Posted on: November 30, 2008 6:04 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2008 9:05 pm

RECAP: Giants 23, Redskins 7

Something in the Air

On the day Sean Taylor is forever enshrined in the Ring of Fame, 305 yards by Eli Manning fly in the face of the Redskins' emotions.



On a cold & rainy day at FedEx Field, Clinton Portis emerged from the Tunnel sprinting, proudly carrying a flag that displayed the "21" worn by his teammate and friend - both at the University of Miami and more recently with the Washington Redskins. The late Sean Taylor was remembered in an emotional ceremony that took place just before the Redskins were to face their division rivals the New York Giants. Standing at midfield beneath rain-drenched umbrellas - in the soggy FedEx Field turf emblazoned with a large number "21' encircled in burgandy - were Taylor's parents, girlfriend and daughter. After the PA announcer's voice rang out through the stadium announcing Taylor as the starting safety, Head Coach Jim Zorn's team hoped to carry the emotion of that moment into the game with the same sense of purpose that Portis had carried that flag onto the field.

All the emotion in the city of Landover couldn't help Zorn's team today. Despite the emotion of Taylor's induction to the Redskins Ring of Fame, and the distractions caused by Plaxico "Buckshot" Burress this past Friday, Coach Tom Coughlin had his men ready for battle as the Giants improved their record to 11-1 for the first time in team history and dominated the Redskins 23-7. New York outgained Washington by 135 total net yards, and dominated time of possession by almost 14 minutes.

What was most noticeable from the onset was the Redskins commitment to stopping the Giants running game. Brandon Jacobs was able to start the game despite being listed as questionable with his sore knee. The sloppy field conditions made it diffuicult for Jacobs to get his footing, but the Redskins defense made it difficult for BJ to keep his kegs moving; Jacobs could not build up a head of steam as he only mustered 18 yards on 8 carries in the first half. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride quickly shifted gears, and - as he did the week prior in Arizona - put the game in the hands of Eli Manning. Manning responded with three completions on the first drive, capped by a 40-yard TD strike to Amani Toomer that put the Giants ahead by 7 early in the first quarter. Manning finished the day 21 of 34 for 305 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It was Manning's first 300-yard game this season, and his first since October 15th of last year, when he faced the Atlanta Falcons. Despite being sacked twice, Manning displayed great presence in the pocket, and reminded us of his improved awareness of onrushing defenders as the offensive line collapses around him.

Domenik Hixon was sure-handed once again in place of the injured Burress. He's building a reputation for himself as a tough over-the-middle receiver who can take a hit and hold onto the ball - even when he has to reach over his head to grab it - and can never be accused of having "alligator arms". Hixon finished with 5 catches for 71 yards, only outdone by Toomer (85 yards) and RB Derrick Ward. Ward has become a vital part of Gilbride's ability to find success with mid-game adjustments. When Jacob's couldn't move the line, Ward was brought in to give it a shot; when Washington's stifling defensive line continued to shut them down, Ward (the team' most reliable hands out of the backfield) became another receiving option for Eli, and his five catchers for 75 yards gave him 105 total yards on the day. TE Kevin Boss also nabbed three passes for 45 yards, including a short pass over the middle in the 1st quarter where he plowed through a few defenders on his way to a 24-yard gain. It was the kind of effort that Boss has shown since rounding into form mid-season that helps Giants fans forget about the guy who used to wear #80.

Redskins RB Clinton Portis was in the same boat as the Giants running backs... In fact, Redskins offensive coordinator Sherman Smith could have used a boat  to help Portis find a clearing on the rain-soaked field today. It certainly would have made things easier physically for Clinton; he had to leave the field twice to recover from injuries. In the first half, Portis took an elbow to the helmet from safety Michael Johnson as he was being tackled. Portis was on his back as trainers looked at him on the field for a good five minutes. Portis suffered a neck stinger and was eventually able to get up and make it to the sideline under his own power. Portis showed, once again, what a true warrior he is. the Giants defense was stingy, allowing Portis just 22 yards on 11 carries. 29 of the Redskins' 76 rushing yards came on one play in the 2nd quarter on a beautiful end-around to rookie wide receiver Devin Thomas - which froze the Giants entire defense as it was pursuing to the left, while Thomas ran right and bolted into the end zone for the Skins only score of the game.

