Tag:NFC East
Posted on: March 13, 2009 2:41 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2009 3:00 pm
 

New Giant Boley's Story Hits Close To Home

Big Blue's newest linebacker has a son with Autism. Daily struggles, sleepless nights and raising awareness are all things Mr. Boley and I have in common...     

On February 28th, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese inked free-agent Michael Boley to a five-year contract. As excited as I am about the much needed passion and ability Boley brings to the linebacker unit , there's another passion in his life that means just as much - if not more - to him than football. It's his mission to raise funds, awareness and hope for those affected by Autism. While I can't relate to Boley's relationship with football (my football experience is limited to a single lackluster season in pee-wee league, retired at the ripe old age of 9), I can more than relate to his relationship with his son, Mikey.

My son, Jimmy, has Autism. From what I've been able to research on Boley's son, it seems little Mikey's Autism isn't quite as "severe" as Jimmy's. I use quotes for the term "severe" because people with Autism are like snowflakes; no two are exactly alike (I'll place quotes around any term I feel I'm using only for lack of a better one). The dynamic range of characteristics and issues associated with Autism is mind-boggling. Some will eat anything while others have diets limited to 10 or 12 different food items. Linguistically their speech can be fluent but quirky, extremely limited or repetitive, or completely non-existent. Some can dress themselves while others can't. Some can play an instrument or beat world champion gamers at Madden NFL '09, while others haven't mastered the ability to use a fork and knife. 

My son? Jimmy learned to swim the length of our pool - underwater - when he was 7 years old. He's been able to navigate computer games and learning programs at lightning speed since the age of 6. After years of hard work, we were finally able to help him become fully toilet trained this past summer. When was 10 years old. 

Every day brings another challenge; many of which have nothing to do with teaching your child to read or improve living skills. There's battles with school districts for services and placement, which can become so ugly that legal intervention is necessary. Long-standing relationships with friends (and even family members) might suffer, depending on their ability to deal with children of this nature. And unless your child has the "mildest" forms of Autism, an elevated level of attention and thought must be given to things that most would consider relatively superficial; like putting your child on a school bus, whether a playground is fenced in, or walking across a mall parking lot. 

These are things that Michael Boley deals with every day, all the while maintaining a high level of professional committment to his performance on the football field. 

Michael Boley grew up in Alabama. In 2000, his girlfriend Kelly Lankford gave birth to Mikey. According to Boley, he began seeing signs of Mikey "behaving differently than most kids his age" during his frequest visits with his son. In 2003, as he was going through the process of being drafted by Southern Mississippi, Boley filed for and received primary custody of Mikey. The judge ruled that Boley and his new wife, Chantelle would be better suited to provide Mikey educational and developmental opportunities. But Michael and Chantelle were not prepared for what was to come; Mikey's constant screaming, temper-tantruming and hitting became more than the Boleys - and the revolving door of caretakers who came and went - could handle.

Home life began to improve when the Boleys eventually moved to Dacula, Georgia and enrolled their son in a public school that had facilities to work with autistic children. Chantelle - who happened to be a pediatric special needs caretaker, helped Michael learn sign language to better communicate with Mikey. In 2006 - with help from Falcons senior director of player development Kevin Winston - they were able to hire an in-home caretaker specializing in autistic children (who still works with Mikey, and the two have apparently built a tight bond). The Falcons front office also helped out by securing placement for Mikey at the Marcus Institue in Atlanta, which specializes in teaching kids with developmental and neurological disorders. It was at the Marcus Institute where Boley was informed that Mikey would officially be diagnosed as autistic; two years earlier, when Mikey was 5 years old.

"He would have been a whole lot better a whole lot further ahead, if he'd got it say when he was a year and a half to two years." Boley said back in 2007. "He's better than when I got him... He didn't speak at all when we got him. He has his good days and bad days. A bad day is when he hits and won't listen. A good day is when he pretty much follows the rules and just has fun. He's usually pretty happy".

And now - after four seasons with the Falcons - Michael Boley won't be able to hang his jersey in the Georgia Dome locker room anymore. And another unavoidable eventuality; he probably won't be hanging his hat in Dacula for very long.   

His new job is located in East Rutherford, and uprooting his son from his home in Dacula will undoubtedly be a concern that requires a number of major decisions. The Boleys are no longer married (Michael was arrested and charged with assaulting Chantelle on May 3rd of last year), but even though she's been living out of state, Chantelle remains a consistent presence in Mikey's life. For anyone who isn't aware, routine and consistency are an absolute necessity for a special needs child. Especially an autistic child, where coping with society and simply getting through day-to-day tasks can feel like massive stimulation overdose; a steady foundation or "home base" is essential for them.

Should Boley retain custody of Mikey, real estate value and location won't necessarily be his primary concerns; school districts -specifically their special needs programs and the services they have to offer - will be. Services are rights, plain and simple. Yet you would be amazed at the stark contrasts between different school districts; not only in what services they're willing to provide, but in how hard they'll force parents to fight tooth and nail for everything "afforded" to them. Unfortunately, it's all too common to find one district that's accomodating, supportive and professional - while it's neighboring district next door is only concerned with budgets and maintaining the 'bottom line". I like to refer to those districts as "Circus Acts", because they force special needs families to jump through hoops for their services, while they walk the high-wire of fiscal reallocation and educational politics.

However the situation works itself out, there's no doubt Boley will continue his fine work in raising funds and awareness for autism. Boley has participated in the annual Georgia Walk for Autism event, as well as hosting fundraisers for the Marcus Institute and Easter Seals of Northern Georgia. In 2008 he organized and hosted The Michael Boley Step Show For Autism with Cardinals defensive end Travis LaBoy, who's brother is autistic. Coincidentally, the Super Bowl Step Show  took place in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona - just five days before his new team defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

While he needs to hold himself accountable and work through for the more publicized aspects of his personal life, I for one can only wish Boley and his son the best of luck in getting through this transition. I've lived through it, and I know the frustrations. Maybe Michael Boley will be one of the tens of thousands faces seen walking the boardwalk at Jones Beach this fall for Autism Speaks

I know I will be.

 

SourcesAP (George Henry, 11/9/2007); Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Steve Wyche, 10/11/06); Giants.com (transcript, 3/3/09); 11Alive.com (Donna Lowry, 4/14/2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: December 10, 2008 2:25 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2008 2:30 pm
 

A Good Old Fashioned Wild West Shootout

 "The Searchers" vs. "True Grit"


     

 

After crushing losses, it's a showdown in Big D for two teams and their slingers.

Hey, there. I hope you don't mind me being wamble-cropped. I got a little barrel fever and some backdoor trots after drinkin' that rot-gut last night at the saloon. Say... d' ya hear about the big showdown on Sunday? Yep - right down the road in Dallas, no lie. Gonna be raisin' some cain that night! Why don't ya have a seat by the fire for a little Blarney...

