You don't get style points in the win-loss column. You get wins or losses. Monday night, we got a win. And it was a huge win. It was our home opener, under the lights on Monday night, and we were honoring the 25th anniversary of winning Super Bowl XXI. We didn't look great the whole night, and there was much to be desired, but we sure put on a show.
I'm going to cut right to it and get it out of the way early. It's great that we won, but with all the injuries to our secondary, I really think we might need to bring someone in from the free-agent market. I've been as big of an Aaron Ross fan as anybody, I'm really excited he's healthy finally, and I'm sure at some point he'll get back to his first-round form, but we need something in the meantime. We got beat up and down the field by the Redskins and the (Danny Amendola-less) Rams. The receiving corps is supposedly the weak spot on those teams. So if they can leave our secondary in the dust, what's going to happen when we line up across from the Eagles receivers? Hopefully, we can work something out in the near future. But about last night…
Primetime Football Stinks on the West Coast
It's supposed to be in the fans' best interests when their team is featured on Monday Night Football. Except when you're on the West Coast. Then that means an awkward, anxious afternoon at work looking at the clock and wondering how much you're really needed there, when it's okay to leave, if it's okay to leave, and searching desperately for some website streaming the game since ESPN hates everyone and won't stream it themselves.
Once 5:30 crept around, I kinda-sorta-but-not-really made sure it was okay to leave, got to my car, and raced home. Fortunately Sirius XM NFL Radio had the national broadcast, so that kept me filled in until I made it back around halfway through the second quarter. For a Monday Night game on the West Coast, getting in front of a TV before halftime is nothing short of a miracle.
Unfortunately, JJ was not so lucky. He got stuck at work until late in the fourth quarter, so I guess he had to watch the game on his computer via gamecast. I know, Deion, that's not the game, it's numbers. We've all seen the commercials. But guess what? In real life, football fans that get stuck in tough spots don't get to have Hall of Fame fairies fly around and magically give them NFL Sunday Ticket on their phones or tablets. Until that day comes, visits from the Deion fairy will have to remain an unfulfilled fantasy.
So the second half viewing took place at home with my roommate Joe and his dog, Vandy. Joe was only there for a bit before heading off to the gym, so it was me and the Welsh Terrier. Vandy was a good fan. He also happens to be an awesome dog. He sat with me while I cheered, and when he noticed I was upset, stayed away. Although he is a curious little guy, which made it difficult when it came time to heat up a frozen pizza in the oven. But he's a good boy. And, with him in attendance at the viewing party, the Gmen won by double digits. On the season, Vandy's company is 1-0, while JJ's is 0-1. I know it was work-related and you couldn't help it, JJ, but buddy, you might have to watch your back if Vandy's presence keeps bringing wins.
Not Good the Whole Time, But Good at the Right Time
I think the above sentence pretty much sums up Monday night's big win for us. From what I could hear in the car, it sounded like we started off well running the ball, and had a great drive going until Eli threw the pick. Also, the way they were talking about it on the radio, it seemed like our corners were playing WAY back on the wide-outs. But it also sounded like we managed to capitalize on their mistakes, which is huge. That's one thing that's always hampered us in the past, which we did well on Monday night.
Trailing by three early in the first quarter after a disappointing three-and-out (one of many), Steve Weatherford punted to Rams rookie return man Greg Salas, who muffed the return, and the fumble was recovered by a hustling David Tollefson. Seven plays later, Nicks made a great adjustment to reel in an Eli Manning pass for our first points of the game, putting us up 7-3. We never relinquished the lead from that point on. And it was very important that, after a tough start offensively, which included an intercepted Manning pass by (who else) Quentin Mikell, we got six on that drive. Not three, six. Good teams shouldn't have to settle for field goals in the red zone. And we didn't.
Another huge mistake we capitalized on was the failed screen pass from Bradford to Cadillac Williams which turned out to be a lateral, and Michael Boley was smart enough to grab that ball and run it all the way into the end zone, having not heard any whistles. That gets an ATTA BOY! Once again, good teams capitalize on other teams mistakes. We scored fourteen points off of two turnovers. I'd call that capitalizing.
And for as bad as our secondary looked, our defensive line looked great. Jason Pierre-Paul has been on fire since week one, and boy was it great to see Justin Tuck back on the line. Despite the secondary letting the Rams move between the 20s seemingly at will, once they got in the red zone, the defense stepped up big, with a few huge goal line stands. If they'd scored touchdowns instead of settling for field goals in those situations, we'd probably be stewing over a loss right now. So great job on the defense's part in tightening up when they needed to.
Speaking of looking good when we needed to, Eli and the offense reeled off a tremendous drive in a two-minute drill just before halftime, which ended in a touchdown. This is now two weeks in a row we've done this. Monday night, it meant some great quick hits to Mario Manningham with our no-huddle offense, capped off by a circus touchdown reception by Dominik Hixon that has to be one of the best I've ever seen.
Leading 21-6 at the start of the third quarter, our defense let them drive down the field but then held them to only a field goal. On the ensuing drive, Eli led us down the field thanks to some timely penalties on the Rams' part, which ended with a very good-looking nine-yard touchdown run by Brandon Jacobs. He's been running very hard so far this season, which is another refreshing sight for sore eyes. We went up 28-9, and held them to just one more touchdown, capping off a clutch 28-16 primetime victory. One more positive to take away from Monday night was the way Pascoe and Cruz stepped up to make plays in the second half, when we were without both Hixon and Manningham.
Non-Gmen Thoughts of the Week:
- Congratulations, Mariano Rivera, on setting the all-time saves record with #602. If there were any people who doubted whether or not Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in baseball history, this should shut you up for good. If you still disagree, you simply haven't been paying attention.
- Got forced into watching the season premiere of Two and a Half Men last night. The show already wasn't funny when Charlie Sheen was on it. Now, just, wow. How can people watch this stuff over and over? Really?
- Also caught the new Ryan Gosling flick "Drive" over the weekend. I was really looking forward to this one, and was sorely disappointed. There were about four very cool action scenes, but that's about all. And he barely drove! Look, I understand what they were going for here, but still. Taking a cool idea, not executing it, and then adding a terrible score with terrible title songs doesn't make something "art house," it just makes it crappy.
- Did we find out who the guy was that Michael Boley nailed in the face with the ball after returning that fumble for a touchdown? Didn't look like it felt very pleasant. Way to take one for the team…
- Cris Collinsworth, just ask Michael Vick out on a date. Seriously. The way you were raving about the guy during the game, you'd have thought he was a three-time Super Bowl MVP. Take it down a notch. Vick still hasn't played a full season in the NFL in quite a while, and we're only two weeks into this one. You made it sound like a quarterback having the ability to throw in the pocket is a super special trait that makes him invincible. All it means is the guy's finally learning how to play the position the way everyone else does - the right way. Just took him longer than most.
IT'S PHILLY WEEK! I know what I said earlier about our secondary and Philly's receivers, but it IS a divisional game. And when that happens, you throw the stat sheets out the window. Vick might not play, but I kind of hope he does. Because hopefully our D-line will make his visit to Atlanta feel like a summer at Camp Bumblebee. Eli needs to sharpen up with the guys he has, and when he has receivers open, he HAS to hit them in stride. Especially against the Eagles. We have to capitalize on every opportunity. And if our running game can exploit their much maligned defensive front, then we have the ability to dominate the clock. When the Giants do that, they start playing good football, and it usually results in wins. We have a very, very big game ahead of us! And I have faith we'll be ready! To talk all things Giants, you can e-mail me at email@example.com, and you can find me on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan." Until next week, GO GMEN!