EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - I realize I'm probably jinxing us, but I can't get it out of my head that our offensive line hasn't given up a sack in FIVE STRAIGHT GAMES. Correction – our depleted, banged-up, and disassembled offensive line. To join the love fest, there's not enough good you can say about the job offensive line coach Pat Flaherty has done these past few weeks. Not only in pass protection, but our running game has exploded recently. You can be like everyone else and say, "oh, Haynesworth didn't play," or, "big deal, it's Jacksonville." Yeah, the rest of the sports world loves nothing more than coming up with excuses for why the Giants perform well in a given period of time. Except those of us who actually know and study football understand that no one wins because another team "lets them" (excluding the 1919 White Sox), and those who say otherwise are usually biased and/or bitter.
Right now the Giants (injuries aside) are in the perfect position. We've won two big games in a row at home, are tied for the division lead with Philly, control our own playoff destiny, and despite being in the biggest sports market in the country, are flying comfortably under the radar. Just the way we like it!
Speaking of injuries, did anyone notice them on Sunday? Neither did I. Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride knew exactly how they wanted to attack Washington's defense, compensating for our temporary weak spots, and the players executed their game plan to near perfection. Despite our patchwork offensive line, and Eli finishing the game with a quarterback rating of just 62.3, we still blew them out. Granted the Redskins aren't exactly the hottest team in football right now, but they're still a team that's beaten Philly, Green Bay, Dallas, and Chicago this season. So let's not call them the Panthers just yet.
Now let's delve into the beautiful win that was, shall we?
Serving Up A Lucky Charm (not plural, please don't sue) for Breakfast
This week, JJ and I watched the game at his girlfriend Beth's place. I was a little hesitant to try a new (non-Sports bar) location against a divisional opponent this late in the season, but he assured me all would be well, and that he watched last week's epic comeback against the Jags there. Good enough for me!
There is absolutely one advantage about watching an early game at a girl's place – she made us French toast! An early touchdown run by Jacobs to start the game, accompanied by delicious apple-coated French toast, washed down with cold milk. What a way to start a Sunday! The only concern I might've had about watching the game there, as would be the case in any number of apartment buildings (including my own), was worrying about being too loud while screaming at the TV. Fortunately, when we jumped out to a 14-0 lead early, that worry all but vanished.
When a great, nearly six-minute drive in the second quarter looked certain to end with a touchdown, Eli threw one of the ugliest looking interceptions I've seen since his shovel-pick earlier this season. As if that weren't enough, the 'Skins then took over and completed a huge 18-yard completion on 2nd and 10. After Cofield then stopped Davis for a two-yard gain on 1st down, Beth decided to plop herself down on the couch with us, if only to shake things up a bit. Sure enough, on the very next play, we recovered a fumbled reception. It was challenged, but the fumble held. Plus, we got an extra five yards tacked on to it from a Washington delay of game penalty. That drive ended with the touchdown we should have gotten the drive before. But, all's well that ends well!
Beth got up at halftime, and, sure enough, sat down just before Donovan McNabb coughed up a fumble, which Corey Webster promptly recovered. Yet again, the Giants went on to convert the fumble recovery into a rushing touchdown. "Whatever, that's just coincidence," you might say. Well, think again! As Beth was getting ready to leave us to watch the rest of the game alone (we were up 28-7 at the time, and it felt safe for her to depart), we pleaded she stay just a few minutes more. This was as the fourth quarter began. She agreed, and sat down for a brief moment. In that brief moment, after McNabb completed a 21-yard pass to Cooley to convert on 3-and-7, Terrell Thomas stepped up and made a clutch interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Santana Moss. Unfortunately, this turnover did not turn into any points. Still, coincidence is one thing, this was something else. New lucky charm? I'd say so. Beth – clear your calendar for January!
It's always fun to see wild moments like that repeat itself several times in one game. Thanks again Beth for the hospitality, the food, and all the turnovers!
Power Backfield Back in Action
I can't get over how well our offensive line looked on Sunday. I know Haynesworth wasn't playing, but so what? Did you see the fit Brian Orakpo threw on the sideline? We absolutely manhandled their defensive front all game long. Oh, by the way, Shaun O'Hara, David Diehl, and Shawn Andrews didn't dress.
