It is a happy Monday for the New York Giants after Sunday's 24-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Let's review what went right, and what went wrong, in our traditional 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style.
Kudos To ...
Andre Brown -- So much for easing Brown back into action. Brown carried a career-high 30 times for 115 yards in his first action game of the season after suffering a fractured leg in the preseason finale. Brown ran hard, and he ran decisively. How is this for a stat that tells you about the Giants' running game? Brown, after one game, is 39 yards behind Brandon Jacobs (154 yards) for the team lead in rushing yardage.
Damontre Moore -- His first-quarter block of a Marquette King punt led to a Cooper Taylor scoop and score touchdown,
Terrell Thomas --The cornerback continued his inspiring comeback story with a game-changing third quarter interception. With the Giants trailing 20-14 and Oakland at the New York 33-yard line threatening to take a two-score lead, Thomas left his man, broke on a slant intended for Denarius Moore, picked the ball off and ran 65 yards to the Oakland 5-yard line. The only thing he couldn't do was score, failing to outrun Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Antrel Rolle -- Rolle had 12 tackles, including a touchdown-saving takedown of Rashad Jennings on an 18-yard run in the third quarter, and a sack for the second straight week. Rolle is not only leading the Giants' improved defense with his words, but with his play.
Jason Pierre-Paul -- Pierre-Paul looked more like vintage JPP on Sunday than he has at any other time this season. He bull-rushed left tackle Khalif Barnes for a sack of Pyror, only his second of the season. He had four tackles, one for loss, and a hit on Pryor, as well. For the first time this season Pierre-Paul was really a force to be reckoned with coming off the edge.
Keith Rivers -- The Giants have moved Jacquian Williams into the lineup in place of Spencer Paysinger. Before the game I was wondering why Rivers, a veteran whose play has been uninspiring, is in the lineup instead of Paysinger. Sunday, Rivers played what might be his best game in two seasons with the Giants. He had eight tackles, a sack, and was part of a concerted effort by the Giants to stay outside of Pryor when he scrambled, keeping him from getting to the edge and making plays with his legs.
Our Veterans -- Today, of course, is Veterans Day. Personally, I am off to watch my son march in a Veterans Day parade. Find your own way today to thank, and honor, those who have served our nation and protected our freedom. 'Kudos' to all who have served.
The New Orleans Saints -- For pounding the Dallas Cowboys, 49-17, Sunday night. That leaves the Cowboys at 5-5, and still within range of the Giants in the NFC East.
Wet Willies To ...
Special Teams Overall -- A game-opening turnover by Jerrel Jernigan. Terrible kickoff coverage. A partially blocked punt. An atrocious display of punting by Steve Weatherford. Awful judgment in punt returns from Rueben Randle -- who catches a punt over his head at the 2-yard line while backpedaling? The Giants could build a movie-length film of this season's special teams' follies, and this week's contributions are just more of the same.
Things were so bad that when Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked the ball through the end zone fans at MetLife Stadium cheered. It's impossible to screw up an unreturnable kick, so the cheers were pretty much out of relief.
Steve Weatherford -- What is going on with Weatherford. Amazingly good for two seasons, the Giants' punter has been amazing this season only in his inconsistency. Forget the blocked punt, that wasn't his fault. His other punts, however, were terrible. He did hit a 51-yard punt, but that was an awful, low punt that included 20 yards of roll. The best thing that you can say about Weatherford's day is that none of his punts were returnable.
Jerrel Jernigan -- When the home crowd is cheering the opposing kicker for NOT giving you a chance to return the ball things are bad. You keep waiting for Jernigan, a third-year player who seems to have the speed and shiftiness to be a good return man, to grab the role. He keeps finding ways to make the Giants look elsewhere. Want a telling note about the state of the Giants' return game? After Jernigan coughed up the opening kickoff the Giants kept sending him back there. They apparently trust rookie Michael Cox even less.
Giants' Pass-Blocking -- As good as the run-blocking was in a season-best 133-yard running game, the pass-blocking was equally as bad. Eli Manning was sacked three times and hit five on five other occasions, including being absolutely crushed on the pick six he threw. That means Manning was hit eight times in 25 drop-backs, and that just isn't acceptable.
Giants' Screen Game -- This week's screen abominations were a fumble by Peyton Hillis and an incompletion on a play where Andre Brown never even got out of the backfield to receive the pass and Manning ended up getting blasted into the turf by an Oakland defender. Maybe the Giants should just take the screen out of the playbook until they have a quarterback who can throw it and a running back who knows how to execute it.
This Giants' team may never win a pretty game. Of course, the Giants have played very few pretty football games in my 53-year lifetime. They may never play a complete game, either. They simply can't seem to get through a game without some sort of offensive breakdown or special teams meltdown. Victories, however, are victories. The Giants have three straight, and have a belief that they can do what no one has done before -- make the playoffs after starting a season 0-6.
I didn't give Eli Manning a 'Wet Willie,' but Manning again was less than stellar. The pick six he threw came on a pass wide receiver Victor Cruz said he was surprised came in his direction, and after the interception coach Tom Coughlin chose to run out the first-half clock in a spot where he usually turns Manning and the offense loose. The Giants didn't protect Manning well on Sunday, but he still needs to be better.
Finally, it's hard to believe that a season that started 0-6 can turn out to be an enjoyable one. If the Giants can get past the Green Bay Packers next Sunday, and the Packers will be starting third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien, things certainly do become interesting. A game at MetLife Stadium vs. the Cowboys looms in two weeks.
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- Instant Analysis: Giants believe they can make history
- Giants-Raiders Final Score: Giants defeat Oakland, 24-20