It’s All About Mental Toughness In The NFC East
Some teams have mental toughness in high leverage situations, and some teams wilt and melt in the biggest moments. That mantra, that ever-lasting trend, manifested itself in all four games involving NFC East teams.
We’ll start out west in San Francisco, where Eli Manning’s quick passes, Ahmad Bradshaw’s sensational second half, and a pass rush going against what the FOX broadcast said was “the best offensive line in the NFL” went to work and executed a thrashing of what was considered the league’s best and most well-rounded team in the 49ers.
That vaunted offensive line gave up six sacks. Alex Smith, praised for his lack of mistakes, threw three interceptions. New York won 26-3. ”The statement made,” Giants WR Victor Cruz said, “is that we’re here to stay.”
What else is here to stay? The lack of mental toughness that Dallas and Philadelphia show on a weekly basis. With Baltimore Ravens defenders dropping like flies due to injury, the Cowboys had several opportunities to steal a game on the road. After Dez Bryant caught a TD pass to go down two with 32 seconds left, he failed to catch a pretty routine ball on the two-point conversion. It only got worse from there.
Dallas recovered the onside kick after a Baltimore “hands team” player let the ball roll through his legs. With the ball on the Ravens’ 34, one time out remaining and around 20 seconds left, Tony Romo and coach Jason Garrett couldn’t get a single play off in 17 seconds and had to settle for a 51-yard attempt from Dan Bailey to try to win it. They could have easily gotten closer, and when Bailey’s kick sailed wide left, no one was surprised because the Cowboys always seem to find a way to drop these games.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to finish the game and we have to win the game,” Garrett said. “We didn’t do that.” Thanks, coach.
A bit further north, in Philadelphia, Michael Vick continues his nightmarish season that could lead to the undoing of the rest of his career. There was no way the Eagles should have lost in overtime to Detroit on Sunday, but Vick’s inability to take care of the football sunk his team again.
Vick threw two more picks and now has 13 turnovers and six games and 30 turnovers in as many games. In a relatively short period of time, Vick has gone from superstar to liability, and questions about his long-term viability on this team will only grow louder, as will the vocal supporters for backup Nick Foles.
It sure seems like Robert Griffin III has that mental toughness thing that Vick and Romo lack. Medically cleared after suffering a concussion last week, Griffin pulled off one of the most dazzling plays of the season. Up five on a really good Minnesota defense, previously one of the hottest teams in the league, with 3:36 left in the game, RG3 didn’t just run out the clock. On 3rd and six with 2:36 left, he pulled off an incredible 76-yard TD run to put the game away. ”I took off running and got to the sideline, thought about running out of bounds — because everyone’s been telling me that lately,” Griffin said. “And I felt like I had the guy outflanked, and then I just took off running. And the rest is history.”
The rest is history as he re-writes it in our nation’s capital, in a tale of four teams and four QB’s in the NFC East.