1)  15:00  It began on the very first play of the fourth quarter. Facing a 4th and 4 at the Tennessee 41, Colonel Tom eschewed the Feely field goal attempt that would have put the G-Men up by four scores (probably – you know, with two point conversions and everything). (You can’t really blame him: It was his misguided faith in Feely’s atrophying leg that was so scrutinized two weeks ago.)

But anyway, we go for it. We’re in the shotgun, with David Tyree as one of the up-backs. Eli takes the snap, and right from his release, it’s pretty obvious that Tyree is wide the fuck open. But Eli does not look his way. Instead, he attempts a very awkward jump-throw to a well-covered Tim Carter, which is broken up by rookie d-back Cortland Finnegan. The Titans take over, and although they went three-and-out on their ensuing series, it’s fair to say that Eli’s poor decision cost the Giants what turned out to be a very important 3 points.

This play underscores an important point about Eli, which will be revisited a few times in the course of this post: When he’s off, everything breaks down. It’s not just his accuracy. It’s his pocket presence and his decision-making as well. I’ve watched the play a bunch of times (thanks to NYGMen commentator Wong, and his big TV/Tivo), and Tyree was… um… wide the fuck open!! On the side. As the default dump-off option.

Anyway, as I said, that play cost us 3 points.

2)  14:24  But the Giants D stepped up on the next series. On 3rd and 9, Fred Robbins, who, at this point in the season, just might be the defensive player who has made the greatest overall contribution this year, came up with a big sack. He did the ballin’ thing, and after the next commercial break, when the focused on him on the sidelines, he did the coolest little wrist-flick from the sitting position. I mean, if there’s one man that can do a wrist flick and look really cool instead of looking like he’s making a bad gay joke, it’s Fred Robbins. (And also, how baked does Robbins look? That guy’s the man.)

3)  13:07  But alas, two plays later was the play that will probably go down as the defining play of Sunday’s loss, and if the Giants don’t get their shit together, the defining play of this Eli/Plax/Shockey/Coughlin version of the Giants: The first Pac-Man pick, during which Plax, like, you know, stopped running.

As far as Plax goes, there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said. Obviously a monumental disgrace. Let me take use this space to posit, however, that Plax isn’t a complete dog as much as he’s a complete space cadet. There’s a difference. Randy Moss is a dog. Leon Lett is a space cadet. Kevin McReynolds is a dog. Manny Ramirez is a space cadet.

I think this is why Colonel Tom gave him somewhat of a pass about the whole situation. I mean, clearly Plax’s production does not match the sum of his physical attributes, but I really don’t think it’s because of lack of effort, but rather because he’s just kind of an out-of-it dude. To me, Plax’s mental shortcoming don’t speak so much of a bad attitude as of absent-mindedness. Remember, the guy is an excellent blocker who, although he doesn’t get any credit for it, has been responsible for many of Tiki’s long runs. You see the guy hustling on those plays.

The moronic plays are incredibly frustrating, yes (including those fumbles – God, those fucking fumbles!), but I don’t think they’re necessarily grounds for a whole-sale character assassination.

(And re: the tackle attempt, which the commentator was killing him on: It was a shitty tackle attempt, but I don’t think that he “gave up” on the tackle attempt. Obviously, the fact that he missed the tackle compounded the infuriating play, but come on, he was trying to make that tackle.)

4)  This is neither here nor there as far as the G-Men are concerned, but Bobby Wade is the biggest Hines Ward.

5)  11:10  The Titans picked up a first down on their next set but then went backwards, and faced 4th and 9 from the Giants 20. Ah, this was the Frank Walker penalty. A lot has been said about this play. NYGMen commentator Zeke Mowatt put it best:

Did anyone (besides me) think that Walker’s hit was perfectly clean? He didn’t hit him in the head, and Young was still in bounds. Young was about two yards away from the first, and could conceivably have extended the ball out. It was close to the line, but given the importance of the Giants stopping him on 4th down, shouldn’t the refs just let them play tackle football, even if there was a precious quarterback involved?

