There are so many things to feel good about today as a New York Giants' fan.
• The teams' first playoff victory since 2000.
• A brilliant game by Eli Manning.
• Overcoming the Jeff Garcia Curse.
• A terrific defensive effort.
• Shutting up Ronde Barber.
• Getting another shot at the Dallas Cowboys.
Short of winning a Super Bowl, it doesn't get much better than this. A playoff victory on the road and an effort from Manning that tells you he can rise to the challenge in the biggest of spots.
A visit to Dallas looms, and the tall task of trying to knock off the Cowboys, but today I don't want to think about that.
Today, I want to revel in Sunday's accomplishment. So, let's get to the 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'
Kudos to ...
• Eli Manning: His numbers (20-of-27, 185 yards, 2 TDs and no turnovers) were impressive, but they weren't the whole story. The Buccaneers dared Eli to win the football game, and he did. He made the throws that had to be made, was creative, and was in control the entire game. It may have been the most commanding performance of Eli's career, and no matter what happens next week in Dallas it bodes well for the future of the franchise.
• Corey Webster: Every Giants' fan had to cringe when they realized Sam Madison's absence meant Webster would play every down. Webster, though, played the best game of his Giants career with an interception, a fumble recovery, a pass defensed and zero coverage breakdowns.
• Michael Strahan: Note to GM Jerry Reese -- whatever you have to do, get this guy to play next season. Strahan was a force Sunday, turning the clock back with a seven-tackle, one-sack, constant pressure game that left Tampa Bay quarterback Jeff Garcia running for his life.
• Ahmad Bradshaw: Modest numbers -- 17 carries, 66 carries and one catch for 9 yards. All you need to know, though, is that when the Giants needed yards to run out the clock late it was the rookie whom Tom Coughlin trusted and not Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw is now unquestionably an important part of the Giants' offense.
• Tom Coughlin: With the first playoff victory of his Giants' tenure, and three straight impressive performances, Coughlin has the Giants pointed in the right direction. It's not really even debatable at this point -- there will be a long-term extension given to him during the off season.
• Kevin Gilbride: You can forget about that talk that the Giants need to replace Gilbride, too. It won't happen. Gilbride can be questioned for some of what he's done in the past, but called a brilliant game Sunday. When Tampa Bay took away the run, he did something the Giants have not done well in the past -- he adjusted. First, with the short passing game. Second, by getting the lightning-quick Bradshaw into the game. He deserves tons of credit for Sunday's performance.
• Amani Toomer: Nothing flashy, but 7 catches for 74 yards and one touchdown. The best wideout in Giants' history just keeps on doing his thing.
• Gray Reugemar: Replaced Shaun O'Hara at center for the first time this season. He didn't get his name called once for a penalty or a bad snap, and the Giants line play did not suffer at all. His anonymity deserves praise.
• Gerris Wilkinson: Seven tackles playing most of the game in place of Kawika Mitchell. This kid can play, and the Giants have got to find ways to get him on the field from now on.
• Steve Spagnuolo: After an opening touchdown drive, the rookie defensive coordinator dialed up the pressure on Jeff Garcia. The Giants only got one sack, but they pressured Garcia all day, didn't make any coverage mistakes, tackled well and, for the most part, stuffed the Buccaneers' offense.
Wet Willies to ...
• Ronde Barber: You wanted the Giants, you got 'em, and now you're getting to go home. Bye, bye! Maybe next time you'll keep your mouth shut!
• Barrett Ruud: The Buccaneers' linebacker has apparently been infected by Barber Disease, or, the inability to keep his mouth shut. His assessment of Eli and the Giants AFTER getting his butt kicked? "He made little, annoying third-down conversions when he needed to. If it is third-and-8, he gets 8 1/2 yards. That was frustrating."
Jerk! That's what good teams do. You got beat. In fact, you got dominated. Now, just shut up and go home!
• Lawrence Tynes: A light-hearted 'Wet Willie,' but Tynes showed why kickers are, well, kickers, with his feeble effort to recover the Tampa Bay fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half. Thank goodness Webster was there to pick it up so that we can laugh about it now.
• Osi Umenyiora: Only three tackles, no sacks and very little pressure on Garcia from the Pro Bowl defensive end. He will have to play better against Dallas next week.