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Giants grasp for answers
By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001
TAMPA -- Micheal Barrow pulled out a bible and propped it in front of him before speaking with reporters, but it wasn't that bad.
The Giants were frustrated and disappointed to have been beaten so badly and to have played so poorly in Sunday's Super Bowl, but Barrow and his teammates claimed afterward they still have faith.
Faith that their weak effort was a product of their own mistakes more than the Ravens' supremacy, faith that they will, somehow, be better for the experience no matter how painful it was.
"It stings quite a bit," quarterback Kerry Collins said. "It's pretty disappointing. Everyone really thought we were going to win, and to lose a game like this, it's tough to swallow.
"We'll let it sink in, we'll let it hurt, and in the long run we'll turn it into a positive."
"We tasted it," running back Tiki Barber said. "We didn't get a good swallow, but we tasted it. And that will be motivation for another year."
Collins and Barber weren't the only Giants talking about how losing Sunday's game could help them in the future, but that's the kind of wishful thinking that often comes out of the mouths of players on the losing team.
The reality is the Giants were not supposed to be here, that several things went their way in the playoffs, and there is no way to logically assume they will get back any time soon.
"I thought we would play much better today," coach Jim Fassel said. "You get here and you want to win this game badly. But like I told them afterwards, "We came a lot further than anyone thought we would.' ... I'm very proud of their character, the way they've handled the good and the bad, the way they've worked, they way they've pulled together.
"I'm proud of them. That won't go away. This loss will take a while to go away. But my feeling of pride for this team and the way they've worked this year will not go away. I feel strongly about that. We're going to be back in this game."
The Giants took a low-key approach during the week, as opposed to the Ravens, who made no secret of their cockiness. But New York players said they were just as confident.
That's what made Sunday's showing, a 34-7 loss that was the largest margin of defeat since Super Bowl XXVII, even worse.
"It just didn't work out as planned; there's not much to say," said cornerback Jason Sehorn, who was beaten badly on Baltimore's first touchdown. "Obviously that kind of performance is not what you have in mind. Especially in the Super Bowl."
It was obvious early on that there wasn't much the Giants were going to be able to do right. Afterward, as they took turns in the glare of the media spotlight, it was equally clear they couldn't explain exactly how it happened either.
"I think the No. 1 reason we lost is that we made too many mistakes," Barber said. "It seemed like every big play we made was followed by a mistake. We worked so hard, and to come out and not play our best game is frustrating. Five turnovers against a defense that plays this well, consistently, is not going to get it done. We have nobody to blame but ourselves."
Sure, the Ravens defense was probably a little better, especially a little faster, than the Giants thought. Yes, their inability to run against Baltimore forced them to pass more than they'd have liked: 39 times. And, yes, they did manage to hurt themselves as much as the Ravens hurt them.
The result wasn't pretty. Collins tied a Super Bowl record with four interceptions and the Giants amassed 149 net yards.
"They never gave us anything, coupled with the fact that I wasn't reading things well, wasn't seeing things well," Collins said. "I missed some guys when I had them open. In a game like this, against a defense like this, you can't do those kind of things. There wasn't a whole lot good about what I did today."
There were two key moments. Trying to come back from a 10-0 deficit late in the first half, Collins tried for Ike Hilliard in the end zone but was intercepted by Chris McAlister. Then after the Giants closed to 17-7 late in the third quarter on Ron Dixon's kickoff return, Baltimore's Jermaine Lewis broke one of his own.
As much as the Giants tried to hold their heads high, the pain was clear. You could see it in the eyes of Lomas Brown, the warhorse offensive lineman who was in his first Super Bowl after 16 seasons. You could hear it in the voice of guard Glenn Parker, who tied a record by being on a fifth losing Super Bowl team. You could sense it in the posture of Hilliard, who slumped back in his chair.
"No one remembers second place," Hilliard said. "Obviously we came a long way as a team, but this is tough to swallow right now."
"Glenn Parker warned me how it would be, and he was right," Brown said. "It hurts. It really, really hurts."
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