The Giants honored their 2011 Super Bowl-winning team at halftime on Sunday.
They even dressed like them, donning the familiar gray pants and white jerseys with red trim that the team wore in Indianapolis when they beat the Patriots to capture the franchise’s fourth Lombardi Trophy.
But they might have been better served by having that squad on the field during the game. All those years removed from their moment of glory, with hints of middle age creeping into some of their hairlines and waistlines, that 2011 team might have been able to give a better showing than the current vintage provided.
"Obviously, there is a lot of respect for the accomplishments of that team," Joe Judge said. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for the history of this organization and the men who came before us. Obviously, there is a responsibility to uphold the tradition of how we want to play.
"We didn’t do that well enough today."
Not even close.
The 38-11 drubbing at the hands of the Rams made the success of that season 10 years ago seem even more distant than it really is.
Eli Manning carried the Lombardi Trophy into MetLife Stadium and Tom Coughlin addressed the crowd with a thunderous speech about resilience and fortitude and overcoming adversity, and it felt as if they had arrived from a different century rather than a mere decade ago.
Daniel Jones, returning a week after suffering a concussion, reverted to his turnover-prone play with three interceptions and two fumbles, one of which the Rams recovered to set up a touchdown.
An offensive line that had not allowed a sack in the previous two games yielded four of them and had Jones under considerable pressure otherwise. A defense that called its previous week’s performance "unacceptable" had to find a new vocabulary to define this game. Safety Logan Ryan came up with "highly unacceptable."
It was the kind of blowout loss that made the Giants hearken not only for the glory the 2011 team reached but the dignity the Giants carried earlier this season, when they were losing on last-second field goals rather than the combined 82-31 of the last two games.
This was a game in which wide receiver Kadarius Toney aggravated an ankle injury in the middle of the first drive of the game and did not return, lasting just eight plays, yet remained the team’s leading receiver until late in the third quarter. The Giants already were without Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton, ruled out before the game with injuries. The loss of Toney — and left tackle Andrew Thomas — left them searching for playmakers.
Dante Pettis, called up from the practice squad for the game, wound up targeted 11 times, the second-most on the team behind Sterling Shepard.
The Rams, meanwhile, coasted to the victory and rested Matthew Stafford for the fourth quarter after he threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Cooper Kupp caught two of those scoring passes and gained 130 yards on nine catches.
Trailing 28-3 at halftime, the Giants heard speeches from two head coaches. Coughlin was still wrapping up his remarks as they emerged from the locker room and began to loosen up for the second half, providing some of the few cheers they heard all day.
Judge already had laced into them.
"I challenged the guys at halftime," he said. "I wanted to see who was going to finish the game. I wanted to see what kind of fight some of these guys had. I could tell from the eye test there were some guys who fought and finished, and that’s how we’re going to do things around here."
"We tried to earn some respect back," Ryan said of that approach.
They were outscored 10-8 in the second half.
"We have to play with heart, man," Shepard said. "You look up at the scoreboard and you tend to get down. People’s heads tend to drop. But one thing we talk about a lot throughout the week and since we’ve gotten together as a team is ‘fight.’ No matter what the situation is, we have to fight."
Judge said he will review the film from the game and determine if changes in personnel need to be made based upon his ultimatum to the team at halftime. One thing he would commit to afterward: Neither he nor the team is ready to give up.
"There’s a lot of ball left to be played," he said. "We’re in Week 6. To turn around and start tapping out now? I don’t know what kind of mentality other people have, but I don’t quit things and the players don’t quit things. Anyone who thinks we have the mentality of ‘woe is me,’ what did you think was going to happen? Did you think we’d go out there, roll the ball out and just roll through every opponent?"
No one thought that.
But it would be nice if opponents didn’t just roll through them.