Posted on: August 6, 2009 7:48 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2009 2:57 pm

"10" Reasons for $97 Million

                               "Manning Up" for the QB   

For all those opposed, don't worry; your guy will get his.
And his contract will be bigger than Eli's (having Eli to thank for it). 

Let's get one thing straight right now... Eli Manning is by no stretch of the imagination as talented, battle tested or proven as his older brother (even though he'll be paying the dinner checks from now on) or Tom Brady. He lacks the raw tools and athleticism of Drew Brees. Many will argue he's not as gutsy, talented or tough as Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb or Tony Romo either.

Here's my take on six years and $97 million: He's worth every penny. Why?

1. Because he's managed to avoid flipping over his motorcycle handlebars and crashing head-first into a windshield. He's also avoided getting wrapped up in a rape accusation. Perhaps luck plays a big part in that. I'll take someone who makes their own good luck.

2. Because his face appears in 'Oreo League' Ads, Toyota & Reebok commercials, as well as fundraising campaigns for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Phoenix House, The Red Cross and his own cause - The Eli Manning Children’s Clinics. And because he doesn't appear on the covers of Star Magazine, People, OK, US and The National Enquirer - or as a weekly stunt on TMZ.com - about how he's dumping 'this' pop-star girlfriend for 'that' actress girlfriend or 'the other' who's-that-girl girlfriend.

3. Because he has yet to openly display contempt for teammates or his coaching staff - regardless of whether he's agreed with them or not. He's never once complained about the lack of having a legitimate "number one" reciever (since the only one he's ever had has either been less than 100% healthy, serving a suspension or in bed recovering from self-inflicted gunshot wounds).

4. Because he has arguably put up with more scrutiny and criticism than any other QB in the NFL today without being able to use age, racial discrimination or injuries as a "crutch" - and as much by his own fan base than that of the rest of the league, despite popular belief. On the contrary; the last name 'Manning' has been nothing more than a mountain this guy has had to climb since the day he was drafted.

And Every one of the other Quarterbacks mentioned above - talented and deserving, one and all - will eventually sign bigger and better contracts than the one Eli just signed. Sans McNabb perhaps; unfortunately for Donovan, father time might have something to say about that.  

And when that comes to pass - for most in the NFL universe - the stars will once again be aligned as they should be. "Shoot - if he's making that much? You just know I gotta be worth THIS much..."

For now, the Giants Organization will simply enjoy the eclipse. And try not to look directly into the balance sheets.

By the way - here's the other 6 reasons he's worth every penny: 

5. January 2nd, 2004 - Giants 28, Dallas 24.
With Big Blue down 24-21 with just 11 seconds left in the game, Rookie QB Eli Manning comes to the line and looks at the Dallas defensive alignment. He pulls up from under center and audibles. In subsequent press conferences, coach Tom Coughlin will admit that a pass play had been called for - which Dallas must have anticipated. Instead, Eli hands off to Tiki Barber, who scampers three yards up the middle for a touchdown.

6. October 23rd, 2005 - Giants 24, Broncos 23.
Manning's first monsterous regular-season comeback victory. For the second week in a row - and the third time in the 13 starts in his career - Manning engineers a victory out of the jaws of defeat on the final drive of the game. With the Giants losing by 13 with 12 minutes left in the game, Eli spearheads - not one - but two touchdown drives, and Big Blue pulls out the improbably victory at the Meadowlands on an Amani Toomer game-winning score with 5 ticks left in the 4th quarter.

7. September 17th, 2006 – Giants 30, Eagles 24.
This was a huge 4th quarter performance for #10. Down 24-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, Manning engineers his biggest rally - and has the best statistical game of his career (31 for 45, 371 yards, three TDs) - to tie the game with a field goal drive in the final seconds. A 31-yard pass to Plaxico Burress late in overtime sealed the victory - with two Eagles defenders bearing down on him and knocking him flat on his back just as he released the ball.

