Time for the 'Kudos & Wet Willies' review of Sunday's 27-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers by the New York Giants. First, though, a few random thoughts.
- Give the 49ers some credit. They are a very good football team, and they beat the Giants. This was not a game the Giants gave away. They did a lot of good things, and still got beaten.
- The world did not end and the Giants season did not come crashing down. There is a lot of football to be played, and a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend would put the Giants in a very good position heading into the final six games.
- I read a lot of the complaining about offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride Sunday night. So typical. Every time the Giants lose it is Gilbride's fault and everyone wants him fired. Truth here is that I did not like the final sequence. Watching the replay you can see San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis keying Danny Ware and expecting the shotgun draw on third-and-two, which the 49ers blew up. The fourth-and-two play was not going to work even if the ball had not been batted down, since Willis had driven Jake Ballard right into Victor Cruz's way. The Giants had two timeouts, and I would have preferred to see them use one there to get the exact play they wanted. Overall, though, Gilbride called an excellent game and the Giants moved the football.
- I also read a lot of complaining about defensive coordinator Perry Fewell not blitzing enough. I have problems with Fewell playing too soft at times, but not so much Sunday. Let's remember that Michael Coe played a lot of the second half for Aaron Ross at corner, and that when Ross was on the field he was playing through an apparent quad injury. Michael Boley did not play in the second half, meaning the Giants often had rookie linebackers Greg Jones and Spencer Paysinger, who was seeing his first real action, on the field together. The inexperienced personnel limited Fewell's options.
Kudos To ...
Victor Cruz: One really bad drop for the exciting young wide receiver, but he just kept on making huge plays for the Giants on Sunday. Cruz caught six balls for 84 yards, and has obviously become a go-to guy for Eli Manning. Cruz also handled punt returns flawlessly in place of a banged-up Aaron Ross. Dare we say he keeps on 'Cruz-ing?'
Eli Manning: I know, the Giants didn't win, Eli threw two interceptions and my giving Manning a 'Kudos' is going to make some of you go completely ballistic. Did you watch the game, though? He threw 40 passes, and many of his 26 completions were absolutely brilliant put the ball in the only possible place it could be caught, clutch throws. His quarterback rating was only 84.5 and his QBR was 64.5, but Manning deserved a better fate. Once again he brought the Giants back, this time from 14 points down, and got within one play of a stunning comeback against a very good team.
Danny Ware: Or is it, D.J.? I never know for sure. Anyway, Ware was very good on Sunday. He ran very hard, getting 34 yards on nine carries. He added five receptions for 34 more, and did a good job in pass protection. This was probably his best day as a pro.
Offensive Line: I thought this group did a good job both giving Manning time to throw for the most part and -- at least early in the game -- carving out some space for Giants' running backs against a defense that is very stingy against the run. I am not an offensive line coach, but this looked like one of Chris Snee's better games in a while.
Bear Pascoe: Just for running over Carlos Rogers of the 49ers. That was fun to watch.
Corey Webster: An interception on a drop by Ted Ginn Jr. and a lot of quality coverage on the day by Webster. I don't even know if I should say it, but Webster is playing like a guy who should get Pro Bowl consideration.
Antrel Rolle: I get on the guy's case sometimes, and he has been out of position in the slot much of the season. Rolle played exceptionally well, Sunday, though, laying a lot of heavy hits near the line of scrimmage.
Simms-McConkey: For an absolutely brilliant satirical Fanpost Sunday night that summarized all of the stupidity and moronic behavior that went on in the open threads for Sunday's game. If you were as annoyed/disgusted by some of the stuff you read, make sure you give it a read.
Wet Willies To ...
Derrick Martin: The only thing that makes me question whether or not Martin will lose his job this week, which he should, is that Matt Dodge did not lose his job after last season's fiasco. Three incredibly obvious penalties. Do not underestimate how much the last one hurt the Giants, costing them about 15 yards of starting field position on their final drive.
Tom Quinn: Really, Not-So-Might-Quinn? Bamboozled by a David Akers' onside kick? Again? You have got to be kidding me. Coach Tom Coughlin said after the game the Giants prepped for that all week, but it certainly did not look like it. Yes, Akers kick was beautifully disguised and perfectly placed. But, look at the alignment. There are five 49ers on that side of the field and two Giants -- two! A high school kicker could have successfully completed an onside kick against that alignment. Just when I am starting to come around and give Not-So-Mighty Quinn some credit this season, he reminds me why I can't believe he still has a job.
Pass Rush: Two sacks, one by Linval Joseph and one by Osi Umenyiora, but the pass rush the Giants are built around was non-existent most of the day. The Giants got the type of game they wanted, forcing Alex Smith to try to win with his arm, and their pass rush and some soft coverage in the middle of the field let the run-of-the-mill 49ers quarterback do just that.
Greg Jones: A lot of that soft pass coverage was on Jones. I am no defensive expert, but when you go one way and the receiver it appears you are supposed to be covering goes the other -- which is what happened on Vernon Davis' 31-yard touchdown catch -- that's pretty bad. Everybody seems to like Jones and wants him to do well, but the Giants desperately miss Jonathan Goff in the middle. Jones too often looks like he doesn't know what he is supposed to do, and at other times just doesn't look athletic enough to get it done in the first place.
Kwillie To ...
Mario Manningham: A category all to himself today for Manningham. Six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, including some important and difficult grabs. But, the second interception by Manning is clearly Manningham's fault. The quarterback clearly throws the ball to the spot he believes the receiver is going to, only Manningham simply stops running. Then there was the potential tying touchdown pass that slid off his fingertips. You can argue that the ball is a couple of inches overthrow, which it probably was, but he has both hands on it and admitted after the game that he should have left his feet. With the game on the line you have to make plays, and Super Mario came up short in this instance.