What an amazing football team these New York Giants are!
With every reason to put up a stinker -- the Plaxico Problem, the emotions of the Washington Redskins on a day they inducted Sean Taylor into the team's Ring of Honor, being on the road in front of a hostile crowd, not really needing the victory -- the Giants simply played like the Giants.
They answered the questions about whether or not they could maintain their focus, and answered the challenge of the Redskins the way they have answered every other challenge this season. By outworking and outclassing another NFL team, and by winning another game to reach a lofty 11-1 record.
'Kudos' to the entire team and coaching staff for not allowing the Plaxico Problem to affect them on the field. Sunday's victory tells you all you need to know about the character and resolve of the Giants.
It is, without doubt, intact.
Now, let's get on with the traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style review.
Kudos to ...
- Eli Manning: I thought Eli delivered the message last week against Arizona that crowding the line and challenging him to win games with his arm was a bad idea. Apparently, the Redskins weren't paying attention to the 26-of-33 performance Manning had a week ago. From the outset Washington packed eight or nine defenders near the line to stop the run, daring Eli to take to the air. He did, slicing up the Redskins for his first 300-yard passing game of the season. He ended up 21-of-34 for 305 yards and one touchdown. He made just one bad throw all day, and the interception he threw was Domenik Hixon's fault for not finding the ball early enough. His numbers could have been even better if not for a handful of dropped balls by Giants' receivers. This Giants team can win any type of game, and Eli is a big part of the reason why.
- Tom Coughlin: I don't know whether or not the Giants' coach gets enough credit for the way this team plays. I do know he deserves a ton of credit for the way the team played Sunday under very trying circumstances.
- Domenik Hixon: Five more catches, including some key third-down grabs, for 57 yards. If he isn't already a star, Hixon appears well on his way to becoming one.
- Amani Toomer: He's old. He's slow. At 34, he can't separate from defensive backs the way he used to. Yet, Toomer just keeps on making big catches for big chunks of yardage. Sunday, he hauled in five passes for 85 yards and one touchdown.
- Brandon Jacobs/Derrick Ward: I am lumping them both in together here. Neither had an overwhelming line statistically (Jacobs 21 carries, 71 yards -- Ward 10 carries, 30 yards and five catches for 75), but together they made enough plays to help the Giants maintain balance on offense. Plus, Ward had a 51-yard run wiped out by a penalty.
- John Carney: The old man never misses. Three-for-three Sunday and now 27-for-28 on the season. Even when holder Jeff Feagles drops a snap, which he did on an extra point Sunday, Carney, 44, still manages to knock the kick through. His kickoffs are nothing to write home about, but as long as he keeps making field goals I will live with them.
- Antonio Pierce: AP's stat line (six tackles) was modest Sunday, but he was focused and did his job. Considering what he went through in the days prior to the game he gets credit for that.
- Justin Tuck: Six tackles and two sacks for Tuck, who sets the tone for the Giants front seven. This guy better end up in the Pro Bowl.
- Barry Cofield: Four tackles and a sack for the unheralded defensive tackle. He stepped up with Fred Robbins sitting this one out.
- Michael Johnson/Kenny Phillips: I knew Johnson was around the ball a lot, but had no idea how much until I looked at the stats and saw he had nine tackles. Phillips, another emerging star, had four tackles -- two of which were open-field third-down plays that forced Washington to punt.
- Corey Webster/Aaron Ross: I lost count of how many passes Webster batted down. He was terrific. How this is the same guy who was buried on the bench a year ago is beyond me. Ross came up with a huge interception to thwart a Washington opportunity.
- Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa: These guys can annoy Giants fans, but give them credit for going after Burress on Sunday. Johnston called him out for talking about himself in the third person and not taking responsibility for his mistakes. Siragusa said, basically, that all pro athletes need to be smart enough not to end up in places where they feel they need a gun for protection. Good for them.
Wet Willies to ...
Honestly, I have no 'Wet Willies' to give out. i can't think of a single player who actually played badly.
I could give one to Plax, but he's got bigger issues and he wasn't going to play, anyway. I could give one to the official who called a phantom 'hands to the face' penalty that wiped out a Corey Webster interception. I could probably quibble over the Giants' kickoff coverage. I could probably toss a 'Wet Willie' at the Redskins receivers (they probably couldn't catch it, anyway).
The Giants are an amazing 11-1, though, and I am just going to sit back and enjoy it for now.