Let’s review Saturday’s 21-20 MetLife Bowl victory by the New York Giants over the New York Jets in our traditional “Kudos & Wet Willies” style.
Kudos to ...
Eli Apple — The Jets kept challenging the rookie first-round pick. Apple kept meeting the challenges. He batted away a slant for Eric Decker, and blanketed Jets receivers on two deep balls, causing incompletions. It was a really encouraging night for Apple after missing last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
Victor Cruz — He was targeted only twice and had just one catch for 4 yards, but Saturday was a significant step forward for Cruz. He played 32 snaps in his first action since Week 6 of the 2014 season, and came out of the game healthy and happy. Cruz got open on a deep ball in the first half, but the pass was underthrown by Eli Manning and nearly intercepted.
Tavarres King — The 26-year-old journeyman, with his fifth team since being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft by the Denver Broncos, pushed all of his chips to the middle of the table Saturday in his bid for a spot on the 53-man roster. King caught two second-half touchdown passes, a 27-yarder and the game-winning 11-yarder. He had a 20-yard run on a reverse. King had an opportunity for a third big play, but stumbled on a deep ball down the right sideline from Ryan Nassib and the pass fell incomplete.
Olivier Vernon — The Giants’ $85-million dollar man pretty much lived in the face of Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick Saturday night. That’s what he has done throughout the preseason. The Giants desperately needed an impact defensive end. It certainly looks like they have one.
Kerry Wynn — What a play Wynn made on his 75-yard interception return for a touchdown. Wynn dove to snag a ball that had been deflected by J.T. Thomas III. He bounced up before anyone could touch him, quickly made a defender miss with a better move than any Giants running back made all night, then raced untouched down the left sideline for the score. Wynn is a 6-foot-5, 264-pound man. He’s not supposed to be that nimble.
Andrew Adams — There is a backup safety spot to be had on the Giants’ 53-man roster and Adams made his bid Saturday. The undrafted free agent from UConn had four tackles, one for loss, an interception that set up the game-winning score and two passes defensed.
Romeo Okwara — The undrafted free agent defensive end from Notre Dame continued to get some first-team snaps in pass-rushing situations on Saturday, and he continued his impressive preseason. Okwara had three tackles, a sack, forced a fumble and had three quarterback hits. The young man has done just about everything he can to force the Giants to find a roster spot for him.
Brad Wing — The punter gets this partially because his left leg didn’t fall off. Wing punted 10 times — yes, 10 — Saturday night. He has now punted a ridiculous 25 times in three games. He punted beautifully against the Jets, with a 48.6 yard average and four punts inside the 20-yard line. His net average of 34.5 yards would have been much better had Dwayne Harris not missed a tackle that led to a 28-yard return for the Jets. The blocked punt was not his fault.
Wet Willies to ...
First-team blocking — I’m not sure I have the right adjective. Terrible. Awful. Atrocious. Mortifying. Once again Saturday night the Giants couldn’t get anything done because they couldn’t get anyone blocked. Let’s be realistic here. The Jets have a fantastic defensive front. The Giants played without left guard Justin Pugh and, with apologies to Bobby Hart fans, Hart was something other than good last night. He was beaten a number of times and had a false start penalty. Without Will Johnson (burner) and Matt LaCosse (knee) the tight ends struggled to block. Of course, asking Ryan Malleck to block Jet defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson isn’t a fair fight. Maybe the Giants are trying not to show their hand on offense in the preseason, but what we’ve seen the past two weeks is cause for concern. We know they were better than this a year ago. Let’s hope this isn’t what we see once the regular season starts.
Orleans Darkwa — Try to figure out how Darkwa makes the team, and what you come up with is that his acumen on special teams could force the Giants to keep five running backs. Darkwa didn’t help himself against the Jets, though, missing the block that led directly to the blocked punt. Darkwa can’t afford special teams miscues.
Kwillies to ...
In case you aren’t familiar, Kwillies go to players who did things during the game that helped both teams.
Ryan Nassib — Threw two touchdown passes, including the game winner to King. Still, he finished just 6-of-19 and missed a number of open wide receivers.
Dwayne Harris — A 29-yard punt return and an average of 12.3 yards on four returns was the good side. Missing a tackle as a gunner that led to a 28-yard punt return by the Jets.