Before anybody goes nuts over the New York Giants 35-14 loss to Cleveland Monday night, we all knew the Giants would not go 16-0. Sooner or later, the Giants were going to play a bad game.
Without doubt, last night was a stinker. If you are going to flush an 11-game road winning streak down the toilet, you might as well do it in grand fashion, and the Giants did as they were dominated by the Browns.
With both Washington and Dallas having lost Sunday, a victory Monday would have been huge for the Giants. The Redskins and Cowboys have two losses, and the Eagles have three, so 5-0 would have looked awfully good.
Give the Browns credit, though. At 1-3, they were a pretty good team desperate for a win. They dominated the Giants from the line of scrimmage, gaining more than 450 yards and never punting once. The vaunted Giants' pass rush was non-existent and Derek Anderson (310 yards passing) had wide open receivers all night.
So, the Giants are 4-1. They lead the NFC East, and you know you would have signed up for that when the season began.
With all of that said, let's move on to our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' review of the carnage.
Kudos to ...
This will be a really short list.
Steve Smith: The second-year wide receiver was outstanding, with nine catches for 94 yards. He has, in many ways, become the possession security blanket for Eli that Amani Toomer used to be.
Derrick Ward: Gained 101 yards in 10 carries. Yes, some of that came late, but Ward ran hard and ran well.
Wet Willies to ...
- Eli Manning: We sang his praises through a 4-0 start. Let's not go nuts the other way and go off the deep end criticizing him. He had a terrible game with three bad interceptions, the worst we have seen him play in a very long time. Let it go. If you thought he, and the Giants, were going to be perfect all season I want some of whatever you were smoking.
Antonio Pierce: I give the guy credit for playing through an injury, but he shouldn't have been out there. When you can't run with Darnell Dinkins, you can't play.The Browns gashed the Giants straight up the middle with the run the entire game -- going right at Pierce.
Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield, Jay Alford: See above. Cleveland ran the ball right at the middle of the Giants defense all night -- right at Pierce and those tackles. The middle of the Giants defense simply got manhandled all night. NFL teams watching that game film have to believe they have found a soft spot in the Giants defense.
- Aaron Ross: A terrible night for the second-year cornerback. He gave up two long pass plays, then got hurt giving up a fourth-quarter touchdown.
- Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride: Monday night was not their finest hour. Umm ... Ahmad Bradshaw, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ahmad Bradshaw. He is the momentum changer among the Giants' running backs and last night -- a game in which the Giants needed to change the direction of the game -- screamed for him. Yet, Brandon Jacobs was still in the game and carrying the ball with the Giants down three scores. Why Jacobs? And why running plays, anyway? Bradshaw never got in the game. Stupid.
Amani Toomer: Did No. 81 even play?