The P Posted December 8, 2009 Share Posted December 8, 2009 GAME BALLSDefensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. The scheme had to change and players who weren’t doing their job needed to be held accountable. He accomplished both in the long layoff between the Broncos game and Sunday’s meeting with Dallas. For a guy who’s been beat up this year, praise for this performance is well warranted, especially since he finally got creative with that defensive front by standing up his pass rushers. That formation, which the Broncos used effectively against the Giants, created mass confusion for the Cowboys’ front and QB Tony Romo. “The guy knows football,” DE Mathias Kiwanuka said. “He knows Xs and Os better than most people. … I think he coached a great game.” RB Brandon Jacobs. One of the big keys to the 74-yard touchdown pass was his ability to catch the ball and turn upfield very quickly. He sometimes struggles with that, and it often causes him to drop the pass when he doesn’t do it smoothly and the pass is high. In this case, he pivoted and turned beautifully, which took away any shot Cowboys LB Anthony Spencer had of chasing him down from behind. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. Another guy who bounced back from a bad game in Denver. For an offense that was under pressure from the Cowboys all game long, they were effective. Coach Tom Coughlin. I was observing the players last week to get a feel for how much confidence they had. I didn’t have a great feel for it, but if I had to bet, I would’ve said they were losing faith. I would have been wrong. WR Hakeem Nicks. You wanna talk about an unsung hero? This was the guy. The Giants were headed toward a scoreless first half until he arrived and had a huge drive late in the second quarter. It started with a 16-yard catch on a comeback to the left side when he didn’t stop despite the fact many players did, due to an offside penalty on Spencer. Nicks was reaching for every inch while being brought down by Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins. On the next play, he blocked the heck out of Jenkins downfield to allow TE Kevin Boss to pick up about an extra 10 yards on a 16-yard play that was ruled a lateral (and thus, the first rush of Boss’ career) instead of a pass. On the next play, Nicks again owned Jenkins on a block to the left side that set up the third straight 16-yard gain – a run by RB Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw. Tough, gutsy performance from him. He ran with power despite those lower-leg injuries. Gotta protect the ball, though. PR Domenik Hixon. I had told him early this season he was due for a punt-return TD. Didn’t think it would take this long. WR Derek Hagan. He’s become an outstanding special-teams player. If you haven’t paid attention to him as a gunner on punts, do that next week. DE Justin Tuck and Kiwanuka. Consistent, solid pressure from them, though I’m sure Tuck would have loved to have had a sack against a certain offensive lineman. S Aaron Ross. I told him after the game he finally looked like he had strong safety instincts on that tackle of RB Marion Barber on fourth-and-2 to end the Cowboys’ next-to-last drive without any points. “I hope so,” Ross said with a laugh. “Did it look like it?” Yes, it did. “Good,” shot back. To recognize the release into the flat, come up quickly and knock down a guy like Barber with little forward movement is a tremendous play for a safety. And Ross had a similar one in the second quarter when he came up to wallop Cowboys WR Miles Austin. He’s playing much faster now, which means he’s getting comfortable at safety. S Aaron Rouse. When the Giants made the switch to him from C.C. Brown after the debacle in Philly, I wondered how much of a difference he’d actually make because it’s not like he was playing great in limited duty. But since then, he’s played very well. And yesterday, he was a force at the line (and behind it on his sack and a tackle for a loss of 5). Without Rouse plugging one of the holes in the Giants’ leaky ship, this team might never have recovered from that four-game losing streak. DT Barry Cofield. He told me on Friday his knee feels much better and keeps improving. He proved it Sunday by playing in the Cowboys backfield on a few plays, including a terrific penetration on a stop of Barber for a 4-yard loss. I'll have more from Cofield in the coming days. CB Terrell Thomas. He was very good against the run, especially when it came to setting the edge on runs his way. Even