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'Kudos & Wet Willies': Victor Cruz Edition

Victor Cruz. Victor Cruz. Victor Cruuuuuuuuuuz! I could probably just say 'Kudos' to Cruz this morning, leave it at that and be done. His six-catch, 145-yard, three touchdown performance last night -- including an incredible one-handed grab that turned into a 64-yard score -- was the story of the night.

There were, however, other things to like -- and dislike. so, let's go through them.

Kudos to ...

Gee, where to start?

  • Victor Cruz: Hey, Sinorice Moss, if everyone stays healthy your roster spot is officially in serious trouble. As Jon Gruden said after Cruz's third touchdown catch Monday night "This guy's gonna make the football team."

    Circus catches. Solid routes. Red zone catches. Yards after the catch. The undrafted rookie free agent from UMass did everything you could ask for last night. Except maybe sell popcorn and break up fights in the stands.

    Listen to backup quarterback Jim Sorgi talking about Cruz after throwing two touchdown passes to him.

    "Not a long shot no more. He's definitely an NFL player. He's a guy that's going to make plays for you. He knows what he's doing on the field. He's smart. He runs great routes, and he just gets open. You got certain guys in the NFL that just have a knack for getting open, and he's one of those guys.

    "Victor has looked tremendous in practice. He's made some great catches from me in practice. He just transferred it to the game field, which is what you've got to do in this league. He's going to be a heck of a player for us."

    Cruz is taking nothing for granted.

    "I've got to just stay humble, stay grounded and just stay on the right path because nothing is guaranteed in this league. So I've just got to keep grinding, keep putting the work in throughout my entire career. Hopefully I can have a long career and just keep putting in the groundwork and everything will kind of take care of itself."
  • Antrel Rolle: Deon Grant and Michael Boley created the tipped ball, but Rolle did what the Giants signed him for during the Giants' first defensive series. He capitalized on an opportunity and came within a yard of a pick six. Let's hope we see a lot of that this season.
  • Rhett Bomar: Couple of reasons. First, he played really well during the final quarter. He went 6-for-7 for 67 yards and a touchdown (to Cruz, of course). He also had a 23-yard scramble. The second reason? I may never get to give Bomar 'kudos' again.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw: Tremendous moves on the 51-yard catch and run on a shovel pass from Eli Manning. I know it was an improvised play, but the Giants have got to throw Bradshaw the ball in space more often this season.
  • Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph: Good debuts for the Giants top two picks. JPP had the only sack of the night, and Joseph had four tackles and did what the Giants drafted him for -- stuffed the run up the middle.
  • Gerris Wilkinson: I will give him 'kudos' since he led the team with six tackles. I will say this, though. It is what he should have done since he was probably the most veteran defensive player on the field in the fourth quarter.
  • Derek Hagan: Three catches for 42 yards. The guy just continues to catch everything that comes his way.
  • Lawrence Tynes: Two touchbacks on kickoffs. Nice. Even if one was a bouncer that went through the end zone. I will take it.

There are probably a few others, but those are the ones who stand out for me.

Wet Willies to ...
  • Matt Dodge: The rookie punter averaged 34 yards on five kicks and had one blocked. The block was probably Andre Brown's fault since Brown did an awful job as the protector for Dodge, but it still wasn't good. Dodge did not hit one solid punt all night, and without favorable bounces his 34-yard average could have been a lot worse. He has to do better than that.
  • Ramses Barden: Got the start, and a huge opportunity. Then, had the first ball thrown his way -- an easy 5-yard slant -- go right through his hands. Big fella, you have to be more reliable than that -- especially when guys like Cruz and Hagan are making plays.
  • Kickoff return team: Every time the Giants had to return a kick you could see by the time the returner (D.J. Ware, Brown, it didn't matter) got to the 15-yard line that he had no chance. How is it that year after year the Giants simply cannot find a way to block for these returns?
  • Run game: I was glad to see the Giants stick with the run three straight times with first-and-goal at the one. I'm not happy about Brandon Jacobs ending up with two yards on four carries or Bradshaw getting -1 on three attempts. I know the offensive line is in flux, and I know the Jets have a tremendous defense, but the Giants have to do better than that.
Other Notes

Pretty touch to judge the individual line play. Looked like Will Beatty did OK playing the first half at left tackle. Really nice block by Kareem McKenzie on Jacobs' touchdown run. You probably know by now it took 12 stitches to close the cut on Manning's forehead. Ah, well, he doesn't make his living with his looks anyway. ... Mixed results for Perry Fewell's new first-team defense. A turnover on the first series, but could not get off the field during a 14-play, 68-yard, 8:42 drive by the Jets on the next series. ... Some decent work running the ball by Brown (five carries, 26 yards), but I don't want to see him as the protector on punts again.