Before we got to the 'Kudos & Wet Willies' review of Sunday's 27-13 victory by the New York Giants over the Green Bay Packers, I have to interrupt your Monday celebration with a reality check. Yes, the Giants have climbed back into the NFC East race with four straight victories. That, however, was the easy part. The hard work is yet to come.
During their four-game winning streak the Giants have done exactly what any NFL team not named the Jacksonville Jaguars should have done. They took advantage of a succession of teams using inferior, over-matched or injured quarterbacks.
The Minnesota Vikings with the incomprehensibly awful Josh Freeman; the Philadelphia Eagles with an injured Michael Vick and an in-over-his-head Matt Barkley; the Oakland Raiders and a forward-pass challenged Terrelle Pryor limited with a hamstring injury; the Green Bay Packers with undrafted, confused third-stringer Scott Tolzien.
Now, the hard work begins for the Giants. There are no more Freemans or Tolziens on the Giants' schedule. Over the next weeks here are the quarterbacks the Giants face:
Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Griffin again.
No patsies in that bunch. The Giants will have to play six weeks of excellent football to go 4-2 in that stretch and get, at least, to 8-8 and give themselves a chance to win the division.
Will 8-8 be enough? The 6-5 Eagles and next week's opponent, the 5-5 Cowboys are both ahead of the Giants and currently hold the divisional tie-breaker advantage over New York. Losses by the Giants in any of their three remaining division games pretty much end their playoff hopes.
So, enjoy today. It is much more fun to talk about the Giants today than it was when they were 0-6, and with the Cowboys coming to town Sunday we begin what should be an entertaining week of pre-game hype.
Remember, though, a lot of things still have to go right for the Giants to complete their improbable, unprecedented climb to the playoffs.
Now, on with the 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'
Kudos To ...
Eli Manning -- Sunday was as well, and as passionately, as Manning has played all season. He went 25-of-35 for 279 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a few uncharacteristic -- but welcome -- displays of emotion.
Jason Pierre-Paul -- JPP was quiet until his fourth-quarter pick six. When players at the professional level make plays that awe their own teammates you know they have done something special. Pierre-Paul's fourth-quarter play on a Scott Tolzien pass was special, and came at a great time for the Giants. Despite seemingly having dominated the game the Giants led the Packers by only seven points until Pierre-Paul gave them breathing room with 10:55 left in the game.
Steve Weatherford -- This has been a confounding, inconsistent season for the Giants' punter. Sunday, however, Weatherford was unbelievable. He averaged 53 yards per punt (42.2 net yards) on five punts. He had punts of 61, 59, 56 and 52 yards.
Rueben Randle -- Randle set up a Giants' touchdown with a career-long 32-yard punt return to put the ball at the Packers' 42-yard line. He completed the drive by hauling in a 26-yard touchdown pass from Manning.
Giants' Run Defense --The Giants held Eddie Lacy, the Packers' excellent rookie running back, to 27 yards on 14 carries. The Packers gained only 55 total yards rushing, the third time in four games the Giants have held an opponent under 60 yards rushing.
Andre Brown -- This was not equal to his 30-carry, 115-yard performance of the week before, but Brown's 18-carry, 66-yard effort was outstanding. That's because Brown did much of it on his own, dragging defenders, making excellent cuts and turning several runs that looked like nothing into positive plays purely with his own hard running.
Jon Beason -- Not bad for an injured, washed-up guy who no longer has the athleticism to play in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers' reject continued his stellar play with the Giants Sunday with a drive-stopping interception, eight tackles, a pass defensed and a quarterback hit.
Victor Cruz -- Eight catches for 110 yards. Cruz just keeps on producing. Who is the Giants' best receiver again? I don't think there is any doubt that it's No. 80.
Wet Willies To ...
Louis Murphy -- Sunday night I wondered why Murphy is on the Giants' roster. I'm still wondering. Ten games into the season and the Giants are still waiting for Murphy's first positive contribution. The wide receiver was almost single-handledly responsible for keeping the over-matched Packers in Sunday's game. Want to see who was responsible for Manning's interception? This video makes it abundantly clear. Murphy also had a running into the kicker penalty the packers nearly took advantage of, just missing a first down on a fake punt with their second chance.
Hakeem Nicks -- Before Sunday's game Nicks said he was "itching" to score his first touchdown of the season. Why, then, was Nicks on the sideline late in the first half with the Giants at the Green Bay 13-yard line? Nicks had apparently asked out at that point because he was "a little bit winded."
That, of course, brought Murphy into the game and led to Manning's 17th interception thanks to Murphy's mistake. Forget Murphy for a second, though. Begging out of a game with your team in the red zone and in position to bury a team using a third-string quarterback is not how a No. 1 receiver seeking a big pay day earns his money. Then again, maybe it is if you are more worried about protecting your future earnings than helping your current team.
I know Nicks ended up with four catches, including a 35-yarder. Watching that, though, and knowing that Nicks came out of the game on his own in a critical situation, makes me wonder if the free-agent-to-be wide receiver doesn't already have one foot out the MetLife Stadium door.
More from Big Blue View:
- New York Giants' news, 11/18: Notes, quotes from 4th straight victory
- Post-Game Quotebook: New York Giants' locker-room reaction
- Instant Analysis: Amazingly, Giants-Cowboys is a huge game
- Sunday Night Football: Chiefs at Broncos Open Thread
- Giants-Packers Final Score: 27-13 victory is New York's 4th straight