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'Kudos & Wet Willies,' We Can All Exhale Now Edition

Sunday's 24-20 victory over Jacksonville was a game the New York Giants had to have, and it looked for almost 57 minutes like one they were not going to get. The Giants are nothing if not resilient, however, and they get a huge team-wide 'kudos' for that.

Let's review the proceedings in our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style. As always, I am sure you will agree with some of my choices and disagree with others.

Kudos to ..

  • Justin Tuck: The Giants' defensive captain has finally stepped all the way into the leadership role the Giants have been demanding of him. Calling out his defensive mates at halftime after an ugly, uninspired performance was exactly the kick in the teeth the Giants needed. And exactly who they needed it from. Oh, and except for dropping a sure interception Tuck was pretty good on the field, too. He had five tackles, a half-sack and two passes defensed.
  • The Giants offensive line: This was a makeshift group if there ever was one. The Giants were using their third center and third left tackle, and a backup left guard who missed the first half of the season. Yet, there were no sacks of Eli Manning for the fourth straight week. There were holes for the running backs as the Giants averaged 5.2 yards per running play. They even ran left successfully behind Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe, and Boothe was able to pull and get in front of a few trap plays. Beatty and Boothe deserve huge credit, even if this was against an injury-ravaged Jacksonville defense. Bear Pascoe probably deserves some credit, too.
  • Mario Manningham: This guy drives Giants' fans crazy sometimes with some strange-looking pass routes, but the guy was huge Sunday when the Giants needed him more than they ever had. The numbers, three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, don't tell the story. Manningham lost a touchdown catch thanks to a holding penalty on Kevin Boss. He lost another potential touchdown when Manning underthrew him on a deep post early in the game. He made a brilliant ankle-high catch while looking like he was about to fall backwards to keep what turned into the game-winning drive alive. The Giants don't win without him Sunday, and they win a whole lot more convincingly if they take full advantage of everything Manningham did.
  • Brandon Jacobs: The big fella did what the Giants have always wanted him to do, and have not seen enough of this season. He ran hard, he ran straight ahead, he made some people miss and he punished defenders who did not. In his first start of 2010 Jacobs had 87 yards on 14 carries, an average of 6.2 yards per carry.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw: AB did not sulk about not starting. He carried nine times for 49 yards and caught four passes for 34 more. He ran hard, and coach Tom Coughlin even showed enough faith to put him in to carry at the end when the Giants needed to run out the clock.
  • Eli Manning: A terrific game from Eli when the Giants needed one. He went 14-of-24 for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and never came remotely close to turning the ball over. Manning ended up with a 117 quarterback rating. There was one underthrow of Manningham and one overthrow of Derek Hagan, and that is about all that separated Eli from perfection.
  • D.J. Ware: A 35-yard kickoff return, a nice reception on third down to keep a drive alive. Welcome to the 2010 season, D.J. Memo to Tom Quinn: Keep Ware back there returning kickoffs.
  • Jason Pierre-Paul: If you want to call this JPP's coming out party, I won't argue with you. The first-round pick from South Florida had two 'Osi Umenyiora specials,' strip sacks that resulted in David Garrard fumbles, and made six tackles. This guy is getting better and better.
  • Kick coverage: Whoa, where did this come from? Michael Coe, just signed this week, crushed Mike Thomas on one punt return. Thomas had two punt returns for a grand total of three yards. On kickoffs, Jacksonville averaged just 22.2 yards on six returns. Two terrific open-field tackles by Clint Sintim led that group.
  • Tom Coughlin: For a lot of reasons. For the brilliant first-half challenge on what I sure thought was a fumble by Derek Hagan at the Jacksonville 3-yard line the first time I looked at it. For going for two with the score 17-15. For holding together a team that could easily come apart at the seams with all the injuries it has suffered. He might be using band aids and duct tape, but whatever works is fine with me.
  • Osi Umenyiora: No sacks for Osi, but he sure did spend a lot of time in the Jacksonville backfield. He kept running right past ex-Giant Guy Whimper, chasing David Garrard and inflicting punishment. Did a decent job against the run, too, with four tackles.

Wet Willies to ...

  • Darius Reynaud: Cover your eyes when the ball is kicked to this guy. He didn't even return a kick and he gets a 'Wet Willie.' That is for two awful decisions not to catch the ball, once allowing a ball to be downed inside the five-yard line and another time allowing a punt to roll about 15 extra yards rather than hustling over and catching it. Get better quick, Will Blackmon!
  • Keith Bulluck: Old, slow and can't get off blocks. At least, that is what the veteran Bulluck looked like to me on Sunday. Five tackles, but no impact plays. Seems like every time I looked up in the first half a Jaguars' running back was flying past Bulluck for a big chunk of yardage. I have to re-watch the game, but Bulluck did not seem very impressive to me.
  • Michael Boley: Sure, Boley had eight tackles, but he played a terrible game. Maurice Jones-Drew ran over him, past him and around him. Hey, Mike, learn to use your arms when you tackle. Oh, and you are an outside linebacker. That means running backs should not be able to zip around you on the outside like you are stuck in quicksand. It's your job to turn them inside.

Kwillies to ...

  • Kevin Boss: Great play on the game-winning touchdown, a second really nice catch on that drive and three catches for a team-high 74 yards. The Bossman came through when it counted, which is a darn good thing since Boss's miscues were part of the reason the Giants were in such dire straits to begin with. Two first-half penalties, including a hold that erased a Manningham touchdown and forced the Giants to settle for a field-goal, and a bad drop did not help the cause at all.
  • Perry Fewell: I have to admit, I spent much of the day screaming at Fewell -- which is unusual for me. Fortunately, I had the house to myself much of the afternoon. The lack of defensive intensity drove me nuts in the first half, as did Fewell's insistence on playing so much two-linebacker, three-safety defense while Jacksonville was running the ball down the Giants' collective throat. In the second half the run defense was better, but I was bothered by so much reliance on four-man pass pressures, which were not getting the job done. Finally, on the last three plays of Jacksonville's final drive Fewell dialed up heavy blitzes that led to the Giants finally putting the game away. It took waaaaay too long, but I will at least give Fewell credit for bringing the pressure at the end.
  • Terrell Thomas: A great stat line with an interception, a sack, a forced fumble and six tackles. But, Thomas has got to stop whiffing on tackles in the secondary. It happened a couple of times, and it leads to big plays by the opposing offense.

Odds 'n Ends

Sunday was the first time all season the Giants had scored on their first possession of the game. Still, however, they played a brutally awful first half. They did pretty much what they wanted with the ball, but the defense could not get off the field. Jacksonville had a 35:27 to 24:33 advantage in time of possession. I just do not understand why this team digs itself a hole week after week. This is now three straight weeks in which the Giants have not scored a first-half touchdown. ... Deon Grant (eight), Kenny Phillips (seven) and Antrel Rolle (seven tackles, a half-sack and a fumble recovery) had 22 tackles between them, and while it sounds nice it's a bad thing when safeties make that many tackles. ... Thanks to Coughlin's successful challenge on the Hagan incompletion, this was the first game this season in which the Giants did not commit a turnover. ... A quick suggestion: Fellas, when you are wasted and you know it, just read and don't comment. Posting drunk is not cool, and it leads to saying really dumb things.