Being the Giants, they couldn't just come out and win. No, they had to give us flashes of a beautiful future, and lumps of horribly undisciplined ugliness.
Let's start with the bad, we'll all need the pick-me-up.
What Were You Thinking!?
Eli Manning - For most of this game Eli Manning was in control, on time, and on target. Then, as if on cue, with 8:36 to go, Eli Manning gives the Titans the only points they would score all day. He was flushed from the pocket with an opportunity to scramble. He probably couldn't have picked up the first down, but he could have given Steve Weatherford room to flip the field position. At the very last moment Eli caught a flash of Larry Donnell to his left, and tried to fit a pass in. Throwing across his body, Eli was completely unable to either throw the ball hard enough or accurately enough to get it to a well covered Donnell. The result was a pick six, and a play that a veteran like Eli Manning knows he can't try.
Interception Debacle - With 14:19 left in the ballgame, the Giants committed -- that's the only word for it -- one of the ugliest, dumbest, most undisciplined defensive sequences I, personally, have ever seen.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie starts it off with a nice play to intercept Zach Mettenberger. He immediately went in to a Deion Sander high-step. That, however was just the start. After high-stepping the return into the endzone, DRC and defensive captain Antrel Rolle launched into an elaborate and prolonged celebration that drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
But wait, there's more!
During Rodgers-Cromartie's return, sophomore defensive end DaMontre Moore shoved a Mettenberger, who wasn't even trying to get involved in the play, to the ground drawing a personal foul that wiped the touchdown off the board, and hit the Giants with a 15-yard penalty.
This is a sequence that absolutely should not happen. These guys are professionals and need to act like it. DRC's extended celebration is just stupid. It would be all too easy for an offensive player to come from behind and strip the ball. Moore's penalty is exactly the kind of thing that gives the coaches an excuse to not play him. But Rolle's actions are even less forgivable. He is the captain of the defense, one of the leaders of the team, and more than anyone else the voice of the team. He is supposed to set the tone for the team, and provide an example of how things are supposed to be done. Ordinarily he does that, though he is a bit more vocal than some would like, but here he looked more like a rookie who has never been there before. That is simply unacceptable.
Defensive Dominance - Once again, the Giants were involved in a shut-out this week, but instead of being on the receiving end, they dealt a defensive shut-out to the Titans. Even though the Titans are beat up, starting a rookie quarterback, and generally lacking playmakers, the defense was in fine form. They had eight (8) sacks, and four takeaways. For most of the game the Titans had fewer yards than Odell Beckham Jr. or Andre Williams (more on them later). Three Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul, Devon Kennard, and DaMontre Moore, all had multi-sack games -- something that hasn't happened in quite some time.
Giants Riding Their Scooter - Odell Beckham Jr -- who is apparently nicknamed "Scooter" -- is officially a star in this league. This game he set both a Giants record with most 100 yard receiving games for a rookie, NFL record for most consecutive 90+ yard games for a rookie. And he continues to rack up spectacular catches.
With 6:11 to go in the first quarter, Manning uncorked a 50-yard pass to Beckham. While Beckham had to use both hands to reel in the pass, it was a tremendous show of athleticism and concentration as he out-jumped a defender and secured the pass as he was tackled by his ankles. Had the defender not made the shoestring tackle, Beckham would easily have been able to run it in for the touchdown. Like so many of Beckham's plays, this one defies mere description.
Andre's Big Day- Rashad Jennings surprised by being active today, but it was another rookie, Andre Williams, who turned in the big performance. Williams racked up 131 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries (5.45 ypc). While he started slow, by the end of the game Williams was gashing the Titans for big chunks of yardage. None, however, was bigger than his 50-yard touchdown run. This was the Giants' longest touchdown run since David Wilson had a 50+ yard run back in 2012 against the New Orleans Saints. It was a third-and-1 with 12:06 left in the third quarter, and the play was a simple pitch to the outside. Williams bobbled the ball, and easily could have fumbled. However, a great block by Adrien Robinson blew open a hole for Williams, and the bobble actually slowed him down enough for his down field blocks to develop. The forced patience was rewarded as he outran a single defender on his way to the Giants' longest touchdown run of the last two seasons.
It feels good to get a win. However, that win came with some brutal reminders of why the win feels like it does. The New York Giants have been victimized by their own lack of discipline, and it reared its ugly head yet again today.
On the flip side, this team does have some talent on it. The young talent on the Giants flashed brightly today, and often enough to compensate for the Giants' darker tendencies. The 2014 season is effectively over, but going forward the Giants will need to build on those flashes of brilliance and learn how to finish games like a team of professionals.