By Paul Dottino
» More Columns
Will the real New York Giants please stand up?
The dramatic come-from-behind 31-27 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday may have done a lot for the Giants’ confidence, but it also hasn’t solved the season’s biggest mystery – exactly who is this team? What is its identity?
This win was filled with contradictions. At times, the defense was terrific and kept them in the game, yet Beanie Wells gouged it for 138 yards (5.1 avg.) and three TDs. The Giants turned over the ball twice on fumbles but also recovered an Arizona fumble and registered an interception. The Giants’ offense was out of sync, especially the running game, for three quarters before the passing game exploded in the fourth.
Coach Tom Coughlin ought to consider himself fortunate that he’s got a 3-1 team, which has made a bit of headway in the standings despite feeling its way through the dark over the first quarter of the season.
So let’s get to our weekly review:
Offense – QB Eli Manning. He did it again, folks. The quarterback, who sometimes gets caught in a rut, again saved his best when it mattered most.
Manning went 14-of-17 for 180 yards and two TDs in the final period to author the 16th fourth-quarter comeback or overtime victory of his NFL career. Down 27-17 with 5:12 left, Manning connected on four passes of 20-plus yards to key a seven-play, 80-yard march that ended with Jake Ballard’s leaping 2-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone.
On his next possession, Manning needed only two throws to win it – a 33-yarder to Victor Cruz and a 29-yard go-route down the left side to Hakeem Nicks, the latter with 2:46 to play. That made it two scoring passes in 58 seconds sandwiched between an Arizona three-and-out.
Defense- DE Osi Umenyiora. There are so many candidates here, even though the Giants allowed 368 total yards and 27 points. We’ll go with Umenyiora since he was expected to be rusty in his season debut after coming off arthroscopic knee surgery.
He was limited to nearly half of the defensive snaps but made two big plays and bothered QB Kevin Kolb throughout the game. Umenyiora had a critical second-and-1 sack from the Giants 29 with 1:21 to play, three quarters after a patented strip/sack that told the Cardinals he meant business.
Special mention goes out to CB Corey Webster, who broke up the clinching quick-hitting fourth-and-2 pass for Larry Fitzgerald inside the Giants 30 with 50 seconds to go, and FS Antrel Rolle, who had a fourth-quarter INT and a third-down pass breakup to wreck Arizona’s 27-second possession sandwiched between the Giants’ final two TDs.
Special teams-CB Aaron Ross. He darted 18 yards on a punt return to the Giants 48 with 3:21 to play, setting up the winning TD drive.
Offense – Offensive line. To be fair, these guys paved the way for two TD runs and only allowed one sack (David Carter beat backup center Kevin Boothe in the third quarter), despite trailing for most of the second half.
But the line also failed miserably against a very heavy and steady dose of blitzes that limited the running game to 54 yards on 24 tries (2.3 avg.).
Defense – S Deon Grant. Call me unfair on this one and I’ll accept it. He was victimized by Fitzgerald on a spectacular third-quarter pass play. Grant had perfect position as he provided double coverage with Webster, but Fitzgerald was able to wrestle the ball in with one arm at the Giants 11 as he and Grant hit the ground.
The grab set up a TD and a 14-10 Arizona lead.
Special teams- CB Michael Coe. The Giants did well to play the Cardinals even in special teams. But Coe gets to run because he twice missed a tackle in punt coverage.
Who are the “real” Giants? Let ‘er rip in the comments below…