8. December 2nd, 2007 – Giants 21, Bears 16.
With their season slipping away, the Giants trailed 16-7 before scoring twice in the final 6:54. Manning shakes off three awful quarters of football by throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer
to cap a 75-yard drive and close the gap to 16-14. After a Bears punt, Manning executed a 77-yard drive - including a 24-yard pass to David Tyree and a 15-yarder to Plaxico Burress that put the ball on the 2 - which culminated in a Droughns TD run with 1:33 remaining.

9. January 13th, 2008 – Giants 21, Cowboys 17.
This technically was a fourth-quarter comeback, but not really. No matter, as Manning connected on two TD passes to Amani Toomer, and steered an early 4th quarter scoring drive that proved to be the game winner (trailing 17-14, Brandon Jacobs’ stumbled into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run just over 2 minutes into the fourth quarter). Manning’s best moment was the touchdown drive in the final seconds of the first half. All of a sudden, Tony Romo went from being the next great QB of the NFL to a great big question mark; Vacations with girlfriends and sobbing wide receivers aside, Eli Manning played well enough to leave his cleat marks on the backside of the Dallas Organization - which would have been the most any Giants fan could have hoped for coming into the 2007 season. That is, until... 

10. February 3rd, 2008 – Giants 17, Patriots 14.

Down 14-10 with 2:39 to go against the 18-0 New England Patriots - with NFL immortality on the line and all the decks stacked against him - Eli Manning took over on his own 17-yard line… 

 "OK Eli... tell me right now. What did you do with your brother's contract?"

Posted on: January 11, 2009 7:06 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2009 1:51 am

EAGLES/GIANTS RECAP: Its All Over Now, Baby Blue.

Eagles 23, Giants 11

Giants leave their stepping stones behind, and have the rug pulled out from under them.


Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you've left, they will not follow you.
The vagabond who's rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match, go start anew
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.
From Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"

As the game moved along, quarter by quarter and minute by minute the inevitability of what was taking place was clear. It was like getting a shot at the doctor; you're sitting on the examination table, watching him tie the rubber hose around your arm. He rolls the little bottle around in his palms, then removes the syringe from the wrapping. Plunger pushed in, a dip in the bottle, plunger pulled back. The a couple of flicks of the finger. Then the obligatory comment, "Now... this won't hurt a bit." and in it goes. It stings for a bit, but eventually the pain goes away and you realize there was really nothing to it.

There was a purpose to that long-winded "ode to a needle": There's a wide dynamic of emotions a fan can experience following a game like this. Perhaps it's age, or familiartiy, or the understanding that repeating as champion in today's NFL is not easily accomplished. However, I think that it's the simple fact that Tom Coughlin's team did not seem right from the get-go. It will sting for a bit, but eventually the pain will go away and we'll realize that - at least from the Giants - there was really nothing to them.

The Eagles were the vagabond wrapping at the door today, and have recently been likened to last year's Giants; the wild card team with the big heart, hitting on all cyliders at just the right time. They're now wearing the "clothes" that the Giants' were donning last year at this time -and they're dressed for success.

I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles - for their perseverance and will to win this game at all costs. Healthy players, smart game planning and a little luck all play a part in earning a victory. The "luck" part for the Eagles today was catching Eli Manning on a bad day. But that wasn't the deciding factor in game; Philadelphia earned the victory and were clearly the better team today. Now they pack their bags for a date with the Arizona Cardinals and an NFC Championship game, visiting the very site where less than a year ago, Big Blue made magic, and NFL history.

For Tom Coughlin, General Manager Jerry Reese and the Giants organization - an offseason of "what might have been". Maybe Reese can snag a free agent wideout the likes of T.J. Houshmandzadeh to replace Eli's missing deep threat, and if the first two years of his tenure are any indication, he's more than likely have another solid draft come April. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo might be a head coach somewhere in 2009; though the doors of opportunity are starting to close fast. Derrick Ward will likely want to prove he can be a starter and will want starter money - if there's a team willing to give him the shot.

Below are two reasons why the New York Giants lost their Divisional round playoff game to the Eagles this afternoon - and despite what the FOX NFL team of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck would have you believe, Plaxico Burress isn't one of the two reaons. If he were, then we may as well throw in the loss of Osi Umenyiora in the preseason and the retirement of Michael Strahan. 