Jason Campbell (23/38 for 232 yards and 1 interception) accounted for 38 more of those rushing yards on five carries, most of which came in the 4th quarter as Steve Spagnuolo's defense eased up on the pressure and provided some breathing room for Campbell as the game was out of reach for Washington. As I had indirectly predicted in my pregame "Things to Do" list posting last night, TE Chris Cooley was the leading receiver for Washington with six receptions for 71 yards. Cooley, along with Dallas TE Jason Witten, are Giants killers over the middle, and luckily his continued success against the Giants linebackers didn't factor into the outcome of the game. Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El were held in check for the most part, thanks to the ongoing pro-bowl type play of rookie safety Kenny Phillips and cornerback Corey Webster - who had swatted at least 5 passes out of the hands of Washington receivers. CB Aaron Ross had another interception this afternoon, for his third of the season.

The Giants are on their way to a division title, and two more divisional games with the Eagles and Cowboys will seal the deal. What's most impressive about this Giants team is the way they keep rolling along, regardless of weather conditions, injuries or distractions. They game plan successfully for each opponent and execute it with authority; when a starter goes down, they move the next guy up and plug him into the starting lineup with little or zero noticeable impact to the unit's overall performance. This is an exiting time as a Giants fan - even during the glory years of Phil Simms, Lawrence Taylor and the "Big Blue Wrecking crew", there were lapses in intensity and setbacks when players missed time because of an injury. Having dealt with short-term losses at almost every position during the season - and a few long-term losses before the season began - one man has stood on the field through it all, and he's clearly the one man the Giants cannot afford to be without come the playoffs: Eli Manning. Despite Justin Tuck's phenomenal job replacing Giants legend Michael Strahan, and Mathias Kiwanuka's successful return to the outside lineman's spot to fill the void left by Osi Umenyiora, Manning is the driving force behind the success of this team. He's a rare commodity in today's NFL; an intelligent and heads-up QB without an agenda, who's desire to win is not overtaken by his desire to be the star of the team. We'll take the occasional bad pass or interception, and deal with his on again-off again relationship with play clock... He's matured, and it's what every Giants fan has been waiting for. A consistent Eli Manning.


Notes & Comments

"If Woody had gone straight to the police..." The lawyer representing Plaxico Burress released a statement earlier today which states that the Giants wide receiver will surrender to the police; Benjamin Brafman told the Associated Press he's been informed that Burress will face a charge of criminal possession of a weapon when he turns himself in Monday morning and will enter a plea of "not guilty". Giants LB Antonio Pierce - who was with Plaxico along with Derrick Ward at the Latin Quarter nightclub - spoke with NFL security prior to today's game, and is willing to cooperate with investigators regarding his alleged involvement with hiding the weapon, according to reports. Pierce was allowed to play today, and had four tackles. For more in-depth information and commentary with a local flavor, visit the NY Daily news online

Another milestone for John Carney. Carney's first of three field goals in the game was his 450th career 3-pointer. He is 27 of 28 on the season, and his accuracy has kept a healthy Lawrence Tynes on the sidelines over the past two weeks.

Resting Robbins: Second-year player Jay Alford started in place of the injured Fred Robbins at Nose Tackle. Robbins in nursing a shoulder injury suffered in last week's win at Arizona. The Giants do not expect Robbins to miss next week's game.  

A scary moment. Giants fans held their collective breath as Shaun O'Hara was tended to on the field after taking a hit to the knee. He needed help getting to the sideline as 10-year veteran Grey Reugamer took over for him at center. O'Hara suffered a mild knee sprain and eventually returned to the game. Look for the Giants to have the captain of the offensive line scanned on Monday or Tuesday.

Catching them red-handed. Tom Coughlin challanged a call in the 2nd quarter, when Eli Manning's pass to Steve Smith was ruled incomplete. The play had first been ruled a catch, but was changed after a short conference. Despite the ball appearing to have short-hopped into Smith's hands, as well as getting a little assistance from the ground as he rolled over, and out of the camera's line of sight - Coughlin threw the red flag and the call was eventually reversed (for the second time, you might say). Coughlin has now been successful on five of his six challenges this season.


Statistical source: sportsline.com    /    Sean Taylor photo courtesy: cbsnews.com 

Giants press release on Burress: Associated Press   /   Burress news and reference source: NY Daily News

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."



