|Derrick Ward gained 77 yards Sunday against Minnesota, joining Brandon Jacobs with more than 1,000 yards rushing this season.|
You never like to lose, but I can't be the least bit upset following the New York Giants' 20-19 loss to Minnesota Sunday.
Sure, it would have been nice if John Carney had not missed that 48-yard field goal with 3:22 left.
It would have been nice if the defense, using mostly backups, had been able to keep the Vikings from driving into field-goal range.
It would have been really nice if Ryan Longwell had missed the game-winning 50-yard field goal.
But, no big deal. The Giants' playoff path had already been established and they already had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Aside from giving up two big plays on defense and continued issues in kickoff coverage the Giants played very well. It was a positive effort in terms of getting ready for the defense of their Super Bowl title.
I thought the Giants did a lot of good things offensively and defensively, they got playing time for a lot of people and escaped without injuries to any key players.
I feel badly about Sam Madison's broken ankle. That is probably the end of his 12-year career, and it's a tough way to go out, but Madison was probably the last guy on the Giants' cornerback depth chart.
So, now it is on to the playoffs. But, not before we do the final 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style review of the regular season.
Kudos to ...
- Derrick Ward: Fifteen carries for 77 yards, ending the season with 1,025 yards rushing. The Ward-Brandon Jacobs combo made the Giants the fourth team in NFL history to have two 1,000-yard rushers. Ward also had 384 yards receiving this season. My guess is you can pretty much resign yourself to this playoff run being Ward's swan song as a Giant. Somebody is going to pay him a lot of money to be their featured back, and he deserves the chance.
- Domenik Hixon: Four catches for 62 yards and a beautiful touchdown reception from David Carr. Also got open deep a couple times even though Eli Manning could not get the ball to him. Most importantly, he forced the Vikings out of their press coverage, which is exactly what the Giants need him to do.
- Bryan Kehl: Nine tackles and one sack for the rookie outside linebacker. So, why has this exciting young player been buried on the bench for weeks now?
- Chase Blackburn: An excellent game for Blackburn with six tackles. He has become much more than just a special-teams star for this team.
- James Butler: A touchdown-saving interception for Butler. Giants fans keep trying to bury this guy, and he keeps making plays.
- David Carr: For a guy who had not played a meaningful snap all season, Carr played beautifully. He was 8-for-11 for 100 yards, and made some great throws. The touchdown to Hixon was a perfect ball. He ran a few times and looked comfortable.
- Ahmad Bradshaw: I have killed him all season for his putrid kickoff returns, so I need to give him credit for Sunday's season-best 58-yarder.
- Eli Manning/Justin Tuck: They didn't do anything special, but the two most important Giants get 'kudos' for getting through the game without getting hurt.
- Offensive Reserves: Good efforts from a lot of players who have rarely, if ever, seen the field. Darcy Johnson, Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, Danny Ware, Adam Koets all fit here. Koets had one brain-lock penalty for failure to report as eligible, but did some good things in his first-ever appearance.
- John Carney: Yes, he missed that 48-yarder. But he did kick four field goals, including a season-long 51-yarder. The old man still has some leg after all.
Wet Willies to ...
- Antonio Pierce: With the exception of one play the Giants did an excellent job containing Adrian Peterson. That one play was, to my untrained eye, entirely on Pierce. Now, I never played linebacker, but c'mon AP! You are the middle linebacker. How can you jump way to the outside on an off-tackle run and leave no linebacker in the middle of the field? That's how 67-yard touchdown runs happen. That's four weeks in a row the Giants have given up long touchdown runs, and four weeks in a row Pierce has been taken advantage of by opposing backs. That has to be a source of concern heading to the playoffs.
- Kickoff Coverage: Ugh! This unit is just plain terrible. It was when the season started, and it still is now. I hope I'm wrong, but I just have this feeling the Giants are going to give up a kickoff return for a touchdown before the post-season is over. Carney might as well just kick the ball out of bounds.
- Terrell Thomas: I hate to pick on a guy for falling down, but the rookie corner did end up getting smoked for a game-changing 54-yard touchdown. If that play doesn't happen, the Giants win the game.