Them city slickers are coming to town, led by the one they call "the stranger" - except this ain't no ordinary stranger. The hometown folk of Dallas have heard tales of bravery and grit about the stranger, who with his gang rides across the country as I speak, making their way to Big D to take on their beloved blue starred sheriff. Now they've heard it said the stranger from the east claims to be the best there is after taking down the biggest, baddest gunslinger there ever was - "Kid Brady".

It happened in Glendale, Arizona - 'bout 700 miles west of Big D - and despite takin' on a couple of uppish varmints from Philly and Cleveland, ain't nobody drawn first and gunned this stranger down. It's been a tight scrouging for the stranger; challenge upon challenge from every tenderfoot with a pistol and a box of bullets... but more often than not the stranger walks away with a clean choke strap and not a wrinkle on his bat wings, while the others are carted off to the marble orchard. 

Now this ain't the first time we've run into the stranger, no sir. Why... we were around his parts not too long ago but the sheriff, well he was a little under the weather... had a little trouble with his trigger finger, you understand. He's alright now but he better be ready come the showdown. The stranger ain't no bunko artist, but that don't mean he can't beat ya. Injuries & retirements, even self inflicted gunshot wounds haven't derailed the stranger and his gang of city slickers. And pretty soon the desert dust will kick up through the fussed dark, where the stranger from the east will emerge - slickers behind him all the way. 

The blue starred sheriff is the target, and by Sunday evening the stranger will stand alone on one end of main street -  his shootin' hand dangling at his side, fingers wigglin' n' waiting to grab that old rackatee when the sheriff comes out to face him from the other side. You'll know the stranger when you see him; he'll be the quiet one rigged up on the bangtail he was riding between hay and grass. That bronco's name is True Grit.

But what of the sheriff? Well... he's a flannelmouth, I'll give him that. He's a dabster with the dames and a devil on the draw; He plays to the gallery and plays second fiddle to no one... and you can bet your gold rib wrenches he ain't gonna let no stranger from the big city ride into town thinkin' he's jimmying a bull in Big D. There's a lot of tradition in Dallas, particularly when it comes to the job of being sheriff... There's been some mighty fine ones throughout the years - some high-falutin' types, and some that kept their Justin's up and they're hair case over their eyes - but every one of them would brisk up when it was time for a showdown. 

But until recently, the folks in Big D had thoughts of hangin' up their fiddles; it had been quite some time since the law in these parts wasn't just putting a spoke in the wheel. But while some of his predecessors have been left for buzzard bait, this new sheriff keeps on fightin' and keeps on the win. When the town folks pinned that shiny blue star on this one, they saw the potential for a revitalized city - a restoration of respect for the name "Dallas" - that people across the nation would again look upon with admiration.

The sheriff - he's got oates, that's for sure... but the citizens of Dallas are still waiting for the rock. And you can't buy the rock with oates. These folks are dyed in the wool, true to their sheriff and his men. What they want now is for the one with the blue star to keep them from goin' up the spout, and seeing those city slickers knocked galley-west would be the first step. They're fair to middlin' with this lawman, and mad as hornets that they might get the short end of the stick if the sherrif and his men aren't packin' iron when the stranger and his gang pull into town.

So for the sherrif, the target is the stranger... and by Sunday evening the sherrif will stand alone on the other end of main street -  his shootin' hand dangling at his side, fingers wigglin' near blue lighnin' as he stares down the stranger waiting on the other side. You'll know the sherrif when you see him; he'll be the bull with the boyish smirk on his bazoo, wearing the star they gave him that represents everyone in the town he serves. Those folks are known as The Searchers.

Well, thanks for listenin' to me ramble like that. I'll tell ya one thing... when it's over, it's gonna take the starch out of one of those boys. I can hear them spurs jinglin' now...

 


 An apropos tidbit for Terrell Owens: Pop Your Corn is old west slang, meaning "to say what you have to say, speak out"

old west terminology & slang reference: legendsofamerica.com

Posted on: December 7, 2008 8:09 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2008 12:17 am
 

RECAP: Eagles 20, Giants 14

Twisting in the Wind

Powerless defense. Indefensible drops. Westbrook. 

Big Blue wins the NFC East title.

"The pessimist complains about the wind;
the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."

William Arthur Ward

Was it the wind, that at times reached 40mph gusts? Perhaps it was the distractions and interruptions of the past week, and maybe Tom Coughlin just didn't have the ability (or strength) to get his troops focused enough for a football game this afternoon. Or maybe the Eagles just played extremely well today; perhaps Andy Reid's crew was better prepared than Coughlin's. In reality, it was a little bit of everything - the Giants had an opportunity to wrap up the NFC east and secure a first-round bye in the playoffs with a victory over the Eagles this afternoon, but the Giants and their fans were left twisting in the wind as the Eagles monopolized the clock by almost 10 minutes and piled on the yardage much more than the 20-14 final score can possibly convey. The Giants were 3-11 on 3rd down conversions, and 0-3 on 4th down conversions. They went for it on 4th down in the first quarter, and they went for it on 4th down in the last quarter. There's one word to characterize the Giants today... "uncharacteristic".

There is a lot more than the final score that the Giants will be concerned about following today's game, the least of which is whether or not this group of receivers will be able to carry on without #17. Brandon Jacobs left the game midway through the 3rd quarter after appearing to twist his ankle as he was tackled by DT Brodrick Bunkley, and the normally stout defensive line - while able to pressure Donovan McNabb early in the game - was manhandled by Jon Runyan and the rest of the Eagles' offensive line on almost every play in the second half.

The most telling part of this game is the fact that the Giants - who've made a living by controlling the game clock and overall tempo - did not have a drive more than 5:34 the entire game. And that drive ended in a blocked field goal on a brilliant play by DE Trent Cole, who literally placed his hands on the backs of two Giants lineman and leapfrogged over them - had enough time to get his footing and leaped straight up in front of John Carney's 47-yard attempt.

The most (and only) positive moment of the game came with 4 seconds left in the first half. Philadelphia was lining up for a 31-yard field goal in hopes of going up 13-0, but Justin Tuck knocked it out of the air and CB Kevin Dockery scooped it up and ran it back 71 yards for the Giants first score of the game. It seemed that all the momentum had shifted from one sideline to the other at that point. It seemed that way. It wasn't.  

