Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Giants' travel playbook filled with audibles

Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants scores

Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants scores a second quarter touchdown to give the Giants a 7-3 lead over the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Dec. 13, 2010) Credit: Getty

DETROIT - When the Giants begin to prepare Wednesday for the serious business of a visit from the hated Eagles, they quickly will put their three-day odyssey through the snowy Midwest behind them.

But someday, when they reunite as older men or when they tell their children and grandchildren tall tales about their time as players, this adventure surely will be near the top of the list.

How could it not? It included an aborted flight to Minneapolis, a collapsed stadium, a practice in a hotel ballroom in Kansas City and the grand finale here last night in one of the strangest game-day atmospheres in NFL history - and on a night when Brett Favre made NFL history by not playing.

Of course, the Giants would not have been able to look back and laugh at any of this had they not done the most important thing by beating the Vikings, 21-3.

The fact they did so despite a sluggish start was a testament to their fortitude and attitude.

(It also was a testament to the ineptitude of the Vikings' offense under Tarvaris Jackson.)

"The word of the day is 'resiliency,' '' defensive end Justin Tuck said. "It would have been easy for us to come in here and be distracted from the task at hand.''

From the start, the Giants embraced the weekend's challenge with good humor, even throwing in an impromptu rookie concert in Kansas City on Sunday to keep everyone loose.

Last night it did not hurt that the vibe at Ford Field was far from the intensity they would have faced at the Vikings' noisy dome.

On the contrary, it was a nightlong party for the mostly young, mostly neutral fans who took advantage of an offer of free tickets and nearly filled the building, 45,910 strong.

There was enough noise that at times the Giants had to use a silent snap count, but it would be a stretch to call them a conventional visiting team.

Even though it technically was a Vikings home game, with the team's logos on the field and fight song on the public address system, the crowd made it clear where its loyalties resided.

At one point, after executing an extraordinarily lengthy rendition of the Wave, fans began chanting "Let's Go Lions.''

(Tuck on the Wave: "They did it pretty good, and long. I was impressed.'')

When the scoreboard urged quiet because the Vikings' offense was "at work,'' most booed.

The first of the night's two biggest cheers came when the p.a. announcer thanked Lions fans for their hospitality.

The second came when the Vikings cheerleaders were introduced. (The Lions, like the Giants, are among the few NFL teams that do not have a squad of their own.)

Brandon Jacobs said he enjoyed "looking up and seeing all the different team jerseys,'' and was happy Detroiters enjoyed a free night out.

"You need things like that to happen around here,'' he said.

Coach Tom Coughlin said that at times during the trip, he worried his players were "too even-keeled,'' but he mostly accepted that as a good thing.

"There was no complaining, no nothing,'' he said. (When he met with players early yesterday, he joked, "Every time I see you guys, you're in the same clothes.'')

The Giants did enough last night, but most likely they will have to do better to beat the Eagles.

That's a story for another day, though.

On Sunday, Tuck likened the Giants' trip to "a bad Christmas movie.''

Last night he compared it to the movie "Groundhog Day,'' in which the lead character repeats the same day over and over.

"Tomorrow,'' he said, "will be a different day for us.'' Finally.

New York Sports