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 16, 2008 9:09 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2008 3:11 pm

RECAP: Giants 30, Ravens 10

Score one for the Irresistible Force

It's business as usual for the Giants running game as they improve to 9-1, and take command of the NFC playoff picture

The Baltimore Ravens came into today's game boasting the strongest rushing defense in the league, only allowing 65.4 yards per game. And as most expected, they extended their streak of not allowing a single running back in a game to gain 100 yards rushing to 29 games. But they certainly aren't happy about it. Ahamad Bradshaw - third from the top of the New York Giants RB totem pole - fell just short with 96 yards. And the only reason he didn't get the extra four was because the only thing left to do at that point was ask Eli Manning to take a knee at the Ravens' 16 yard line for the last two plays of the game to see zeros on the clock and secure the Giants 30-10 win at the Meadowlands.

The much anticipated showdown between the Giants running game and the brick wall known as the Ravens defense wasn't much of a showdown at all. In fact, I'd bet that Ray Lewis - who on his conference call with reporters earlier this week said, "The bottom line is that we stop the run.  That is fact." and said of starting RB Brandon Jacobs, "I don’t care how big his size is, football is football" - is probably embarrased at his defense's performance this afternoon. That's not to say it wasn't the effort of the giants offensive line, or the will of Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw to get every last inch of field available to them that made the difference in this matchup. The Giants - despite an 8-1 record and being defending Super Bowl champs - were the ones who had everything to prove today. No one expected them to rush for 207 yards. No one.

Two hundred seven yards.

Jacob's set the bar high on the Giants' first possession, running for 53 yards and the game's first touchdown. On his first touch of the game, Jacobs ran to the right and smacked into a wall of players, but spun 270 degrees around and shot out towards the left for 36 yards on what was the most vital play of the game. The importance of gaining nearly half the total average the Ravens allow per game - in just one busted play - was something they never seemed to recover from. On 1st down from the Ravens 10, Jacobs plowed through the middle of the line and banged a few bodies before getting tripped up at the 1-yard line. By the time he scored the first Giants' touchdown two plays later, the faces of the Ravens defense told the story. They were already worried about what to expect next. By the end of the first quarter, Jacobs obliterated that per game average with 11 carries, 72 yards and two touchdowns.

Ravens defensive end Trevor Price was quoted after the game as saying "When you do that against our defense, you have some confidence. It makes things easier. The way it happened was a fluke; We had him, but he bounced and went all the way to the other side. You don't think that a big back can run that fast, but he does". So much for not caring how big his size is.

Unfortunatley, the first quarter would be his last quarter; despite not appearing to have been hurt, Jacobs left the field and headed into the locker room with initial reports being that he was going in for x-rays. Later in the second quarter, it was said that Jacobs simply needed some re-taping. In any event, Jacobs stood cheerfully on the sidelines the rest of the game and handed the reigns over to Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. We should expect to hear something by Tuesday if Jacobs did, in fact, sustain an injury of some kind. Derrick Ward shouldered the load through the second and third quarters, gaining 41 yards on 11 carries. Ward's true impact was in the passing game when Baltimore started to put more pressure on Manning, catching 4 passes for 54 yards.

Eli Manning (13 of 23, 153 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) looked sharp in the ealry going with a nice 21-yard strike to Plaxico Burress that set up that first Jacobs score. The Ravens were able to defend nicely against the pass, and Manning had some trouble getitng the ball to his well covered receivers. Manning's only TD pass was a 1-yard toss to TE Darcy Johnson early in the 2nd quarter.The interception by Ray Lewis at the 1:51 mark of the second quarter was a brilliant play; Lewis floated in the underbelly of the Giants receiver routes and saw Manning was looking for TE Kevin Boss. Boss was running to the middle of the field from the right, so Lewis got down low and broke in front of the pass form the left.

The star of the game was Ahmad Bradshaw. 8 of his 9 carries - all in the fourth quarter - totaled just 19 yards. But that one carry... the one with 14:31 left in the game. The first play of the drive... the handoff he took from Manning at his own 19-yard line that ended on the Ravens 2 yard line. That was the carry. The Giants were leading 27-10 at that point, and there wasn't much proof that the Ravens were going to come back in this one. But after having given up 120 yards on the ground, Bradshaw's 77-yard sprint right up the middle of the field was the salt in the wound. On the play, Ray Lewis was directly in front of Bradshaw as he wiggled through two defenders in the backfield; Lewis over-pursued Bradshaw and was only able to wrap his left arm around his waist as he cut to his right. Bradshaw was at full steam and broke away from Lewis on his way to the other end of the field. The Giants could only muster a field goal on the drive, but it was the final plunge they needed to drive a steak through the heart of the best rushing defense in the NFL today.

