I am going to begin this edition of “Kudos & Wet Willies” a bit differently. I am going to start by giving a Game Ball to offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse for the work he did during the New York Giants’ 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
Newhouse, of course, is a player Giants’ fans love to hate. When he was the team’s starting right tackle, fans couldn’t wait for him to be replaced. Even if you are absolutely thrilled that Newhouse is no longer a starter, you have to be willing to give the veteran offensive lineman “Kudos” for what he did on Monday.
A career offensive tackle, Newhouse slid in at left guard when Brett Jones -- subbing for the injured Justin Pugh — went down with an injury of his own. That’s a position Newhouse admitted he has rarely played, and he got to line up and learn on the fly while trying to handle All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
Not only that, but Newhouse was also the Giants’ jumbo tight end. That meant that whenever the Giants went to a sixth offensive lineman, Newhouse kicked out to tight end with Adam Gettis sliding in at guard. It also meant that, since he reported as an eligible receiver on those plays, Newhouse had to come off the field for a play after each snap at tight end.
Newhouse admitted in the locker room after the game that jumping around, especially at positions where he had little experience, was “very difficult.”
“That’s definitely not normal,” Newhouse said of the shuffling. “I held my own, but it was not easy.”
Criticize Newhouse all you want and quietly — or loudly if you have to — hope that he never again has to be relied on as a regular starter by the Giants. Give him credit, however, for what he did Monday.
I don’t care what Newhouse’s Pro Football Focus grade was for Monday night. It’s irrelevant. The importance of what he did, and how much it helped the Giants’ offense, can’t be overstated. Newhouse isn’t the most talented player, but he is a true professional. That showed against the Bengals.
Kudos to ...
Odell Beckham Jr. — Ten catches, an insane spin move to get open for a touchdown, and the record for fastest NFL player in history to reach 3,500 receiving yards. Yeah, for talent like this a franchise will put up with a little craziness.
Offensive line — I lauded Newhouse, but the whole group deserves credit. Without Pugh, then Jones, they got the job done. They protected Eli Manning pretty well. Most impressively, though, the line created holes for Rashad Jennings on critical plays that allowed the Giants to run out the clock. I spoke to several of the linemen after the game and they were proud of their work. They had a right to be.
Rashad Jennings — Let’s give credit where it’s due. Whether it’s Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa or someone in the 2017 NFL Draft class there is an undeniable eye toward the day when the 31-year-old Jennings is no longer the Giants’ No. 1 back. Monday night, though, Jennings delivered when the Giants needed it with five carries for 38 yards on the final drive. Admit it, you were stunned by the 9-yard run for a first down on third-and-6, then by the subsequent 25-yard run. I was. For good measure, Jennings had a 24-yard run in the third quarter.
Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul — You wanted to see impact from the Giants’ star defensive ends? Monday night, you got it. Back on his natural right side with his wrist apparently feeling better, Vernon had 10 tackles and a sack. He was a force against the run and showed up in the pass rush when it mattered. Pierre-Paul was also a forced, with two passes defensed, five tackles and two hits on Andy Dalton.
Landon Collins — Another interception for the young star safety. That’s four in three games.
Janoris Jenkins — Cincinnati star A.J. Green caught seven passes, including one for a touchdown, but he never really changed the game. He had only 68 yards receiving, and it felt like Jenkins had control of him most of the night.
Brad Wing — The numbers, six punts, a 46.0 yards per punt average with a net of 40.2 yards per punt and two punts downed inside the 20-yard line, look nice. Wing hit two fourth-quarter punts that were instrumental in the outcome, pinning the Bengals at their 10 and 9-yard lines.
Ring of Honor inductees — Congratulations to Tom Coughlin, Ernie Accorsi and Justin Tuck for joining the Ring of Honor. Even if it did look for a while like someone was going to have to drag Coughlin off the field kicking and screaming so the third quarter could start.
Wet Willies to ...
Roger Lewis Jr. — Maybe the undrafted rookie wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Starting in place of the injured Victor Cruz, Lewis dropped a go route that would have been a big gain, watched Cincinnati’s Dre Kirkpatrick intercept a ball thrown in his direction, stopped running on another long ball from Manning and eventually got benched.
Kick coverage — The Giants surrendered an 84-yard kickoff return to start the second half. That would have gone for a touchdown if not for the tremendous hustle of Coty Sensabaugh, who ran down Alex Erickson at the Giants’ 9-yard line. The Giants also gave up an 18-yard punt return. This is two weeks in a row the Giants have given up long returns. The coverage has to get better.