This portion of the program is traditionally (yes, traditionally after just three weeks) called 'Kudos & Wet Willies.' In honor of Sunday's 24-17 victory over Washington for the 1-2 Giants first victory today we will only hand out 'Kudos.'
• The Entire Defense. This much-criticized unit was huge Sunday. The Giants blanked Washington in the second half, holding the Redskins to just 83 yards. The goal-line stand -- four stops from inside the 2 -- on Washington's final drive, was tremendous. Maybe this week there won't be any 'air-horn' incidents.
• Mathias Kiwanuka. Maybe Kiwi can play linebacker after all. Kiwanuka led the Giants with 8 tackles, including 7 solos, and had the only two sacks of Washington QB Jason Campbell. I was listening to the first half on radio, and more than once Carl Banks -- who should know -- exclained "that's a linebacker play" when Kiwanuka made a tackle. I thought defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo made a great adjustment, moving Kiwanuka to defensive tackle in passing situations instead of taking him off the field. I want to see a lot more of that.
• Sam Madison. Madison has been shaky at times during the past two seasons. Sunday, though, the 11-year veteran had one of those games where he reminded people he has been a quality NFL cornerback for a long time. He had six tackles and knocked down a couple of passes.
• Derrick Ward. What can you say about this guy? He's gone from being a nobody on this team to a tremendous offensive weapon. Sunday he gained 94 tough yards on 26 carries and caught 6 passes for 26 more yards. He has 273 yards on 54 carries (5.1 yards per attempt) and has caught 14 passes. Without him, the Giants offense would be in trouble. I don't see how you keep him off the field, even after Brandon Jacobs returns.
• Plaxico Burress. He had an awful first half, dropping a couple of balls that should have been long-gainers. The second half was a different story, though. Burress' catch-and-run on the game-winning play -- a ball Eli Manning threw poorly -- was a great athletic play.
• Steve Spagnuolo. The Giants defensive coordinator made some changes Sunday. There was more pressure, both from blitzes and the use of Kiwanuka as a lineman in passing situations. He also got Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery on the field more in the secondary, meaning a lot less of Corey Webster and R.W. McQuarters, which is a good thing.
All-in-all, a happy day for the Giants. Their reward? They get to start preparing for Philadelphia, which dropped 56 points on the Lions Sunday.