These two things - and not the personnel on the field - will haunt the Giants in the weeks and months to come...

1. The "eyes" have it; and Eli just didn't have it today.

Trying to guage Eli Manning's emotion is like trying to tell the difference between regular or decaffeinated, but there are those rare times that it's written all over his face; and today, his face was a novel. His passes wobbled, he was off target a number of times, and threw into tight coverage way too often. But the true measuring stick for Eli is his eyes. If written it many times throughout the season; When he's on his game, his eyes are scanning the field, looking for his options and knowing where to go. Today, his eyes locked on his primary target - from the moment the ball was snapped until the point of release. Asante Samuel and Brian Dawkins didn't have much guess work to know where the ball was going. Something wasn't right with Manning, and when that's the case he tends to lose focus and downfield awareness of the defense. Even though the teams were within 2 points of each other for a majority of the game, Eli's interception to Samuel (which led to the first Philadelphia touchdown) was a back-breaking tone setter.

2. In-game decisions that were offensive, rather than offensive minded in-game decisions.

  • There was one bright spot for the Giants today, and it was Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs had 19 carries for 92 yards and appeared to be the only player in a blue jersey that Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was unable to handle. Yet every time New York found itself driving the ball successfully, they took the ball out of Brandon's hands. I don't want to ramble with examples here, but here's one that sticks out: Following DT Fred Roobbins' interception and return to the Philadelphia 33 yard line in the 3rd Quarter, two consecutive handoffs to Jacobs went for 11 and 5 yards. The momentum was shifting. Number 27 was then called off to the sidelines in favor of Ward; two unsuccessful pass plays later, the Giants had to settle for a field Goal. This brings us to...                                                                                                                                           
  • Field goals... or punt? The turning point of the game for me - and I felt it the moment it took place - was when Coughlin decided to go for a 47-yard field goal with 4:29 remaining in the 3rd quarter instead of punting. Philly was leading 13-11 at that point, and Carney had already missed a 46-yard attempt earlier in the game (and badly, I might add). The Giants had recorded a safety the last time the Eagles were pinned back on their goal line, which might have been in their heads should they have found themeselves in that same spot. Your punter is Jeff Feagles - one of the best to ever play the game - and with the wind to his back, had already placed one perfectly inside the 5-yard line today. They should have pinned them back and not taken the risk on allowing Donovan McNabb to have 1st and 10 at midfield. Carney missed the kick, and McNabb marched them down the field and found TE Brent Celek in the end zone to put the Eagles up by a score of 20-11 on the first play of the 4th quarter. Which brings us to...                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  • The fourth Quarter... following the Brent Celek touchdown. On their next two possessions, the Giants ran 11 plays - 10 of which were running plays. It's understandable to a point, considering the inconsistency of their quarterback throughout the afternoon. But that said, he is still your quarterback, and unless the Giants coaches new something we didn't you have to continue plugging away and keeping the Eagles defense off-balance as best you can. On both possessions, the Giants were faced with a 4th down and a decision to make. And on both occasions, they went for it. The first time (on 4th and inches), they lined up Jacobs in the backfield and tried a quarterback sneak up the gut with Eli. That's like using a toothbrush to drive a nail into a wall when you've got a hammer right there in your tool belt. For the next drive (on 4th and 2) Kevin Gilbride decided to go with what they should have gone with the first time and ran Jacobs straight up the middle. Neither conversion was successful. The Giants miscue on the initial 4th down attempt perfectly prepared Jim Johnson's defense for the second 4th down attempt.

And it's all over now, Big Blue.

Thanks to the Giants for an enjoyable season, despite the letdown today. They handled themselves well through all the distractions and controversy, and overcame a lot of obstacles to put themselves back in contention. In a week or so, I will post my Giants 2008 Season Team Awards in recognition of the highlights - and lowlights - of the season.

Now it's off to the Eagles boards to offer my congratulations.


