Okay, you guys saw it. Now let's summarize it.
First of all, you couldn't have asked for a better win this early in the season, what with 100,000 people going nuts in the Boss Hog Dome and Eli Manning completing his 12th career fourth-quarter comeback. The emotional momentum from this one could carry the 2-0 NFC East-leading Giants for a while if they don't decide to play down to Tampa Bay's horrendous level next week. Can't beat starting the year off with two division wins, either.
But there are issues here. For one thing, they have to learn how to score touchdowns in the Red Zone. Technically, their last two field goals came on the cusp of the zone, at the 20, so we'll count them. That makes them 0-for-7 this year, with two drives on which they got nothing. Granted, the winning field goal came from there, and the offense did a fantastic job in driving from the 25 for that final answer. But the rest? With Tony Romo handing over three INTs, the Giants could have run away with this one. Somehow, it never should have come down to Lawrence Tynes' leg and the timeout hystrionics of the last field goal.
The Giants may also have a problem with the defensive front. Not talent-wise. Body-wise. We'll find out later today about Justin Tuck's shoulder, which wound up in a sling after Flozell Adams tripped him in the second quarter. But seeing him sidelined, his right arm in a sling, was not a good sign for a squad that has already lost defensive tackle Chris Canty to a calf injury. Tuck would be a much bigger loss. Huge, in fact, as showed by some of the second-half runs the Cowboys made. Tuck would have been playing that side, and one wonders if he'd have been handled as easily as Mathias Kiwanuka. Teams can never afford to lose a great player, and Tuck is rapidly turning into one of those.
The rest of the picture isn't gloomy at all. Sure, the Giants could use a better ground game, as 97 yards of total rushing isn't going to get it done. They never really were able to establish Brandon Jacobs, and at times they didn't look like they were trying. But when you've got the young receivers catching the ball as they did, the Giants could still move down the field. And when it comes to the two-minute drill, there are few better than Manning. He's cool under pressure, and so was Mario Manningham in catching a tipped ball to get the Giants into field goal range.
Here's a few catagories.
THE BIG PLAYS: The afore-mentioned Manningham made one of the biggest with that tipped ball. Without that, it's fourth down from the 41 and all bets are off. Great concentration from a young receiver whose stock as a reliable, even go-to target is skyrocketing right now. That's not to mention his touchdown, a diving, juggling catch he eventually secured while on his back from 22 yards out. In addition, he had 10 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Steve Smith: Another go-to guy. He's fearless over the middle, and he showed it again by catching several in that area. Very smart leap into the end zone on his 22-yard scoring catch. Plus, he also finished over the 100-yard mark in receiving, catching 10 balls for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Bruce Johnson: When the offense couldn't score, the only undrafted rookie to make the squad did. His first-quarter pick and touchdown return, the first of his career, came off an Antonio Pierce-called adjustment, and he reacted perfectly.
Lawrence Tynes: After missing a 29-yard chip shot at the start of the third quarter, he came through big on the final one. He had to kick it twice because of the timeout Wade Phillips called a millisecond before the snap, but he was 2-0. The one that counted was actually a lot better a kick than the one that went through.
Brandon Jacobs: He had only one outstanding run, but his stiff-arm of linebacker Keith Brooking on the 31-yard jaunt was a thing to behold. Still, 16 carries for 58 yards and no touchdowns against a Cowboys run defense that had looked vulnerable doesn't look good, especially after a 60-yard opener.
Kenny Phillips: He struggled -- and will continue to do so -- with knee problems during the week. But there was nothing wrong with his hands as he made an interception off Jason Witten's kicked ball. It's too bad somebody blew a whistle to nullify his touchdown return.
Antonio Pierce: He's the quarterback of the defense, and he acted just like it when he audibled the alignment that produced Bruce Johnson's interception. No less than four players in the back either moved over or switched sides completely, leaving Tony Romo utterly confused. He never saw Johnson.
Bruce Johnson: We already talked about him, but it bears repeating. He's showing the poise of a veteran in place of injured nickelback Kevin Dockery. As Lou Grant once said, "Kid, you got spunk." He had two tackles.
THE UGLY STUFF:
* Want to see how to run a goal line offense? Look at what the Cowboys did on Romo's third-quarter touchdown. Spread out, run the quarterback draw, get some blocking up front. Romo wasn't touched.
* More Red Zone ugliness. Is there any real purpose in Eli Manning throwing all those passes in front of the goal line? How about putting a target or two in the end zone? There's a definite need to mix things up a little.
* The defensive front got pushed around way too much for anyone's liking. It was too easy to seal off the left side on some of those Marion Barber runs. This is a defense that prides itself on shutting down the run, so all those yards are going to be a source for much meeting-room discussion throughout the week.
We already talked about the premature whistle that took away Phillip's touchdown. But did anyone see the hold that was called on Rich Seubert? I couldn't spot it on the replay.
Justin Tuck: Injured his shoulder after being tripped by Flozell Adams in the second quarter and spent the whole second half on the sideline with his arm in the sling. He'll be going for an MRI today, and the Giants had better pray it's nothing serious. That would be a huge blow to the defensive front.
Domenik Hixon: He went out in the second quarter with a right knee sprain. Have no idea right now how long he'll be out, but not having him as a downfield possibility will put even more pressure on Smith and Manningham to produce.
We'll have Tom Coughlin and some players on conference calls later this afternoon. Hopefully, there'll be some updates.
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