Steve Spagnuolo talking strategy to his linemen (174342)

There’s something about the New York Giants that disrupts the New England Patriots’ quest for perfect titles. The Giants’ victories over the Patriots as incontestable underdogs in Super Bowl XLII in 2008 and Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 has undoubtedly manipulated the psyches of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

This theory is evidenced by the unforeseen and even shocking near-upset the Giants were ever so close to pulling off against the heavily favored Patriots last Sunday at MetLife Stadium, ultimately falling short 27-26 on a 54-yard field goal by the Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski with one second remaining.

The Patriots came in at 8-0, firmly in command of the AFC East, delivering beatdowns on opponents week after week. The Giants were an unsteady 5-4, leading the NFC East by a tenuous margin. Statistically and by the eye test, the game was a mismatch.

What transpired on the field was something totally different. Going toe-to-toe with the Patriots, the Giants were arguably the better team for 58 minutes. Yet their season-long struggles to play a solid 60 minutes and close out games characteristically manifested.

“We’ve just got to be able to hold onto a lead,” lamented Giants quarterback Eli Manning after the painful loss. “You can always look back and see where opportunities are lost and where you could have been the difference in making the play … It’s all a matter of getting it to the end and making the plays when it counts in the fourth quarter.”

“They will hurt all day tonight and all day tomorrow and we all will,” said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. “But maybe that is a good thing.”

Internalizing the anguish, the Giants head into their bye week at 5-5, holding a slight advantage in the division over the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington, who are both 4-5. The Dallas Cowboys, losers of seven straight, are 2-7.