By Paul Dottino
Didn’t we see this movie before? It could have been The Poseiden Adventure, The Towering Inferno, or Earthquake … or maybe it was the game film from one of the Giants’ losses down the stretch last season?
Wow. The Indianapolis Colts demolished the Giants, 38-14, in a game that had to leave coach Tom Coughlin wondering how this year’s edition of his team could look so bad after a convincing opening day victory over the Carolina Panthers. But it is what it is. The Giants are 1-1, thanks to an ugly road loss to the defending AFC champions. Was this a warning sign of things to come for Coughlin’s team or did his players happen to have a horrible night that – combined with the right set of circumstances (location, opponent, etc.) – left them in a bad state? We won’t know the answer for at least a few weeks. So here are our “Game balls and Gassers”:
Offense – RB Ahmad Bradshaw. This was a very easy selection. He ran 17 times for 89 yards and never stopped grinding, no matter how little room was there or how many defenders pounded on him. After only two weeks, it’s apparent that he’s must more explosive than he was last season when his feet when his feet and ankles were giving him the most trouble of his career. Off-season surgery appears to have put an extra gear into his step – whether he’s making a cutback, scooting through a crease or attempting to drag a tackler for an extra yard. He gave his all on every play – as he always does – no matter the score or circumstances.
Defense – LB Michael Boley. There’s really no reason to give out one of these, except that our self-imposed rules state one has to be handed out. Boley was very active and finished with 15 tackles (11 solos), although it’s true that those hits did not impact the game. At least it was good to see him moving around with fluidity.
Special teams – P Matt Dodge. THIS is why Coughlin wanted to stick with the rookie. The leg was there (6-45.2 avg.) and he got sufficient hang time with the exception of his first low drive. Dodge’s net average of 41.2 is much more of what the Giants are looking for and his 62-yard bomb in the fourth quarter came right out of a textbook. He also had a perfect Aussie kick downed at the 2 by D.J. Johnson early in the second quarter. It’s back to the Meadowlands and potentially windy conditions over the next two weeks, but Dodge can enjoy this one for now.
Offense- RB Brandon Jacobs. We could make a slew of guys put on their track shoes after this performance, but there’s no sense in it after Jacobs went over the line in the third quarter by throwing his helmet on the sideline in frustration. The helmet somehow went sailing into the stands and Jacobs didn’t play the rest of the night, although there was no official indication that he was benched. “I would like to apologize to Indy, first of all, and their fans, and our organization,” Jacobs explained. “It was something that happened that shouldn’t have happened. I got frustrated and went to throw my helmet under the bench and it caught my middle finger and flicked up into the stands. It really was something I did not mean to do.” Fine, now go run and this cannot happen again, period.
Defense – S Michael Johnson. Again, he ought to have a lot of company here. But his mental error early in the second quarter must have given you an early sign that it was going to be a long night. Johnson was forced to come in after Kenny Phillips got dinged. The Giants had been keeping two of the three safeties in their dime package high to prevent a big play, but – on his seventh snap of the night – Johnson bit on a play-fake and left unsuspecting CB Aaron Ross alone in the right slot to cover TE Dallas Clark, who dashed directly up the field to snare a 50-yard TD pass that made it 14-0 with 9:33 left in the half. Johnson made this type of error on a regular basis last season and it was one of the reasons the team signed veteran free agents Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant and drafted Chad Jones (who was placed on IR after his auto accident). Thus, Johnson is the fourth safety on the depth chart.
Special teams – Johnson/RB D.J. Ware. Actually, this was the least of the Giants’ problems, but we’re going to go with Johnson and Ware because they had the Giants’ only missed tackles on special teams during the game – Johnson on the first punt and Ware on an early third-quarter kickoff.