Statistical Sources: nfl.com, cbssports.com


Posted on: January 9, 2009 4:23 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2009 8:35 pm

UPDATED: MADDEN '09 Divisional Round Sim RESULTS!

BigBluGeekazoid: The Results are in!

 "Great football is - is - is about great football *players* playin..' ya see... you need good football players in - in a big game and then ya -ya get great football, and - and - and that's what *that's* all about."

Semi-sim #1: BALTIMORE @ TENNESSEE - Saturday 4:30pm ET

*Prediction: Section_725: "It doesn't appear so cut and dry. (Titans) on a coin flip - How is that for a scientific method?"

*Prediction: BigBluMasochist: "Kerry Collins has to win this one for Tennessee, which doesn't bode well for them."

                                                                             31                   34 



  • TEN: McCareins 437yard TD Pass from Kerry Collins; Bironas PAT (BAL 14 - TEN 10)
  • TEN: Chris Johnson 1-yard TD Run; Bironas PAT (TEN 17 - BAL 14)
  • BAL: Matt Stover 40-yard Field Goal (TEN 17 - BAL 17)
  • TEN: Rob Bironas 52-yard Field Goal (TEN 20 - BAL 17)


  • BAL: Willis McGahee 64-yard TD Run; Stover PAT (BAL 24 - TEN 20)
  • TEN: Bo Scaife 3-yard TD Pass from Kerry Collins; Bironas PAT (TEN 27 - BAL 24)


  • TEN: Chris Johnson 1-yard TD Run; Bironas PAT (TEN 34 - BAL 24)
  • BAL: Willis McGahee 2-yard TD Run; Stover PAT (BAL 34 - TEN 31)


  • SACKS ALLOWED:     BAL - 1           TEN - 4
  • TURNOVERS:              BAL - 2           TEN - 0
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):   BAL - 27:06   TEN - 32:54


  • PASSING:      BAL - Flacco 11 of 20, 180 yds, 0TD, 1 INT... 
  • PASSING:     TEN - Collins 16 of 24, 231 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT
  • RUSHING:     BAL - McGahee 19 for 128 (2 TD)... McClain 10 for 36 (TD)... Flacco 3 for 19... Neal 2 for 5 
  • RUSHING:    TEN - C. Johnson 17 for 106 yards (2 TD)... L. White 8 for 53... Collins 2 for (minus) 2
  • RECEIVING:  BAL - Fitzgerald 7 for 91.. Breaston 4 for 67 (TD).. Urban 4 for 19.. Doucet 3 for 15.. Pope 1 for 6
  • RECEIVING: TEN - M. Clayton 5 for 141... D. Mason 3 for 22... Heap 3 for 17



Semi - sim #2: ARIZONA @ CAROLINA - Saturday 8:15pm ET 

*PredictionImJustLazy03: "My head tells me to take the Panthers, but I think the Cardinals will eek this one out..."

*Prediction: Section_725: "...ultimately, the more balanced Carolina offense will win the game for them."

                                                                             15               24


  • NOTE: Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin removed from starting linups due to his Hamstring injury.
  • CAR: John Kasay 51-yard Field Goal (CAR 3 - ARI 0)


  • ARI: Neil Rackers 42-yard Field Goal (CAR 3 - ARI 3)
  • ARI: Neil Rackers 27-yard Field Goal (ARI 6 - CAR 3)


  • CAR: Jonathan Stewart 77-yard Run TD; Kasay PAT (CAR 10 - ARI 6)  
  • ARI: Neil Rackers 37-yard Field Goal (CAR 10 - ARI 9)


  • CAR: Jonathan Stewart 29-yard TD Run; Kasay PAT (CAR 17 - ARI 9)
  •  ARI: Steve Breaston 43-yard TD Pass from Kurt Warner; 2-point conversion failed (CAR 17 - ARI 15)
  • CAR: DeAngelo Williams 3-yard TD Run; Kasay PAT (CAR 24 - ARI 15)


  • SACKS ALLOWED:     ARI - 4            CAR - 1
  • TURNOVERS:              ARI - 3            CAR - 0
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):   ARI - 27:57    CAR - 32:03


