Victor Cruz of the New York Giants celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on October 30, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
The New York Giants are 5-2 this morning, regardless of whether or not victory No. 5 was more difficult than anyone thought it would be. Here are your Monday morning 'Kudos & Wet Willies.
Kudos to ...
Eli Manning: Really, what is there to say? Manning was 31-of-45 for 349 yards and two touchdowns. He did not come close to turning the ball over all day. He got no help from the running game, and not much help from the guys he was throwing the ball to. He pretty much was the Giants' offense. Four times this season Manning has led the Giants to come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter. Forget elite. Let's start asking when people will begin putting him in the MVP conversation.
Victor Cruz: Just about the only guy who did not let Manning down at one point or another during the game, and once again came up with the biggest catch of the game, the 25-yard game-winning touchdown. Three of Cruz's seven catches also went for first downs. What was the name of that guy who used to be the Giants' slot receiver? You know, the one buried on Philadelphia's bench.
Corey Webster: Chased Brandon Marshall all day, and made the game-clinching interception in the final two minutes. Gee, isn't it amazing what happens when your defensive coordinator let's a terrific man-to-man press corner play man-to-man press coverage all over the field? That only took a season and a half.
Justin Tryon: Two brilliant special teams tackles, including an ankle grab of Reggie Bush on a great kick by Steve Weatherford. Tryon also had a pass defensed and did a beautiful job blanketing Bush on another pass play.
Steve Weatherford: Have to also give the Giants' punter props. His final punt was a thing of beauty, a 55-yarder that pinned Bush to the sidelines and drove him right into Tryon's waiting arms. Weatherford averaged 46.8 yards per punt, and nailed three inside the 20-yard line.
Mathias Kiwanuka: Seven tackles, 1.5 sacks. Once again, Kiwanuka was a force wherever he lined up. When the season ends the Giants have got to lock Kiwanuka up with a rich, long-term contract.
Wet Willies to ...
Brandon Jacobs: Four carries for 10 measly yards, a dropped handoff and a dropped pass. Oh, and boos from the MetLife Stadium faithful on several occasions in the second half. The best thing Jacobs did all day was manage not to say anything inflammatory after the game.
The Run Defense: The Giants made Reggie Bush look like Earl Campbell running between the tackles. All I can say is the amount of holes that get blown in the middle of a run defense with players as talented as the Giants have is ridiculous. I don't know who to blame anymore, but it is absolutely ridiculous.
Kwillies to ...
After Sunday's game, there are a whole lot of players who belong in this category.
Hakeem Nicks: Six catches for 67 yards, but two huge drops.
Jake Ballard: Four catches for 55 yards, but you can't drop that perfectly thrown seam pass that would have gone for another 30 or 40 yards.
Mario Manningham: A pretty nice day for Manningham, but you cannot drop a touchdown pass you get both hands on. The fourth-quarter pass was contested, but you have to make that play with the game possibly on the line.
Linval Joseph: His first career sack, but also a pretty ridiculous personal foul penalty when the Giants were trying to make a goal-line stand. You have to say this for Joseph, though. His WWE-style dive/headbutt was certainly an athletic move for a 320-pound man.
Offensive Line: Absolutely horrid run-blocking. Absolutely brilliant pass protection. It's pretty amazing how the Giants can do one thing so well and the other thing so badly. Let's talk about the good before the bad.
Manning threw 45 passes and was sacked once. In the second half he generally had enough time to read 'War and Peace' while he surveyed the field. He was hardly touched over the final two quarters.
The run-blocking, though? Atrocious. I watched the game a second time Monday morning, and I can't really put the blame on anyone in particular. David Baas was bad in run-blocking, and he somehow has to get his shotgun snaps above Eli's shins. Chris Snee kept getting pushed into the backfield. One thing I do have to say while I'm mentioning Snee. He is constantly referred to as the Giants' best offensive lineman. Problem is, he is not nearly the dominant road-grader he was three or four seasons ago. David Diehl whiffed on a couple of blocks. Bear Pascoe was good on or two plays and bad on others while playing fullback.
Seems like on nearly every run play there is at least one blocker either whiffing on his assignment or getting pushed into the path of the running back. It might have been communication at the beginning of the season that was slowing the running game. Now, it just looks more and like guys getting physically beaten.
Devin Thomas: A terrific 40-yard return, and a bone-headed return to the 15-yard line when he had no business coming out of the side of the end zone.