Complete bullshit, and this thing with protecting quarterbacks is out of control. The league really has to do something about this – it’s absurd. There was a critical roughing penalty in the Monday night game as well, when the Packer d-lineman Jenkins was flagged on a clearly bullshit, but extremely consequential penalty on Hasselbeck that kept a Seahawks drive going and propelled them to a tide-turning touchdown. What makes the Walker penalty especially painful now is that it set the stage for the infamous Nuke play later in the quarter.

6)  9:38  With a 3rd and goal from the 4, Vince Young somehow threaded the Pierce-Emmons needle on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Bo Scaife. How he got it in there, and how either of the two linebackers didn’t make a play, is beyond me. It was just one of those plays that showed you that Vince Young was the best athlete on the field.

(Something to note on that play is Young’s quick, catcher-throwing-down-to-second throwing motion, and how much it benefits a quarterback to have a quick throwing motion. Like, if that were Eli, by the time he would have gotten the ball to the top of the mini-windmill that it his throwing motion, the linebackers would have converged.)

7)  8:06  This play didn’t wind up being consequential, but it could have: On 3rd and 9 of the Giants ensuing series, Eli made a horrible decision, but was bailed out by his even worse pass. He tried to cram one into Shockey, but Pac-Man sniffed out the route and made a break on the ball. If the ball had been decently thrown, Pac-Man would have stepped and front and been gone for the touchdown. But as it happened, the pass was so terrible and so low that the diving Pac-Man couldn’t even catch it. This was one time that we were lucky that Eli threw off his back foot.

8)  8:02  But Pac-Man was not to be denied, and made a great return on the ensuing punt. Somehow, Chase Blackburn allowed Pac-Man to blow by him on the sideline and scurry for another 10 yards, bringing the ball back to the G-Men 36, meaning that the punt only netted us 20 yards.

9)  6:55  Blackburn wasn’t done fucking up. After the Titans picked up a first down on the 16, Blackburn, who was the force linebacker on the play-side, lost contain on Travis Henry, allowing to Henry to pick up 9 yards. This gave the Titans 2nd and 1 at the Giants 7, which is a pretty ideal situation for an offense. They scored three plays later to pull within 7.

10)  It is worth mentioning at that the Titans kept eight men in the box the whole fourth quarter. Considering they were down by 21 points with, like, 10 minutes late, it was a pretty obvious strategy. But the Giants utter inability to move the ball at all was a painful reminder of 1) Colonel Tom’s notorious struggles to make in-game adjustments; and 2) The fact that when Eli is off, defenses can completely overplay the run with no fear of getting burned by the pass. Eli is that ineffectual when he’s off.

11)  4:31  Ah, but Eli actually did something good on the Giants’ next series! On 3rd and 5, when the Giants desperately needed a first down, Eli took off an a clutch scramble to cross the Fox yellow line. This was the first good thing that had happened in a while. At the time, I thought that the play would give us the little boost we needed to put down the insurrection.

12)  3:29  But no. On the subsequent 3rd and 9, Eli was flushed out of the pocket by a Titans rush, but when he moved right, he found himself out in space with, basically, all the time and space in the world to find a man and make a throw. As NYGMen commentator Wong pointed out, “Yo, he literally had about four seconds to make a throw right there.”

But instead of waiting for one of his receivers to come back to him or make a move or anything, Eli totally panicked, settling for a little four yard dump-off to a well-covered Tiki, who was brought down short of the first down immediately after catching the pass.

Yet another example of how all facets of Eli’s game break down when he’s struggling. I wrote this last week, and it still holds true: Young Elisha is lost.

13)  2:58  Even after all this, after they punted the Giants were still in a pretty good position to win the game. Momentum notwithstanding, the Titans had to drive 76 yards in 2:58 to tie the game.