Eli Manning had a rough day to say the least; to say the most, Manning did everything he was supposed to do and got nothing for his efforts. Manning's numbers look putrid - 13 of 27 for 123 yards and a touchdown. It should be mentioned that Eli was 6 for 6 with his only TD on the Giants last drive of the game; prior to that, Manning was 7 of 21 for 66 yards. The tone was set early in the game, as Manning was not at all in sync with primary target Domenik Hixon. A crushing blow that the team never recovered from occurred at the start of the 2nd quarter. On 1st and 10, Manning dropped back and heaved a beautiful spiral from his own 8-yard line that sailed 55 yards right into the arms of Hixon. Unfortunately, Hixon - who had about 5 yards of separation on the cornerback - misjudged it and the ball shot right through his arms and onto the turf. A sure touchdown opportunity was gone with the... nope, not gonna say it... and the Giants were back to their own 15-yard line, 2nd and 10. That's when the 'dropsies' virus began spreading like wildfire to the rest of the receivers; Fullback Madison Hedgecock's stone hands were back on display just  four plays later as he let a high but catchable ball slip through his grasp on a screen play that left nothing but open field ahead of him. Later on, Steve Smith dropped a bullet right on the numbers that would have resulted in a much needed 3rd down conversion. 

Eli isn't absolved of any wrongdoing. As both time and opportunities were slipping away in the second half, Manning made an ill-advised pass deep down the middle of the field as he was being rushed that would have been picked off by Brian Dawkins were it not for his collision with a fellow teammate. At the 9:35 mark in the fourth quarter - when the Giants were down 17-7 - they went for it with a passing play on 4th and 1 at the Philadelphia 38. Manning stepped up in the pocket to avoid the blitz and had an opening to run straight ahead. Had he done just that, he would have picked up the first down and then some. Eli got a little case of "happy feet" and pulled up before hitting the line of scrimmage and threw a short pass to Sinorice Moss that fell incomplete.

The Giants' offense seemed to be a tale of two game plans; in the early going they were very confident and loose - almost too lose. Kevin Gilbride called for a double reverse to Mario Manningham on the fifth play of their first drive that not only seemed out of place, but resulted in a 12-yard loss. The deep pass incompletion to Hixon seemed to mark the end of that game plan, and the start of the more conservative approach Giants fans have been accustomed to. The problem was that Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson had an answer for everything the Giants tried to do. Linebackers Stewart Bradley and Akeem Jordan combined for 13 tackles on the day, and swarmed the middle in taking away both the outside run and the short passing game. D-backs Asante Samuel, Dawkins and Quintin Mikell were all over the Giants receivers. There were a few instances where Manning had no choice but to muscle the ball into Hixon's gut, despite being draped, because there were no other options open. It was impossible to tell if Kevin Gilbride had actually made adjustments at the half, because they never really had an opportunity to show us - the opportunities they did have, they squandered.

The story of  the game was the Eagles' #36. The Giants defense came out strong in the first quarter, and appeared to be getting plenty of pressure on Donovan McNabb. As was the case in their first meeting in week 10, Brian Westbrook found very little room to run. But by the 2nd quarter, Westbrook's 2-yard runs were becoming 5-yard runs; and once Westbrook got his legs moving there was no stopping him. Westbrook finished the day with 131 yards on the ground, 72 receiving yards and two touchdowns. To give you an idea on how much the Eagles offense dominated the Giants, Westbrook gained 203 total yards; the Giants gained 211. Westbrook has always been a Giants killer, and he looked nothing like the guy they held to under 30 yards in Philly; today he looked 100% healthy. To get back to halftime adjustments, whatever it was Steve Spagnuolo tried to put in place to keep "22 eyes on #36" (as he was quoted saying) in the second half , it was even less effective than what he did in the first half. The fact that the Giants defense was on the field for all but 3 minutes of the third quarter had everything to do with the outcome of this game. Philadelphia started the 3rd quarter with a seven-minute drive that ended with Akers' second blocked field goal of the game, but when the Giants gave it back to them a little over three minutes later, McNabb knocked another six minutes of the clock and rammed a 40-yard Brian Westbrook TD pass down their throats. It didn't matter that the 4th quarter has just gotten underway... the game was over.

It was their own fault; as I stated earlier, Philadelphia converted on just about every third down situation in the second half, and the Giants were inneffective in wrapping up players and preventing yards after first contact. With his outstanding performance today, Westbrook surpassed the great Harold Carmichael to become the Eagles' all-time leader in yardage from scrimmage.

Donovan McNabb must also be creditied for a solid game, as he held his ground in the pocket as long as he could and still managed to complete his passes - or bolt to the outside when no one was open and hurt the Giants with his legs, five times scrambling for decent yardage (three times on 3rd down to move the chains and keep the clock ticking).

As I type up this recap, the Cowboys are in a battle with the Steelers, just over my right shoulder. All I hear is "ball comes loose..."  and either "Steelers recover" or "Cowboys ball" - lots of turnovers. And... Tony Romo has just turned it over for the fourth time...  Deshea Townsend runs it in for the score...the Giants win the NFC East, which I'm happy about.  At least something positive to end this day.

All this and three blocked field goals.

That damn wind!

 


 

Notes and Commentary: CONFIDENCE - where it is, and were it isn't... 

CONFIDENT: Despite their terrible performance today, I'm confident that these Giants receivers are capable of producing; there's been too many positives this year out of Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon to think that today was anything more than a bump in the road. There's been a lot of distractions in the past week, and it obviously played a part in the outcome. You never want to see easy passes dropped, but this is nothng new for Eli Manning. Neither is playing without #17, and the loss in Cleveland showed that this offense can bounce back from poor outings. Under the leadership of veteran Amani Toomer, these receivers are going to be OK.

CONFIDENT: The defense was not prepared for the Eagles today. It's very unlike them to be caught off guard, but Steve Spagnuolo has been able to regroup before, so there's no reason to think he won't have them ready for Dallas next week. having said that, there's got to be concern over the Antonio Pierce situation...

NOT CONFIDENT: Antonio Pierce is playing this up as if everything is fine, and that there's nothing taking his focus way from football. After watching him and the rest of the defense today, I wouldn't necessarily agree. It may be unfair to lay everything on Antonio, but he was not on his game today and was surprised to see that he led the team with 12 tackles. Pierce seemed to commit himself way too often one way or another while shadowing Brian Westbrook, especially on the touchdown pass; Westbrook broke out of a cluster of bodies behind the line of scrimmage and turned to face McNabb. Pierce started to break toward him, but Westbrook slipped a little to the outside and caught Pierce out of position. Westbrook caught the ball and ran right past pierce for the TD. I'm curios to know if anyone else thought that Chase Blackburn should have taken over for him at some point in the second half? He just seemed out of it.

NOT CONFIDENT: The latest word is that Brandon Jacobs' knee injury isn't that serious. While that's great news, my first thought was - "Really? He limped off the field and stood on the sidelines for the rest of the game, but it's not serious... If wasn't serious, why didn't he get back out there ? And if it was even a little serious, why wasn't he in with the trainers getting it worked on, or resting it?" 