  • PASSING:       ARI - Warner 19 of 27, 198 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT... 
  • PASSING:     CAR - Delhomme 8 of 20, 65 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
  • RUSHING:      ARI - E. James 13 for 33... Hightower 8 for 9
  • RUSHING:    CAR - J. Stewart 12 for 110 yards (2 TD)... D. Williams 19 for 114 yards (TD)... Hoover 3 for 1
  • RECEIVING:   ARI - Fitzgerald 7 for 91.. Breaston 4 for 67 (TD).. Urban 4 for 19.. Doucet 3 for 15.. Pope 1 for 6
  • RECEIVING: CAR - S. Smith 2 for 24... D. Hackett 2 for 13... Muhammad 2 for 11... D. Williams 2 for 14 



Semi - sim #3: PHILADELPHIA @ NEW YORK - Sunday 1:00pm ET


*PredictionThe Muffin Man: "I have to go with the Giants, as I am angry at the Eagles for beating the Vikings."

*Prediction: BigBluMasochist: "I don't predict Giants games."

*Prediction: Section_725: "Ah, the matchup everybody is looking forward to, well... except for fans of those other teams."

*PredictionImJustLazy03: "Not sure home field helps much in this one, but that extra week off (for NY) sure will."

                                                                            37             3


  • None


  • PHI: David Akers 22-yard Field Goal (PHI 3 - NYG 0)
  • PHI: L.J. Smith 18-yard TD Pass from McNabb; Akers PAT (PHI 10 - NYG 0)
  • Note: Giants OL Shaun O'Hara left the game with a knee injury
  • PHI: David Akers 35-yard Field Goal (PHI 13 - NYG 0)



  • PHI: Brian Westbrook 4-yard TD Run; Akers PAT (PHI 27 - NYG 3)
  • PHI: Correll Buckhalter 3-yard TD Run; Akers PAT (PHI 34 - NYG 3)
  • PHI: David Akers 44-yard Field Goal (PHI 37 - NYG 3)


  • SACKS ALLOWED:    PHI - 5           NYG - 3
  • TURNOVERS:             PHI - 1           NYG - 4
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):  PHI - 40:54   NYG - 19:06


  • PASSING:      PHI - McNabb 20 of 30, 294 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT... 
  • PASSING:    NYG - Manning 15 of 26, 128 yds, 0 TD, 4 INT
  • RUSHING:    PHI - Westbrook 22 for 97 (TD)... Buckhalter 4 for 19 (TD)... McNabb  3 for 16
  • RUSHING:   NYG - B. Jacobs 9 for 38... D. Ward 4 for 14... Bradshaw 6 for 26
  • RECEIVING:  PHI - D. Jackson 6 for 96 (TD)... Baskett 4 for 83... Curtis 3 for 21... R. Brown 2 for 26...
  •                                    L.J. Smith 2 for 29 (TD)  Avant 2 for 21... Westbrook 1 for 18
  • RECEIVING: NYG - Boss 2 for 42.. Hixon 2 for 38.. Jacobs 1 for 19.. Manningham 1 for 18.. Smith 1 for 11 



Semi - sim #4: SAN DIEGO @ PITTSBURGH - Sunday 4:45pm ET


*PredictionImJustLazy03: "Big Ben in for a Big Game here, probably a pass heavy 'O' for the Steelers."

*Prediction: NFL_Solomon: "Eli Manning sucks."

                                                                            14                19                                                                     


  • NOTE: Chargers RB LaDanian Tomlinson removed from starting lineups due to groin injury.
  • PIT: Willie Parker 13-yard TD Run; Reed PAT (PIT 7 - SD 0) 
  • Note: Steelers WR Nate Washington missed the remainder of the half with a head injury


  • PIT: Santonio Homes 62-yard TD Pass from Roethlisberger; Reed PAT (PIT 14 - SD 0)
  • PIT: Jeff Reed 37-yard Field Goal (PIT 17 - SD 0)
  •  SD: Nate Kaeding 45-yard Field Goal (PIT 17 - SD 3)


