Welcome back from the bye week, Giants' fans. I hope everyone had a fun (and safe) Halloween. And what an appropriately scary win we escaped with on Sunday! The day was chalk full of twists, turns, and potential ulcers.
But before discussing the game, I'd like to rant for a minute. We're through eight weeks of the season, resting comfortably atop the NFC East at 5-2, with a very difficult schedule ahead of us. Names like Jake Ballard and Victor Cruz are growing into household names throughout the tri-state area. So I'd like to take the time to address all those so-called "Giants' fans" that did nothing but cry, moan, and criticize the team and its front office even before a regular-season snap was taken. Steve Smith went to the Eagles, Kevin Boss went to Oakland, Terrell Thomas went on the IR, and some folks were ready to clear house and forfeit the season. Now that we're riding high, those same people are cheering like crazy. And you know what? They shouldn't be allowed to. They should be singled out and cast-off to Philly. I think it's time for all those pre-season haters to show Jerry Reese, Tom Coughlin, Pat Flaherty, Eli Manning, and the rest of the team the props they've deserved all along for making a 1st place team out of a very tough situation. Glad I got that off my chest. Back to business…
A Chilling Atmosphere
The game was aired on the west coast, so JJ and I were able to watch it at my place, with Joe and Vandy to keep us company. Things weren't right from the get-go, and I mentioned aloud that perhaps the seating arrangement was different than usual, a thought for which I was chastised mightily by my roommate. "Man, where we sit has got NOTHING to do with what happens in the game." Joe, logic and reasoning has got NOTHING to do with how die-hard fans watch football games. Get over it. In the second quarter Joe got up from his seat, and I pressed JJ to take his spot. He did, Joe came back and sat in the seat JJ had just vacated, and (go figure) we score a clutch TD just before halftime. Can't make this stuff up!
Things were still a little too close for comfort in the second half, and despite the midpoint of the day growing closer, the temperature was still unusually cool for Southern California (not quite a blizzard, and boy did I hear some crazy stories about branches falling all over the northeast). I decided, for luck and warmth, to change the shirt under my Tuck jersey from gray short sleeves to blue long sleeves. I know, who cares, right? Well, I made the change in the fourth quarter, and we ended up scoring 10 unanswered points to seal the victory. I'm not saying, I'm just saying…**
We played well enough to win. Period. Yes, a win is a win, and in the end they all mean the same. And yes, you don't get points for style. But we have to stop playing down to the level of our competition. I don't know if these teams simply "turn it on" when they come to play us or what, but after Seattle and now Miami, I'm fairly unsettled. First, it was the mix of Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. On Sunday, it was Matt Moore. As I stated on Sunday, it seems like (this year at least) the Meadowlands is the place to come for bad quarterbacks to look like Pro Bowlers. I can't put my finger on it, but it's driving me crazy. This effort won't cut it with the schedule we've got coming up, that's for certain.
The first half on Monday, save for our terrific half-ending touchdown drive, was ugly. Granted he had spectacular numbers and a terrific game overall, I'll nit-pick and point out that Eli missed a couple big plays off the bat. He missed a few passes on the opening drive, and later on some drops hurt him. That was all for him, though. The rest of the day he was lights-out. We made stupid penalties, shooting ourselves in the foot, including a horse-collar on Antrel Rolle and an unnecessary roughness on Linval Joseph. There was one play early in the second half where Michael Boley looked like he thought he was playing two-hand touch football and let Reggie Bush slip right past him to help set up a field goal to put them up by seven. The drops by Hakeem Nicks and Jake Ballard also erased what would have been huge gains, even touchdowns. So the opportunities were there to blow them away, we just didn't execute. But we made the plays when we had to, and snuck away with the win.
Offensive Game Ball - Eli Manning. The guy's a stud, even if he does have the occasional errant throw. With David Baas missing some time with an injury (he did return quickly), guys dropping passes, and taking some really brutal hits (remember the hit where he almost got halved by two defenders?), he still finished the game with nearly 350 yards passing and two touchdowns, with ZERO interceptions. Among all NFL quarterbacks through week 8, he ranks in the top five for completion percentage (64.7), passing yards per game (303.9), and QB rating (102.1). He also has fewer interceptions (5) than both Tom Brady (8) and Drew Brees (10). We're only eight weeks in, but still. Hard to argue with that.
Defensive Game Ball - Mathias Kiwanuka. Five tackles, two assists, one and one-half sacks. Since the "incident" against Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans years ago, there's been nothing but great things to say about the guy. He came up clutch when we needed him most on Sunday, providing a huge sack of Matt Moore on the Dolphins' last drive of the game after Osi had one of his own, followed by a clutch open-field tackle to set up a fourth-and-forever for Miami. Webster picked off the pass on that play, and the game was ours. But the pick was set up out of desperation due to bad field position on fourth down, thanks to Kiwi.
Non-Gmen Thoughts of the Week:
- Most ridiculous thing I heard over the Halloween weekend: Some 49er fan, hopefully very drunk (for his sake), argued adamantly with my roommate that Alex Smith is a better quarterback than Rich Gannon. Right. Not to downplay Alex Smith in any way, but let's see if the guy at least finishes a full season as a starting quarterback before we put him in the same league as a Pro Bowl quarterback that led his team to a Super Bowl.
- There's the Tim Tebow everyone who knows football knew they'd see out there. To those who are surprised or disappointed in the performance, shame on you for not expecting it.
- Apparently "Homeland" is a really cool show that I need to check out. On a similar note, I checked out "Grimm" after Game 7 Friday night, and was pleasantly surprised. Fun, creepy twist on what truly were horrifying fairy tales, if you've read the real versions as written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Interested to see where they go with it.
- Best costume of the weekend - a group of Eagles fans dressed up as "Angry Birds." Love it because it's true, regardless of Sunday night's outcome.
To reiterate, we're going to need to shore up a lot if we want positive results the rest of the way. No way there's a harder remaining schedule this season than that of the Gmen. But I think we'll be up for the task. This team has a way of doing very well when they're the underdog every week. Besides, so far this season we've played badly against poor teams, not good ones (KNOCK ON WOOD). And it looks like we'll be getting Prince Amukamara and Ramses Barden back in the next couple of weeks. To talk all things Gmen, you can e-mail me at email@example.com and find me on Facebook under the name "Gmen Superfan." Oh, I also caved over the weekend and created a Twitter feed, making me possibly the biggest hypocrite of all time. If you'd like, you can follow me on Twitter under the name @gmensuperfan1. Here comes the crazy part of the season, so get ready Giants' fans. Until next week, GO GMEN!!
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