Jacobs left the Ravens game after one quarter with a knee injury; He sat out the Cardinals game, then returned for the Redskins game last week. He left today's game... the running game relies on two things - the offensive line and the consistency of its three moving parts. The last thing the Giants need to worry about is Brandon Jacobs' durability.

 

stats source: sportsline.com

Posted on: December 5, 2008 4:17 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2008 4:20 pm
 

NY Giants "Things to Do" List for Sunday Dec. 7th

Dreaming of a Division Title & NFL football in 3-D

 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008
/12/05/tech/main4649794.shtml

Above is the link to a CBS news story about last night's game between the Chargers and Raiders; It was the first NFL game to ever be broadcast live to theaters in 3-D. The satellite feed was downlinked to theaters in Boston, New York and Los Angeles.  Despite a few early feed outages, and the need to wear those annoying glasses, it looks like it was a hit. There are very few technological advances in home entertainment and daily living conveniences over the last 10 or 15 years that actually get me excited. Remote engine start for my car on cold days was one, digital delay recording through cable set top boxes was another. I enjoy my Nintendo Wii, but wish more sports games were available for it.

Now there's 3-D NFL, which may very well surpass them all. Terrell Owens would be happy to know I'm getting my popcorn ready.

 


  I'm going to take the advice of fellow member #1GatorFan4Life and actually have a life for the next two days. The 3rd quarter grades for Big blue took a lot out of me, so for this week's installment of  "TTDL" I'm keeping it short and sweet. The Giants can clinch the NFC East with a win at the Meadowlands against the Eagles. At 11-1, Tom Coughlin and his staff should have a pretty good idea on how to go about their business. Here's a few points for them to consider that they won't find in their playbooks:

THINGS TO DO THIS SUNDAY vs. The EAGLES

1. Shut it out. Put the headlines, sports pages, opinionated radio hosts and Mayor Bloomberg out of your mind and leave them far away from East Rutherford. Your ability as individuals - and as a team - to focus on the moment has taken you this far. Just keep doing what you're doing.

2. Where are we playing? Do you think the Eagles are coming into your house - onto your field - in front of your fans - and denying you a division title? Absolutely not. Your fans will be as loud and as pumped as ever. Get them into the game and feed off their energy.

3. "Yes we can". Philadelphia will think they can take that extra defender they used to double-up #17 and utilize him to stop the run. So let them. Can we expect Eli Manning to handle the pressure? "Yes we can". Should we look to Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Amani Toomer and Kevin Boss for reliable and dangerous targets? "Yes we can". Can we expect a strong defensive effort and stingy coverage by our secondary? "Yes we can".

Can we predict that the Giants will grab the division title and the rest of the NFC by the throat this Sunday?

It's the closest you'll ever see The Blue Streak get to an actual prediction...

Yes we can.

  

 

Posted on: November 24, 2008 12:34 am
Edited on: December 28, 2008 9:06 pm
 

RECAP: Giants 37, Cardinals 29

And the Beat Goes On...

    

Without Jacobs or Burress, Manning takes control; Domenik Hixon's 261 all-purpose yards lead the way in Giant Victory

The Arizona Cardinals viewed this game as a "statement" game. At 7-3, they could wrap up an NFC West title with a win over the Giants. What better way to announce both the arrival and legitimacy of your team by beating the defending Super Bowl Champions - at the very stadium where they shocked the world just 10 months ago?

If you were a Giants fan tuning into the game just before kickoff, it might have been a bit surprising to find Brandon Jacobs in street clothes. There was speculation that Jacobs may sit to rest his swollen knee, but the reality of that 6'4", 264 pound bulldozer wearing less gear than his head coach began to sink in as Derick Ward was warming up along the New York Giants sidelines for his first start of the season. After the first Giants offensive series, wide receiver Plaxico Burress was held out for the remainder of the game with an aggrivated hamstring. Without their most dominant runner and arguably most important receiver on the field, the Giants once again controlled the flow of the game and made a statement of their own. That statement was "10-1", with a 37-29 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ.

The Cardinals were extremely pumped for this game, since they had put so much emotion into what the outcome would mean for their eminence within league circles. The intensity they brought to the field in the first half visibly affected the Giants' normally "flaccid" reactions to opponent celebrations or taunts. In the first half, center Shaun O'Hara was flagged for unnecessary roughness, and Amani Toomer was called for unsportsmanlike conduct; both penalties were the result of releasing frustration over the physical nature of the game to that point.

Much like the Eagles game two weeks prior, the final score doesn't indicate the control defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his defense had over the Cardinals offense. He did a phenominal job for the better part of three and a half quarters in keeping the monsterous tandem of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald in check. WR Steve Breaston was the Cardinals second leading receiver as a result; as fellow blogger Yanks1in99 had pointed out earlier this week, you have to pick your poison with Arizona. Because the secondary was effective in shadowing the two main guns, Breaston often found himself in one-on-one coverage. Kurt Warner worked the formula that had seen success against the Giants defense in other matchups this season; quick drops and quick releases on crossing patterns. Warner surpassed the 300-yard mark for the fifth straight game; but with the exception of a late TD pass to Boldin with just over four minutes remaining in the game, the majority of his 351 yards were between the 20-yard lines.

Two important assignments I had hit on in my "Things to Do" list for this game were carried out. First was the need to get physical with Boldin and Fitzgerald at the line of scrimmage. My take on this was that Safeties Kenny Phillips and Michael Johnson would be backing up Aaron Ross and Corey Webster, and couldn't allow the underneath completions to turn into huge gains, since Boldin and Fitzgerald make their living by yards after the catch. Proof that the Giants carried out Steve Spagnuolo's decree today of allowing "no more than 4.0 yards after the catch" was cornerback Aaron Ross' four penalties, including hands to the face, illegal contact and pass interference calls where he locked arms with who he was covering. Fox color analyst Daryl Johnston noted, "You need to be physical with these receivers, and have to expect to take a few of these calls against you". The star of the Giants secondary was rookie Kenny Phillips; he was sent in on a number of blitzes after Warner and was spot on in his coverage all day. In one of the best defensive plays I've seen this season, Phillips broke up a sure touchdown in such a heads-up manner that makes you wonder why defenders don't do it more often. With 5:32 left in the first half, Arizona was on the Giants 8-yard line; Warner threw a bullet over the middle to Larry Fitzgerald in the back of the endzone. Fitzgerald caught it leaping, slightly above his helmet and appeared to have a firm grasp on it. Before he could come down with both feet, Phillips turned toward him and simply popped it out of his hands with a little jab. So in the moment, so simple, yet so effective. Rookie cornerback Terrell Thomas got his first NFL interception (Waner's only pick on the day) with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.

