EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When the Giants (4-13) performed the Washington Soccer Group (7-10) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, each already having been eradicated from the N.F.L. playoffs, was it doable to search out magnificence and that means — or, not less than, heat — in a sport with so little at stake?
Billy Value, the Giants middle, tucked his cellphone into the padding across the purpose publish and began to stretch. On his headphones he listened to Def Leppard.
Different Large linemen, with comparable thigh-size triceps and waist-size thighs, stretched close by. Korey Cunningham did so on his again whereas listening to gospel music. Steam rose from his head.
Above the empty MetLife Stadium stands, the sky was sludge-gray. The occasional aircraft slid overhead. For a second it appeared that blue sky may break by the grey, however it didn’t. The punters, kickers and lengthy snappers took to the sector for his or her apply, then all the remainder of the gamers. Followers stuffed the stadium (type of). The sport started.
The climate was bleak, and so was the Giants’ offense. Saquon Barkley, the star working again, saved getting stuffed. When he got here to the sideline he wrapped himself in a blue cape. With all of the Giants’ punting, that occurred so much. Cape on, cape off, cape on.
2021 N.F.L. Season Information and Evaluation
- N.F.L. Coach Firings: This 12 months, Brian Flores, Matt Nagy and Mike Zimmer all discovered themselves out of a job, becoming a member of Vic Fangio of the Broncos, who was dismissed a day earlier than.
- Final-Second Drama: The Raiders outlasted the Chargers in overtime, sliding into the playoffs and eliminating their division rival.
- Week 18 Takeaways: What we learned from the ultimate video games of the common season.
- Trying to find Pleasure in East Rutherford, N.J.: An illustrated look on the chilly, moist Giants loss to the Washington Soccer Group.
Line decide Mark Stewart didn’t put on gloves (within the low season he’s a rancher in Nebraska). He stared down the road of scrimmage, legs broad. Typically he shuffled sideways, typically he blew his whistle, or flipped the ball to the opposite sport officers. His ears began to show pink.
On the bench, the Giants’ offense huddled over pill computer systems with their coaches. The bench was heated; rubber ducts shook and hummed behind it. The offense headed to the sector, ran a few performs, punted, got here again. Boos began to rain down. Rain began to rain down.
Lunchtime! In Parking Lot G, sea gulls cleaned up after the tailgaters. Typically they took to the air and circled above the stadium (in Part 334 there could have been extra birds than followers). Sea gulls are completely suited to Sunday’s climate, with feathers that maintain the moist off, and environment friendly warmth circulation. However sufficient about sea gulls! Again to the inaction on the sector.
The Giants quarterback was intercepted by the Washington security, who returned the ball for a landing. Followers began making options to the Giants, ones that may’t be printed right here. Then the referee introduced: “No. 79 is eligible.” He introduced this once more, and followers laughed. The eighth time he made the announcement, the gang roared. It was the largest cheer of the day: NUMBER 79 IS ELIGIBLE!
A soggy day turned soggier. Dank, chilly. On the Washington sideline, fullback Alex Armah spun on a small stationary bike to maintain his legs heat. Armah appeared like a teen on a tricycle. Then, fast, off the bike and again within the sport.
All day, Casey Kreiter had been excellent. Kreiter is the Giants’ lengthy snapper, and top-of-the-line within the N.F.L. In pregame he ran across the subject with a kidlike smile on his face. Through the sport he was all enterprise. Holding his palms heat, peering again between his legs, zipping the ball with accuracy, then blocking. There’s so much to be mentioned for doing one factor nicely (versus, say, the Giants’ basic supervisor). His job achieved, he stood alone on the sideline.
After which, with a sputter, the game was over. After one final Giants interception, the gamers from each groups gathered at midfield. Whereas it was the top of a sorry season, there was actual camaraderie right here, and shared respect.
Kreiter, the lengthy snapper, caught up with a Washington lineman. They performed at Iowa collectively. As they gave one another thumping hugs, and headed again to their heat locker rooms, a lone piece of trash blew throughout the chilly, laborious turf.
Elisha Cooper is an author and illustrator of kids’s books.