It is nice to get paid for playing 60 minutes, show up for only ~40 of them, still win and collect that game check. As one commenter noted this past week, it is nice to have two bye weeks in a row.
The Giants did not play a bad game today. This was not the sloppiness of earlier games this season. We will not crucify the Giants for “sleepwalking thru the first half,” to borrow a quote from Paul Dottino. What we will say is that the Giants are not a good enough football team to mail it in vs the rest of their schedule, and we certainly hope they do not have any belief they can do that.
The Dolphins are not a good football team. No, they are not as bad as 0-7 would indicate either. But they let the Giants take control of the game in Q4 by going passive when they had tempo. So the Giants burned a weaker team and took what they felt they were entitled to- a win.
1. Eli Manning. He feasted off the Dolphins pass defense and went 31/45 for 349 yds, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Yes, he actually carried the Giants today when the running game was non-existant. He was accurate, he found a plethora of WRs and did all the things an “elite” qb does to help his team to victory.
2. Victor Cruz continues to shine. He leads the NFL in pass receptions in Q4 (before Welker’s game vs Pitt). He has a nose for the end zone, shedding tacklers en route a sweet TD that sealed the win. The accolades for this WR are going to continue in years to come, assuming he stays healthy. He did this from the slot, another good sign too.
3. 5 sacks. When the Giants defense is in passing situations, they can pin their ears back and get after the QB. Osi’s sack sealed it, but Kiwi (1.5), Joseph, JPP and Tuck all had their hand in it.
4. Corey Webster. Fewell is letting CWeb go in lockdown mode 1:1 the way Spags did it in ’07 and ’08, so is it a surprise that Brandon Marshall is not running wild all over the field?! Of course not.
5. Bradshaw is scrappy. His stats won’t show it, but he got back in the game and assisted the team in subtle but critical ways in that last TD drive. He had a key blitz pickup in the latter part of Q2 also when the team was down and needed some rhythm. That blitz pickup gave Manning the time to find Cruz on 3rd and 9, moving the chains instead of being a 3 and out. 10 plays later the Giants can go into the half down by 4.
6. Ballard. What more can you say about this UFA TE?! Another 4 catches.
7. Manningham. He looked like he was on the same page with Eli for the first time in a while. We need him, especially when the rushing attack is so anemic.
1. There is no running game. 61 yards on 19 attempts?! Woof. The OL is not pushing off the line of scrimmage and the holes are not big enough, so they close that much faster.
2. Brandon Jacobs is tiptoeing again. It is that same tentativeness we saw last year when he was playing hurt. Well, he just came back from injury, but if this is what he has, then he better either heal up before he comes back or get more medical attention, because he looks worse than harmless out there. Those cries this week for more touches have to be backed up with aggressiveness on the field, not drops on screen passes and meekness at the line of scrimmage.
3. That 3 man rush. On 3rd and 9, it allows for Moore to get too much time and then a scramble for a 1st down. All of which led to a TD 6 plays later.
4. The Osi gap. Bush ran thru the hole off Left Tackle a few times. And the tackling of Bush in the secondary was shoddy.
1. The Giants did not play a full game. The Gmen took 54 minutes to take the lead. The Dolphins believed they could win and you must match that intensity every week. The Giants did not play ‘badly’ early on, but they did not play with emotion and intensity to match a Dolphins team that was ready. The Dolphins offense got conservative in Q4. Even though you can credit the Giants defense with not allowing a 1st down in Q4, you also have to recognize that the better teams will attack in Q4 and not make it so easily scripted. Sparano’s team has dropped 3 games in Q4: CLE, DEN and NYG.
Summary- The Giants got their business done. Barely. A win is a win in the NFL. The 2011 season begins next weekend in Foxboro.