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'Kudos & Wet Willies,' NFC East champs edition

Antonio Pierce of the New York Giants looks like he is giving a 'what is going on here?' shrug. It was that kind of day Sunday for the Giants as they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 20-14.

I am not sure I have ever felt so good after watching the New York Giants play so badly.

The Giants are NFC East champions today! Thank you, Pittsburgh Steelers.

After watching the Giants' disappointing 20-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, I watched the Steelers score 17 unanswered points in the last 8 minutes Sunday to hand the Dallas Cowboys a stunning loss and give the NFC East crown to the Giants.

You know, there is nothing better for the soul of a Giants' fan than to watch Tony Romo throw a Pick Six to cost his team a game. Oh, and watching Terrell Owens throw a sideline tantrum because Romo tried to pass to Jason Witten instead of him with the game on the line made it even better.

Of course, maybe TO had a right to be upset. Twice in the final minutes, Witten made like Jeremy Shockey, going one way when his quarterback expected him to go another.

The only thing that could be more fun is if the Giants go to Dallas next weekend, put Sunday's stinker against the Eagles behind them, and annihilate the Cowboys to push them to the edge of playoff extinction.

As for Sunday's performance against the Eagles, pitiful is the only word I can think of to describe it.

Offensively, the Giants receivers looked like they thought maybe the football was a grenade they wanted nothing to do with. Coordinator Kevin Gilbride called plays like a guy just trying to show he could break his tendencies. That's the only reason I can think of for pretty much spending the entire game doing the exact opposite of what he should have been doing.

Defensively, I thought the Giants were exposed. At least a little bit. I have always thought the best way to run against the Giants is straight ahead, directly at Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield and Antonio Pierce. With the Giants offense unable to force the Eagles into playing catch-up, Philly was able to simply pound away. And the Giants could do nothing about it.

More than the drops by the receivers, the inconsisent offense and even the injury to Brandon Jacobs, the fact that the Eagles manhandled the Giants defense at the line of scrimmage is the thing that bothered me most on Sunday.

Rest assured, every other team the Giants will play noticed what the Eagles did.

Let's just hope that Sunday was just a bad day, a blip in what has thus far shaped up to be a brilliant season. The Giants were, after all, trying for the their seventh straight victory over a team with a winning record. That has only been done once in NFL history, by the 1970 Minnesota Vikings. So, we had to expect a bad game eventually.

Oh, and let's rejoice in the fact that even with the bad performance the Giants have earned an NFC East title. And yes, at 11-2 the Giants have indeed earned it. I don't want to hear any of this 'backed into it' nonsense. With what this team has done, facing the incredibly difficult schedule it has played, the Giants deserve this title. Thinking anything else is an insult to a terrific team.

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


Kudos to ...

Not a whole of praise to dole out today, but there are a couple of guys worthy of being mentioned.

  • Kevin Dockery: Scored what Giants fans hoped would be a game-changing TD after scooping up the blocked field goal at the end of the first half. Also had a nice afternoon in pass coverage, with several knock downs.
  • Justin Tuck: Three tackles, a sack, a blocked field goal and a handful of other pressues on Donovan McNabb. This stinker of an effort by the Giants defense was not Tuck's fault.
  • Tom Coughlin: This is simply for his all-out sprint down the sidelines on Dockery's touchdown. The former Syracuse University running back apparently still has some wheels. TC's sprint provided a bright spot in an otherwise dreary game.
  • Brian Westbrook: All I can say is, damn, I hate that guy.

Wet Willies to ...

This could be a very long list.

  • Domenik Hixon: Let's get right to the point with Hixon. We have to hope that the disastrous game he had Sunday was just one bad game, not an indication that Hixon is pressing to make plays now that he has replaced Plaxico Burress. The ball he dropped on a great throw from Manning was an easy six, and pretty much the play that lost the game for the Giants. He was also awful on punt returns, losing yardage twice and nearly fumbling once. Yikes!
  • Steve Smith: A huge drop that probably ended up costing the Giants points in the first half. As with Hixon, let's hope that is just one bad drop and not an indication of a young receiver pressing without No. 17 on the field.
  • Antonio Pierce: I don't care how many tackles he had Sunday, and he had the whopping total of 15. Pierce, simply, was not good. He had all those tackles because the Eagles kept running right at him, and Pierce and the Giants defensive tackles couldn't do a thing about it. If the Eagles, a poor running team, can do that, you can bet every other team the Giants play will try to do the same thing. Oh, and Pierce was abused by Brian Westbrook in pass coverage all day.
  • Kevin Gilbride: I have defended Gilbride any number of times this season, but Sunday was not his finest hour. He would have looked better if Hixon and Smith did not have huge drops, but this was probably Gilbride's worst play-calling game of the season. There was the very curious pass -- from the spread on 4th-and-1. There were two back-to-back sweeps that both failed in a short-yardage situation in the first half. There was the disastrous reverse to Mario Manningham that killed a promising drive. There was also the odd decision to go almost exclusively to the running game during the Giants only possession of the third quarter, the only time in the 2nd half the the Giants offense actually had the wind at their backs. To be honest, I didn't understand most of what Gilbride did all day long.
  • Steve Spagnuolo: As badly as the Giants defense played all day, I would think some of the blame has to go to Spags for not finding a way to slow down the running game. Not to mention basically hanging Pierce out to dry in an impossible one-on-one matchup with Westbrook all day.
  • Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield: Robbins had six tackles, including a couple for losses, but the Eagles pushed the Giants around defensive tackles for most of the game. As critical as I was of Pierce, Robbins and Cofield also have to take a hit since it is their job to control the middle. Obviously, having given up 131 yards rushing to Westbrook and letting Philly control the ball for 34:54, they failed.
  • Kevin Boss: One catch for just 5 yards, and a whole host of missed blocks on the edge. I don't have any desire to go back and watch the tape again to count how many, but maybe his 'New York Blocking Department' badge should be revoked.

Final note: I know some of you will wonder why no 'Wet Willie' for Eli Manning. That's because, given the nasty, blustery winds, questionable play-calling and dropped balls Eli didn't get much help. Shoot, the throw Hixon dropped was a beautiful ball, and the one Smith dropped was also a perfect throw. Those two plays alone would have turned it into a good day for Manning.