Old habits and hatreds die hard. It’s difficult for any blue-blooded Giant fan to admit out loud that the unraveling Eagles no longer pose a threat in the NFC East or that the Cowboys, too, are as harmless, soft and fluffy as a goose down pillow whenever the fourth quarter arrives.
The real divisional threat now, and for the foreseeable future, resides instead near the Capital Beltway and bears a racist nickname that no respectful columnist should ever type. That would be Washington, the precocious, upstart football team waiting in ambush at FedEx Field on Monday night for the Super Bowl champs.
Fortunately for Giants, they are taking notice — sort of.
“They have a really good team, and it all starts with RG3,” Victor Cruz said on Wednesday, during a conference call. “They’re a team on the rise. I think they’re still a couple of pieces away from being contenders... whether it is defensively or wherever, but they’ve got to be in the conversation. They really do some good things. I put them in that conversation for sure.”
That conversation is growing dense and complicated, like a Faulkner novel. The sound and the fury began in earnest after Cruz caught a 77-yard, game-winning touchdown with 1:13 left in the fourth quarter to beat Washington at MetLife Stadium in October. DeAngelo Hall then belittled the play, saying Eli Manning had very little to do with the score.
“We gave him that play,” Hall said. “It wasn’t something where he was a rocket scientist and he figured something out. We just played that as bad as possible.”
On Wednesday, Cruz insisted he and Manning actually had something to do with that pass. He also expressed his respect for rocket scientists, because Cruz has a sense of humor about these things.
“It’s definitely high up there,” Cruz said, about the play. “To have a game-winning touchdown of 70-plus yards, a long bomb through the double team, sprinting through the end zone.”
Plus a salsa. Never forget the salsa.
The point is, however, that this rivalry could become something both fun and mean at the same time.