Well, that was something. I had a feeling the Giants would lose this one, but watching the Saints cover the over all by themselves? Didn't see that one coming.
Despite the lopsidedness of the Saints gaining 493 yards against what ranked as the NFL's top overall and pass defense, there's still something to be said for the Giants as a legitimate team. One loss, even a blowout like this one, does not turn a power into a schmoe. But it does raise questions as to whether the Giants have what it takes to go deep into the playoffs. Getting there shouldn't be much of a problem, considering there remain beatable teams such as Philadelphia (twice), Dallas, Washington, and Carolina coming up. So don't go throwing in the season just because of this one, albeit huge, misstep.
The Giants do appear to be in need of a fix for the secondary, however. The loss of Kenny Phillips was evident at safety by the disastrous play of C.C. Brown, who several times had coverage but was unable to make a play, and at other times just did the wrong thing entirely. The linebackers are either too old or too slow to cover. And Brees' uptempo style and quick release made it all but impossible for the front four to get any pressure on him.
At least the Giants won't play anyone who operates as effectively as Brees, who completed 15 straight passes at one point in the second half, at least until they run into Philip Rivers in three games. For now, chalk this one up as a hard lesson in The Big Easy.
Any one of the endless string of big passes for Brees, but especially the knife-in-the-heart touchdown throw to ex-Giant tight end Jeremy Shockey that produced a 14-0 first-quarter lead. Linebacker Danny Clark looked sick trying to cover him. It was evident right there that the Giants didn't have the defensive ammo to stop the New Orleans offense.
Domenik Hixon's 68-yard kickoff return that set up a second-quarter touchdown that narrowed the gap at 27-17 and momentarily gave the Giants some hope of a comeback.
Saints safety Roman Harper's strip sack of Manning and fumble recovery by Scott Shanle with 18 seconds left in the half that led to Reggie Bush's deflating 7-yard touchdown run with nine seconds left for a 34-17 halftime lead, thus ending the game for all practical purposes.
Brees' 28-yard completion to Robert Meachem on third-and-8 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, the Saints up 41-20. That set up Heath Evans' touchdown run from the 2, a little dig the Giants might want to remember if the two meet in the postseason.
Danny Clark's and Osi Umenyiora's stop on Pierre Thomas at the 1 in the second quarter. Ultimately, it didn't matter because the Saints scored anyway after Harper's strip-sack on the ensuing series. But it was just about the Giants' only defensive highlight.
Eli Manning: Given the circumstances, it could have been worse. He barely missed Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon on deep shots, and he finished with 178 yards. But he only went 14-of-31 along the way.
Ahmad Bradshaw: He carried 10 times for 48 yards and a touchdown, and is beginning to look more like a featured back than Jacobs. Speaking of Jacobs, Bradshaw had a better per-carry average again, 4.8-4.7. Jacobs carried seven times for 33 yards, in part because of the stinger he suffered in the first half.
C.C. Brown: The safety probably sat in an ice bath just to cool off those burnt tailfeathers. He got beat for two lengthy passes, including a touchdown, and was out of position on another touchdown.
Kevin Dockery: Like Brown, he got beat on two big passes, including a touchdown.
Domenik Hixon: He was a field position machine, bringing back seven kickoffs for 230 yards and a taking back one of his two punt returns for 27 yards. He may have turned Sinorice Moss into the ultimate spare part by singlehandedly besting the 10-for-153 total the entire team had on kickoff returns.
Hakeem Nicks: He continues to look like a quality first-round wide receiver, something the Giants haven't had for ages. He caught five balls for 118 yards, including a 58-yard non-scoring catch and run. He also caught a 37-yard scoring pass off David Carr in the fourth quarter.
Bruce Johnson: He's back on special teams since Dockery got well, but he blocked an extra point. In another game, that would have come in huge. In this game, just something nice to mention.
THE UGLY STUFF:
Plenty. But let's start with the D's inability to stop Marques Colston, who caught all eight balls thrown his way for 166 yards and a touchdown. Then you can throw in all the others who scored touchdowns -- seven players in all.
Corey Webster, who played his first five games at a Pro Bowl level, failed to intercept a first-possession, 17-yard throw to Lance Moore, allowing the touchdown drive to continue. A pick there might have changed the whole complexion of the game.
The pass rush was almost non-existant. Chase Blackburn got the only sack on a fourth-quarter blitz on Marc Brunell, and Antonio Pierce had the only hit -- and that a slight one -- on Brees. Other than that, they never got close enough for Brees to feel their breath.
Ahmad Bradshaw's missed blitz pickup on Manning's pressured throw that resulted in the interception in the third quarter when it was still a somewhat tenable 34-17.
RT Kareem McKenzie strained his groin in the second quarter when he stepped on the ball during Manning's strip-sack just before halftime and did not return.
RB Brandon Jacobs pinched a nerve in his left shoulder in the second quarter but returned.