I.

Well, that sucked. Not much more you can say about that – a painful, painful loss. Hester’s run-back will go down in G-Men infamy as an all-time shocking moment. At the beginning of that play, I was ready to cheer on the successful field goal and gear up for what was sure to be an awesome nail-biter. By the end of that play, a mere 10 seconds later, I had lost all physical and mental sensation.

But you know what’s even worse than the loss? The fact that Luke Petitgout, in all probability, is out for the year. I hope that after watching this game we all realize this, but Petitgout, (even though none of us really like him, and even though he’s never been a beloved G-Man, and even though my friend Dean coined the phrase “pull a Petitgout” [false start]), the guy happens to be one of the truly indispensable members of this team.

He’s the left tackle, and although he’s not one of the best left tackles in the league, he’s still one of the better ones. In all probability (and I haven’t seen any of the injury reports as I write this at 12:30 at night), he’s gone for the year. Which means that in one play, we’ve gone from an above average left tackle (whatever you may think of Luke) to Bob Whitfield, who as my brother aptly put it, “is the Julio Franco of the NFL.”

(This is a tremendous call. Both Whitfield and Franco are trusty old hands and good presences on the ball club. They’re old, wise dudes – how can you not love them? Unfortunately, they’re too old and decrepit to get it done at the professional level, which is too bad, because you root for these guys. I don’t know. I hope I’m wrong. Please say I’m wrong. Because if I’m not wrong, we’re fucked.)

But in case you weren’t watching tonight, Whitfield got absolutely abused. Eli’s not off the hook for his horrendous performance, but Whitfield’s sieve-job on Alex Brown was a major factor in this game. Madden picked up on this somewhat, but chose to chalk it up to Alex Brown’s propensity to play well against the Giants, or something like that, rather than Whitfield’s ineptitude as a starting left tackle. If we’re serious about being a Super Bowl contender, the guy is a major liability.

II.

There’s a lot of other stuff to complain about. How about Corey Webster? Madden was all over him, and NBC showed a telling statistic at some point, that Webster had gotten shredded for 125 yards over the course of the game. He was God awful.

The most infuriating play (which Madden, to his credit, jumped on) was that play near the end of the Third quarter, when the Bears, in their first series after a Giants touchdown had narrowed the gap to 4 points, faced 3rd and 13 on the Giants 20.

Muhsin Muhammad was open at around 7 yards deep, and for lack of a better target, Grossman (does anyone else hate this guy, by the way? Don’t his flabby white-dude upper-arms remind you of Jim McMahon’s, circa 1985?) dumped one off to him. The only thing that needed to be done on that play was to tackle Muhammad before he gained six additional yards and a first down. Let Muhsin catch the ball, and wrap him up, and the Giants would have forced a punt on 3-and-out and taken over in good field position with momentum.

But no – Webster tried to swat the ball down. Madden gave him too much credit, saying that he had gone for the pick. Going for the pick is one thing; Webster didn’t do that: he went for the swat. And he whiffed. And Muhammad picked up the first down. The Bears would be forced to punt on that possession, but not after picking up 23 more yards than they would have had Webster done the sensible thing.

When the Giants got the ball back on the next drive, they were forced to try the infamous 52-yard field goal. And after that play, the game was over.

III.

I don’t know what it is, but I seem to have an irrational loyalty to Colonel Tom. My brother hates him. He’s always calling me up during the games, all over the latest Colonel Tom negligence. And I can’t argue with him. It’s true that he should have gone for two to potentially pull us within 3 points with 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, and it’s true that there’s no excuse for Devin Hester’s return, and it’s true that the penalties are completely unacceptable… But, somehow, there’s something about the guy’s demeanor that makes me like him.

I don’t know if it’s the white shoes, or the beady eyes, or the off-centered nose, or the collared golf shirt buttoned up all the way to the top button, or the way he completely flips out on bad calls and it looks like his beet-red face is about to explode, or the way he spastically exorts the crowd to get up (which, admittedly, is a far cry from Patrick Ewing’s patented double wrist-flick), but there’s something about that dude that I find very appealing, and more important than that, very G-Men like. I don’t know – I can’t explain it. I just can’t shake the thought that this is the guy that will lead us to the Promised Land. I’m sorry, I can’t. It’s an article of faith at this point.

IV.

Lots of other stuff to talk about. Eli was awful. Over the past four weeks, it’s been tempting to overlook Eli’s progressively slipping play: He’s done enough to win… He hasn’t turned the ball over… He’s still young….

But God, Eli, how you disappointed us tonight! His mechanics, at this point of the season, are awful – as they were at this point last year. This is disconcerting: If we’re gonna get by without our #2 receiver, and without our startling left tackle, we need Eli to step up and be good.

We’ll give Eli and the Giants a mulligan tonight (as I encourage all of you to do – please, it was one loss after 5 wins!). But the schedule does not get easier, starting with next Monday night at Jacksonville. Time for Eli to step up. Please… Not to put this kind of pressure on you, but the fact is, the franchise is depending on you.

IV.

How big was Will Demps’ missed tackle on that Thomas Jones’ first down run? I know it was annoying that Al Michaels kept harping on that one play, but it really was as huge as they made it out to be. (In the post-game telecast, the broke out with the stat that it was the NFL’s only 3rd down conversion of over 20 yards on a running play since 1999. That’s pretty astounding.)

Demps didn’t have an easy assignment on that play, but he went in for the kill-shot when all that we needed was for him to stand in front of Jones to slow him up somewhat. But he went for the legs, and Jones cut the other way, and then he was off for a big first down gain. A few plays later, Sam Madison pulled up lame (who knows what’s gonna happen to him? God, can we bring Curtis DeLoatch back?) and the Bears, out of nowhere, get back into the game.

Ok, obviously, a lot more to say. But it’s very, very late, and I have work tomorrow. Don’t take this loss too hard, G-Men fans. We did win five in a row, but we did some stupid things tonight, and we were battling some key injuries, and the worst-case-scenario unfolded.

Again, what’s more troubling than the loss itself is the loss of Petitgout. But we’ll figure it out. If we play our best game, we’re better than the Bears when they play their best game – even in Soldier Field in January. Be optimistic.