14)  2:48  Things looked ever better three plays later, when Nuke made an awesomely athletic play in pass coverage and broke up a 3rd down pass to Drew Bennett, bringing up 4th and 10. (There was some debate as to whether Nuke actually got a piece of it, but after analyzing the film, it seems as if he did. The telltale evidence: the abruptly went from a spiral to a duck right when Nuke dove across.)

15)  Things (finally) looked as if they might turn out okay at this point. Yes, it was still a shameful, awful fourth quarter collapse, but the Titans did face a do-or-die 4th and 10 at their own 24. But in the span of three swift, devastating plays, they were once again deep in our territory.

1— 2:44  The Kiwanuka play. Enough has been said about this play, but please, let’s put the “he gave up on the play” thing to bed, okay? It was perfectly obvious to anyone with half a brain what Nuke was thinking: Young’s arm went forward, Nuke thought he threw, and he didn’t drive him to the ground because he feared the 15-yard penalty from the same crew that unjustly flagged Walker earlier in the quarter.

(The dipshit Fox commentator really got on my nerves on this one – he kept on harping about the unconscionableness of Nuke’s play, comparing it to Plax’s play as a Giants “give-up” play. Nuke didn’t give up on the play – he simply guessed wrong and made a stupid but understandable choice. Saying that Nuke “gave up” on the play is almost as stupid as saying that John Kerry meant to insult the American troops when he made that “stuck in Iraq” comment. Like, willful ignorance of someone’s motives is such a cheap stunt.)

Lost amid the noise about Kiwanuka was Will Demps’ horrendous effort on the play. The guy is a safety, one on one against a quarterback, and he couldn’t even lay a finger on him – he got juked out of his shoes! Tackling Young is a tough assignment, but all Demps had to do on the play was slow Young up a little, because Fred Robbins was flying to the ball. A horrible play. Demps has been a disappointment.

2— 2:31  On the very next play, Kevin Dockery gave way too much of a cushion – like, an 11-yard fucking cushion! – to Titans receiver Roydell Williams. Well, the guy wound up running a hitch, and because Dockery gave him such a big cushion, he was able to put an open-field move on Dockery and pick up 20 yards on the play. From 4th and 10 on their own 24 to 1st and 10 at the Giants 37.

(Dockery’s cushion was absurd. It would wind up haunting the Giants on the Titans’ last drive and even a couple plays later, when Drew Bennett caught a 7 yard pass in front of him.)

3— 1:59  This was the Vince Young scramble, which picked up 16 yards and moved the ball to the 21. It’s hard to fault anyone in particular on this play, but, if it hadn’t occurred to you at this point, this is when the Vince Young of this game really looked like the Vince Young of last year’s Rose Bowl. This was when the Fox commentator said, “He’s a gazelle. I mean, he is smooth now.” Unstoppable.

16)  :49  The touchdown. The tying fucking touchdown. Frank Walker’s coverage actually wasn’t bad; rather, the fault on the play lied with Will Demps, who was nowhere to be found in over-the-middle safety help. Brandon Jones’ post route made him the only receiver in the area, but Demps was in no-man’s land. Young threw a beautiful ball and the game was implausibly tied.

17)  :32  We bring the kickoff back to around the 20, complete a 9-yard pass, and then Eli throws another pick. A cruel joke.

The announcer criticized the decision for Eli to throw, but it actually wasn’t such a bad decision: David Tyree was wide open on the sideline. All Eli had to do was display a little touch and loft it over Pac-Man’s head. But no. And God, what a fucking quarter by Pac-Man.

18)  :23  I know this is painful, but only two more plays to go. On the Titans first play from scrimmage, Young completed an 11-yard out pass to Bo Scaife on the right side, made possible from a blown coverage by Antonio Pierce. Nobody is immune from the team-wide slump.

19)  :18  On the next play, Kevin Dockery once again gave way too much of a cushion to the man he was covering – a cushion that gave the Titans just enough yards to get into field goal range. Vince Young hit Brandon Jones on a 7 yard hitch, giving the Titans the ball at the NYG 31.

The field goal unit trotted out.