Kerry Collins tries to make sense of it all.
There came a point late in the fourth quarter yesterday, when most everyone at Giants Stadium had already left, that the Giants coaches thought maybe Kerry Collins should as well. Turk Schonert, their quarterbacks coach, told Jesse Palmer to get warmed up. If the Giants got the ball back, which they didn't, Jim Fassel planned to put in the backup.
If he had, though, the coach would have had to do so over Collins' protestations. Collins went to Fassel and told him he wanted to stay in.
With the Giants down 17, with the game long lost, why?
"Because, you know what?" Collins said afterward. "This is my team. This is my team."
It may be his, but right now it's obviously not a good team. In front of Collins, it's a frighteningly inexperienced one. With injuries having further reduced the already porous offensive line, Collins got sacked six times as the Giants lost to the Bills. Any chance at making another late-season playoff charge was lost.
But it is still Collins' team. Judging by his postgame comments, he seems determined to show he can lead it through the lows of losing season, just as he did during the collective high of a Super Bowl year.
"When it's good I'm going to be there, and when it's bad I'm going to be there," Collins said. "Regardless of how it goes. You can't only be at the front when things are going well. You have to be there the whole time. That's why I didn't want to come out."
Collins and the Giants had one glorious play yesterday: a 77-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer in the second quarter. Besides that, Collins was almost always under pressure, especially in the second half, when the Giants abandoned the run. Collins competed 17-of-35 for 233 yards and the one touchdown.
How bad was it? Tackle Jeff Roehl, when asked if Collins gets upset at the offensive line, said, "How can he not get angry?"
Collins sounds like he's trying to be understanding. "I remember how it was when I played for the first time in my career," he said. "It's not easy. All I ask from those guys up there is that they fight."
At 4-8, it's harder than ever to do so, but Collins insists he's going to try.
"It's been challenging," Collins said. "It's been very challenging. To get ready to play through some of the tough losses, and the tough loss we had today, it becomes challenging. But you've got to find a way to fight through it, and I think our guys will. And I think I will. I know I will."