  • SD: Nate Kaeding 55-yard Field Goal (PIT 17 - SD 6)


  •  SD: Chris Chambers 19-yard TD Pass from Philip Rivers; Darren Sproles 2-pt conversion (PIT 17 - SD 14)
  • PIT: Safety - Philip Rivers sacked in SD end zone (PIT 19 - SD 14)


  • SACKS ALLOWED:    SD - 3          PIT - 3
  • TURNOVERS:             SD - 2          PIT - 1
  • TIME OF POSS (X3):  SD - 33:12   PIT - 26:48


  • PASSING:       SD - Rivers 18 of 29, 209 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT... 
  • PASSING:       PIT - Roethlisberger 16 of 19, 248 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • RUSHING:      SD - Sproleses 18 for 119... Hester 6 for 21... Rivers  2 for 9
  • RUSHING:      PIT - Parker 19 for 76 (TD)... M. Moore 4 for 8... C. Davis 1 for 3
  • RECEIVING:   SD - A. Gates 8 for 100.. V. Jackson 5 for 46.. Chambers 2 for 23 (TD).. Sproles 2 for 15..
  •                                    Manumaleuna 1 for 25
  • RECEIVING:   PIT - H. Ward 9 for 107.. Holmes 3 for 85 (TD).. Washington 2 for 34.. H. Miller 2 for 22 


Thanks for the input, everyone! I'm looking forward to next week's Conference Championship matchups! Enjoy the games this weekend.




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


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:


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 10, 2008 2:07 am
Edited on: November 10, 2008 10:48 am

GIANTS @ EAGLES RECAP: Giants 36, Eagles 31

Running down a dream

"Earth, Wind and Fire" run wild as New York starts to run away with the East 

When the Giants and Eagles match up, you can count on three things: A physical game, fumbles by Giants running backs, and a few whacky surprises. Tonight's game was no different, and with the additional element of all four NFC East teams in the mix for postseason appearances the intensity level was palpable. In the end, the Eagles lack of a classic power running game and a brilliant challange by Tom Coughlin (and Eli Manning's persistence in challenging it) would play major roles in the outcome.

The physical aspect of this game was the Giants running game. 45 carries for 219 yards of rushing offense - lead by Brandon Jacobs with 26 carries for 126 yards - unseats the Falcons as tops in the NFL. But there were some tense moments for "Earth, Wind and Fire" as well; the fumblitis portion of the bill was also a part of the show as each member of the power trio coughed up the ball, losing one on a turnover. And now for the whacky: how about Tom Coughlin challanging (and winning) an illegal forward pass penalty call on Manning? Or his declining an encroachment penalty in the fourth quarter that would have given the Giants a 4th and inches while they're trying to hold possession and put the game away? It was all a part of the thrilling Sunday night affair that saw the visitors hold on to a six-point lead and - more importantly - take a huge step towards solidifying a first place finish in the NFC East with a 36-31 Giants victory at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Giants went into this game without starting LB Gerris Wilkinson or CB Kevin Dockery, while the Eagles were relying on less than 100% versions of Asante Samuel and Joselio Hanson in addition to deactivating Lito Sheppard due to a groin injury. There were still plenty of big hits to go around - and even though both defenses, combined, tallied just one sack (Philadelphia's DE Trent Cole), both quarterbacks took a number of hard hits throughout the night.

The game started off on an ominous note for New York, as Eli Manning's second pass of the game - from the Giants 35 yard line - was tipped and hauled in by DT Mike Patterson who rumbled for 21 yards before being tackled at the Giants 9 yard line. First and goal for Philadelphia. Two plays later, the Eagles lined up in the "flavor of the month" Wildcat formation and talented rookie receiver DeSean Jackson sprinted to the pylon to put the Eagles ahead 7-0. 

The Giants did not wait too long to respond and drove 80 yards on 10 plays, taking 4:57 off the clock - thanks to 37 combined rushing yards between Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, and a 22-yard completion to TE Kevin Boss. On 3rd and 9 from the Eagles 17 yard line, Manning called the defensive formation and changed the play at the line; he took three steps back and fired a pass over the middle between two defenders to number 17 Plaxico Burress for the touchdown - Giants 7, Eagles 7.  

