'Kudos & Wet Willies:' Missed opportunities edition

I hardly know where to begin in discussing Sunday's 45-38 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles by our New York Giants.

The Giants gift-wrapped a couple of scores for the Eagles with turnovers and mistakes. They made some big plays of their own, but not nearly enough. Opportunity knocked everywhere, both offensively and defensively, much of the night. Too often, though, the Giants could not get the job done.

It was one of the craziest, most exhausting regular-season games I can remember watching. In the end, though, just another bad loss in what is becoming a season filled with them.

The Giants are now 7-6. Their path to the playoffs is clear, though treacherous. The Cowboys are 8-5, and it is pretty obvious the final NFC playoff spot will go to either Dallas or the Giants and the Giants own the tie-breaker advantage. Somehow, some way the Giants need to win one more game than the Cowboys during the final three weeks.

Otherwise, no playoffs for the first time since 2004. On with the 'Kudos & Wet Willies,' which look a little bit unusual this time around.

Kudos to ...
  • Eli Manning: Eli was brilliant Sunday night. In my mind, he played as well as a quarterback can play. The stats (27-of-38, 392 yards, three touchdowns) don't begin to describe it. Of his 11 incompletions there were nine -- yes, nine -- balls Giants receivers could have or should have caught. The fumble when he fell awkwardly and lost the ball as he hit the ground was a freak play. He had made an uncharacteristically nity run on the play. Can't kill him for it.
  • DeSean Jackson: It's not often I will give 'Kudos' to an opposing player, but this guy is just phenomenal.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw: Following a theme we seem to have developed here, Bradshaw stepped up and made some big plays. A 17-yard run. A 31-yard pass reception. The Giants didn't get enough of those from other guys Sunday night.
  • Big Blue View Nation: More than 2000 comments between the two Game Threads. The Giants couldn't step up and make big plays, but you guys did.
Kwillies to ...

A 'Kwillie,' for those who don't know, goes to players who did things that kept both teams in a game. Half 'Kudo,' half 'Wet Willie.'

  • The Giants receiving corps: There were a lot of great plays by Giants receivers Sunday night. But, an incredible number of opportunities they failed to take advantage of. Let me summarize.

    Hakeem Nicks -- A 68-yard touchdown catch and run. Nice, sure. But, three drops. Including one on a long ball when he was 5 yards behind the defense.

    Steve Smith -- Seven catches and broke the Giants' single-season receiving record previously held by Amani Toomer. But, two missed opportunities. Both on catches that were difficult, but plays a No. 1 Pro Bowl receiver needs to make. Particularly the one in the end zone where he had both hands on the ball and could not corral it.

    Kevin Boss -- A career-best seven catches. But, Boss could not corral a beautiful throw by Manning in the second half that he had both hands on. In the fourth quarter of a game with so much at stake, you have to make that play. By the way, guess what? If Boss makes that catch the Giants have first down at Philly's 17. The next play was the 3rd and 5 draw any of you are killing.

    (I am saving Mario Manningham for later. You know what that means.)
  • Brandon Jacobs: Fifteen carries for 60 yards, and lots of hard, knock defenders over, running (where has that been, Jake?). But, an uncharacteristic fumble that ended up being returned for a touchdown.
  • Michael Boley: Eleven tackles, but a huge missed opportunity when he had a potential game-tying interception in his hands toward the end of the first half and could not corral it.
  • Osi Umenyiora: A sack and forced fumble in his role as pass-rush specialist. That's the good stuff. But, several times when Osi was in the game the Eagles took advantage by running right at him for big gains.
  • Kevin Gilbride: You have to give your offensive coordinator some credit when a team compiles an astounding 512 yards of total offense, which the Giants did Sunday night. But, you also can question taking the ball out of Eli's hands on the failed 3rd and 5 draw play in the fourth quarter. It may have been his only bad play call of the night, but as many of you have already pointed out the failure to score points there was a killer. Taking the ball out of Eli's hands, especially the way he was playing, was the wrong choice.
  • Domenik Hixon: A 61-yard catch and run for a score. That's the good stuff. Losing contain on Jackson's 72-yard punt return and a pair of fumbled kickoffs is the bad. When does D.J. Ware get a crack at being the primary kickoff return man?
Wet Willies to ...
  • Aaron Rouse and Aaron Ross: Both guys got burned down the field by DeSean Jackson, Ross for an easy, back-breaking 60-yard touchdown. Rouse would have given up one, as well, but Donovan McNabb missed a wide open Reggie Brown.
  • The defense as a whole: Missed opportunities, blown coverages, little pressure on Donovan McNabb, and a complete inability to make a stop whenever one was needed. The inspired effort against Dallas gave me hope. This one left me feeling, again, that this group just isn't good enough.
  • Bill Sheridan: See all of the above about the defense. I couldn't argue with more than one or two of Sheridan's calls Sunday night. But, the overall performance of this group has to fall on his shoulders. And it just has not been good enough.
  • Special teams: Bad penalties, a punt return surrendered for a touchdown, two fumbled kickoff returns, less than adequte kickoff return coverage, ineffective returns all night. Yes, Fred Robbins blocked an extra point, but that's about the only thing the special teams did right. At some point, special teams coach Tom Quinn has to answer for the fact that week after week the Giants' special teams don't measure up.
  • Mario Manningham: How difficult is it for an NFL receiver to learn to run down the field and stay in-bounds? Manningham should have scored two touchdowns Sunday night. Instead, he ran himself out of bounds on both plays. He has done that consistently this season, and it is largely what has cost him his starting job. He is an exciting player, but he has to learn how to run a pass route on the sidelines. Otherwise, how can Eli trust him and throw the ball out there?
(E-mail Ed at bigblueview@gmail.com)



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