|Eli Manning throws a pass Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Eli and the Giants overcame a miserable game to score two late touchdowns and defeat the Bears, 21-16. (Getty Images)|
Sunday's 21-16 comeback victory over the Chicago Bears was a huge victory for the Giants in many ways.
Let's go through some of what it meant.
What is Eli Manning? There are still questions about Eli, and probably will be as long as he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring. For this week, though, he is a quarterback who found a way to win a road game against a tough defense despite playing poorly. So, for at least a week maybe the Eli debate will be muted.
What is this team? There are plenty of questions about what the Giants are, and exactly how good they are. Who is their go-to offensive player? Can their secondary hold up without the pass rush? Can they get to the playoffs? Can they finally win a playoff game? For now, though, they are an 8-4 team that hung together, won a difficult road game and has now put itself in position to reach the playoffs for the third straight season.
What is Tom Coughlin? Is he a guy whose teams sputter and die in the second half of the season? A guy who can't elevate this team to the next level? Right now, he is coach of an 8-4 team that doesn't quit, hasn't turned on him or on each other despite some struggles and is headed for its third straight playoff appearance under his leadership.
So, for at least a week the vultures who constantly seem to circle around the Giants won't have anything to feed on.
Now, let's get on with this week's 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'
Kudos to ...
• The entire Giants Defense. The Bears scored an early touchdown, but the defense was mostly outstanding the rest of the way. For 3½ quarters the Giants offense tried to give the game away, but the defense would not let the Bears take it. Six sacks of Rex Grossman, only 68 rushing yards allowed and lots of heroes. Justin Tuck, Kawika Mitchell, Michael Strahan and Sam Madison stood out in my mind, but the entire unit deserves kudos.
• Eli Manning: Until the last two drives of the game, Eli was headed for a 'Wet Willie' and another round of bashing from newspaper columnists, radio talk show hosts and bloggers. He was clutch at the end, though, especially with a great throw to Plaxico Burress to set up the Giants final score. He deserves kudos for hanging tough and making plays when they were needed most.
• Kevin Gilbride: For a while now it has looked like the Giants had no plan and no cohesiveness on offense. But Gilbride, the offensive coordinator, gets kudos for taking the wraps off Eli and going no-huddle during those final two drives. Eli has always seemed comfortable in that set, and I hope to see more of it.
• David Tyree: With the Giants running out of dependable options at wide receiver, Tyree showed up at the end and made two critical catches on the game-winning drive.
• Derrick Ward: A career-high 154 yards rushing and one touchdown on 24 carries. He fumbled twice, losing one, but still had a great day. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken fibula late in the game that will likely end his season.
• Jeff Feagles: The best angle punter in the business won his duel with Devin Hester, the game's best return man. Feagles kept Hester cornered all day and allowed him 16 yards on three punt returns. That, as much as anything, allowed the Giants an opportunity to win.
Wet Willies to ...
• Jeremy Shockey: Two catches for 25 yards, but Shockey was mostly an invisible non-factor. Once again Eli and Shockey seemed unable to communicate, which led to Eli's first incerception Sunday on a ball intended for Shockey.
• Sinorice Moss: Moss has looked like he was ready to step up and contribute for the past few weeks. Sunday, though, he was held without a catch and seemed like another player who simply wasn't seeing the same things his quarterback was.