Lots of good, lots of bad and lots of in-between in Saturday's 24-17 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let's go through the review in our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style.
Kudos to ...
Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora: Nice work by the two defensive ends, each coming up with the kind of big plays for losses that were missing from the defense most of last season. Really, really nice to see Umenyiora in the backfield busting up a couple of running plays. Tuck had a brilliant play on an end-around, and seemed to be buzzing around the Steelers' quarterbacks quite a bit. He and Mathias Kiwanuka shared the Giants only sack of the night. All good news there.
- AB1 and AB2: That's Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown, in case you were trying to figure it out. Couple of nice runs for Bradshaw (six carries, 28 yards), including a 9-yard touchdown burst. Brown had 13 carries for 61 yards and looked like he was running with authority.
- Keith Bulluck and Kenny Phillips: Just for getting on the field, and getting through their six plays in good shape. Both guys will make the Giants better, no matter what roles they end up in.
Rhett Bomar: The numbers aren't great (13-for 26, 167 yards, one interception), but I am giving it up for him anyway. There were some bad throws -- like the time he missed Tim Brown deep and the interception intended for Mario Manningham. Bomar, though, played like a professional quarterback. He took some shots, kept getting up, made a few plays with his legs (three carries, 21 yards) and -- most importantly -- got through the game in one piece. Thanks, Rhett!
Will Beatty: I DVR'ed the game and I watched it closely Sunday morning. Then I re-watched specific plays. I never saw Beatty get beaten or mess up an assignment, and he was still in the game in the third quarter. He played solid, and I think that is all the Giants can ask for.
- Adrian Tracy: Nine tackles in the second half, at least one play where he knifed into the backfield to dump a running back for a loss, and he showed sideline-to-sideline athleticism. Can't say for sure the rookie from William & Mary did enough to elevate himself beyond the practice squad, where I had figured he was headed, but he certainly put himself in consideration for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
- Rocky Bernard: OK, so I admit this is a grudging 'kudos.' Have to give it to him, though, for the goal line stop on Mewelde Moore on the final play of the first half. Bernard is hardly worth all the money the Giants paid him a year ago, but he did make a nice play there.
- Steve Smith: Tremendous catch for a 45-yard gain on a deep ball. Gotta see more big plays like that from Smith this season.
- Corey Webster: Got an interception of Ben Roethlisberger. 'Kudos' just for that play, since capitalizing on opportunities is a key for the Giants in 2010. That's a play that was begging to be made, and Webster made it.
Wet Willies to ...
Courtney Brown: C'mon, Courtney, you have to be able to block the punter. Ross would have had an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown if Brown could have gotten that done. Embarrassing that he couldn't. He also gave up too many yards in coverage. I'm hoping this guy does not make the roster.
- Hakeem Nicks: Can't go and get yourself in a fight and get kicked out of a game in the first series, even a preaseason game. Stupid and immature. Didn't help himself, or Bomar, who needed some weapons in his first extended playing time. By the way, it really is comical to see guys in full pads and helmets throw punches at each other. The other thing that is going to get hurt is their own hands.
- Kickoff return team: Again this week, pretty much nowhere for Brown or Gartrell Johnson (what is he doing back there, anyway?) to run. Five chances, and the best return the Giants got was a 22-yarder. That's not good enough. The Giants even got a 'wedge' penalty. How does that happen, Tom Quinn? It's pretty clear the Giants have no idea how to block the kickoff return. When does Tim Brown get an opportunity to see if maybe he can use that tremendous speed and just run by somebody?
- Jason Pierre-Paul: JPP, my man, how do you whiff on Byron Leftwich? I mean, Leftwich is about the most slow-footed quarterback in the league and you let him run right by you. That can't happen. Other than that, a pretty invisible night for the Giants No. 1 pick.
- David Diehl: As impressed as I was by Beatty's play at tackle, I was not happy with Diehl's play at guard. I could be wrong (sorry, Dave, if I am) but twice he appeared to block the wrong guy, leaving a defender free to get an uncontested shot at Bomar. I know that Diehl might not really want to be at guard, but he's got to block the right guys when he is in that role.
- Michael Greco: Bruce Johnson was in trail position on the 68-yard touchdown pass from Leftwich to Mike Wallace -- exactly where he was supposed to be. Greco should have been over the top, and instead he let the play blow right past him. Sort of like the guys the Giants had playing safety did too many times last season.
Kwillies to ...
In case you don't know what a 'kwillie' is it is part 'Kudos' and part 'Wet Willies.' Goes to guys who did both good and bad during the game. I don't always bust them out, but there were a few guys who fell into this category Saturday night.
- Victor Cruz: Everybody's favorite new Giant caught two balls for 30 yards. The Steelers paid a lot more attention to him, thus no big plays. Cruz, though, muffed a punt at the five-yard line and that simply cannot happen. As impressive as Cruz has been at receiver, I really haven't like what I have seem from him returning punts. During training camp catching the ball was an issue, and last night's muff was not a good sign. Again, when does Tim Brown get an opportunity to handle a punt return or two?
- Aaron Ross: A really encouraging 45-yard punt return that should have been a touchdown (thanks again, Courtney Brown). But Ross gave up a pass completion to Antwaan Randle-El for first-and goal on a third-and-14 You just can't play that soft, Aaron. You have to know where the marker is.
- Matt Dodge: A couple of great punts by the rookie from East Carolina, and he did get one downed inside the 20. Several bad ones, though, and only a 36-yard average on six punts.