So, without further ado, lets break down the good, the bad and the ugly.
Eli Manning looks like 2008 Super Bowl MVP, not early season Eli ManningIt took some time, but Manning is in quite the groove. His confidence is sky high right now. Coming back from ten points down with just over five minutes to go and throwing back-to-back touchdowns will do just that. On the day, Manning passed for 321 yards with two touchdowns. And once again, Manning threw no picks.
The play of Hakeem NicksAfter a couple of mediocre outings, Nicks busted loose and had a career day. He overshadowed his Arizona counterpart Larry Fitzgerald while scoring the game winning touchdown and amassing 162 yards on ten receptions.
The return of Osi UmenyioraWith Justin Tuck sitting out, it was an opportune time for Osi to step up and he did just that. It was like he never left. While, he was shaky against the run, Umenyiora made his presence felt by recording two sacks and forcing a fumble. It should be interesting to see how the Giants will look when they have both Tuck and Umenyiora healthy.
Victor Cruz chips in againWhile his controversial possible fumble that was not called was the talk of the game, you have to remember that Cruz had another fine performance. He chipped in with six catches for 98 yards. Cruz played in two receiver sets while Mario Manningham sat on the bench. Who knows if this is a trend moving forward, but it looks like Cruz is maturing as a receiver.
Secondary steps upAlthough Fitzgerald amassed 102 yards on eight receptions, the Giants secondary did not let him beat them. Antrel Rolle picked off a pass intended his way. And with the game on the line in the final minutes, Corey Webster deflected a pass going his way on fourth down to seal up the win for the Giants. Outside of Fitzgerald, the Cards only recorded 135 yards receiving
Dave Tollefson has impactJust like Osi stepping up, Tuck’s immediate replacement Dave Tollefson played perhaps his best game with the Giants. Tollefson recorded two sacks on the day to go with two tackles.
Giants’ final defensive standWith 3:37 to go, the Cardinals had plenty of time to reclaim the lead. However, a key sack by Umenyiora with 1:21 to go, stalled their momentum. As mentioned before, the Giants did not let Fitzgerald beat them and he didn’t record a catch in the Cardinals’ final drive.
Jake Ballard proves his worthHe’s no Pro Bowler but Ballard, for the moment, made Giants’ fans forget about Kevin Boss. He had a key touchdown, which was the Giants’ second to last touchdown, securing both feet inbounds. As he grows more acclimated with Eli, the more we should see Ballard chip in.
Running game stuck in neutralThe Giants could not get anything going on the ground in Phoenix. While both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs scored on the day, they combined to rush for only 57 yards on 21 carries. Thank goodness Manning was playing at an elite level, because the run game let down the Giants. This can’t become a trend.
David Baas injuryHopefully this is not a serious injury, but Baas had to leave the game with a burner. Kevin Boothe was awful in his place.
Fumble woesWhile Manning threw no picks, he did have a costly fumble late in the third quarter inside his own 20-yard line. Two plays later, the Cardinals would score their last touchdown of the game. Earlier, Bradshaw would also lose a fumble inside the 20-yard line. Thankfully the Giants held the Cards to just a field goal.
Mario Manningham disappearsWhile we laud the performances of Nicks and Cruz, it still is a little unsettling to see Manningham get shut down, recording just one catch for ten yards. For this offense to remain dynamic, Manningham has to get more involved.
Beanie Wells shreds Giants run defenseWells made a mockery of the Giants rush defense. Wells gashed the Giants to the tune of 138 yards while scoring three times. Outside of shutting down the Ram’s backup running back (Cadillac Williams), the Giants have had a tough time stopping the run this year. Perry Fewell has to go to the chalk board and think of better ways of stopping the run.
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