On the ensuing kickoff, return man Quintin Demps was cutting from the sidelines at the 25-yard line when Ahmad Bradshaw stripped the ball, which bounced a few times before being scooped up by Chase Blackburn who ran it down to the Philadelphia 13. The Giants got a bit too conservative at this point; high on their success running the ball in the previous drive, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride called three straight Brandon Jacob's runs which only produced 4 yards. On 4th and 6, John Carney was brought in to kick the field goal and put the Giants ahead 10-7.

The Eagles proceeded to go 3-and-out in their next possession, and the Sav Rocca punt sailed 62 yards into the Giants end zone for the touchback. The Giants mounted another 10 play, 80-yard drive; a key 3rd and 7 completion to Amani Toomer for 10 yards put the Giants at Philly's 1-yard line, where on the next play Manning found Kevin Boss over the middle for the touchdown to put the Giants up 17-7.

Philadelphia puinted on their next possesion, as did the Giants. As did the Eagles. The Giants started that drive from their own 22, and on the second play Jacobs - who appeared to have the first down - made a rarely seen maneuver and leaped over an Eagles defender who was coming in low. Jacob's lost the ball after he was was popped high by linebacker Chris Gocong at the NY 45-yard line, who also recovered it. It would prove to be a costly fumble by Jacobs - and a costly (and stupid) unnecessary roughness call on CB Sam Madison would give the Eagles 1st and 10 at the Giants 20. two plays later Donovan McNabb hit Jason Avant on a 10-yard TD strike to make it 17-14 in favor of the Giants. John Carney and David Akers exchanged field goals before the half, and at halftime the score was 20-17.

Philadelphia got the kickoff to start the 3rd quarter, and Quintin Demps made up for the earlier fumble a little bit with a 37-yard return to the Eagles 40.  McNabb wasted no time in giving control of this battle back to the Eagles, hitting Kendra Wilkinson's fiance WR Hank Baskett for a 7-yard touchdown to put the Giants in the hole, 24-20.

The Giants next drive would prove to be the key to this game; not because of a particular play or performance, but because of the afforementioned challange by Tom Coughlin. After an 11 play, 49-yard drive, New York found itself faced with a 3rd and 10 from the Eagles 20-yard line. Manning dropped back to pass and appeared to have both the time and the open field ahead to run with it. He decided to pull up short of the line of scrimmage and fire a low 19-yard pass to Kevin Boss down to the 1. Flags immediately flew to the turf and Manning was called for what appeared to be a clear-cut illegal forward pass. Manning headed to the sidelines to plead his case to Coughlin, and moments later Coughlin conferred with the referee and threw the red flag. The play was reversed because the rule states that the quarterback's entire body must be over the line; the replay showed that Manning's right foot was still behind it upon release. "I think the way the rule is written, it was worth taking a shot at it," Manning told NBC sideline reporter Andrea Kraemer after the game. "If you have one toe on the line of scrimmage, then it's a legal pass. I thought it was worth the risk."  Two plays later, Jacobs broke through the line for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 27-24 lead.

John Carney booted his third field goal of the night 1:26 into the 4th quarter to extend the Giants lead 30-24. McNabb and company went 3-and-out again on the next possession, and Rocca's punt was fielded by Domenik Hixon, who's 73-yard return for a touchdown was nullified because of a holding call against SS Michael Johnson. Ahamad Bradshaw came into the game and immediately ripped-off a 23 yard run to the Philly 17; Bradshaw contributed his fumble of the night at the tail end of that run, but the ball sailed out of bounds so the Giants retained possession. A Jacobs run to the Philadelphia 6 was challenged by Andy Reid - "out of desperation" as John Madden put it  - who thought jacobs fumbled on the play. The challenge was for naught as Jacobs' elbow and knees were obviously down as the ball came out. The very next play, Reid thre the red flag again to challenge the touchdown signaled by the refs on Jacobs' 3-yard run. Reid lost his 2nd timeout after losing that challenge, and Jacobs' 3-yard touchdown run stood as called to put the Giants ahead 36-24. Coughlin decided to go for the 2-point conversion, but the pass attempt to Plaxico Burress was defended nicely by Asante Samuel.

