Surely, you had to answer to your friends this week, to your family, maybe to the Voice of Reason in your own head that kept asking you these past few days: “Have you lost your flippin’ mind?”
Surely as you made the endless walk from the parking lot to the stadium, nearly knocked flat by wind gusts that came at you as hard as 20 mph, that inner Voice was mocking you something awful: “You’ve seen the newspaper this morning, right? You know the Giants are 1-8, right?”
And also: “Have you lost your flippin’ mind?”
And yet you were among the faithful still standing at the end, after exactly 200 minutes of mostly unwatchable football, your eyes tearing from the wind (as opposed to the other reasons the Giants have made your eyes tear up this year), standing and roaring as Aldrick Rosas flicked a 23-yard chip shot through the uprights with a buck-fifty-four left in overtime.
You were the ones who stuck around a few extra minutes to savor this 12-9 victory over the Chiefs. You endured the first Genuine Wind Day at MetLife Stadium, versions of which we’d see from time to time at the old Giants Stadium across the parking lot, although most of those days involved playoff games and spooked opponents and punters who wanted to do anything in the world except try to kick a football into the gusts and the gales and the swales.
“We fought through a lot of adversity,” Giants’ coach Ben McAdoo would say, and he was talking about his players, and he was right, but at least they got to run around a little bit in the bluster, stay warm. You sat there (or stood there) for 200 minutes of real time, for 68 minutes and six seconds of football time, and this time the stakes weren’t for a berth in a conference championship game or a Super Bowl.
It was for a second victory in 10 games.
And yet you came. You stayed. You cheered. And you were rewarded. Yes: There are plenty of Giants fans who grumbled as they watched the Chiefs — alleged contenders in the AFC, one of but two teams to tame the Patriots this year — deliver an Andy Reid Special of Slapstick Football, capped by that absurd decision to have tight end Travis Kelce throw the ball late in a tie game (there were others).
Those Giants fans were far more interested in the Josh Rosen-Sam Darnold matchup Saturday night than the Eli Manning-Alex Smith showdown Sunday afternoon, and that is certainly their right. But most of those Giants fans were home in Westchester and North Jersey and Connecticut, grumbling at a TV screen with a plate of nachos on their laps and the heat cranked up good.
You could relate to the words of Roger Lewis, who made the play of the day with an acrobatic catch that set up the game-winning field goal (even though he would’ve been covered by a pass interference call if he hadn’t finished the play): “At the end of the day, I just want to win.”
At the end of the day, that’s all you wanted, too. That’s why you came. That’s why you stayed. That’s why you felt good driving away from the stadium Sunday, even if it may cost the Giants a slot or two in the draft, even if it may make John Mara and Steve Tisch pause a few extra moments at season’s end before deciding what to do about their football brain trust.
Because 2-8 just feels better than 1-9.
Because winning beats losing, even if it’s not always technically better than losing. Because if you’re going to pay for parking, pay for PSLs, pay for the game tickets, pay for the cold beer (or, more likely, on this day, the hot chocolate), then — what the hell — you ought to pay to see a win, right?
“Believe in me,” was the message that Lewis had for Manning in the huddle just before his game-changing fourth-down catch, and Manning did, and he threw it his way (mostly because it felt most of the day like Eli’s second-best option might have to be Homer Jones).
Belief? That’s all you have left, right? That’s what even 2-8 can’t dissolve. Have you lost your flippin’ mind? Not even a little. You came Sunday because that’s what you do on a Sunday, because that’s who you are, 2-8 or 8-2. This was one for the truest true believers. This one was for you.