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'Kudos & Wet Willies,' home field edition

Derrick Ward (top) and Brandon Jacobs celebrate last night's victory over Carolina. Ward (215 yards rushing) and Jacobs (87) are the biggest reasons the Giants now have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Now that was some New York Giants-style football!

A lot of Earth, several gusts of Wind, a dash of defense when it mattered, a key special teams play, some big completions in the passing game and the heart of a champion on full display.

It added up to a 34-28 overtime victory over the Carolina Panthers, and sealed home-field advantage for the top-seeded Giants throughout the NFC playoffs.

Wow! What a football game! What a tremendous, courageous, determined football team!

Walk tall today, Giants' fans. Wear your jerseys, wear your caps. Let everyone know Big Blue is your football team. They earned the love with a tremendous victory over a tremendous team.

I have said this before, but what a great time to be a Giants' fan!

Oh, and take a few minutes today to start the letter-writing campaign to keep both Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward in Giants uniforms next season. Write the Giants' offices, drop a note on Ward's Web site, flood the talk shows.

After a couple of weeks where the Giants' smash-mouth, run-first personality was MIA these two got the Giants back to what they do best. What we saw last night, with 301 yards rushing when it mattered most, was the Giants offense doing what it does best.

Ward was incredible. On a night when gusty winds swirled around Giants Stadium, 'Wind' took that as his cue and had the best game of his career with 215 yards on just 15 carries.

As for what Jacobs means to this team, I think it is obvious. With the big man back on the field it was obvious from the first play that the Giants attitude on offense was completely different than it had been the past couple of weeks. Jacobs (24 carries, 87 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Ward absolutely wore out the Panther defense.

Now the Giants have home-field advantage. Also, they can get a couple of week's rest for many of their walking wounded, which should set them up nicely for a run at a second straight Super Bowl title.

Let's get on with the traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'


Kudos to ...

  • Derrick Ward: With Jacobs pounding the Panthers, Ward did what he does best -- flying right past them for several huge gains. He now has 948 yards on the season and a shot at giving the Giants two 1,000-yard rushers this season. Oh, and the free-agent-to-be earned himself a helluva lot of money last night.
  • Brandon Jacobs: He averaged less than four yards per carry, but the big man lugged the ball 24 times, blasted his way into the end zone three times and gave the Giants back their personality. Is there still anyone out there silly enough to argue that Ahmad Bradshaw should be starting and Jacobs should be sitting?
  • The Offensive Line: The Giants gave the New York Blocking Department a chance to do what it does best last night -- create holes for the running game. The group responded by dominating the Carolina defense despite facing constant eight- and nine-man fronts. Particular credit to Rich Seubert and Chris Snee, who were incredible pulling and creating space for Jacobs and Ward all night. David Diehl had his hands full with Julius Peppers all night, and the Giants gave him some needed help, but he held his own for the most part.
  • Kevin Gilbride: An odd time to decide to give Madison Hedgecock his first carry in two years, but Gilbride had a mostly terrific night. He stuck with the run even in some normal passing situations and the Giants looked like the Giants on offense again. He also used some extra tight ends and some creative formations to help the Giants' receivers find some space.
  • Kevin Boss: Five catches, most of them at huge times, for 46 yards and one touchdown. Boss is becoming a go-to guy for Eli Manning, especially in the red zone where the Giants need his physical presence without Plaxico Burress.
  • Jeff Feagles: A tremendous punt that was downed at the 1-yard line to help set up the game-tying score in the fourth quarter. Also a great hold on a skipping snap from Jay Alford on an early John Carney field goal.
  • Terrell Thomas: A great, great play on the Feagles punt to keep the ball from going into the end zone. That play alone earns him a 'kudos.'
  • Justin Tuck: The flu-ridden star defensive end earns 'kudos' simply for making it all the way through the game standing up, and for actually contributing a couple of run stops when he obviously should have been home in bed.
  • Corey Webster: Had Steve Smith in coverage much of the night. Made one huge pass deflection, a great play in run support and ended up with seven tackles.
  • Domenik Hixon: Four catches for 71 yards and the tying two-point conversion grab. Hixon found ways to get open and make plays, and that is exactly what the Giants need from him.
  • BBV Nation: There were an incredible 857 comments in last night's Open Thread, the most we have ever had. Awesome job, gang!

Wet Willies to ...

  • Antonio Pierce: The Giants' middle linebacker was a step slow a few times in pass coverage -- again -- and, though, he made a couple of nice plays, mostly unable to meet the challenge of the Panthers' straight-ahead running game -- again. AP is vocal, smart and important to the Giants' defense, but he is hardly a dominating presence in the middle of the field.
  • Defensive Line: Excepting the physically ill Tuck from this comment, this group was mostly terrible last night. No sacks, and pretty much no pressure, on Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme. Has anyone heard Mathias Kiwanuka's name called at all in the past two or three weeks? Carolina ran for 158 total yards and DeAngelo Williams gashed the Giants for four long, uncontested touchdown runs. This is three weeks in a row the Giants defense has lost the physical battle at the line of scrimmage, and it is the biggest reason for worry heading into the playoffs.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw: I know he had to return kickoffs last night with Domenik Hixon playing every down on offense and Sinorice Moss hurt. But, he just isn't fast enough. Four returns for an average of 22 yards, one fumble he luckily did not lose, and at least one return where I saw a gaping hole he just could not get to fast enough to make the big play. Please, please get somebody else back there returning kicks when the playoffs start.