Good teams know how to deliver the knockout punch.
The Jacksonville Jaguars arenít one of those teams.
After dominating the Giants in every aspect of the game in the opening half and holding a 17-6 lead, the Jaguars couldnít finish off a desperate New York squad that was booed off the field at the half.
This was a pivotal game for both teams as a win by the Jags would have shown that they have to be considered a legitimate threat in the AFC South, that the Indianapolis Colts were going to have to sweat out the final games of the regular season.
A third consecutive loss by the Giants would have sent them into full panic mode but with the win they put the brakes on the building self doubt.
Flat offensively and pushed up and down the field defensively in the opening half, the Giants gained heart and the Jags lost a lot of their poise and swagger on the first possession of the second half.
The Jags had the ball on their own 27 and on first down David Garrard threw a pass that went in and out of the hands of Mike Sims-Walker and directly into the paws of the Giantsí Terrell Thomas.
It changed everything around and from that point on Eli Manning was able to rally the Giants to their 24-20 come-from-behind victory.
ďThis is a team thatís been in Super Bowls and been in a lot of playoff runs, so we canít let up on a team like that,Ē Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. ďItís a sign of maturity. We have a lot of growing up to do all across the board.Ē
In the second half the Giants defence came to life while the Jaguars pass defence all but disappeared.
The Giants went ahead for good with 3:15 to play when Manning connected for a 32-yard touchdown pass with Kevin Boss.
Unlike their past two games, there would be no last-minute miracle for the Jags as on their final series the Giants defence came up with three consecutive sacks and a turnover.
Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio will lose a lot of sleep this week wondering how this one got away.
In the first half they held the ball for 18:34, piled up 16 first downs to eight for the Giants, gained 236 total yards, including 145 on the ground.
Then came an interception and after that it all flowed the Giants way.
The Jags had the Giants, who had lost their previous two games, on the ropes and then let them slip away.
Itís not what good teams do.
BUC UP AND MOVE ON
In Baltimore, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were hoping, like the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier, that they would have a statement game, deliver a performance that would confirm to doubters that they are a force this season.
But like the Jaguars did in New York, the Bucs came up short against a superior team in the Ravens.
The Bucs entered the game at 7-3, knowing that they needed a win to stay within a game of the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints in the AFC South.
The Bucs entered play without a victory over a team with a winning record and following their 17-10 loss to the Ravens, are 0-4 this season when facing teams with winning records.
Next week they play the Falcons at home with a shot at redemption but it appears right now as if the Bucs just arenít ready for prime time, although they are clearly headed in the right direction.
The one player that the Bucs counted on the most ó quarterback Josh Freeman ó came up with his worst performance of the season on a day when he needed his best.
Freeman, who has led his team to a series of fourth-quarter comebacks, opened the game going five-for-five with his passes, but after that he was hesitant and off the mark, missing low, wide and high with stunning regularity.
It was a performance that was completely off the charts given his steady and at times stellar play this season.
The vaunted Ravens defence harried and harassed Freeman throughout the game, forcing him from the pocket and making him throw ó wildly ó on the run. On the day, Freeman was 17-for-37 for 162 yards and one touchdown.
Freeman needs a big bounce-back game next week against the Falcons for his own confidence as much as his teamís.