Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Giants v Cowboys Recap

Aren't division games exciting?! It was Sunday Night Football, so anyone reading this watched the game. I won't waste your time or mine recapping actual events, so let's get into some analysis.

Eli Manning
This off-season, GM Jerry Reese personally challenged Eli Manning to raise his game, as well as the game of his young, unproven receivers. I'd say that 25 of 38 for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns on a huge stage, facing epic crowd noise, and with no help from the run game earns the boy that huge contract. He hung in the pocket, made smart throws, showed great control and accuracy, and was as cool as they come in a big spot. Eli has turned into Mariano Rivera; there's no one else I'd rather have in the final moments with the game on the line. There may be no better closer in football right now.

Mario Manningham/Steve Smith
I can't just pick one, as both guys had 10 catches and a touchdown. Insane performance for two young guys against what is supposed to be a pretty good defense. Hixon will have a hard time finding his way back into a starting spot with the show these two put on. Like I noted with Manning, both guys delivered huge on a night when the run game sputtered. If the Giants can run effectively in the future, these guys will get open even easier, which is terrifying.

NYG Offensive Line
DeMarcus Ware is a terror. Anthony Spencer is an emerging force of a pass rusher. Jay Ratliff is a Pro Bowl nose tackle. Igor Olshansky is touted as being "strong like bull." The Giants O-line shut them down completely. This same group gave up 8 sacks in last year's battle, zero sacks this year. There were also no false starts in a raucous environment. Let's be careful with the "best o-line in the NFL" talk this year, but this group is extremely good. Eli had great protection on Sunday, and doesn't have near the success he had without these guys.

Dallas Cowboys Run Defense
The Giants have a great run-blocking offensive line, a monster of a bell-cow back, and a quick, strong, and very talented backup. The Cowboys clearly loaded the box to stop the run, and did so with aplomb. Holding the New York Giants to under 100 rushing yards is no easy task, and is thus no small accomplishment. However, the attention they paid to the run game left their DBs extremely vulnerable.

Kenny Phillips/Bruce Johnson
There has been a lot of fearful talk regarding the Giants' secondary in the last few weeks. Most people thought the injuries would expose glaring vulnerabilities in the young players being asked to carry the load. Apparently, they forgot to tell Phillips and Johnson that they're vulnerable. Phillips' INT off Jason Witten's foot was an amazing heads-up play; if he takes his eye off that ball, it falls incomplete. His second, he looked like a punt returner. Johnson just made a great reaction on a stupid Romo throw, and had the presence of mind to run to the end zone. Great, great night for the Miami defensive backfield.

NYG Run Defense
I'll allow that Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice are possibly the best 3-pronged running attack in the NFL. Nonetheless, shoddy tackling and lousy gap control have now been problems 2 weeks in a row. I don't have access to the coach's tape or gameplan, so I don't know if it was just overpursuit, mental/physical errors, or guys being out of position, but 251 ground yards is inexcusable. This needs fixing if the Giants expect to win big games in November and December.

Tony Romo
Do I need to explain this? On a huge stage, with a dramatic home field advantage, supported by a very good offensive line and dominating run game, and facing an injury-crippled defense, Tony Romo delivers an absolute bullshit performance (sorry for the language, but he deserved it). He completed 45% of his passes for only 127 yards, 1 TD, and 3 interceptions. All of those interceptions game on ridiculously ill-advised, poorly executed throws. Face it, Jerry Jones, your golden boy is NOT a big-game quarterback, and I can't see Dallas going anywhere important with this guy under center. The Giants were missing their starting and nickel CBs, a major piece of the DT rotation, JUSTIN FREAKING TUCK (for over half the game), and were just breaking in a new WLB while playing an undrafted rookie in the nickel corner spot, and Romo can't deliver. What a mess.

Dallas WRs
This piggy-backs on the Romo complaint, but this group needs to show up bigger in a big game. Again, big stage, home field advantage, great running, and banged up D, and the wide receivers combine for 4 catches and 49 yards. With a dime back and special teamer in coverage, they couldn't do more? Romo had incredible protection with all day to throw...wasn't anyone getting open? Where were these guys? Time will ultimately tell the whole story, but it sure looked like the Cowboys missed TO this time.

Flozell Adams
You bastard. Holding a guy when he badly beats you on an inside move is one thing, but tripping him and causing an injury is ridiculous. Tripping doesn't usually draw suspensions, but the injury result has to make the league take a closer look. Especially since he drew THE SAME PENALTY last week against the Bucs. What makes it completely unconscionable is his reaction to Tuck calling the move "bush league" :::
"What does that mean? I've never ever heard that term. It's not my fault. I don't know what happened with that. He said he hurt his shoulder. I'm like, 'Well, stay up.' That's all I know. He fell down. Stay up."
Stay up? Hard to stay up when you trip the guy, you moron! Please, Roger Goodell, do more than just fine this jerk.

I think I may have to take back my Lowlight on Santana Moss from last week, because I'm starting to think that maybe Corey Webster really is that good. Roy Williams was held to only one catch. Romo was checking down like crazy, and certainly not because he was under a ton of pressure. Receivers simply weren't getting open, and Webster is the best of that bunch. Like I said last week, it's great to see how the guy has bounced back from his benching 2 years ago.

The Palace in Dallas sure looks spectacular, but my first impression of the "Party Pass" section was "that looks like a miserable cluster-fudge riot." Apparently, Jerry Jones agreed, as they are reducing the access to the area from 30,000 to 10,000. How's that humble pie taste, Jerry?

Speaking of Jerry Jones' inspiring humility, how about the fact that he put a Dallas Star on top of that huge, stupid video board?! Does he need the International Space Station crew to know which stadium is his? What is wrong with this guy?

Also, NBC clearly showed him picking his nose. Take that!

I'm really looking forward to the Giants/Bucs game next week. We've played two very tough teams the first two weeks, and haven't looked particularly impressive. Now we have a chance to work out some of the kinks on a lesser opponent, and hopefully improve some before the serious challengers come around. I think the pass rush will look a lot better against Tampa Bay, as will the run game. Take the opportunity to get it figured out!


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