EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - We had just come off the bye week, and (almost on cue) the hype machine was well under way. On many sports websites, we were being ranked as one of the top five teams in the league, and arguably the best team in the NFC. Even Sports Illustrated, in their midseason report, had us reaching the NFC Championship game but losing to Green Bay. Most Giants fans understand that this sort of chatter typically spells absolute and unequivocal doom for us. All we needed was a segment in one of the Sunday studio pregame shows dedicated to the G-men's resurgence as a dominant NFC team, and the recipe for disaster would be complete. Alas, despite all that, we still went out there in a very tough environment on the road and came away with a huge blowout victory. How 'bout them Giants!
It might not have seemed like it, but from a superstitious/recent history perspective, we had a lot of reasons to think something bad would come out of this game. For starters, we were coming off the bye. Second, we were playing in Seattle (where we hadn't won since, I believe, 1981). Lastly, like I mentioned earlier, we typically don't play well once the rest of the country believes we're really good. Alas, come kickoff, none of that stuff mattered.
The Curse of Jerry's House Finally Ended
Despite the fact that the last two times we were invited to watch games at his place the Giants and Chargers (he's a die-hard fan of the latter) lost, Jerry still invited JJ and I to come over last Sunday, and we obliged. Normally, I'd be worried, what with all the previously listed reasons going against the Gmen. But for some reason, I had a great feeling about this one. In fact, when we arrived around halftime of the early games, I leaned over to JJ and said, "You know, if we force a few 3-and-outs, get a couple scores, and take the crowd out of it early, this might end up being a blowout." JJ (and I don't blame him; in fact, I probably would've reacted the same way had it been the other way around) promptly looked at me in bewilderment and told me to shut up. To paraphrase, "Dude, you're like that guy in the dugout who feels it's necessary to remind the pitcher he's throwing a perfect game in the fifth inning." Guess who had the last laugh there? Although, if the game had even been the least bit close, I'm sure JJ would have been ALL OVER ME for it until the final whistle blew.
As always, the setup was awesome, and the food was delicious. Since we got there around half time of the Chargers game (and wow, was that a tense living room to walk into), we missed breakfast. Between games lunch was served, which consisted of delicious twice baked potatoes. The gathering of fans kind of parted ways as the late games began, since half of us really wanted to watch the Giants-Seahawks game, and a few of the Chargers fans were all about the Chiefs-Raiders match-up. There were no Gmen haters around; however, there were quite a few of us who were going up against Eli, Nicks, and/or Ahmad in fantasy (myself included). I was more than happy to take the hit that Eli's huge numbers provided my opponent in my fantasy game, but there were others who weren't so thrilled about it. They really made it known how angry they were that Eli was not only still in the game, but also still throwing passes near the end of the third quarter. For the record, I managed to squeak out a one-point win this week (thanks Arian Foster, sorry Jerry), so everything worked out just fine. After half time of the Giants' game, Jerry served dinner, which was flank steak with peppers and onions, with two kinds of rolls (soft and hard) to make sandwiches with. Yum.
Things went so well for the Gmen that JJ and I left near the top of the fourth quarter, when the back-ups began shuffling in, and listened to the rest of the game in the car (we took the gourmet brownies he had for dessert on the road). Jerry – as always, we had a blast, the food was great, and the company was even better!
Silenced in Seattle
The most encouraging thing about the huge win last Sunday was that the Giants did exactly what an elite team is supposed to do against a lesser opponent – dominate them from beginning to end, with plenty of time to let the back-ups get some reps in. With the exception of Kevin Boss's fumble on our first drive, our offense was nearly perfect in the first half. Almost every skill player on offense had at least one or two big plays, and if I remember correctly, I don't think we even punted the ball until the second half. Ahmad continues to look better each week, and Brandon's finally getting back to being a bruising, dominant runner. I think it's also worth mentioning the moment in the first quarter where we scored fourteen points in fifteen seconds of game clock, thanks to a huge forced fumble by Travis Beckum on a kickoff which Jonathan Goff recovered inside the red zone. Two touchdowns, fifteen seconds. Not a typo. Beat that, Reggie Miller.
The defense was just as good. Sure, we didn't have any sacks and our consecutive games streak for knocking quarterbacks out of games came to an end, but I'll gladly trade that while allowing the opponent less than 200 total yards offensively all game, with a pair of interceptions to go along with it. To be completely honest, Charlie Whitehurst looked very much out of his league out there; I think his production (or lack thereof) showed everyone just that.
The special teams looked pretty solid as well. The kickoff coverage was outstanding, taking their biggest threat (Leon Washington) completely out of the game, and I was very encouraged by what I saw out of Will Blackmon. One more huge positive was the way our second-teamers were able to hold the ball for nearly all of the fourth quarter on one drive, where we took over with thirteen minutes and change remaining and finally gave it back to them with under a minute left. Very impressive.
Also, can we take a moment real quick to give some serious props to our secondary this season? At the end of last season, the Giants were a middle-of-the-pack team, allowing 214.1 passing yards per game. This season through eight games our passing defense is ranked second in the league, allowing just 169.8 yards per game through the air. Webster, Thomas, Ross, Grant, Rolle, Phillips, and Johnson – WELL DONE!
The only thing that bugged me about our win (well, 'bugged' is a strong word – how about 'irked') was our inability to score touchdowns in the second half, instead settling for two field goals. The game was already well in hand, but if you have to nit-pick a nearly flawless performance, that's what you'd have to point to.
Non-Gmen Thoughts of the Week:
- Caught Avatar (several times) on HBO over the weekend. Forgot how much I loved Dances With Wolves-- er, I mean Fern Gully-- er, I mean Avatar.
- I don't understand why people are so amazed by Wes Welker's ability to successfully kick an extra point in the game against Cleveland. Did everyone forget he took care of the kicking duties on more than one occasion while playing in Miami?
- Is it really a big story that Dallas fired Wade Phillips? Its not going to change anything about this season, and it was a move that was going to happen regardless, whether it was now or at the end of the season. And for all intents and purposes, the season's over in Dallas, so it's essentially the same thing. Secondly, let's stop being so flabbergasted that their season ended up the way it did. No one except hype-convinced pundits assumed Dallas would make it to the Super Bowl the year they were hosting it. Finally, you can't blame this on Romo being injured. Their defense flat-out isn't very good this season.
Can't Look Past Dallas
To truly contradict my previous comments, the header basically says it all. We have a huge Sunday night match-up against Philly coming up on the 21st, but first we have to make sure we take care of business at home this Sunday against the visiting Cowboys. By the way, how great is it that this season's played out so that a November game against Dallas can be viewed as a possible "pushover"? This has been such a great season to be a Giants' fan so far.
That's it for this week. Can't wait to embarrass the Cowgirls, and then look to do the same thing to the Eagles the next week! Going headfirst into the divisional part of our schedule! To talk all things Giants you can reach me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find me on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan." Keep on bleeding blue, and until next week, GO GMEN!!
Written by Superfan