The second thing I felt the Giants defense had to do was rattle Kurt Warner's cage. I don't remember seeing a single statistic on screen during Fox's coverage (we wouldn't want to take precious camera time away from field reporter Tony Siragusa,  now would we?) but Warner had to have been knocked down 16-20 times, as linemen Justin Tuck, Fred Robbins and  Dave Tollefson were harrassing Warner all day. During the Cardinals fist possession of the second half, I counted four straight knockdowns where Warner had just gotten the pass off in time, but wound up flat on his back. The Giants were able to stop the run with ease as the Cards gained a paltry 23 yards on 15 carries for 1.5 yards a carry. The gap space provided by Arizona's spread-out offensive line created easy lanes for the Giants secondary to plow through on blitz packages. The other defensive highlight was on the sack of Warner, where Justin Tuck overshot his rush but then caught him from behind and swatted the ball loose. Mathias Kiwanuka recovered the fumble.

On the offensive side of the ball, Eli Manning had one of his best performances of the year. He was highly efficient, completing 26 of his 33 passes for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. Manning had two passes dropped on him today; one by Amani Toomer during the first drive of the game that was right in his gut and would have been good for about 20 yards. Kudos, however, goes to fullback Madison Hedgecock - not only for finally catching (and holding onto) a pass, but for a nice cutback on a defender for a 2-yard touchdown. Amani Toomer and TE Kevin Boss caught Manning's other two touchdowns. Toomer and Boss both had 4 receptions on the day, but New York's leading receiver was Domenik Hixon. His six catches for 57 yards are just the beginning of his contributions on the day.  

Hixon was outstanding on kickoff returns; on back-to-back kickoffs in the 2nd quarter, Hixon had returns of 83 and 68 yards. Hixon finished the day with 201 return yards, on three kickoffs and two punts. "Great blocking, if you look on the film, the guys up front blocking - they give you the seams" Hixon told reporters after the game. "A couple times, I don't think I was touched at all until I was tackled. It was a phenomenal job and it starts with them." 

The normally solid running game suffered a bit without Jacob's bruising presence, but Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw filled in well enough to maintain the offensive balance necessary for Eli to pass effectively. Ward - who found out an hour before kickoff that he would start - finished the day with 99 total yards and a touchdown. "I don't think it's a mental adjustment" said Ward, "Throughout the course of the week, I practice like I'm the starter. Even if I'm taking second-string reps or whatever, so to be able to go out there and duplicate, replicate what I do during practice - it pays dividends for the offense when we play on Sundays."

Things don't get any easier for the Cardinals -  they have a date with the 5-5-1 Eagles on Thanksgiving Day. A win in  Philadelphia will also accomplish the goal of grabbing the NFC West title. But head coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted that goal to be reached today. What Arizona did get out of today's loss will be similar to what the Giants got out of their Monday night loss in Cleveland to the Browns; a wake up call. The Cardinals are an extremely talented team, and  some better special teams coverage and a few tweaks to their defensive scheme could have possibly made this game a lot closer than it was.

As for the Giants, they scored 37 offensive points - on the road, without their starting running back, and without one of their starting wide receivers. If there was any doubt that the offensive line  - especially the play of guards Rich Seubert and Chris Snee - is the most valuable component of the Giants offense, today's game should eliminate it. Speaking of making statements; the Giants offense wanted to serve notice as well; while not as flashy, or perhaps even as talented as the Arizona Cardinals - they could keep bulbs active on the scoreboard and move the ball at will, too. That moment came in the third quarter. The Cardinals had possession for 4:40, drove 90 yards in 12 plays and RB Tim Hightower's 1-yard plunge cut the Giants lead to five, 24-19. On the very next drive, New York knocked 4:34 off the clock on a 10-play, 80 yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard TD strike to Boss, which hammered out the dent Arizona had just put into their lead. That's what the past five games have been about for the Giants; answering the bell. "Give us a challenge, we'll face it, and we'll meet it. No... we'll bury it."

 

NOTES & COMMENTS:

Number 17 is number five. If the Giants were an engine that was just rebuilt, Plaxico Buress would be one of those extra parts sitting off to the side of the driveway that didn't seem to fit anywhere. You don't know where it was supposed to go, but you know it's probably something important. Weeks later, you hope that you won't wind up getting stuck in the middle of nowhere if the engine breaks down. But the engine works... and keeps running, and keeps running. At this point, it's clear that Steve Smith and Amani Toomer are more reliable, more integral and more important to the Giants offense than Plaxico. Domenik Hixon is more athletic and more of a potential gamebreaker; Kevin Boss is more steadfast and tough.  

Off and on. And off. K John Carney was given the start today over Lawrence Tynes (who started last week in place of John Carney, who had started for...). Tom Coughlin made the decision to go with the healthier, more reliable veteran once it had been announced that the University of Phoenix Stadium roof would be closed.

Anything less than a 4.0 average is a passing grade. As mentioned above, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo put it to his secondary that he wanted the Cardinals receivers wrapped up as quickly as possible - the goal was to limit Boldin, Fitzgerald and co. to a game average of 4.0 YAC or less. The end result was 3.4 YAC.

Distance, but with familiarity in the rear-view. With the Carolina Panthers losing to the Falcons 45-28, the Giants are two games up on the rest of the NFC in jockeying for that  #1 playoff seed. However, with their 35-22 drubbing of San Francisco, the Dallas Cowboys are primed for another big run. Healthy and jelling again, Tony Romo and Terrell Ownes combined for 213 yards and a TD through the air. The Giants have a trip to Dallas in three weeks, where the 'Boys will be looking to even the score after the pounding they took in the Meadowlands. Arizona is playing very good football and the Panthers are still sitting at 8-3, but Dallas may just be the team to worry about most. "Getcha' popcorn ready!"

 

Statistical sources: sportsline.com, foxsports.com 

Daryl Johnston quote: Fox Network  /  Domenik Hixon, Derrick Ward quotes: giants.com/multimedia 

Posted on: November 6, 2008 1:56 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2008 11:57 pm
 

New York Giants 2nd Quarter Report Card - D/ST

Big midterm exam vs. Eagles counts heavily towards final Grade

 1. An NFL teams' _____________ is directly proportionate to its _____________.

O  credibility; win-loss record

focus; discipline

O  overall ability; individual accountability

rushing success; offensive lines' performance

All of the above

Click on this link for the Offense report card www.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs/entry/
10752270/11517623

DEFENSIVE LINE / LINEBACKERS:  A+  (last quarter A+) This grading period started off on a bad note. Monday Night Football is always hit or miss for the Giants, but their trip to Cleveland was as uninspired performance by the defensive line and linebackers since week 2 of last season, when the Green Bay Packers came into the Meadowlands and ran roughshod over them. They did not register a single sack on Derek Anderson (who's job had been temporarily saved that night) and RB Jamal Lewis had his best game of the season to date. Granted, Antonio Pierce and Gerris Wilkinson were both hobbled with injuries, but that game served as a wake up call to these units. Since then, they've regrouped and regained their ferocity; they held Frank Gore to 11 yards on 11 carries the following week; they buried Ben Roethlisberger the week after, sacking him four times and knocking him down an incredible 16 times; and picked up where they left off at Heinz field by terrorizing both Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger last week against Dallas.