Enough can't be said about the performance of Joe Flacco (20 of 33, 164 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT). While his stats won't indicate it, he showed great pocket presence and awareness of when to run the ball. The fact that Flacco was the teams leading rusher - accounting for 57 of the Ravens' 121 yards - says a lot about what he had to deal with in this game. He was sacked only one time and knocked down a few others, and of the two interceptions he threw one was not his fault; a nicely thrown ball on a crossing pattern by WR Derrick Mason bounced off his facemask and into the hands of Giants CB Aaron Ross, which Ross returned for a 50-yard touchdown. It was Ross' second interception of the game. They were also the first two interceptions Flacco had thrown since week 5 at Indianapolis. Despite the picks, Flacco had everything working against him today and yet he was the main reason the Ravens had a punchers' chance in the second half. His arm strength is unquestionable and his mobility is a terrific asset. Most impressive was his focus and demeanor in a critical game that was slipping away from him - he didn't look like a rookie.

For those seeking resolution to this week's overused paradox (I'm as guilty as anyone) promoting today's game as the "irresistible force" meeting the "immovable object", the answer was as clear as the season is long. And as always, we learn from this game as we have many others that there's no such thing as a sure thing. One thing is for sure - the Giants are for real. Most thought they hit their stride, that Manning finally matured and the team got a bit lucky in the playoffs. Most thought they defeated an over-confident, underachieving Patriots team with an injured quarterback in the Super Bowl. Many said they benefitted from weaker opponents earlier this season. Many felt they won in Pittsburgh because of a bad snap to an injured punter. Some argued that they beat Dallas because Romo was sidelined and the defense was depleted. Some contend they were lucky in Philadelphia after almost giving the game away, saved only by lousy play calling on Andy Reid's part.

In the days ahead, we might hear from a few that think the Ravens run defense simply had a bad game.

The Giants are 9-1. What else is there to say? 



 Another one bites the dust: Once again, the Giants were successful at stopping their opponents' leading rusher. Willis McGahee joins a distinguished list of backs this season such as Frank Gore, Marion Barber, Brian Westbrook and Clinton Portis. To appreciate the effectiveness of the Giants defense against these elite backs so far this season, look at the combined statistics of all five 75 carries, 198 yards /  2.6 yards per carry / 0 touchdowns.

 3 X 200 = 3-0: The Giants have rushed for over 200 yards in each of the last three games.                                                                               

 Corner-back in business: CB Aaron Ross' two interceptions were his first of the season. After a run of games where receivers were getting the better of him (beginning with Braylon Edwards in Cleveland, week 5) Ross' picks and his 50-yard touchdown should go a long way in rebuilding his confidence. 

 #372: Ravens Kicker Matt Stover set a record for consecutive PAT following Le'Ron McLain's 10-yard TD reception .

 Health Kick: Lawrence Tynes was handed FG kicking responsibilities for the first time since returning from his leg injury. His first few kickoffs were short, as he was reaquainting himself with the swirling winds of the meadowlands. John Carney was deactivated for the game.

'You play to win the game' : This Wednesday marks the 30th anniversary of the "Miracle at the Meadowlands" or as Giants fans call it, "The Fumble". On November 19th 1978, the Giants were perfectly positioned to pull off a huge upset over the Philadelphia Eagles. With possession, a 17-12 lead and time running out, a simple kneel-down would have ended the game. Inexplicibly, Joe Pisarcik attempted to handoff to Larry Csonka. Pisarcik fumbled the ball, and an Eagles cornerback named Herman Edwards picked up the loose ball and ran 26 yards for the touchdown. Former linebacker Harry Carson still considers that the worst defeat he was ever a part of, and perhaps the worst in Giants franchise history. '"HEL-LO!"


statistical sources: sportsline.com, nfl.com  /  Trevor Pryce quote: cbs sports wire reports  /  Ray Lewis qoutes: nyg.scout.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.


*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.


Posted on: October 26, 2008 9:46 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2008 2:34 pm

RECAP: Giants 21, Steelers 14

Who's the Boss?

