Okay, so let's summarize what happened here in the Giants' final home opener at Giants Stadium, in which they fashioned a 23-17 win over the Redskins. They're right there again, on top of the NFC East.
Oh, it wasn't perfect, by any means. They were up 17-0 at one point, and then wound up being outscored in the second half. Although they dominated the time of possession by 12 minutes, the late touchdown with 1:30 remaining on Chris Cooley's 17-yard pass from Jason Campbell made it all tougher than it should have been.
Still, some good offense by the young, inexperienced wide receivers, including a touchdown catch from Mario Manningham and a fantastic grab by Steve Smith in the second half. And the defense was great, save for a couple of lapses that allowed the Redskins a couple of big plays. Can't minimize Osi Umenyiora contributing the third touchdown of his career on a 37-yard scoring return of a strip on Campbell. Justin Tuck also had a monster of a game.
Here are a few catagories we'll try out. Maybe we'll expand things as the season, and individual games, dictate.
Mario Manningham -- Manningham's 30-yard touchdown catch that made it 10-0 with 10:10 remaining in the second quarter. After missing most of last year, Manningham got his 2009 season off to a flying start when he grabbed Manning's short pass and slipped not one, but two defenders on the sideline. Fred Smoot had a shot at him but never got a hand on him. Then, around the 20, he shook off defensive end Andre Carter. And then he stutter-stepped around DeAngelo Hall near the 10 to complete his first career touchdown reception. "I just tried not to get out of bounds and get into the end zone without being tackled," Manningham said. "It felt good." Manningham finished with three catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Osi Umenyiora -- His third career touchdown was really the only major play he made, but it was a huge one. Remember, he's coming back from a year off following knee surgery, so this was a nice way to start. The Giants' pass rush had gone into a lull, but then Umenyiora swam his way around left tackle Chris Samuels and came from behind Campbell to swat the ball loose. He then picked it up and raced 37 yards untouched to the end zone and a 17-0 lead, making Manning's fumble that started the drive utterly meaningless.
Steve Smith -- With the score 20-10, and the offense recovering from Madison Hedgecock's illegal procedure call, Smith went downfield on third-and-5 from the Giants' 29. DeAngelo Hall had him covered closely, but Smith made the catch and then held on as LaRon Landry slammed into him from the back end for a 26-yard gain. Coupled with tight end Kevin Boss' 27-yard catch as Manning scrambled, it helped produce Lawrence Tynes' 28-yard field goal that put the Giants up 23-10. Smith later fielded the Redskins' on-side kick following their fourth-quarter touchdown, which then allowed the Giants to run out the clock.
Justin Tuck -- Osi Umenyiora might have had the play of the game, but Tuck had the bigger overall game. He had 1 1/2 sacks, and two of his five tackles came behind the line. And you can't argue with the sequence following Manning's interception in the third quarter. It looked as if the Redskins would score a touchdown, as they got the ball on the 12 following the quarterback's pressured throw. But Tuck first dropped Clinton Portis for a five-yard loss. Then, on third-and-6, he sacked Campbell to force a field goal that made it 17-10. He also played inside at defensive tackle a good bit of the time. Big, big game.
Corey Webster -- His second-quarter interception at the Giants' 25 was a thing of beauty. Fully laid out, feet dragging along the sidelines, and securing the ball as he went out of bounds. It helped preserve a 10-0 lead.
Also gotta love how he knocked off Santana Moss' helmet during a second-quarter fight after taking two good ones to the chin.
Hakeem Nicks -- He dropped a wide-open pass in the first quarter, but then redeemed himself with a couple of nice grabs in the second half. His best was an 11-yard completion that got the Giants out of a hole at their 8, as Nicks shook off Hall.
Bruce Johnson -- The only undrafted rookie to make the Giants' roster made a great shoestring tackle on Portis, limiting him to seven yards instead of a long gain as the Redskins drove inside Giants territory in the third quarter. The Giants were nursing a 17-7 lead at that point, but Johnson's tackle eventually forced a punt.
The Ugly Stuff:
* Brandon Jacobs getting stuffed twice on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 from the 3 really could have haunted the Giants. But Tom Coughlin said that after a summer's worth of emphasis on Red Zone efficiency, he felt he had to go for it in that situation. Eschewing the field goal on fourth down wasn't a bad idea. But sending Jacobs headlong against 340-pound Albert Haynesworth wasn't the play to call. Haynesworth paid the price with a few cobwebs, but he achieved his goal in halting the Giants. Asked about having discussed the Red Zone through camp, Coughlin said, "We're still talking about it. We have to look at it."
* Really no excuse for the Giants allowing that late touchdown that made the game way closer than it should have been. We're not griping because we took a bath on the 6 1/2-point line. Just that at 23-10, this one should have been over. If not for that 6:11 scoring drive that brought the clock down to 3:12, Campbell's touchdown throw to Cooley could have made for some real problems. Thank Steve Smith for his sure-handedness on the on-side kick.
* The Giants didn't exactly play a penalty-filled game. But one of their four flags came at inopportune times. Chris Snee's hold knocked them back from the 13 to the 23 and forced a field goal in the fourth quarter instead of a touchdown that would have iced the game, regardless of the Redskins' quick score.
* Wonder if they should have been aware of the possibility of Hunter Smith taking off with a field goal snap. A great call by the Redskins at 17-0. With the Giants crashing the middle for the block, it left the whole right side open for Smith to scamper into the end zone. "Very frustrating," Coughlin said. "We were in an all-out block and we were one of the better teams in that last year -- we had three blocks -- so you have to give them some credit." Redskins coach Jim Zorn was delighted with the execution. "It wasn't just a call," he said. "No. We had this thing planned. As to when to call it, I didn't know if the opportunity would arise to call it, and it did. It worked just like we designed it."
Wonder what the refs were looking at when Andre Carter pulled Manning down by the facemask on his sack and fumble in the second quarter. It was pretty blatant on the replay, but no flags. "I'd better be careful what I say," Coughlin said afterward. "There were some real questionable things. I want to look at the tape and then I'll discuss it with Mike Pereira (NFL director of officiating)."
The most serious loss could be that of rookie receiver Hakeem Nicks. He sprained his right foot on his seven-yard reception in the fourth quarter and could not continue. X-rays were negative, but he came out of the x-ray room on crutches. "I'd call it a nick-nack injury," Nicks said. "We'll see how it goes."
A close second is running back Danny Ware, who dislocated his elbow on the opening kickoff. Coughlin said the trainers popped it back right away, but he didn't know if Ware would be available for practice this week. That would leave the Giants with just two healthy backs, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
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