Welcome back to New York Giants football. There's that rushing attack we've been waiting for all season! Granted if we cut out the ridiculous mistakes it would've been a lot less stressful, but I'll still take a win like that any day.
The roller coaster that is the 2011 New York Giants was on full display. The previous week we lost a 'gimme' game at home against the Seahawks, then on Sunday we played a red-hot one-loss team in Buffalo that no one gave us a chance to beat, and we won. It's not a stretch to say that the Bills were the best team we've beaten so far this season. Just another reason to be happy going into the bye.
Grilling At Jerry's
The Chargers had the bye, so my friend Jerry invited JJ and I over to watch the games. It's his favorite week of the year, because (as he puts it) "it's the one week of the season where Norv Turner can't possibly screw anything up." I hear you, buddy. And don't worry - you're not alone in thinking the guy's very underserving of his "greatest offensive mind of our time" reputation. I don't see it either.
Anyway, Jerry's place (as usual) made for an incredible football viewing experience. There were a few others in tow, including another die-hard Giants fan, Tom. And it's always great to watch the game with another Giants fan, especially on the west coast. The new perspectives are always appreciated, especially with Jerry hating on us all day since he was going up against Ryan Fitzpatrick in fantasy. I've never seen a non-Giant fan so passionately hate on our defense out of frustration than he did yesterday. Quite a sight to see. Of course I could only be so sympathetic. First, I mean, the Giants are my team, and we won, so I couldn't be that upset, despite how sloppy they did play most of the time (still gave up 24 points and got beat more often than not, saving themselves by making big plays when it mattered most). Second, I got destroyed in fantasy because my opponent had all his guys playing, while I had both Vincent Jackson and Beanie Wells on the bye, with Julio Jones and Andre Johnson out with injuries. And if I can't have a good day in fantasy, NO ONE CAN! Just kidding. But my sympathy will only stretch so far while I'm in the midst of taking a torrential butt whooping.
The food, as expected, was phenomenal. Started with some good ol' fashioned doughnuts and margaritas for breakfast, followed by chips and the choice of either jalapeno and artichoke dip or suicidal salsa. I mean it, the salsa was insanely spicy. I sampled a drop on the very edge of a tortilla chip, followed by a tall drink of water and plain chips to quench the burning, and it still took several minutes for my throat to stop feeling like a hole was burning from the inside out. Late lunch consisted of a great spread of tri-tip, macaroni salad, garlic bread, and baked potato with broccoli. And this time I remembered to grab a doggie bag to bring home some leftover tri-tip, which made my roommate Joe VERY happy. Thanks again for everything, Jerry! And good luck next week against the Jets. Chances are they'll be flying high off a big Monday night win against the Dolphins (I'm writing this Monday morning, so that's all speculation. Although if the Chargers end up playing the Jets after losing to MATT MOORE, I'd be even more worried).
Circling Their Wagons
Can't stress enough what a big win that was. There is SUCH A HUGE DIFFERENCE between going into the bye week 4-2 and going in 3-3. We needed this one in a big way - now we can enter the bye week not in a panic, but sitting in a good position on top of the division, with only the next game and getting guys healthy to worry about.
We opened the game pretty up and down. Our first drive was severely hurt by a first down holding penalty, but our defense held strong the next series. We had a great drive which ended in a clutch rushing touchdown by Ahmad Bradshaw, only to give the points right back on the first play of their next possession thanks to an 80-yard run by Fred Jackson. Of course the touchdown was helped by awful tackling and even worse pursuit by our secondary. The offense got the ball back, but after Eli overthrew a wide-open Hakeem Nicks running downfield, they got the ball back and scored again on a big play, this time a 60-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to Naaman Roosevelt.
It was very back and forth the rest of the game, with the Giants holding on to a seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter. If not for a bonehead encroachment penalty on 3rd and four, we might've added to that lead. Instead, they got a second chance and went on to score the game-tying touchdown on a nine-yard pass to Stevie Johnson.
With the roller coaster on full display, it was the very same secondary that let them move the up and down the field seemingly at will most of the game which saved us big time when we needed them most. It was Corey Webster's clutch interceptions, as well as a masterful late fourth quarter drive that ran the clock down under the two-minute mark and ended in the game-winning field goal that sealed the deal. Speaking of clutch, let's give out some game balls:
Offensive Game Ball - Ahmad Bradshaw. There's the fiery running back we've been hoping to see all year. He fought for every one of his 104 yards, and really came through when we needed him to. With Brandon Jacobs inactive on the sideline, it was Ahmad who came through with three big-time goal line touchdowns. What used to be a hindrance for the Gmen in the past (pushing it in from just a few yards out) was our strong point on Sunday. Well done, Ahmad. A lot has to be said for the o-line's job in run blocking as well, especially when we convert from that close.Defensive Game Ball
- Corey Webster. It was Corey Webster's second crucial interception, which also drew a key face-masking penalty that put our offense on the 19, which was the turning point in the game for the Gmen. Simple as that. How could you not give the guy a game ball?Honorable Mention
- Eli Manning. Hard to force Ahmad to share a game ball with anyone after that performance, but I do want to give props to Eli Manning. While he did miss a few open receivers (Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz in the first half), and almost got caught tossing a game-ending interception on our final scoring drive, all-in-all he protected the ball and didn't turn it over against the defense which had led the league in that department going into the game on Sunday. Eli protects the ball, the Giants win. A simple formula.
Non-Gmen thoughts of the Week:
• Thoughts and prayers go out to Dan Wheldon's family and friends this week. You never want to see that happen to any person in any sport, and when such a tragedy occurs it really puts into perspective how much those racers risk for the competitiveness of their sport. Way too young, and far too talented to be lost at such a young age. He will be missed.
• Watching highlights of the rest of the games from Sunday, and there's one thing I have to say: Cam's the man.
• On a contradictory note, it's nice to see the game leveling out. The passing numbers are coming back down to earth, and the running backs are finally starting to make an impact in their games. I'm sure the league's defenses will show up sooner or later.
• Got the Hollywood Horror treatment on Saturday - saw Poltergeist at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, followed by a trip to the LA Haunted Hayride and the In-Between Maze up at Griffith Park. Always good to get a whole night of scaring in once in a while. Lots of fun. Oh, and there may or may not be a soundbyte of me screaming like a baby coming out of the maze. In my defense, they had this huge fake spider with a fan blowing behind it so it looked like its legs were moving all over the place. I HATE SPIDERS. I still feel like there's one on me…
Enjoy the bye week! Hopefully we can have a very productive one that sees Tuck, Jacobs, and Prince Amukamara back and ready to host the Dolphins. 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." Enjoy a stress-free weekend of games, and until next week, GO GMEN!!