Thanks everyone for the color. I just got in, saw around 25 mins of clock time in the airport, it was 28-7 when I boarded the plane and nice that it pretty much ended that way. I may not have a chance to watch the rest of the (videotaped) game, the sports bar I was at was noisy and we intermittently lost the feed too. But here are the takeaways at first blush:
1) Above all else, the Giants got their business done against a weak opponent. The most important thing you do to weak opponents is remind them who they are- the drive near the end of H1 to make the score 21-7 was fantastic because you cannot dominate the half with only a 7 pt lead to show for it. Do not give weak opponents hope! (See Bengals game)
2) Yes, kudos to Gilbride. Just because we trash the guy for being the loser he is when he makes egregious mistakes does not mean he is incapable of change and getting it right. He did more than a few things this game which he simply did NOT do last game:
a) He was much more willing to pass, especially against this defense (which was extremely depleted in the secondary). Rob emphasized this in Saturday’s post, and Gilbride had the correct game plan. (ESPN’s Tom Jackson was lauding the Giants in the red zone for being 5-5, for running the ball into the end zone, but the last time I checked, they scored their first THREE TDs on this defense by THROWING IT INTO THE END ZONE. The answer is to try to do BOTH.)
b) He used Ward much more in (H1) the red zone.
c) He broke tendency. After a first down pass, Dallas was playing run, they bit on play action perfectly and Manning had all day to connect. The pass sailed high, but I DO NOT CARE- it put the Giants in a great position to succeed AND makes the RUN NEXT TIME LESS STACKED TOO.
3) This was a complete win in all categories.
4) If and when Dallas gets healthy again, which we assume will be for the second game in Dallas, the tone of this game will be entirely different. The Dallas offense today was ugly, and the Giants defense did just about everything right. Romo was sorely missed. When Romo comes back, many things change instantly. Simms has said in the past that he is continually amazed at how many times Romo single-handedly makes plays for the entire team. So to see the Dallas OL become very average is not surprising in this light. Romo has tremendous pocket presence and leverages what he has in his OL to extract whatever advantage he possibly can. He adlibs very well. Johnson and Bollinger cannot do that, so the warts become visible quickly. My hope is that Romo has some rust when he first comes back, digging as deep a hole for that franchise as possible. That team is not dead with a QB like that. Some have pointed out that Romo may yet be fatally flawed, that he will crumble when the going gets very tough, but in the meantime w/o him the Cowboys are simply awful.
a) Even if it is for only a few days or their entire bye week, at least ‘5-4′ will put a nice smile on our faces. How ’bout ‘dem cowboys, Jerry?!
5) Winning without the consistent and strong contributions of Burress is certainly possible, but all things being equal is not desirable. Manning and Burress must get on the same page. I read after the game that they say that pick was Manning’s fault, but it does not matter- it is both of their faults. If we can get the two of them clicking again, my goodness it will be frightening. Gaudy upside riches possible here.
6) Yes, the kickoff field position was nauseating. Carney is going to be on social security soon, but if he makes all of his FGs I guess you make that deal. As soon as he starts missing then you have (the) Tynes (accuracy) and Tynes gets the nod because Tynes is deeper on kickoffs. Between both of these guys, at least we have some overall credibility, unlike in other years when our FG kicking parade of new contestants was worse than Murphy Brown’s weekly search for a secretary.
7) The 4 sacks that the OL gave up were were much more about Manning holding onto the ball too long than the OL getting beat. I think at least three sacks were excursions of Manning into the town of Moonachie. LOL, who does he think he is, Tony Romo? (Now if we could only convince him to run ONCE per game.)
8) Quietly all year Webster has done a great job at corner. Those two INTs were not so quiet. He has given up some plays some of the time, but most of the time the silence you hear is him quietly shutting down yet another good WR.
9) TURNOVERS! Pierce’s strip was fantastic. We mentioned the two from Webster above, the Butler pick. Awesome way to play. This is what was missing earlier this year. VERY ENCOURAGING.
10) LB is a our weakest unit on the team, but w/o a Dallas QB it was certainly easier for Clark to focus on Barber. Nice job. Suffocating these players and plays is what games like these are all about- not letting them get in a rhythm.
11) At the end of the game, there was Coughlin being the nitpicker. “The only thing that is the real negative for me right now is the turnovers. The turnovers kind of take the heart right out of the game so to speak. The timing of those things were very bad and we haven’t been doing that, so it is something we do have to improve upon. We are very, very thankful for the win, excited about that, we are 7-1, and I think we can play better.” This is the magic recipe for winning a title. Win a big game and emphasize how the team can still get better for next week’s game. All good.
12) I read how some were praising Jacobs. Yes, he played well, but even Jacobs is smart enough to praise the real guys who are getting it done EVERY WEEK, that OL: “Our offensive line did a great job of knocking them off the ball.”
13) Justin Tuck is outstanding.
14) Giants are +3 vs PHL. While I think realistically that you have to expect a split vs PHL this season (which implies the more realistic loss in PHL), I would not bet against the Giants in either game. With Westbrook playing, the Eagles are a formidable team, and the line should be respected. But so should the gmen.
Summary: Great win all around. It is not who you play, but when you play them. The Giants played a weaker team but they still had to go out there and get it done. Nice quality win. Nothing left to chance.