Giants D batters Roethlisberger; Four Carney kicks & late TD to Boss gives NY victory

It was the championship prize fight it was supposed to be - two big boys slugging it out in the center of the ring toe-to-toe. The ring was the Heinz field gridiron; the reigning champ was the visitor - the former champ and #1 contender was at home, surrounded by fans and familiarity. Both came to fight and they fought hard. Jabs were few and far between as both seemed hell bent on knocking the other guy to the mat. In the end,  the reigning champ - who was against the ropes for the better part of this match - scored a late knockout and staked their claim as "current" champ.

What a great game. What a strange game. It was smashmouth football at it's finest. There were injuries - some that sidelined players for a bit, some that knocked others right out of the game. While the Steelers defense was more efficient in guarding against big plays and extremely effectiive against the Giants running game, the Giants defense was better at getting to the quarterback.

The Giants had the opening drive and couldn't do much with it, going 3 and out. The Steelers went to work quickly on the midsection of the Giants, pounding RB Mewelde Moore (who started in place of the inactive Willie Parker) and nailing TE Heath Miller on a 22-yard strike right up the seam. 2 plays later, Moore rammed through the right side of the line and sprinted 36 yards for the first TD of the game, putting the Steelers ahead 7-0 only 4:44 into the 1st quarter.

The Giants controlled the clock in the early going, despite the quick strike by Pittsburgh. However, Tom Coughlin's "Green Zone" (his term for red zone) offense couldn't punch it in. Following John Carney's first of four field goals which made the score 7-3, Ben Roethlisberger threw his first of four interceptions on the day. Big Ben targeted Hines Ward (3 receptions for 30 yards) but threw low to the outside of his receiver and was picked off by a diving James Butler. The ensuing drive by New York carried over from the end of the first quarter into the second quarter. The Pitt defense was swallowing Brandon Jacobs (18 carries for 47 yards on the day) and were right on top of Giants receivers the minute they touched the ball. On 4th and goal, - inches from the end zone - Jacobs was stonewalled for the third straight time and the Steelers took over on downs. Pitt went three and out; on the punt, kicker Mitch Berger injured his hamstring and limped off the field. While Berger stayed in the game (and was quite effective), this was just the beginning of the Steelers punting units' woes.

Roethlisberger's second interception of the game came with 8:02 left in the half. By no fault of Roethlisberger's, a perfectly thrown pass to Nate Washington was outdone by a perfectly timed hit by Butler that popped the ball out of his hands right into rookie linebacker Bryan Kehl, who snatched it out of the air and ran it back to the Steeler 44. That possesion resulted in another field goal for the Giants, as the Steelers kept pressure on Eli Manning and the running game. NY was up 9-7 at halftime as the result of yet another stalled drive for the Giants offense and another John Carney field goal.

In the 3rd quarter, the "close but no cigar" antics of the Giants offense would bite them in the rear. Following a Jeff Feagles punt to the Pittsburgh 35 yard line, Roethlisberger heaved a perfectly thrown ball to Nate Washington along the left sideline for a 65 yard touchdown, putting the Steelers back on top 14-9. Safety James Butler actually looked surprised on the play; he displayed mad ballet skills as he pirouetted around Washington as he ran by him. In other words, Washington made Butler look ridiculous without having to do anything. It was Washington's only reception of the day, though he was denied another long TD pass later in the game - which I'll get to later in the story.

After the kickoff, the Giants again went three and out as the battle for time of possesion started to swing in favor of the home team. Pittsburgh started their next drive on their own 23 yard line, and began to move the ball effectively with the impressive work of Mewelde Moore (19 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD). Roethlisberger drove the Steelers to the Giants 36 yard line, and it looked like Pittsburgh had the Giants backed into a corner. The only thing needed to put the game out of reach was the knockout punch. Despite taking two consecutive penalties that pushed them back 20 yards- an illegal formation on Hines Ward, followed by an unnecessary roughness call on center  Chris Kemoeatu - Roethlisberger landed a haymaker in the form of another deep strike to Nate Washington for a 53-yard touchdown.

Flag on the play. Holding on Willie Colon. Beautiful pass, great catch - null and void.

Make no mistake about it, this was the turning point of the game. Colon held Justin Tuck as he shot up the middle after Roethlisberger, and it was clear that - had Colon not dragged Tuck down - Big Ben would never have gotten that pass off in the first place. The drive ended in another punt by Mitch Berger, who was limping onto and off of the field by this point. What was shaping up to be the moment a winded and defenseless Giants team was slumping against the ropes - expecting to see Mills Lane jump in flailing his arms - some weak punches and near misses gave them just enough time to catch their breath and muster the energy for one more barrage.