The Giants are 2nd in the league in sacks; outside of Pittsburgh's dynamic duo of Harrison and Woodley, Justin Tick and Mathias Kiwanuka are the most dynamic pair of defensive inds in the game today. The effort and effectiveness of Kiwanuka - shifted from linebacker to end after the loss of Osi Umenyiora - has given the d-line the continuity it needs to remain tough against the run. Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield have also stepped up their game, and their ability to force pressure on the inside has greatly improved since last season.  

Danny Clark continues to play well at outside linebacker, providing sufficent speed to cover the middle of the field where the Giants have historically been exposed by tight ends. Rookie Bryan Kehl has shown what a 4th round draft pick from BYU can do. He's filled in quite nicely in the absence of Gerris Wilkinson, and will no doubt continue to get playing time as the season progresses. In addition, Chase Blackburn has seen his role increased, even after the return of captain Antonio Pierce form a quad injury.

 

DEFENSIVE SECONDARY:  B+  (last quarter B+)  This unit could have garnered an "A" or even an "A+" for their performance over the past four weeks, but certain factors - some in their control, some not - have to be considered in grading.What works in favor of a B+ rating is the fact that the Giants are 2nd in the NFL only to Pittsburgh (AGAIN with the Steelers! Geez...) in total passing yards allowed and average yards per game, not to mention their newfound penchant for creating interceptions.

CB Corey Webster (3 INT), along with safeties James Butler and Michael Johnson (2 INT apiece) have been very proactive in reading the quarterback and getting to the ball. Of the Giants 11 INT's this season, 9 of them were picked in the last three games. They're not blowing coverage assignments as much as they had last year, and appear to be instinctively aware of how to react after the receiver has possession (for the most part - Butler's tap dance during Nate Washington's TD reception would be exhibit 'A' against that opinion). The play of 2nd year man Aaron Ross and Webster have pretty much relegated veterans R.W. McQuarters and Sam Madison to backup and special teams roles. Rookie Kenny Phillips continues to impress coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and Spags has responded by gradually increasing Phillips' playing time. Phillips is a heady player (which is how the organization would explain their desire & tendency to go after Miami U players year after year) with a nose for where the play is developing. He hits hard and can punish receivers, which is an element the Giants defense has been missing for a while. And with Kevin Dockery sidelined last week, Rookie Terrell Thomas got his first start of the year. Now that Thomas' nagging injuries are behind him, Spagnuolo might look to get him more involved as well.

The reason that the 'B+' grade sticks for this report card is two-fold: First of all, the quaterbacks they've faced have not been world beaters. They were ineffective against Derek Anderson (who was granted a stay of execution based on that game). Then they took on Big Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, they picked him off four times in rather athletic fashion (three, if you discount the desperation pass in the final seconds), but Pitt was without WR Santonio Holmes, and Roethlisberger's erratic performance had more to do with his getting drilled into the turf 20 times as opposed to making bad decisions. Then there was J.T. O'Sullivan, Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger. No explanation necessary. the other concern had been the lackluster play of Aaron Ross. Josh Morgan and Braylon Edwards schooled Ross in back-to-back games. He was better in Pittsburgh, and really started to return to form against Dallas. He's had a reoccurring shoulder injury which has no doubt affected him, but if he's in the game he's got to perform.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  B  (last quarter B+)  John Carney is 18 for 19 in field goal attempts, and what's more impressive is that his 44-year old leg is 3-3 on attempts from 40-49 yards. His kickoffs have been noticeably been shorter of late, landing between the 10 and 15 yard lines but without the hangtime we saw in weeks 1 through 4. At some point, Coughlin will make the decision to save Carney's accuracy and experience for field goals, and utilize Lawrence Tynes' younger, stronger leg for kickoff duites. Jeff Feagles is still doing what Jeff Feagles does; he's only been called upon 30 times this season (less than four times a game) but still manages to use the field position he's been afforded to his advantage, landing 13 of those inside the 20.

Domenik Hixon and Ahmad Bradshaw have continued to handle punt returns and kickoffs, respectively. They aren't averaging significant yardage, though. Hixon has returned punts at an average of 9 yards a clip, while Bradshaw's 20.6 yards per KOR is on the low end of the league average. While they've done a fine job protecting the ball and avoiding trurnovers, it would be nice to see those averages go up a bit as they get more comfortable in their roles - especially heading into the meat of the schedule. he Giants punt and kickoff coverage has been spectacular, thanks to the efforts of the aforementioned Ahmand Bradshaw, Zac DeOssie and Chase Blackburn. They rank 2nd in the league in average kickoff return yardage allowed, and 3rd in the leage in average punt return yardage allowed.

 

Statistical sources: sportsline.com, nfl.com, pro-football-reference.com

 

Posted on: November 5, 2008 2:33 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2008 12:44 am
 

New York Giants 2nd Quarter Report Card - Offense

Big midterm exam vs. Eagles counts heavily towards final Grade

 1. An NFL teams' _____________ is directly proportionate to its _____________.

O  credibility; win-loss record

focus; discipline

O  overall ability; individual accountability

rushing success; offensive lines' performance

All of the above

Click on this link for Defense & Special teams report cards: http://www.sportsline.com/mcc/blogs
/entry/10752270/11536496

At the halfway point of the season, the Giants are 7-1 and find themselves on top of the very competitive NFC East. Despite Monday night's lackluster performance against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington (6-3) is going to be a force in the division along with Philadelphia (5-3) and Dallas (5-4), who is crackling with anticipation at the likely return of QB Tony Romo just in time to save their season - and potentially a few jobs. 

Most pundits, analysts and commentators have declared that as many as three of the four NFC East teams should make the postseason. The road to the NFC East Title, however, is paved with land mines and pockets of quicksand. Make no mistake about it - that's the road these four teams are going to be looking up on 'MapQuest'. The land mines are the divisional matchups taking place between now and December 28th - 7 games between the four teams to be exact - waiting to pick each other off one by one as they head towards January. Anyone who suffers a blow by tripping one of those landmines will undoubtedly find their way into a pocket of quicksand - in the form of a crushing defeat at the hands of non-divisional teams such as Arizona, Minnesota or Carolina - that will seal the deal for them and shut the door on a playoff berth. These obstacles, trap doors and explosives are merely tests - tests that impact the final regular season grades these NFC East teams hope propell them into the postseason. 

