Let's review last night's 45-35 loss to Dallas 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style -- handing out praise to the deserving and scorn to those who didn't measure up.
Kudos to ...
• Eli Manning -- Eli was terrific, completing 28-of-41 for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns. The one interception he threw was not his fault as his intended receiver fell down. Cross your fingers and pray the right shoulder injury he suffered late in the game is just a bruise. If he keeps playing like this the Giants will score a ton of points, no matter who they use at running back.
• Derrick Ward -- So, this is why the Giants have kept him around. He took over early for the injured Brandon Jacobs, and played the best game of his Giants career with 13 carries for 89 yards.
• Plaxico Burress -- Plax provided another argument for why the pre-season is useless. After not playing a down in the four exhibition games, he caught 8 passes for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns.
• David Diehl -- So much for worrying about whether Diehl can handle football's best defensive ends. Matched up one-on-one much of the night, Diehl held DeMarcus Ware to two tackles and no sacks.
• Ahmad Bradshaw -- Gotta disagree with John Madden, who said last night the Giants need to replace Bradshaw as kick returner. Yes, his ball security was entertaining, but he averaged better than 27 yards per return. He gives the Giants big-play potential on every kickoff.
Wet Willies to ...
• The secondary -- If you're a Giants fan you had to be afraid this secondary would not measure up. It didn't. Tony Romo passed for 345 yards on just 15 completions. Geesh, I could have completed a lot of those passes. Cowboy receivers ran basically uncovered most of the night.
• The pass rush -- What pass rush? Without Osi Umenyiora most of the night the Giants got nowhere near Romo. The secondary isn't good, and if they can't pressure quarterbacks the Giants will never stop anybody.
• Steve Spagnuolo -- Was that Tim Lewis in disguise running the Giants defense? Where were the blitzes, the stunts, the aggressive in-your-face style we've been anticipating for months. Nowhere. In its place was an ineffictive 4-man rush -- sometimes just three -- and what seemed like a pretty much vanilla look. On top of that, no adjustments to the fact that the middle of the field was wide open all night until late in the game. Not a good debut for Spags.
• Jay Alford -- Not a good start to the rookie's snapping career as his first NFL snap went into the turf and caused the Giants to botch an extra point. He recovered with good snaps after that, but after that you have to feel like nothing will be a given with the Giants kicking game this season.
• Brandon Jacobs -- Maybe it's not fair to put him here, but lasting only 6 carries (26 yards) before getting hurt was not a good way to start as the replacement for Tiki Blabber. He was apparently hurt trying to push a wall of Cowboys for an extra yard, exactly the kind of situation you had to fear could cause an injury with his running style. As with Eli, cross your fingers that Jacobs is OK. The Giants need him, despite Ward's solid game.