when he didn’t make a tackle, he kept the play inside him, which is something he didn’t do so well earlier this season. DE Osi Umenyiora. Maybe it’s better he had 10 days to rest and think about the benching because he needed almost every minute to get over it and get in the right frame of mind. New York Giants keep playoff hopes alive with win over Dallas Cowboys (Retired) LB LaVar Arrington. For helping Umenyiora get into that right frame of mind. I’ll have some words from him in a bit. LB Clint Sintim. He’s on the board with a sack. Could wind up being the first of many. Cowboys FB Deon Anderson. When he locks onto a guy and hits him, he hits him. Cowboys WR Roy Williams. What a tease he is. Jenkins. I'm not a huge fan of Cowboys CB Terence Newman. But I like Jenkins a lot. Dallas TE Jason Witten. I like him, too. Spencer. And him. GASSERS Cowboys LT Flozell Adams. I don’t know him personally, so I can’t be 100 percent sure he’s a “dirt bag,” but I will say those on-field actions are certainly of a “dirt bag” caliber. CB Bruce Johnson. We’ve seen him struggle all season long with the ball up the sideline where he’s got to spin and locate it. Sunday, he found it but just didn’t go up high enough to get it. Witten caught the deflection for a 32-yard completion. Johnson had his feet under him and was in perfect position; he just has to want that ball more than the bigger guy behind him, and he didn’t. I also thought his recognition and play on the ball were both slow on a crossing pattern by WR Patrick Crayton to convert a third down in the second quarter. And the 25-yard catch by Williams on a third-and-14 in the fourth quarter showed improved awareness and closing speed, but he didn’t make a play on the ball again. CB Corey Webster. He’s in a slump right now. Three TDs surrendered in one day after giving up only one all last year is unheard of. Plus, he should have been flagged for pass interference on a third-down pass to Williams in the third quarter. But for the Giants, the great thing about Webster is he's perfectly capable of snapping right out of it and going back into shut-down mode. QB Eli Manning. Minus that Jacobs TD on a dump-off, he didn’t have a very good day. He was under pressure, but the line held up well enough that he should have been more comfortable in the pocket. Boss. He’s a better blocker than he’s showing lately. And he knows it. He needs to get that edge back – so he can seal the edge. Cowboys LB Bradie James. How does he not catch Jacobs on that long TD? That’s bad. And so was the angle he took. Dallas WR Sam Hurd. First of all, he needs to make a better showing on Hixon’s return. And second of all, he has to know that onside kick didn’t go 10 yards. If he doesn’t touch it, it hits FB Madison Hedgecock first, the Cowboys recover and suddenly things get interesting. Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick. After the two games he’s had against the Giants this year, I’d have to think he’s hoping not to see them a third time. SECOND-GUESSES With Johnson struggling from the second quarter on, why not insert CB Kevin Dockery? I’m going to make a prediction here and say Dockery will be the third corner next week, but why not make the change sooner? It wasn’t like Sunday was the first time Johnson has struggled. I mentioned after the Falcons game how WR Steve Smith did what Manningham didn’t do earlier in the season by pushing his route away from the sideline to give QB Eli Manning a better cushion on a deep ball. Well, WR Mario Manningham erred again on a fade late in the second quarter. He was running up the sideline with Jenkins stride-for-stride and just allowed himself to be ridden toward, and finally onto, the sideline. Jenkins misses the ball and Manningham drops it, though he would have been out of bounds anyway because of the terrible route he ran. I’m sure WRs coach Mike Sullivan is aware of this and is trying to make Manningham aware as well, but this is a recurring mistake that needs to be fixed because that should have been a touchdown instead of a 5-yard penalty on the Cowboys for offside. With Manningham struggling with the finer points and Nicks being so strong in those areas, is it time to make a switch in the starting lineup? I think it is. So Adams can whack a guy after a play at the end of a half and the Cowboys don’t suffer any consequences because the penalty doesn’t carry over to the second-half kickoff? Something tells me John Mara scribbled a note Monday morning as a reminder to bring that one up at