With these tests looming straight ahead, there isn't much study time. Not enough time to go over everything there is to know. The big midterm exam for the New York Giants is this Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The first half of the year has shown us where the strengths are, and where the areas of concern might be. This is a crunch-fest - a good ol' fashion cramming - a time to have faith in what's worked consistently (what we know) and focus more on what hasn't worked consistently (what we don't know). Grades of "A" or "B+" signify what the Giants should feel comfortable in answering correctly, but a grade of  "B" or below means they need to crack the books if they hope to lock down a playoff spot.  

 

OFFENSIVE LINE:  A  ( last quarter - A+ ) Masters Seubert, Diehl, O'Hara, Snee and McKenzie - This unit continues to be the backbone of the team. The successes of the defensive line are more glamorous, more noticeable; the D-line and O-Line have contributed equally to the teams' ability to control the battle of field position and time of possession week in, week out. The Giants have slipped to 2nd in the league in rushing offense (behind Atlanta), but by only 6 yards with 26 fewer rushing attempts. New York still leads the league in average per rush, and are 2nd to Baltimore with 72 rushing 1st downs. They have also provided excellent pass protection; despite giving up four sacks to Dallas last week, they're ranked 5th overall having only allowed 10 sacks on Eli Manning in 8 games. Philly will be the third tough matchup in a row for this O-line - it will be interesting to see how they perform.      

QUARTERBACKS:  B  ( last quarter - A ) Eli Manning was sporting a 99.7 passer rating after the first four games, with 6 TD's and 1 INT. He's since dropped 10 points in rating, down to 89.7 and has 6 TD's and 4 INT's over the last four games. Whereas manning appeared to be seeing the field better and not telegraphing his passes early on, he started off this grading period with a bad outing against Cleveland (which accounted for 3 of his 4 INT's) and an unimpressive performance against San Francisco - where he was lucky he wasn't picked off three more times. Of course, the disruptions of the Plaxico Burress situation haven't helped matters. In Cleveland - the first game following Plaxico's suspension - it was very obvious that Manning was forcing the ball to Burress, which was a mistake. Last week against the Cowboys, Manning's sideline pass intended for Burress was intercepted for a TD by Mike Jenkins. Just as obvious was the sense that Burress broke his route and expecting Manning to follow his lead downfield when it was too late. The dropsies have also plagued certain Giants, most notably Burress along with FB Madison Hedgecock and Brandon Jacobs out of the backfield. But drops and distractions aren't to blame for Manning's questionable performances - his ability to scan the field and avoid throwing into danger is. Since he was able to play with more focus and awareness in the Pittsburgh & Dallas games, it looks like he may be moving in the right direction. Let's see what happens in Philadelphia.  

RUNNING BACKS:  A+  ( last quarter - A In the 1st quarter report card, I made the statement that it's hard to determine sometimes how much of the actual work Earth, Wind and Fire does, and how much of it is a byproduct of the ability of the Giants O-line. As the season moves forward the running backs and the line will get tired; a few more bumps and bruises with emerge. Brandon Jacobs has been the workhorse for the squad carrying 66 times for 300 yards (4.5 YPA) with 4 TD's in the last four games, and has taken the bulk of abuse from opposing defenses. That said, the contributions Derrick Ward has made to the offense has been arguably the most valuable. In that same 4-game span, Ward has 39 carries for 220 yards (5.6 YPA) with a TD, but added 12 receptions for 120 yards. The difference in their running styles, speed and skillset has kept opposing defenses on their heels. Jacobs still needs to improve his nose for finding the gaps, as he still tends to run directly into piles from time to time. The reason for the increase in grade to A+ has more to do with Kevin Gilbride's recognition of this tandem's possibilities; their ability to remain effective at their roles without fighting for playing time, and the impact it has on the offense as a whole.

RECEIVERS:  B+  ( last quarter - B )  Mr. Burress will be held accountable for his own actions, and will no longer affect the grade for the rest of the students. Therefore he will be graded seperately from here on out. 

Stop the presses - there's been a Kevin Boss sighting. In the last two games, against their toughest opponents, Boss has 7 receptions for 64 yards. Whether they kept him on the line to hone his blocking skills or he's simply running crisper routes, Boss is starting to rebuild that report with Manning they had during last year's playoffs. Steve Smith has become the primary target for Manning with 21 receptions for over 200 yards in the last four games. While the yardage might seem low, it's due to Eli spreading the wealth to include other's - like veteran Amani Toomer (who seems to make at least one incredible catch every week), Derrick Ward, Domenick Hixon and now Boss. The weak link for the passing game is the backfield (minus Ward). Jacobs and Hedgecock have combined for 8 catches and 9 drops. 

Plaxico Burress: D-  Plaxico is a disruptive young man who is pushing his coaches and teammates to the point of no return. Since his last report card Plaxico has run poor routes, missed a mandatory therapy session, has yelled at both his head coach and quarterback on the sidelines and has had very little overall impact on the offense with the exception of demanding defensive respect by sheer virtue of his presence. Here's the cold, hard fact: The Giants don't need Plaxico as badly as once thought.

Would they, I, and every other Giants fan prefer to have Plaxico? Absolutely. Would his loss be devistating? Maybe, maybe not... his skills and raw talent, his toughness are all undisputed. His route running ability -  once his strong suit - is now questionable. They need a receiver like Plaxico Burress, but they don't need this. How long will Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese continue to put up with his tirades and dismissal of team policies? If the Giants continue to win while Burress averages 30 yards a game, it won't be for long. Besides, Mario Manningham is waiting in the wings to take his place in more ways than one.

 

Stats courtesy of sportsline.comnfl.com

 

Posted on: November 2, 2008 9:50 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2008 10:28 am
 

Recap: Giants 35, Cowboys 14

D-Town Beat Down

No Romo, no cornerbacks, no contest as Giants roll to 7-1

 

For those who sit in the red and blue seats of the Meadowlands, a matchup with the Cowboys can churn up both the glow of optimism and the worst of anxieties. From a Giants perspective, you couldn't have asked for a better outcome; from the first possession it was clear that the Giants were not going to look past this game to next week's prime time matchup with Philadelphia. The running game was back in top form, as the three-headed monster rumbled for 200 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. The defense picked up where it left off last week in Pittsburgh, swarming the pocket and making life miserable for the Dallas quarterbacks (yes, I said quarterbacks) while the secondary continued it's penchant for nabbing interceptions. And despite some Eli Manning turnovers, the passing game was sharp - especially in the red zone.

