There are a lot of reasons to feel good this morning if you are a New York Giants fan. Monday night's 45-12 thrashing of the Washington Redskins was the most complete game the Giants have played in more than two months -- since a 44-7 pounding of Oakland in Week 5.
Everything worked. The offense did what it wanted, marching up and down the field with relative ease. The defense dominated, looking like the group we expected to see all season. The special teams were good, showing improvements in both coverage and kick returns.
If only the Saints had beaten the Cowboys then this morning would be absolutely perfect. Let's just hope the Giants can carry the kind of performance they displayed Monday night through the final two weeks of the regular season.
By the way, ESPN flashed a stat during the game showing the 45 points was the most the Giants had scored in a road game in 55 years. Yes, 55 years. It was that kind of night.
Now, let's get on with the weekly 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'
Kudos to ...
I could just say 'Kudos to the entire team' and leave it at that. But, that would be too easy. So, here we go.
- Eli Manning: All of the gushing over Manning by ESPN's Jon Gruden aside, Manning was fabulous Monday night. He went 19-for-26 for 268 yards and three touchdowns, and was in complete control of the game. Ten different receivers caught passes for the Giants, another indication that Eli did pretty much what he wanted.
- The defensive line: The much-maligned defensive line. This group led the defensive charge, handing Redskin quarterback Jason Campbell a brutal beating. Campbell probably deserves a 'kudos' for just standing in there and taking the five sacks and I have no idea how many hard hits. Osi Umenyiora was as active as he has probably been all season. Justin Tuck had a sack and a forced fumble. Mathias Kiwanuka had five tackles and was constantly around Campbell. Defensive tackles Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield joined the sack party, and along with Chris Canty were solid against the run.
- The offensive line: Probably the best indicator that Monday was a Giant-like performance is that 'kudos' go to both lines. The offensive line was terrific against the Redskins. Lots of pulling, some space for the running game and plenty of time most of the night for Manning to work his magic against the Washington secondary. Special 'kudos' to rookie Will Beatty and backup guard Kevin Boothe. Beatty did an outstanding job filling in for the injured Kareem McKenzie. I can't remember a play where he was beaten badly all night. Boothe stepped in when Rich Seubert went out with a knee sprain and also played well aside from being overpowered by Albert Haynesworth on one play. Absolutely loved his work on Ahmad Bradshaw's second touchdown, pulling left in front of the play and wiping out two Redskins defenders with one block to allow Bradshaw to walk untouched into the end zone.
- Kevin Gilbride: The first Giants play of the night was a nicely executed screen pass to reserve tight end Bear Pascoe. From there, pretty much everything Gilbride dialed up -- with the exception of one reverse to Hakeem Nicks -- worked brilliantly. KG can have games where he makes you crazy, but he can also have games like Monday night where he seems to push the right button on every play call. Loved the screens, the fact that so many receivers caught passes, and the subtle changes in formations and run-blocking schemes that helped create some running lanes even against Washington's eight-man fronts.
- Bill Sheridan: Not sure exactly what clicked for the beleaguered Giants' defensive coordinator, but when the defense applies that much pressure on the quarterback, plays with that much energy and ends up with a Pick Six you have to give him some credit. It seemed like the Giants simplified their schemes a little, and there wasn't any of the confusion we have so often seen this season.
- Terrell Thomas: A Pick Six (an easy one), two passes defensed and four tackles for Thomas. He was excellent against the pass and in run support.
- Jonathan Goff: A pair of tackles, his first career sack and a couple of other quarterback pressures, and a pass defensed for the young middle linebacker. The kid can play a little bit.
- Ahmad Bradshaw: When Bradshaw is making plays like he did Monday night the Giants offense is much more explosive. Nine carries for 61 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, along with three pass receptions for 29 more yards.
- Lawrence Tynes and the kickoff coverage group: Some good, deep kickoffs by Tynes (including one into the end zone). Odds are that had a lot to do with the best kickoff coverage the Giants have displayed in quite a while, surrendering no returns longer than 21 yards.
'Wet Willies' to ...
Yes, I was able to find one 'Wet Willie' to hand out. And, honestly, it's given more for stupidity than for performance.
- Brandon Jacobs: What the heck was Jacobs thinking, getting himself involved in a second-half melee that saw him trading punches with a couple of Washington players and -- eventually -- squared off with Haynesworth of all people? Amazingly, Jacobs escaped an ejection or a penalty, both of which he probably deserved. He won't escape a hefty fine from the league, and probably a tongue-lashing from coach Tom Coughlin for his lack of composure. On top of that, Jacobs did not have a great night carrying the ball. On a night where there were big plays all over the Giants offense, Jacobs carried 16 times for 52 yards, a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry.
(E-mail Ed at email@example.com)