It's official – Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are back. Clearly Coughlin knew exactly what he was doing benching Jacobs earlier in the season, because since he renamed Brandon the starter, he's been playing with a fire in his eyes we haven't seen since 2008. IT'S AWESOME! On that note, they mentioned during the telecast at some point during the first quarter that Brandon Jacobs had surpassed 4,000 career rushing yards. Congratulations! And he's only three rushing touchdowns away from fifty for his career. Not to mention Ahmad Bradshaw went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season during the fourth quarter. While it doesn't necessarily mean what it used to, it's still a noteworthy achievement. Speaking of Ahmad, despite every defender and their mother trying to strip him of the ball on first contact, he has clearly made great adjustments these past two weeks and his play has reflected it. We harp on him when he fumbles, so the least we can do is recognize him for making adjustments. Keep it up, baby!
I said it last week, but I'll repeat it – our secondary deserves a whole lot of credit this season. We're second in the league against the pass so far, and still are only one of two teams this year that have managed to eliminate Philadelphia's big-play opportunities. The secondary continued that trend this past weekend, intercepting two passes and forcing two fumbles (the D-line forced the other four).
Special teams looked (and has looked) incredible. Devin Thomas had a great revenge game against the team that drafted him, deflecting a punt and downing another on Washington's five-yard line. Matt Dodge has finally settled in nicely, bombing several punts, including two that were downed inside their twenty. And how about some of the hits we delivered on kickoff coverage? All our cylinders are clicking, and we're currently "devastated" by injury. Just keep on licking your chops for when we get back back to full health, then watch out NFC.
Finally, how great was it to watch a Giants game on FOX and not have to listen to Troy Aikman? I love it. Regardless of the fact that he used to be a Cowboy, I really do enjoy listening to Daryl Johnston broadcast games. He's got great insights, notices things that matter to what's going on in the game (not just off-field filler), and distributes his analysis evenly between whichever teams are playing. For example, in the first half the cameras caught Pat Flaherty coaching up William Beatty briefly on the sideline on how to "get away with a hold," so to speak, and Daryl immediately caught Beatty using that very lesson in the game several plays later. Those are the intricate little in-game nuances we, as fans, love to see. Keep up the good work! Of course, Beatty got called for a hold several plays later, but hey – nobody's perfect.
One incredibly funny moment of the telecast – in the second quarter, when Mike Shanahan's challenge of a fumble got overturned, the referee announced, "Denver will be charged a timeout." Classic.
Non-Gmen Thoughts of the Week
- After watching the Patriots beat the crap out of the Jets on Monday night I, too, was very impressed with Tom Brady's performance. But it's one thing to commend a player on a great performance, and another to do what ESPN did during their post-game coverage. I mean you might've thought the guy just cured cancer the way they were talking about him. I've heard less cheesy Boyz II Men songs.
- Yeah, Denver firing Josh McDaniels was a big deal, and maybe unwarranted (depending on your stance), but the fact that they let him go isn't what bothers me. It's how they did it. So, how does a professional sports franchise announce to the waiting public that they've fired their head coach? Twitter. TWITTER! Yes, the same "news outlet" that gives middle school kids an easy way to break up with each other is now being used by the Denver Broncos to announce personnel decisions. Is there any way for the league to impose a fine on the team for "personal conduct" in this case? Probably not, but it's definitely a low point for this league, in my opinion. Way to be classy, Denver.
- I noticed an article this week on a major sports website with the headline "Is Peyton Manning responsible for the Colts' struggles?" Wow. Nothing more to say except it's amazing how spoiled people have gotten. Three games. Would it be so hard for you to think before you write? Come on, now.
- R.I.P. Don Meredith. Yes, you were a Cowboy, but you were a great, great football player and one of the pioneers of sports broadcasting. Thoughts and prayers go out to your family.
We started December off with a huge W, so let's keep it rolling! As I write this, Brett Favre's status for this game is still uncertain. Personally, I hope he plays. At this point in the season I think Tarvaris Jackson is a much more dangerous opponent to face than Old Man River, plus it's always fun to beat Favre up a bit. It's the least we can do since he repeatedly refuses to respect the game and whatever team he's on year after year. I don't know about all of you, but I'm licking my chops for this game. Let's not forget the beat down they served us in their house last season. Not this time! To talk all things Giants, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find me on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan." It's December, baby! The final stretch of the regular season is upon us! Until next week, GO GMEN!!!
Written by Superfan