McNabb passed for 57 yards and scrambled for another 11 on the next drive, and his 2-yard touchdown pass to WR Kevin Curtis pulled the Eagles within five, 36-31. Time and timeouts worked against Philly from that point, however. LB Chase Blackburn looked like he was shot from a cannon as he cut across the line and nailed Brian Westbrook on 4th and1 for no gain. The Giants took over on downs and ran out the clock.

The Giants victory tonight  - along with their road win in Pittsburgh and dismantling of Dallas a week ago - was the exclamation point on a statement they've been trying to make since Thursday, September 4th: No Super Bowl hangovers, no slowing down, no resting on past achievements. They intend to go right back to the big game, and this new defense is every bit as good as the old one. This win in Philly solidifies their rightful place as the elite team in the NFC. There's no swagger, no over-confidence. Tom Coughlin and his crew has this team focused, has them believing that a trip to Raymond James Stadium on February 1st is not only a possibility, but an expectation. It's too bad that the Giants won't face the 9-0 Tennessee Titans this year unless both teams meet in Super Bowl 43.

Then again, maybe it's not so bad after all.



*Mission accomplished: Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka had been quoted all week regarding the importance of stopping RB Brian Westrook. "Obviously we know that he is the catalyst of that offense" said Tuck in an interview with Michael Eisen on Thursday. "Everybody wants to talk about McNabb. McNabb is great in own right, but what they want to do and do well is get the ball to #36.  So we definitely have to (stop him); everybody else has tried to stop him and now it is our turn.  It is a great challenge for us and we are looking forward to it." The Giants held #36 to 26 yards rushing, 33 yards receiving and no touchdowns.

*No back left behind: Jacobs 126 yards and 7.2 per carry average once again led the way, but as per SOP Derrick Ward chipped in 17 carries for 53 yards (3.1 yards per carry, his lowest single game average of the season) and Ahmad Bradshaw made his usual 4th quarter appearance with 5 carries for 38 yards (7.6 yards per carry). The Giants have to be considered the best running game in the NFL hands down. They don't have the raw talent of an Adrian Peterson or Brian Westbrook, or the speed of a Marion Barber - but they have a game plan that works, and three bruising backs that can all shoulder the load when called upon. Even Clinton Portis, with the unbelievable season he is having, can't match the yardage or physical impact on an opposing defense.

*Time changes everything: The Giants dominated the game clock, holding possession for over 39 minutes. In the first quarter, Philadelphia had the ball for exactly 63 seconds.

*It can drive you Mad-ison: As previously mentioned, CB Sam Madison made a bonehead play in hitting an Eagles reciever out of bounds to take a penalty at a crucial point in the game. While it wasn't flagrant, it was certainly - to quote the rule book - unnecessary. While it can happen to anybody, Madison is supposed to be the "veteran" on this squad. FB Madison Hedgecock has turned out to be an upper-echelon blocker in the NFL. This is a good thing, because if his job depended on him making catches he'd be posting on carrerbuilder . com : Entering the game with a team leading 5 drops, Manning (or Gilbride perhaps) inexplicably called Hedgecock's number on a 3rd and 6 from the Philly 19-yard line early in the first quarter. As expected, the pass sailed right through his hands, forcing the Giants to settle for a field goal. When will Gilbride catch on? Better yet, when will Hedgecock catch it ?

*Blackburn bookends: LB Chase Blackburn had another solid performance in his limited defensive role and on special teams. He recovered the Quintin Demps fumble in the first quarter on a heads-up play, and his tackle on Brian Westbrook on 4th and 1 in the games waning moments sealed the deal. Blackburn has quietly put together an impressive year.


Eli Manning quote courtesy of NBC  -  Justin Tuck quote courtesy of Michael Eisen & giants.com  -  stats source: sportsline.com


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com