The Giants are now 2-2, tied for the top spot in what looks like a pretty wide open, and probably mediocre, NFC East. On with the 'Kudos & Wet Willies' which I know is what you are waiting for.
Kudos to ...
- Perry Fewell and the entire defense: What an effort! Ten sacks and two quarterbacks KO'd. Only 110 yards and six first downs allowed. Two interceptions and three forced fumbles. Some solid tackling on the outside. The Giants dominated the line of scrimmage, pressuring Chicago quarterbacks from everywhere, sometimes with four rushers and other times with blitzes. They made the Bears running game non-existent, holding Chicago to 59 yards on the ground. Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Martz loves the pass, and he loves to do it with minimal protection for the quarterback. The Giants made him, and his quarterbacks, pay dearly. On with some individual defensive 'Kudos.'
Osi Umenyiora: This was Osi at his devastating best. Three sacks, two forced fumbles, four tackles. When Osi gets the edge there is still no more dangerous, athletic defensive end in the game. I just wish we saw this unstoppable wrecking-ball version of Osi more often.
- Justin Tuck: Three sacks of his own, seven tackles and a forced fumble. Cris Collinsworth said during the game the Giants defense needed Tuck to be great, and he was great Sunday night. This was the best Tuck has played since 2008, and let's hope we see more of it.
- Chris Canty: The big man has certainly begun to earn that $42 million contract the Giants gave him a year ago. Five tackles and a sack for Canty, who was simply throwing blockers out of his way en route to causing pain for Chicago quarterbacks and ball carriers much of the night.
- Barry Cofield: The Giants keep trying not to pay Cofield big money, but if he keeps playing like this they are going to have to. Otherwise, somebody will. Four tackles and 1.5 sacks for Cofield, who might be playing better than he ever has.
- Jonathan Goff: Can we finally put this 'Goff can't handle middle linebacker' stuff to bed? Ten tackles and a half-sack for Goff. His third-and-one run stop on Matt Forte, knocking him back for a two-yard loss, was one of the biggest plays of the night for the Giants. I won't kill him for the roughing the passer penalty. There really was not much wrong with what he did, it just so happened that his helmet collided with Todd Collins' helmet.
- Terrell Thomas: Six tackles and a gift pick on a ball Jay Cutler threw right to him. Thomas was excellent on the outside, and tackled better than he has all season.
- Deon Grant: An interception and a fumble recovery. Gotta give him props for those.
- Ahmad Bradshaw: The first 100-yard rushing game of the season for the Giants, 23 carries for 129 yards. His night would have been spectacular if not for the fourth-quarter fumble. That, however, was more of a great play by the Bears than a bad play by Bradshaw. You could see he was looking for guys to be coming after the ball, he just couldn't find the defender who knocked the ball out.
- Hakeem Nicks: Eight catches, 110 yards. Lots of catches in traffic, lots of yardage after the catch and NO DROPS. A terrific night for Nicks.
- Offensive Line: The Giants racked up their best rushing performance in ages, 189 yards on 32 carries for a 5.9 yards per attempt average. Yes, Bradshaw did quite a bit on his own. There were, however, finally some consistent holes to run through in the second half. With lots of help from Shawn Andrews and Bear Pascoe, the Giants established real dominance running the football for the first time this season. For me, one key was that the Giants finally seemed to go more often behind Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie on the right side -- the far superior side of their line. Give Adam Koets credit, too. That is now two clean games in a row for the backup center -- a guy we have snickered about for two seasons.
- The Tipped Ball Gods: I can't finish 'Kudos' without this one. There were, as usual, a couple of tipped balls floating around after Eli Manning passes. Finally, the Tipped Ball Gods smiled on the Giants and let those fall harmlessly to the New Meadowlands Stadium turf. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Wet Willies to ..
- Darius Reynaud: I was thrilled when the Giants brought this guy over from Minnesota. Now? Not so thrilled. The guy is an adventure. He seems to have lost whatever confidence he had, he is an absolute adventure just catching the ball, and pretty much seems to do nothing with it on punt or kickoff returns when he does manage to grab it. How much longer can the Giants wait for Reynaud before giving Aaron Ross an opportunity on punt returns and D.J. Ware a shot on kickoff returns?
- Madison Hedgecock: I know he got hurt in the second half, and maybe this isn't totally fair. If you watched the game Sunday night, though, you saw the Giants run the ball much better with Hedgecock OUT of the game than while he was IN the game. That's been the case all season, and that's not good for a blocking fullback. If he can't help the running game, and it seems he no longer can, why is he taking up a roster spot?
- Clint Sintim: The Giants had an absolute party on defense last night, and Sintim apparently lost his invitation. The second-year linebacker started in place of the injured Keith Bulluck, and finished the night with a half-tackle. I'm not sure how many snaps Sintim played, but I hope Bulluck recovers from his turf toe in time for next week's game in Houston.
- David Diehl: I know I gave the offensive line 'Kudos,' and Diehl is part of that group. Sunday night, though, Diehl again proved he is no longer athletic enough to handle the best defensive ends in the game. Julius Peppers went outside Diehl, inside Diehl, pretty much anywhere he wanted to go. Yes, he did it to McKenzie a couple of times as well, I know. A left tackle, though, has got to be able to hold up against the game's best defensive ends, and Diehl has now shown repeatedly that he just can't do that without significant help any longer.
Kwillie to ...
- Matt Dodge: A special category for the Giants rookie punter. A dropped snap on his first punt attempt, a very unsure hold on Lawrence Tynes' missed 38-yard field goal and a couple of awful punts early. But, he rebounded with 56 and 57-yard punts later. Maybe, just maybe, he can grow from that. And, besides, he did tackle Devin Hester once. Gotta give him some props for that. Probably an overall 'Kwillie' for special teams, too. Some good, some bad. At least they did not end up hurting the Giants, which is about all you can ask at this point.
- Brandon Jacobs: A belated addition here. I forgot the big running back, but I have to add him here. He gets a 'Kwillie' for a mixed night. A really awful fumble when he never actually took the ball properly from Manning, but he did run extremely hard and ends up with 62 yards on just six carries. I have to give him some credit for keeping his head in the game and making some plays at the end.