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MIKE DOWNEY

The Levee Has Broken for Reeves

October 17, 1994|MIKE DOWNEY

Disorganized, reckless, complacent, incapable of making the big plays--no, not the Rams. Look, it's the New York Giants. Yes, the same Giants who looked so good in September that it made one wonder whether Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms should have retired from football sooner.

Unrecognizable from their 3-0 start, the Giants have slipped to 3-3 and their glassy-eyed coach, Dan Reeves, now stands there wearing a dazed expression and says, "I don't know if I'd call it a slip. It's more like a flood coming toward us. And it's goin' real fast."

You can almost picture today's New York scare headlines:

GIANT FLOOD!

or

WASHED UP!

or

RAMS BURST DAM!

Getting smaller by the week, the Giants scored a skimpy 10 points Sunday and couldn't beat a Ram team playing without Jackie Slater and Sean Gilbert. Wonder of wonders, the much-ridiculed Rams now have as many victories or more than (start spreading the news) the Giants, the Raiders, the Chiefs, the Broncos, the Oilers, the Lions, the Redskins, the Saints, the Colts, the Patriots, the Seahawks, the Buccaneers, the Bengals and the Packers.

Winning three games feels wonderful--except when you haven't won one since Sept. 18.

Reeves is reeling.

"Like I've been saying, we've got a chance to get beat by anybody if we don't play well," he said.

Graciously including even the Rams in that Anybody class.

"Ever felt lower?" someone asked.

"No, I can't remember being any lower than this," Reeves said. "I was pretty low when San Francisco beat us in the playoffs, but this is pretty low."

Something has gone terribly amiss for the Giants since they put down Philadelphia, Arizona and Washington over the first three weeks. OK, so they didn't exactly bury any of those opponents beneath the Meadowlands like a gangster. Everybody in the New York/Jersey area was excited anyway, because both the Giants and Jets were on a roll.

They went from being on a roll to getting knocked on their buns.

First, the Giants lost to a bad team, New Orleans. Next, they got thumped on "Monday Night Football" on their home field. Six days later, they flew to the Coast and got toasted, 17-10, turning so inept that they managed only one first down in the fourth quarter.

Dave Brown, the quarterback, shrugged and said, "I thought our offensive line played well. I thought (running back) Rodney Hampton played well."

Right, Dave. They really exploded for those 10 points.

"We just couldn't sustain a drive," Brown said. "When we were 3-0, we felt like we had the world beat. This is a terrible stretch we're having right now. We're playing just well enough to lose."

Brown being an alumnus of Duke, we will assume that he said "playing well enough to lose" tongue-in-cheek.

Worst plays of the day for the Giants came midway through the third quarter, in a rare visit to L.A.'s side of the field.

Third and one, from the Ram 35: Brown sent Hampton up the middle, where linebacker Shane Conlan popped him for no gain.

Fourth and one: Brown gave a deep handoff to Hampton, who was met again by Conlan for a one-yard loss.

"What happened?" someone asked a Giant offensive lineman, and we do mean giant, 6-foot-7, 308-pound John (Jumbo) Elliott.

"To tell you the truth, I was on the bottom of the pile, so I don't know," Elliott said. "All I heard underneath the pile was, 'Conlan made a great play.' "

Giant left guard William Roberts said, "I can't question the call, because our job's just to block. Just nobody blocked Conlan."

Reeves was disgusted.

"Third and a yard and don't make it. Fourth and a foot and don't make it. We're not doing the job, period," the coach said.

His guys are 3-3 and going backward. They gained one yard Sunday on their first possession before punting. They gained two yards on their next possession before Brown got intercepted. He got intercepted again on their only offensive play of the final five minutes.

"I didn't think we'd be denied, but you've got to give it to the Rams," Brown said.

He did.

The Rams have three victories and feel good about themselves. The Giants have three and have fallen into a deep sleep.

A seven-year veteran, Giant safety John Booty, kept insisting, "We're a real good football team. I'm telling you. We're a real good football team. The talent in this room, I'm telling you. We'd be foolish to hang it up now. We can't be quitters. We got to reevaluate ourselves."

"Or else what?" someone asked.

"Or else, you know," Booty said. "Big trouble."

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