the next meeting of the competition committee. That rule needs to be changed. Cowboys RT Doug Free got away with a blatant hold on a third-and-9 with 6:37 left in the third quarter when he grabbed the back of Kiwanuka’s jersey after Kiwanuka beat him. That gave Romo a half-second to hit Austin for a first down. Other than that and one other pressure by Tuck, I thought Free played well in Marc Colombo's absence. ODDS AND (TIGHT) ENDS I really struggled with what to do with Smith. The six catches for 110 yards screams game ball. But the three drops (yes, I said three, as I’m counting the one that was deflected because it still should have been caught) yell gasser – especially since he dropped a very easy TD. So I’ll relegate him to odds and (tight) ends purgatory. Smith did see a lot less double-coverage Sunday than he’s seen in the past two months, which is surprising, considering he torched them for 10 catches for 134 yards in Week 2. “They were in zone. Eli hit me in some good spots in zones,” Smith said. “I thought I’d see more attention. They tried to play me man a little bit. Newman did a good job early, but we fought through.” LB Jonathan Goff had a decent debut in the middle. His best play was probably when he came hard downhill to stuff the Cowboys’ Wildcat (or “Razorback,” as they call it) on second-and-goal from the Giants’ 9-yard line in the second quarter. Goff accelerated nicely into pulling Dallas RG Leonard Davis, forcing RB Tashard Choice to go nowhere but into Rouse. Later in the game, I noticed injured LB Antonio Pierce signaling to Goff after a completion to TE Martellus Bennett he got too deep on his drop once Romo started to roll out of the pocket. And Goff couldn’t make a play on the ball when covering Witten on a pass into a Giants blitz, but that’s a tough assignment for him. Goff, of course, almost had the forced fumble on Choice, but the ball didn’t come out until Choice was down. In all, pretty solid performance by Goff, who should only get better with more playing time. The Giants were shuttling guys in and out of the game on defense early on. I tweeted that I didn’t love that strategy because it’s tough for guys to get into a rhythm when they keep coming in and out like that. I mean, you have to do it, but they were doing it with a lot more guys and a lot more often than usual. But once the Saints-Redskins game ended and FOX started taking TV timeouts, the Giants slowed down the pace of substitutions. So if that was the plan and Sheridan did that because he knew the game would be fast-paced early on, kudos for that one. Had I known it would have been only a temporary strategy, I would’ve kept my yap shut because now I’m on board with it. I got a lot of tweets asking why FOX wasn’t taking commercials until the Saints-‘Skins game was over. I’ll answer those here as well: Sponsors for the Giants-Cowboys game paid for a national audience. As long as a chunk of the nation is still watching the other game, the sponsors aren’t getting that full audience they expected. So FOX merely keeps the Giants game rolling (except for end-of-quarter TV timeouts) until they get everyone on board. The Giants’ three sacks in the past two games have all come when players have gone unblocked. Not judging; just saying. I mean, they all came on well-designed and executed blitzes, so kudos to Sheridan and the players. But having a pass rusher actually beat a blocker and get to the QB would be a nice as well. Again, just saying… Whoa, I didn’t see until Monday Bradshaw nearly lost the ball on that 29-yard run. Slipped right out of his hand as he was about to switch it to his right arm. Good thing he held on. Speaking of that run, where did Manning get all of that speed? He wanted a piece of somebody there. I’m kind of upset he didn’t get one. Also, you’d have to believe Bradshaw will get grief from the other RBs in the film room for not being able to pull away from Manning. Guess one guy’s foot is okay, huh? And finally, what was your favorite word thrown around yesterday? Was it “coward” (Tuck on Adams)? Was it “nobody” (Adams on Tuck)? Was it “bullcrap” (Romo to the official about the intentional-grounding penalty that was actually a great call)? Or was it “dirt bag” (Tuck on Adams again)? Yup, gotta be dirt bag. Okay, this dirt bag is out for now. Later. http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2009/12/a_look_back_at_the_ny_giants_s_2.html Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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