'Kudos & Wet Willies,' 6-1 and feeling fine edition

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I have to give credit where it is due. That said, 'SBaker' stole my lead for today when he dropped this comment in the 'Open Thread' Sunday night.

Nothing against the Titans, who look great so far, but i find it hard to believe that this isn’t the best team in football right now.

Considering Sunday's performance, that's hard to argue with right now. Unquestionably, the Giants are the best team in the NFC.

Led by Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants defense laid a beating on Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, sacking him five times, hitting him on several other occasions and intercepting four passes.

Offensively, Eli Manning's crew held the ball nearly 10 minutes longer than Pittsburgh. They failed to convert a couple of opportunities, but got it done when they had to. That seems to have become the modus operandi for this group, not pretty, not perfect, but good enough.

Yes, the Giants got a couple of good breaks. James Harrison's snap resulting a game-tying safety for one. Harrison, of course, was only snapping because of an injury. Then there was the long touchdown pass to Nate Washington that was called back by a holding penalty.

So, you could argue the Giants were lucky. Good teams take advantage of those breaks, though, and that is what the Giants did.

Theyy played well, kept their poise and made the most of the breaks they were given. As a result, they wound up with an impressive victory over a quality team in a hostile environment.

All of that said, let's get to our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' review.

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Kudos to ...

  • Steve Spagnuolo: Dialed up a defensive scheme that overwhelmed the Steelers offensive line in the fourth quarter. I absolutely loved the fact that he continued to blitz Roethlisberger the last two times Pittsburgh had the ball. Most defensive coordinators would have backed off and played coverage.
  • Mathias Kiwanuka: Led the Giants relentless pass rush with three of the team's five sacks. He is healthy now, and seems to be getting more comfortable at defensive end each game.
  • Eli Manning: Won the personal battle with Roethlisberger, going 19-for-32 with no interceptions. Made a huge 30-yard completion to Amani Toomer on fourth-and-6 to set up the Giants winning touchdown. The guy isn't perfect, but he's not afraid and he can win football games.
  • Amani Toomer: That 30-yard completion was a great throw by Manning, and a greater catch by the veteran Toomer. He laid out between two defenders and made a play that wound up winning his team a game.
  • Kevin Boss: Four catches for the Giants tight end, more than he had all season, including the game winner. Even if he did darn near drop that ball standing all alone in the end zone.
  • Justin Tuck: Five tackles and a sack for the Giants best defensive player.
  • Steve Smith: This guy has tremendous hands, and if anybody in the league runs better pass routes I want to know who it is. Three catches for 45 yards Sunday. This guy is rapidly becoming Eli's security blanket in the passing game, if he isn't that already.
  • Offensive Line: The Steelers had a league-leading 25 sacks coming into the game. They had 25 sacks exiting the game. While the Giants were pounding Roethlisberger (5 sacks and, I believe, 16 knockdowns), Eli was never sacked and rarely pressured. The Giants did not run the ball consistently well, but I don't think anyone expected them to.
  • Kenny Phillips: Sealed the game with one of the Giants four interceptions, and made some nice open-field tackles.
  • John Carney: Four-for-four on field goals. His only miss this season is the kick against San Francisco that was blocked. Maybe Carney should get a special award, a 'kwillie,' because his kickoffs were awfully short on Sunday, though.

I could probably go on and add more 'kudos,' since a slew of defenders are deserving. This list is beginning to get a little ridiculous, though, so, let's move to the 'Wet Willies.'

Wet Willies to ...

  • James Butler: A big-time Wet Willie for the Giants safety. I have defended him before, but not after the 65-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington. He looked slow and looked lost, getting all turned around and actually running 'away' from Washington after the catch. A professional safety has to have more of a clue than that.
  • Plaxico Burress: Got himself benched for being an idiot and skipping treatments last week, then was barely a factor in the three quarters he did play. Three catches for a paltry 15 yards. Thanks for showing up, Plax. Maybe you'd rather be a Dallas Cowboy.
  • Madison Hedgecock: Hate to pick on the big fullback, but he dropped two passes in wide open space. I would have to watch the film again to be sure, but from the Giants rushing numbers I'd have to say he didn't have much luck clearing lanes for Brandon Jacobs or Derrick Ward, either.
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