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Giants vs. Cardinals, 'Kudos & Wet Willies' Review

Who played well for the Giants on Sunday and who did not? Here are some initial thoughts.

Quintin Demps fumbles a kickoff return
Quintin Demps fumbles a kickoff return
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, New York Giants fans used to be able to watch the follies of other hapless NFL teams and laugh. Now, all Giants fans can do is sympathize. These days the Giants are good for a few follies of their own each week it seems.

In Week 1, the Giants had pass defenders running aimlessly around the secondary slamming into each other while the best receiver in the world ran free.

Week 2? Oh, boy, Week 2. A pass that somehow skimmed off a defensive lineman's shoulder pad and would up intercepted. Ted Ginn of Arizona somehow spinning away when Zack Bowman of the Giants had both arms wrapped around him, then finding the rest of the Giants' punt coverage parting like the Red Sea to give him a path to the end zone. Quintin Demps, with one career fumble in 102 kickoff returns, fumbling a kickoff return. Rashad Jennings fumbling a ball without being touched. Their best offensive player, Victor Cruz, dropping three passes.

These are the kinds of things that happen to bad football teams. Until the Giants stop making these unexplainable mistakes and start winning some games, that is what they are. A bad football team.

Here is some of head coach Tom Coughlin's post-game reaction.

"Dropped balls, punt returns, kickoff return fumbled, fumbled the ball without anybody hitting us over on the 17-yard-line when we had a chance to score and go for two and tie the game. ... think another one of our problems, again, the second week in a row, is the longer the yardage is on third down, the easier it is for the opponent to make it. I have no idea why that happens, but it does. You look out there, it's third and 11, and they make a conversion. They did that a number of times today. We have a lot of work to do. We did make a little bit of progress, but nobody wants to hear that. We lost. There's no excuse for it. I did see a little bit better play."

The Giants did a lot of good things on Sunday, enough to feel like progress is being made. They did enough bad things to lose the football game, though. Now, let's get on with the individual 'Kudos & Wet Willies.'


Larry Donnell -- What was that preseason chatter about the Giants not having a tight end? Through two games Donnell looks like the Giants best tight end since Jeremy Shockey. Now, that's not saying that is what he is. It is what he has looked like in two games, though. Donnell had seven catches in nine targets on Sunday and now has a team-leading 12 receptions in two games. There is no doubt Donnell has become a weapon, and a player that quarterback Eli Manning is looking for.

Defensive Line -- I was going to single out Jason Pierre-Paul here, but that isn't fair to the rest of the defensive line. 'Invictus' will give you a full breakdown of the Pro Football Focus numbers later and I don't want to steal his thunder, but I will tell you the four highest PFF grades among defensive players went to defensive linemen. The highest grade? The often-criticized Mathias Kiwanuka, who had a half-sack, a quarterback hit, a hurry and a tackle for loss.

Pierre-Paul had 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and batted down two passes and two hurries.

Johnathan Hankins was an absolute beast. He had six tackles, one for loss, a sack and a hurry.

Robert Ayers chipped in with a sack.

Eli Manning -- Yes, I'm giving Eli a 'kudos.' Yes, I know that will make the legion of Eli-haters crazy. Yes, I know Eli made a gazillion 'Manning Faces' during Sunday's loss. One other thing I know -- during the first two games Eli Manning has not been the problem with the Giants' offense. The problem has been the play of those around him.

The Giants were officially credited with three dropped passes on Sunday, two by Victor Cruz and one by rookie running back Andre Williams. Most observers would tell you that is being kind. There were probably five, with Cruz dropping a third and Rueben Randle failing to haul in a catchable deep ball when the Giants were trying to rally in the fourth quarter.

Despite that, Manning went 26-of-39 for 277 yards with two touchdowns. Take away the three drops, and Rashad Jennings' mysterious fumble apparently caused by the MetLife Stadium turf monster and his performance looks much, much better.

Yes, there were two interceptions. The first one a seemingly typical Manning pick, skimming off a shoulder pad and bouncing crazily. That is just bad luck, but it seems like the only kind of luck Manning has these days. The second one was a meaningless pick thrown with the game already lost on the Giants' final possession.

Can Manning play in Ben McAdoo's West Coast offense? Yes, he can. He just needs the guys around him to do their jobs.

Will Beatty -- The Giants' pass protection was much better Sunday than it was in Week 1, and Beatty was a big part of that. The much-maligned left tackle allowed only one hurry in Manning's 42 drop backs. That's a good sign for him and the Giants.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -- Sometimes facing Larry Fitzgerald, other times lined up with Michael Floyd DRC had a nice game. He was targeted eight times and allowed just three catches for 18 yards. He also laid an uncharacteristic huge hit on Floyd to separate him from a potential catch.

Wet Willies

Victor Cruz -- Oh, Victor! I said this on Sunday, but Cruz needs to play better. Ten targets, five catches, officially credited with two drops (I still say it is really three). His drop of aperfectly thrown fourth-quarter pass that would have been a first down was the beginning of the ugly chain of events that led to the Giants' downfall on Sunday. Cruz makes that catch, the disastrous sequence likely never unfolds.

Manning said of Cruz after the game that "I think he knows I've still got great confidence in him and great trust."

The Giants need Cruz to start rewarding his quarterback's trust. Soon.

Zack Bowman -- The Giants brought in Bowman as a free agent from the Chicago Bears largely because of his prowess on special teams, and up until the fourth quarter on Monday Bowman had been showing why. He is outstanding as a gunner in punt coverage. On the low Steve Weatherford fourth-quarter punt to Ted Ginn, Bowman still beat the blocking downfield and met Ginn nearly as soon as he caught the ball. Bowman had Ginn wrapped up with both hands, but somehow was unable to bring him down. Seventy-one yards later the Cardinals led the game 19-14, the Giants were stunned and they never recovered.

Quintin Demps -- Demps' fumble on the ensuing kickoff after Ginn's exacerbated the Giants' problem. It was only Demps' second fumble in 103 career kickoff returns. Demps said he was fighting for extra yardage. One thing I never understand is why players fail to recognize when a play is over. When you are swarmed by tacklers who are swatting at the ball and obviously getting nothing else out of a play, why continue to fight for six inches you might not be able to get? Go down, protect the ball and let your offense get on the field. Demps is historically one of the best kickoff return men in the league. He averaged 30.1 yards per return for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. He is averaging 22.4 yards per return thus far for the Giants.