn’t love to read of the Sultan Of Self-Importance in the middle of something like this?

With Randy Moss (2 TD’s, 6 catches, 100 yards) passing Jerry Rice for the single season TD reception mark, we can safely proclaim New England’s draft day acquisition of the former one of the most lopsided deals in modern sports history. And while New England overcoming a 12 point second half deficit on enemy territory was decent enough playoff preperation, it cannot be ignored that Eli Manning was just a few dropped passes away from having outplayed Tom Brady. Sadly for Eli, one of those drops wasn’t committed by Ellis Hobbs ; suffice to say that if a mistake free game was required by Manning to pull off the upset, that particular overthrow of Plaxico Fantastico was gaffe of the night.

I won’t call it costly, however. Luckily for Manning and Tom Coughlin, nothing was at stake, and if the former plays nearly as well against Tampa next weekend, he’ll have done plenty to challenge the perception he’s got no heart. Perhaps even within his own team’s front office.