By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
The New York talk shows have been crackling with energy, the mics and phone lines brought to life, finally spared from chat dominated by doom and gloom.
Over the past week, the Big Apple has allowed itself to bathe in newfound, possibly fleeting, NFL glory. A collective Big Blue grin has floated over from the Meadowlands and spread across much of the city.
Imagine, just imagine — but whisper it softly — what might happen if the Giants could actually win another game?
All it took was one nail-biter of a victory, facilitated by an enlightened “go for the win” call of marvelous impudence, lit up by a masterful sideline pep talk.
And everything feels different.
Forlorn grumpiness has given way to genuine excitement. Giants fans are remembering that it’s not so bad being, you know, a Giants fan after all, and don’t need any encouragement to jump aboard the blue train.
Suddenly, head coach Brian Daboll seems like the kind of fearless leader to overcome those years of painful perseverance. Daniel Jones, the type of character to respond to an urgently-voiced challenge. Saquon Barkley, a superstar ball-carrier befitting the big city.
The last postseason game at MetLife Stadium was in early 2014 – because that’s when New York hosted the Super Bowl. The Giants have played only one home playoff game (2011 season) since the venue was rebuilt. The Jets haven’t had any in that span.
The Giants’ current status of 1-0 is the first time they have boasted a winning record at any time since 2016. New York is a FOX Bet -133 favorite at home to the Carolina Panthers this weekend (Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX), and that doesn’t happen too often either.
It’s all led to a fresh energy that is bullish, buoyant, and unapologetic, and seems to start with the coaching staff. Daboll screamed at Jones during the fourth quarter over the team’s thrilling 21-20 win over the Tennessee Titans last weekend, incensed the quarterback had thrown away a scoring chance.
Jones came back strongly and engineered a key downfield drive, before Daboll’s bold choice to go for two allowed Barkley to cross for the winning score.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Daboll told reporters. “That’s what we want to do. That’s the mindset I want the players to have.”
After years of muttered excuses and empty promises, the message is prouder – and certainly louder – as summed up by defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s exhortations for those in attendance to scream themselves hoarse on Sunday.
“I know New Yorkers are loud,” Martindale said. “We need to be loud in that stadium. If you want to be part of changing this culture here with the Giants, be loud. Have that place rocking. Where [opposing teams] don’t want to come to our stadium.”
That, presumably, is exactly what you want to hear if you’re a member of a fanbase always high on any list of the most tortured supporters in the NFL.
Saquon Barkley, Giants host Baker Mayfield & Panthers
Carolina finds themselves as a slight 1.5-point underdog against New York. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe predict the outcome.
Yes, the Giants are the only team other than the New England Patriots to win more than one Super Bowl over the last 15 years. But they’ve been really bad at every step in between, snatching away hope whenever it seemed to blossom.
There has never seemed to be an excuse to get excited, never a reason to believe, never an early season surge to lift the spirits. Just losing, every year, then some more of it.
When things go well, New York can turn on its interest in a heartbeat. Jets fans fell temporarily in love with unheralded QB Mike White last season, before the romance dulled swiftly amid a slew of interceptions and a speedy return to depth chart status.
Giants fans are fully engaged now. The Panthers and Baker Mayfield were unfortunate to lose their opener against the Cleveland Browns, though they’re no pushovers. But no one’s thinking about that, not when the juggernaut feels real, somehow — incredibly — after just one one-point triumph.
In truth, all the Giants have is a platform, and a flimsy one, a jolt of momentum to build upon, but only if things continue to run true over the next few weeks.
But this is New York, this is a group of fans that had forgotten what good news feels like. Hope tastes good, it always does, even when we know it can be drunk from a poisoned chalice.
For now, for the Giants, it is enough.
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