What's lost in this victory - at least from the point of view of a Giants fan - is the sheer satisfaction of dominating the Dallas Cowboys. It's no secret to either fan base the hatred each shares for the other organization. And yet a 21-point victory left very little above and beyond the "W" itself and the assurance that the Giants are playing as sound and complete a game as they ever have. Because a 35-14 victory against this Cowboys team is not necessarily fun. Against this Cowboys team, that sense of guarded optimism was put aside to allow that brash confidence to shine through - and the Giants delivered. This Cowboys team is truly lost. Lost without their heart and soul - #9. Lost without a defense that feels obligated to tackle and huslte. Lost without a head coach that doesn't drip with self-loathing each and every time his team takes another penalty or his quartbacks throw another pick. Dallas is obviously counting the seconds until the return of Tony Romo; one must question whether #9 even has enough to offer what his team clearly needs.

The Giants mapped out this game from the first possession. A 6:13 opening drive capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kevin Boss to put New York ahead 7-0. On the drive Manning was 5/6 for 63 yards, including a 22-yard bullet to Plaxico Burress (3 for 34) into Dallas territory that set them up for the score.

Brad Johnson managed to get Dallas to the Giants 25-yard line with a 28-yard completion to Roy Williams. On the very next play, Johnson looked to Terrell Owens over the middle but was intercepted by Corey Webster, who spun off of Owens and drifted towards the sideline, gaining 57 yards on the return down to the Dallas 27. Brooks Bollinger was now warming up on the sidelines and huddling with Jason Garrett - the change everyone was waiting for was not too far away. A little over two minutes after the Webster interception, Manning hit wide receiver Steve Smith (5 for 29 on the day) on a 5-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 14-0 lead. However, Eli Manning's next two drives would not go as well as his first two.

Early in the second quarter, Manning followed a delay of game penalty (that damned play clock again) with a fumble; while whipping his arm back to pass, he let it slip out of his grasp, untouched. DeMarcus Ware pounced on the loose ball to give Dallas possesion at the Giants 16. Two plays later, Johnson (5 of 11, 71 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT) threw over the middle to Terrell Owens for what should have been a completion. Owens (5 for 36) was popped by Antonio Pierce and Kenny Phillips, which popped the ball out of Owens grasp and onto the turf. Safety Michael Johnson recovered the loose ball to give possession back to the Giants at their own 6 yard line. After three Brandon Jacobs carries for 13 yards, Manning threw a quick shot short right intended for Burress that was intercepted by Mike Jenkins who skipped 23 yards into the Giants end zone for the score, cutting the Giants lead in half 14-7. On the play, Eli was clearly expecting Plaxico to turn left at the line and wait for the pass, but Burress shot between the defenders waving his hand in a "hit me deep" motion - kind of tough to do when the QB is already in throwing motion. Burress could be seen on the sidelines jawing at Manning; Eli had his back to him looking to the sky with sort of a "whatever, dude"  look on his face. Manning would eventually hit pay dirt again, finding Amani Toomer over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 21-7 lead at halftime.

As expected, Brooks Bollinger started the 2nd half for Dallas. His numbers were slightly more respectable (9 of 16, 63 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) but he wasn't any better off than Johnson in the pressure department. The Dallas offensive line collapsed time after time under the Giants front four, lead by Justin Tuck (2.5 sacks) and Mathias Kiwanuka (1 sack). Bollinger's second pass of the day was intercepted by James Butler, who ran it back 9 yards to the Dallas 19; two plays later, brandon Jacobs 12-yard run gave the Giants a 28-7 lead. 

Bollinger clearly provided the arm strength Wade Phillips had been longing for, and even led the 'Boys on an impressive 8:24 drive that culminated with a nice 8-yard TD pass to Terrell Owens to again trim the Giants lead in half, 28-14. The Giants would get those 7 points right back on the next drive. Brandon Jacobs topped the 100-yard mark for the third time this season with a 31-yard run (Jacobs finished the day with 117 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown). Derrick Ward took over at this point and carried the load on a 9-play, 67-yard drive that he finished off with a touchdown of his own to make it 35-14, Giants.

NOTES:

*A crack in the Dam? The normally stalwartly Giants offensive line allowed 4 sacks against Dallas - the most in a single game so far this season. While their run blocking remained superb, they struggled on passing plays and had trouble picking up the blitz at times.

*Butler's tangled web: Safety James Butler left the game in the third quarter with a sprained knee and didn't return. To add insult to injury, Butler - who appeared to be smiling and joking with the trainer - tripped himself up at the mouth of the tunnel as he headed in to the locker room, getting his cleat caught in the goal post netting. He tumbled forward, having to brace his fall on all fours as the trainer freed his foot from the entanglement. No word yet whether that fall exacerbated the injury.

*Ba-ba-ba, Ba-Barber ran... into a brick wall. The Giants defense was strong against the run again today, holding Marion Barber to just 54 yards on 19 carries. Barber's longest run of the day occurred in the 2nd quarter for 21 yards - which means his remaining 18 carries went for 33 yards.

*Where's Witten? Dallas tight end Jason Witten played the entire game despite suffering from a broken rib. No telling how much the rib limited him, but he finished the game without a single catch. Witten has not gone without at least one reception in a game since 2004. Perhaps the quarterback situation had a little something to do with that as well.

*17th nervous breakdown: Since returning from his 2-week suspension, Plaxico Burress has a 4-game streak going: four consecutive games where he's caused problems for his team:

1. In his return against Cleveland, he seemed to forget his routes and could not sync up with Eli Manning 

2. Against the 49ers his choice remarks towards the officials (following an admittedly weak offensive pass interference call) cost them a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. His tirade spilled over to the sidelines; Tom Coughlin yelled to Plaxico "What the hell are you doing?", to which Burress appeared to respond "Whatever the f--- I want to" along with a few more explitives.

3. Against Pittsburgh, he watched from the bench for the first 19 minutes of the game. This because he felt therapy for his neck injury wasn't necessary and decided to blow off his scheduled session on Saturday morning. Burress claimed he was unaware the treatment was mandatory.

4. Today against Dallas, Burress called an audible after the snap and blew off the designed play, resulting in an interception for a score. Then went after Eli on the sidelines.

Plaxico doesn't get it and never will. The Giants don't need him that badly. Yes, they need Plaxico - his height, his hands, his toughness and his route running ability. But they don't need this. Shockey learned that in training camp, and you wonder how long Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese will continue to put up with his crap. The Giants continue to win games while Burress has averaged 35 receiving yards per game. Heck, Sinorice Moss and Mario Manningham can put up those type of stats. Too bad Plaxico doesn't get that.

 

 
 
 
 
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