Ho-hum. Another Monday morning, another fourth-quarter come-from-behind victory by the New York Giants to discuss. This is becoming routine, isn't it? Six victories by the Giants in 2011, five of them engineered this way. None more exhilirating than Sunday's 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots, though.
Your weekly 'Kudos & Wet Willies' are after the jump.
Kudos to ...
Eli Manning: How can I not start here? I really don't care what Joe Buck and Troy Aikman think of Manning's mechanics, or some of the gambles he took. Or the mediocre 77.9 passer rating for the day. When the game was on the line Manning did what has almost become routine for him this season. He led the Giants to their fifth come-from-behind fourth-quarter victory of the season. Twice in the final period Tom Brady pushed New England to the lead. Twice Manning led the Giants back. Some of his throws were risky, no doubt. It wasn't his prettiest day throwing the ball, no doubt. When it mattered, though, Manning again showed why the Giants are lucky to have him as their quarterback.
Tom Coughlin: Does anyone still not understand that this man can coach? Whatever your feelings on his strategy, his reluctance to use rookies at times, his rules or whatever you have to understand one thing. The Giants do reflect Coughlin's personality -- he never wavers from his belief in his team no matter how many injuries they have or how many mistakes they make, and this team does not quit playing. That is a credit to him. Tom Coughlin moved into a tie for 20th on two significant NFL coaching lists. The victory was Coughlin's 139th regular season triumph, tying him with Tony Dungy for 20th on the league's career list. Including his eight postseason victories, Coughlin has 147 wins. That ties him with former Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher for 20th on that list.
By the way, Coughlin's post-game speech and the locker room scene are awesome!
Jake Ballard: A great catch on the game-winning drive, Manning put the ball into an incredibly tight window and trusted Ballard to make a play, and he did. Then he added the game-winning catch. Finished with four catches for 67 yards.
Brandon Jacobs: The numbers were nice -- 18 carries, 72 yards and one touchdown. He also caught four passes. What was even nicer was the conviction Jacobs ran with, something we have not seen in a loooong time and something that evident from his first carry of the game. He wanted a chance to "stand tall" for his team, he got it Sunday and he delivered. Let's hope he can keep doing it.
Victor Cruz: Six catches for 91 yards. The young man just keeps getting open, and keeps catching the ball. It's pretty amazing.
Offensive Line: Give 'Kudos' to the whole group. Manning was never sacked and the Giants were able to run the ball effectively. Maybe they fed off Jacobs a bit, but this was the most physical, best performance I can recall from the line this season.
Ramses Barden: A nice return for Barden. Two catches for 24 yards, both physical receptions in which he used his size and strength to haul in passes.
Steve Weatherford: A tremendous day for the Giants' punter. He dropped five of his season-high eight punts inside the 20-yard line. He had a 43.1-yard gross average and a 41.0-yard net average. The Giants punted on each of their first six possessions of the game. Weatherford's punts forced New England to start its six first-half series - in order - on its five, six, 17, 20, 11 and nine-yard lines.
Perry Fewell: At times the softer schemes employed by Fewell have driven me crazy this season. Not Sunday. Fewell kept Brady and the Patriots off-balance all day, using a variety of blitz packages and straight four-man rushes to keep the Pats guessing about their intentions all day. Did you guys notice there were two or three occasions when Brady started to fold up and go down when he wasn't even being hit? That tells you a little about the pressure he felt.
Mathias Kiwanuka: Are we done yet with the argument over whether Kiwanuka should be a defensive end or a linebacker? He's both, but you know what the guy really is? A phenomenal football player, that's what. Kiwanuka had 12 tackles and an interception off a Michael Boley deflection. He made 12 tackles Sunday (six solo), was in the backfield as a defensive end, was a force at the line of scrimmage against the run, was outstanding in the open field against the pass. Let's quit arguing about where he should play, and just be glad he is playing.
Michael Boley: Sunday was about as physical and aggressive as I think I have ever seen Boley play. Ten tackles, a sack/forced fumble and a pass deflection that led to Kiwanuka's interception. Boley was terrific.
Deon Grant: He's ooooold. He's sloooooow. We know those things. He also played an outstanding game on Sunday. An interception, two passes defensed, four tackles and lots of good run support.
Michael Coe: Not a noticeable stat line (two tackles, one pass defensed) but Coe did an excellent job for a guy who was only on the field because the Giants had no one else to send out there. He was in the right spot all day, and he deserves the recognition.
You can probably single out one or two of the remaining guys in the secondary for 'Kudos' as well but it's time to move on.
Kwillies to ...
Mario Manningham: Three catches, including a huge touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. A stupid penalty for taunting after the catch, though, and one ball he should have caught where he could not get his feet down.
Aaron Ross: Some really good work in the secondary, but a costly muffed punt. Ross has been very sure-handed this season, and I'm really not sure how he put himself in position to let the ball clang off his face mask.
Wet Willies to ...
Devin Thomas: So, maybe those folks like special teams coordinator Tom Quinn who have been questioning Thomas' ball security and judgment have a point. Another muffed catch on a kickoff that he was fortunate to recover, and only a 14-yard average on his returns. Oh, and did you notice that Jerrel Jernigan replaced him on the return following his muff? My guess is we see more Jernigan in that role as the season progresses.
Kevin Boothe's Shotgun Snaps: One directly off his butt and another one way high and wide right. He's an inexperienced center, and it showed on those two snaps.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman: The FOX broadcasting duo spent so much time complaining about Manning's back-foot throws and a few risky passes late in the game and talking about all of the negative stuff that they barely gave Manning any credit for engineering a phenomenal fourth quarter comeback against one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in an environment where visiting teams simply do not win regular-season games.