Posted on: September 30, 2008 8:30 pm

Bengals v Giants - Signs of Growth, Signs of Life

This is one the Giants would have lost last year.

Like a kid with a melting ice cream cone, he sees it starting to slip off the edge of the cone. He licks that side, but pushes it too far over the other edge of the cone. Then at the moment it slides off its sugary hollow perch, he freezes – and watches in dynamic slow motion as it wafts its way down to the sidewalk. Eventually that kid learns to recognize the warning signs and knows when to grab a bowl, or just eat it really fast.  

Reaffirming what they accomplished during their playoff run, this 2008 Giants team once again showed that recognition against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Despite needing John Carney to boot his fourth field goal of the day - in overtime - they didn’t let it slip away this time. That just might be the sign of a team and coaching staff that learns from its mistakes; a team that could be ready to take that next big step into the ranks of the NFL elite. Every team has a bad game; not every team loses those games.  

In their 26-23 victory at Giants Stadium on Sunday, The Giants dodged a bullet shot by a wounded and desperate team that should be better than they are. Injuries and question marks liger on the defensive side of the ball, while Carson Palmer and the offense has yet to get untracked. Week 3, on the road against the Super Bowl Champs put Cincinnati right in that make-or-brake mode, and they certainly played that way.

After a miserable first possession – which included two sacks, a forced fumble and a false start penalty – Palmer and running back Chris Perry started to find their rhythm. Palmer’s primary targets in the first half were Antonio Chatman & T.J. Houshmandzadeh, combining for 9 catches and 110 yards. Ocho Cinco had uno catch for seis yards.  

Brandon Jacobs 1-yard run gave the Giants a 7-3 lead early in the 2nd quarter, but Chris Perry’s 25-yard TD burst on the next Bengals’ drive gave Cincinnati the lead with 7:20 to go in the half. Perry had rushed for 61 yards by this point, and looked as if he’d give the Giants defense fits all day. Perry would carry the ball 12 more times for a total of only 19 yards. In such a close game from start to finish, it was surprising to see Bob Bratkowski abandon the run for drives at a time.   

Conversely, Palmer would throw 39 passes – including 9 straight passing attempts on the drive following Perry’s TD. Palmer had suffered a broken nose week 3 of the preseason, and blood began to stream from it again during the second quarter. That and four Giants sacks did not seem to distract him, however. He looked sharper than in his first two games and finished the first half with 141 yards passing (more than his total yards in each of his first two games). 

Palmer lead the Bengals downfield on a 13-play 77 yard drive in just over three minutes to reach the Giants 4 yard line with 55 seconds left in the half. On 3rd and 3, Mathias Kiwanuka drilled Palmer for an 8-yard loss, forcing Cincinanti on 4th and 11 to call on Shayne Graham to put Cincinnati on top 13-10 going into halftime.

In the second half, John Carney's two field goals gave New York the lead 16-13 with 11:43 left in the game; the second capping a 16-play drive that took 5:45 off the clock. But Carson Palmer answered with 62 passing yards on the very next possession, highlighted by a 17-yard touchdown strike to Houshmandzadeh. Bengals 20, Giants16.

Whereas Marvin Lewis' offensive coordinator forgot about their running back, Tom Coughlin's coordinator changed things up. Jacobs ran well at times but wasn't punishing the Bengals defense; in fact they were starting to corral him. Having both depth and variety at RB gives Kevin Gilbride the ability to change what isn't woking. So, with 4:31 remaining in regulation, the Giants started off at their own 31 yard line and Derrick Ward in the backfield. Ward (8 carries for 90 yards) rumbled for 22 yards on the first play of the drive, followed immediately by a 14 yard strike from Eli Manning to Amani Toomer – who led the Giants in receiving with 5 catches for 64 yards. A few plays after another big Ward run for 14-yards, Manning found Kevin Boss over the middle for 4-yards, connecting on their first touchdown pass this season with 1:54 remaining. Boss took a shot to the ribs and was clearly shaken up on the play, but returned to action on the next drive. Giants 23, Bengals 20.

Taking a page from the Hilary Clinton playbook, Palmer and Houshmandzadeh decided it wasn't tine to concede; they hooked up four times for 53 yards as time wound down. Graham’s third field goal sailed through from 21 yards out to tie the game with :04 left. Palmer completed 7 passes for 76 yards on the drive. Bengals fans sighed in relief at the return of their starting QB. 23-23. 

Overtime. The Giants won the toss. 5 plays later, Jeff Feagles punts and the Bengals wind up on their 25-yard line. 3 and out for Cincinnati, out trots Kyle Larson to punt. The Giants take over at their own 34. Now, its Eli Manning's turn.

Manning engineered the kind of drive Giants fans have come to expect, regardless of his performance in the previous three (or in this case, four) quarters. First came the pump & go on the outside to Plaxico Burress, good for 28 yards. A few plays later, Eli tossed a 31-yard strike to Toomer along the left sideline. Speaking of what Giants fans have come to expect, Toomer was led a bit too far to the outside requiring his patented tight-rope maneuver – a great catch and even greater effort to stay inbounds. The ball was placed at the Bengals 7. A Carney chip shot closed it out.

A real nail-biter for fans of both teams, and unfortunately for CIncinnati another Clinton commonality. But as impressive as the Giants show of team maturity and recognition in victory was the Bengals dogged perseverance in defeat. The Bengals are out to prove they're a contender, and were on a mission to prove the league that they're better than their record. In spite of losing, they went a long way in proving that Sunday afternoon.

-Original posting date: 9/21/08

Posted on: September 26, 2008 9:20 am

Shockey: still breaking b*lls

I've always been a fan of Jeremy's.

As a Giant, he could inspire and pump you up as often as he could make you yell "Don't be an idiot!!!!" at your TV. I wish him only the best with New Orleans, and while I'm one who's supported the trade - recognizing his time had run out here in NY - there was still a part of me that wished it hadn't come to this.

The last time I felt this way about a trade was when the NY Rangers traded Ron Duguay, Eddie Mio and Eddie Johnstone to the Red Wings. They were only my three favorite players on the team - even painted my MYLEC goalie mask red on top, blue down the sides.

Willie Huber & Mike Blaisdell didn't exactly work out as planned, did they?

Back to football...

Sorry to hear that Jeremy's body continues to break down, expected now to miss four to six weeks with a sports hernia.  And you know this won't be the only action he misses this season. But after Kevin Boss caught three passes (including his first TD this season - showing how tough he can be while taking a nasty shot to the ribs in the process) for over 50 yards this past week against the Bengals, only one thing came to mind:

Our 2nd round pick in 2009 won't miss time this year.

Category: NFL
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