Giants’ playoff history in Green Bay will mean nothing come Sunday

Hey, Eli Manning and the Giants did it in the 2007 and 2011 seasons!

It’s the gag reflex for fans and talking heads whenever the New York Giants are stuck in a bind these days. It’s the simple, easy reasoning for why they’re going to prevail despite long odds.

So when the Giants go to Lambeau Field as underdogs to face the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round of the playoffs Sunday, seemingly everyone pulls it out of their back pocket. Why not? It’s the easy explanation.

Hey, Eli Manning and the Giants did it in 2007 and 2011!

It doesn’t matter if it’s barely applicable or relevant. You’ll hear it this week.

The Giants went on the road in the ’07 and ’11 playoffs and beat the Packers on the way to a Super Bowl title. And Manning played brilliantly on both occasions to help pull the massive upsets. It’s not impossible for him to do it again. It’s not impossible for the Giants to go into Lambeau and do it again.

Except almost nothing is the same. Not for Manning or the Giants.

Manning turns 36 on Tuesday, and he just completed an underwhelming regular season that may just be part of his late-career decline. Manning is not the same player he was when he was a young pup in his first Super Bowl run. Or the same as when he was in his prime in ’11, coming off the best regular season of his career. Manning threw 26 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions this season. The Giants failed to top 30 points in a game this season and haven’t even topped 20 since late November.

Still, at least Manning is the only notable common denominator in the comparisons to ’07 and ’11. Just about everything else has changed, including the offense he runs and his head coach. Heck, his current coach, Ben McAdoo, was on the opposing sideline as a young assistant with the Packers during both those Giants runs. Now McAdoo is running his own program in the biggest market in the country — and kids are dressing up as him.

The only other remaining players from the ’11 Giants team are either injured (Jason Pierre-Paul), long snapping (Zak DeOssie) or playing minuscule or greatly reduced roles (Mark Herzlich, Will Beatty and Victor Cruz).

If the Giants win Sunday in Green Bay, it will have almost nothing to do with what happened in ’07 and ’11, and everything to do with a defense that is currently led by a safety in Landon Collins, who was 10 days past his 13th birthday when Manning and the Giants went into Lambeau Field and beat Brett Favre and the Packers in January 2008. It will have everything to do with a vastly different team that has won nine of its last 11 games entering the postseason.

Even McAdoo, who pounded Giants history into his players during the offseason, doesn’t think what happened the past two playoff meetings between the teams will have any effect on Sunday’s outcome.

“Both organizations have rich history and tradition. It’s exciting to be a part of it. I think if you have tradition, history and a chance, I think it will be one heck of a battle on Sunday,” he said. “I don’t think that the 2007 or 2011 experience really helps us out one way or another, other than that there are some players that have played in those games. They know what it’s going to be like pressurewise and conditionwise. The experience part of things will help some guys out. Other than that, we need to prepare to go play a good football team and go win a ballgame.”

The Giants are different, the Packers are different, everything is different. The world is different. George W. Bush was the president when Manning won his first Super Bowl. Barack Obama was barely introducing himself to the country at the time.

It’s likely that many of the Giants players know little about those days, including the minus-1 degree temperatures in Green Bay when Manning and Plaxico Burress did major damage to earn a spot in Super Bowl XLII. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard was 14 years old living in Oklahoma City at the time, rookie cornerback Eli Apple was 11, and Collins has admitted on several occasions that he doesn’t watch football.

Manning turns 36 on Tuesday, and he just completed an underwhelming regular season that may just be part of his late-career decline. Manning is not the same player he was when he was a young pup in his first Super Bowl run. Or the same as when he was in his prime in ’11, coming off the best regular season of his career. Manning threw 26 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions this season. The Giants failed to top 30 points in a game this season and haven’t even topped 20 since late November.

Still, at least Manning is the only notable common denominator in the comparisons to ’07 and ’11. Just about everything else has changed, including the offense he runs and his head coach. Heck, his current coach, Ben McAdoo, was on the opposing sideline as a young assistant with the Packers during both those Giants runs. Now McAdoo is running his own program in the biggest market in the country — and kids are dressing up as him.

The only other remaining players from the ’11 Giants team are either injured (Jason Pierre-Paul), long snapping (Zak DeOssie) or playing minuscule or greatly reduced roles (Mark Herzlich, Will Beatty and Victor Cruz).

If the Giants win Sunday in Green Bay, it will have almost nothing to do with what happened in ’07 and ’11, and everything to do with a defense that is currently led by a safety in Landon Collins, who was 10 days past his 13th birthday when Manning and the Giants went into Lambeau Field and beat Brett Favre and the Packers in January 2008. It will have everything to do with a vastly different team that has won nine of its last 11 games entering the postseason.

Even McAdoo, who pounded Giants history into his players during the offseason, doesn’t think what happened the past two playoff meetings between the teams will have any effect on Sunday’s outcome.

“Both organizations have rich history and tradition. It’s exciting to be a part of it. I think if you have tradition, history and a chance, I think it will be one heck of a battle on Sunday,” he said. “I don’t think that the 2007 or 2011 experience really helps us out one way or another, other than that there are some players that have played in those games. They know what it’s going to be like pressurewise and conditionwise. The experience part of things will help some guys out. Other than that, we need to prepare to go play a good football team and go win a ballgame.”

The Giants are different, the Packers are different, everything is different. The world is different. George W. Bush was the president when Manning won his first Super Bowl. Barack Obama was barely introducing himself to the country at the time.

It’s likely that many of the Giants players know little about those days, including the minus-1 degree temperatures in Green Bay when Manning and Plaxico Burress did major damage to earn a spot in Super Bowl XLII. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard was 14 years old living in Oklahoma City at the time, rookie cornerback Eli Apple was 11, and Collins has admitted on several occasions that he doesn’t watch football.