For all the talk last week about how the Giants would get on just fine without Plaxico - their team focus is unshakable, they've already won three games without Plax, etc. - the Eagles game showed that that might not be the case.
Plax' absences could be seen on the Giants first drive. Instead of trying a long filed goal in poor conditions, they went for it on 4th and 4. The Eagles brought the house and Manning's pass to Hixon was broken up. Without Plaxico Eli doesn't have a safety blanket. The Eagles knew they could bring pressure and not worry about getting burned because Hixon (or any other Gaints WR for that matter) doesn't have Plax's size or skill. On that 4th and 4, the Eagles' corner didn't have to play Hixon with a cushion, and was able to be on him when the ball arrived. Furthermore, once he got there, Hixon wasn't big or physical enough to shield him.
They'll really feel it in the red zone too, where they'll no longer be able to run their favorite play.
It's surprising the Plaxico reaction has been so one-sided, a mix of indignation and condemnation. In fact, the conversation is much more complex than the media has permitted it to be. Let us offer two critical pieces of context
1. Sports Illustrated's comprehensive year-old story about the Vick saga. While its focus is on Vick, its more general thrust is the dilemma so many athletes face in reconciling their upbringing (poor, ghetto, etc) with their sudden success, celebrity, and riches.
2. An ESPN mag article that coincidentally came out just a few days pre-Plax. I'm surprised it didn't get more attention, nor seem to inform ESPN's tv coverage. Within it players discuss the security risks that come with their status. Their anxiety is sobering.
For those still hazy on the details of how it all went down, the AP's most recent story should answer any questions. Also, the Wall Street Journal makes the case that NY gun laws may be unconstitutional.
[Hat tip to TBL on these last two.]