As mystified as Giants Coach Jim Fassel has often been by his up-and-down team, he looks around the N.F.L. and admits that he also has no handle on how the other teams are stacking up.
On Sunday, when the Giants play the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., he will have to look only as far as the opposite sideline for another example of a team that has careened all over the map.
The Patriots started their season by being overwhelmed by the Buffalo Bills, 31-0, and rebounded with an equally improbable 31-10 victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia. Somehow, despite an injury list that reads like the Foxboro phone book, the Patriots are 3-2 and coming off a victory over Tennessee.
…Heading to Foxboro this weekend, the Giants are a rather puzzling 2-2, their offense and defense having taken turns looking good and looking awful. The special teams have been consistent in that the players keep getting injured.
But the Giants have nothing on the Patriots in the injury category. New England has already placed defensive end Roosevelt Colvin on the injured reserve list, and it will play Sunday without nose tackle Ted Washington and linebacker Ted Johnson. Two players are listed as doubtful, nine others are questionable and one, quarterback Tom Brady, is probable with an unspecified arm injury. Included among the nine questionables are key players like cornerback Ty Law, outside linebacker Willie McGinest and receiver David Patten.
—Lynn Zinser, The New York Times “Giants Prepare for Team With Similar Problems”
The Patriots beat the Giants 17-6, lead by Matt Chatham’s 38-yard fumble return for a touchdown. The Patriots went 12-0 over the last twelve games of the season to finish 14-2 and went on to win the Super Bowl. The Giants lost to the Patriots and proceeded to go 2-10 over their final 12 games to finish at 4-12, tied for worst in the league.