It is a great day for fans of the New York Giants, and actually an incredibly easy one when it comes to writing the traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' review of Sunday's game, the division-clinching 31-14 dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys.
There will be no 'Wet Willies' today, only 'Kudos' for a team no one gave a chance to win the division when the season began. I will say, though, that Will Blackmon is saved only by a great fumble recovery by Greg Jones and Steve Weatherford's awful night punting was salvaged by some excellent coverage.
Anyway, enough of that tiny bit of negativity. On with all the 'Kudos.'
Kudos To ...
Victor Cruz: It is impossible not to start here. Cruz had coach Tom Coughlin "doing cartwhweels on the sidelines"and Giants fans jumping for joy with two more incredible plays, a 74-yard touchdown and a 44-yard momentum-changing fourth-quarter catch. He added six catches for 178 yards to what has to be the most incredible season a Giants' receiver has ever had.
By the way, I would seriously like to see Coughlin try to do a cartwheel on the sidelines. He might do more than hurt his hamstring.
Tom Coughlin: The venerable head coach has to be next on this list. Coughlin's greatest strength is his resolve in the face of adversity and his belief that if you simply keep going, keep fighting, keep doing things the right way that things will work out in the end. It was that resolve and that positive message that this depleted, inconsistent team that at one point seemed on the verge of fracturing benefitted from most.
You have to think a contract extension is coming soon for Coughlin.
Eli Manning: As he has been most of the season, Manning was tremendous Sunday night. The numbers -- 24-of-33 for 346 yards, three touchdown and no interceptions -- tell only part of the story. Manning moved subtly in the pocket to avoid Dallas pressure all night, even scrambling out of trouble a couple of times, gave his receivers a chance all night long and -- most importantly -- did not come close to turning the ball over all night. Oh, and extra 'Kudos' for his fumble recovery on a ball that got away from Brandon Jacobs.
Hakeem Nicks: He was overshadowed by Cruz, but no less important. He had six catches for 76 yards, including the game-clinching touchdown. Maybe unnoticed by many, though, is that two of the Giants' first-half touchdowns don't happen without brilliant downfield blocks by Nicks. He sealed the edge on Cruz' 74-yard catch and run, allowing him to turn the corner. He did the same on Ahmad Bradshaw's 10-yard run, walling off the corner and allowing Bradshaw to waltz into the end zone.
Henry Hynoski: Four receptions, a leap over a Dallas defender and some crunching blocks. He is becoming more and more important to the Giants' offense, and could be around for a long time.
Bear Pascoe's leaping ability: Without Pascoe's third down catch and leap over a Dallas defender, Cruz' 74-yard touchdown never happens.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Two touchdowns and a 29-yard run for Bradshaw, his best effort since early in the season.
The Offensive Line: This is a collective 'Kudos' for a job well done. David Baas held up well against Jay Ratliff, and David Diehl did a nice job with DeMarcus Ware. This unit finally seems to be making some progress.
Now, let's turn to the defense. To be honest, the whole unit deserves a 'Kudos' after playing its second straight impressive game -- and quite possibly its best of the season considering that, say what you want about Tony Romo, the Dallas quarterback is not Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets. He is a whole lot better than that.
Let's give out some individual 'Kudos,' though.
Perry Fewell -- As much as Fewell has been criticized this season for all the confusion that we have seen on the defensive side of the ball, the three-man pass rushes and the general ineffectiveness of the unit he deserves credit for the past two weeks.
Fewell -- finally -- simplified his approach and just started letting his good players play football. The three-man pass rush has virtually disappeared, the Giants had six sacks Sunday and are again pressuring quarterbacks, and the blown assignments in the secondary have vanished.
Michael Boley -- How good was this guy Sunday night? He was outstanding. Nine tackles for Boley, including a brilliant leaping stop of Romo on a fourth down quarterback sneak.
Antrel Rolle -- Eight tackles and an interception for Rolle, who has backed up his motormouth the past couple of weeks by dramatically improving the quality of his play, especially his tackling.
Jason Pierre-Paul -- A force all night with a sack and five tackles.
Osi Umenyiora -- Two sacks in his return to action. One of them even came lined up off the left side in tandem with Justin Tuck.
Justin Tuck -- A sack and forced fumble, and just tremendous effort from the Giants defensive captain all night long.
There are probably other guys who should be singled out individually. I'm sure you guys have thoughts of your own.