In the fourth quarter the Giants took nearly six minutes of the clock on a 12 play, 62 yard drive that ended with - you guessed it - another John Carney field goal to put the Giants within 2 points - just a fifth field goal away from taking the lead. Visions of Matt Bahr in San Francisco danced through my head. Steelers 14, Giants 12.

The Steelers were pinned in their own zone for much of the fourth quarter as the Giants defense began smacking Roethlisberger to the ground with regularity. It had been a long, hard fought game by this time, but it was obvious that the Giants defense benefited from the rest Eli Manning and the offense provided them. The Pittsburgh offensive line, which had done a very good job for most of the game, had nothing left in the tank. On 4th and 22 from their own 18 yard line, Pittsburgh was forced to punt. Long snapper Greg Warren had left the game with a knee injury, so linebacker James Harrison replaced him (in one of those "ouch" moments that make you look away and grit your teeth, Warren's left knee buckled under him as he was being helped off the field - bending in a direction no man's leg should ever bend). Harrison's snap sailed over the head of Mitch Berger and out of the end zone for a Giants safety to tie the game 14-14. While the ball sailed 8 feet over his head, the fact is Berger wouldn't have been able to handle anything but a perfect snap because he couldn't jump or move side to side with his hamstring issue. Berger was very uneasy waiting for the snap and looked as if he was hobbled just standing still. His body language was telling about the extent of his pain; he showed a lot of guts in staying in the game and kicking as well as he did.

Ahmad Bradshaw pulled down the free kick at the 31 yard line and scampered 16 yards up to the 47. On a key 3rd and 7 from the 50-yard line, Eli Manning fired a bullet into the gut of Steve Smith (3 for 45) down to the Pittsburgh 25 yard line. Brandon Jacobs found light for the first time and barreled for 8 yards down to the 17. Three plays later, Manning tossed his first and only touchdown of the game, finding a wide open Kevin Boss (4 for 34) to put the Giants ahead with 3:11 left in the game. Pittsburgh ran their last four plays on the next drive, with Roethlisberger's 50-yard desperation launch getting picked off by safety Kenny Phillips to seal the deal.


*Ben vs. Eli :      Roethlisberger - 13/29 for 189 yards - 1 TD - 4 INT       Manning 19/32 for 199 yards - 1 TD - 0 INT

*Between The Lines : Ben Roethlisberger was knocked down 15 times and sacked 5 times. By comparison, Eli Manning was not sacked, and knocked down only 3 times. The rushing yardage totals were close, though neither team reached 100 yards. The Steelers, however, were much more effective in their running attack - averaging 4.5 yards per carry. New York averaged just 2.4 yards a carry.

*More "dropsies" for NY - Four to be exact. Two short ,simple passes to Madison Hedgecock went in and out of his hands like a hot pot of coffee. Mario Manningham dropped a similar pass later on with no one around him, and Jacobs took a handoff on a run that he let slip out of his grasp a few steps beyond the line. Manning may want to ask the coaches about this, because after three games of similar problems no else seems to notice.

*Injuries : Giants CB Kevin Dockery was knocked out of the game with muscle spasms. RB Brandon Jacobs also spent time on the sidelines during the fourth quarter, and appeared to be walking gingerly at times. He did come back in the game however, but team doctors will want to take a look att him this week. The Steelers lost Greg Warren as mentioned, along with Strong Safety Ryan Clark. No word yet on the extent of Clark's injury. As mentioned, punter Mitch Berger was hobbling and both will likely be evaluated on Tuesday. Also, Roethlisberger appeared to grab his left hand after a 1st quarter handoff to Moore. He immediately went to the sidelines to have it wrapped. It didn't seem to bother him afterwards, but it might be worth keeping an eye on.

*Terrible towels? How about Terrible Support : How about terrible attention to details... I had previously posted here that I was really surprised at the number of empty seats during the last 2 minutes of the game. As momluvsfootball pointed out, fans might be watching from the ramps along the upper tiers. I did in fact notice that during the last drive but never equated one with the other. I also spoke to a friend and Steelers fan today who has gone to games at Heinz field and said he's done this as well. Steelers fans (knowing some of them personally) are in fact loyal and knowledgable, and my questioning of the empty seats was more out of wonderment than trying to be accusatory. So in light of this information I apologize for the original criticism of the Steelers faithful I had posted.




Category: NFL
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