To err is human, but enough is more than enough

Kerry Collins, the philosopher, presented his theory on human nature and how it has pretty much sent the Giants 2003 season into ruins just six games in.

"We are all human beings," Collins says, "and human beings make mistakes. But our human beings are making more mistakes than their human beings are right now."

That pithy little statement might not rank with some of the treatises of Socrates and Plato. But it wasn't bad for a man who admitted he was shell-shocked, someone who could not believe his team had lost to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Selecting the most blatant of Sunday's Giants' miscues is like picking the winner in a one-man butt-ugliest contest. Somehow, some way, they allowed Eagles' punt returner Brian Westbrook to run pretty much straight down the left sidelines for 84 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 1:16 remaining.

No wonder Collins was shell-shocked. No wonder the Giants Stadium crowd - older members of which must have flashed back to one Herman Edwards running back Joe Pisarcik's fumble in 1978 - stood in astonishment. They thought they were going to steal away with a 10-7 win, a victory which at least would have kept the season from disintegrating.

Not to take anything away from Westbrook, the star of the game, but Refrigerator Perry probably could have run that one back against the pathetic Giants' coverage. Jeff Feagles wanted to punt the ball out of bounds to preempt any return, but the usually reliable punter didn't accomplish his goal.

When the Giants want to kick the ball out of bounds, they can't. When they want to keep it inbounds, like on Matt Bryant's kickoff with 11 seconds left against Dallas, they can't.

The Eagles were going for the punt block and pulled just one man, Ike Reese, back to block for Westbrook. Reese did his job - a clip is not a clip unless it is called - on rookie David Tyree.

After that it was unbelievable how few Giants had legitimate shots at the return man. Snapper Carson Dach. Feagles himself. Marcellus Rivers, the last guy with a chance. For a return man to run that freely at that juncture of the game just shows you how pathetic the Giants' special teams remain despite all the money and effort spent on making them at least mediocre.

So let's hang it all on the specials again. No, let's not. Let's go back a few plays, to the most egregious of Collins' errors for the day. The Giants were moving the ball on the legs of running back Dorsey Levens, who coach Jim Fassel suddenly found was on his team and eligible to play in regular-season NFL games. They reached the Eagles' 5-yard line and faced a third-and-goal.

Earlier in that drive the Giants had a third-and-11 at the Eagles' 35. Fassel put both Levens and Brian Mitchell in the backfield to help against a Philadelphia defense that blitzes as often as it breathes. Levens picked up one and chipped another rusher, giving Collins time to connect with Amani Toomer on a 14-yard pass for a first down.

On this third down, however, Fassel decided to empty his backfield. That's like waving a red bandanna in front of a raging bull with just tissue paper between you and that bull. The Giants' offensive line was without one of its stalwarts, left guard Rich Seubert, who broke his leg earlier in the game. The insertion of free agent Jeff Roehl left the Giants with three rookies in the middle of their offensive line.

Middle linebacker Mark Simoneau found the weak spot and rushed past the confused rookies and knocked the ball out of Collins' hand so teammate Corey Simon could recover at the Eagles' 10. There was no back to pick up the blitz the Giants knew was coming.

"They were coming with an overloaded blitz, which we've practiced and we were prepared for," insisted Fassel. "But we didn't push far enough and there was a guy who came free."

"It was completely my fault," said Collins. "We knew they were going to get penetration, but I had [Jeremy] Shockey working back there and I was trying to buy some time and get him the ball. Their guy just reached in and grabbed it."

The way the Giants' defense was playing, a touchdown there would have ended things. A 17-7 lead would have been as good as a 60-0 lead. No way the Eagles were going to score twice. In fact had Westbrook not taken off on his cross-country jaunt, there was no way the Eagles' offense was going to score even once. Donovan McNabb was awful all day, and showed no indication he was about to lead his team down the field to the winning score.

This was yet another game the Giants should not have lost, like that Dallas game earlier in the year. And like in last week's loss against New England, they easily won the statistical battle yet lost the game. This is becoming the norm rather than the exception for this team. And while Fassel keeps talking about working hard to fix things, they get more and more broken each time they take the field.

To err may be human, as Collins says. To forgive, well that's another story. To see a season filled with so much promise already ruined by mistake after mistake is unforgivable.
oct. 20