Under ordinary circumstances, the Giants might have been offered extra credit homework to help boost their grades. But as a teacher friend of mine once said, you can't get extra credit if you don't do the assignment to start with.
Guess that's where we're at after that team-wide no-show against Carolina. Can't get extra credit for a game you never bothered showing up for. In fact, since the combination of that loss and Green Bay's and Dallas' wins eliminated them from the playoff picture, we've got a good mind to hit the whole team with a week's detention.
Please sign and return to principal.
QUARTERBACKS: Eli Manning was 6-for-6 on the first drive and should have been 7-for-7 with a touchdown if not for a penalty that called back his perfect end zone pass to Steve Smith. If anybody was trying out there -- and there weren't many of them -- he was. Manning finished 29-of-43 for 296 yards and a touchdown, which was fine. But he did throw two interceptions, too. And what was that scramble and lateral try all about? Just go down with the ball next time. GRADE: C.
RUNNING BACKS: Fullback Madison Hedgecock basically threw a defender to the ground on that touchdown pass, ruining what should have been a successful first possession. Then he compounded matter when the game was out of hand by dropping an open throw in the end zone. His blocking was anything but superb. Brandon Jacobs was limited to six carries for a yard as he went back to his old dancing ways. And now a knee injury that has bothered him all year seems to be flaring up to serious proportions. Ahmad Bradshaw was only okay with 11 carries for 53 yards. A 60-yard team effort against any team just isn't going to cut it. GRADE: D.
RECEIVERS: Steve Smith had a decent game with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, and he should have had another. But the other guys weren't much of a factor, and one, Mario Manningham, was a detriment as he fumbled the ball to end that first drive. They should have gotten at least a field goal out of that, but Manningham lost concentration again and let the ball go in the Red Zone. Hakeem Nicks failed to make a big play, and couldn't get into the end zone on a fourth-quarter completion that should have produced points. No matter, Smith scored his touchdown a couple of plays later. Kevin Boss, Domenik Hixon, both non-factors. GRADE: C.
OFFENSIVE LINE: No holes for the running game, and too porous in pass protection. Yeah, there were two injury-driven position changes with Kevin Boothe at left guard for Rich Seubert and Will Beatty in for Kareem McKenzie at right tackle. But Beatty had done well in two previous starts, and Boothe had played well as an everywhere backup. So there really was no excuse for the constant blocking breakdowns that kept Manning on the run and forced him to take four sacks. A lot of that heat came up the middle, so blame Boothe, Shaun O'Hara, and Chris Snee for that. GRADE: F.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Guess that line that abused Washington was just an abberation. Aside from Justin Tuck's sack on the Panthers' first play, they did absolutely nothing. Gap control? A foreign concept. How about the whole left side getting blown apart on Jonathan Stewart's 52-yard run? How about Stewart running inside and out for 206 yards, and the Panthers' 247 total rushing yards standing as the biggest total in Giants Stadium history? Mathias Kiwanuka, who had a solid season as a run-stopper, was soft on the corner, and Chris Canty and Barry Cofield got pushed around like wind throwing around confetti in the middle. Osi Umenyiora was in for only a handful of plays, but he did absolutely nothing with his opportunities. GRADE: F.
LINEBACKERS: There wasn't a single linebacker who even breathed on Moore, let alone delivered a hit. No pass breakups, either. So what did they do all day. What they usually do. Chase around the tight end (Jeff King had a wide open touchdown) and make tackles far from the line of scrimmage. Michael Boley was the only linebacker to shoot in for a tackle behind the line. Jonathan Goff was a non-factor, and Danny Clark was invisible. Utterly inconsequential. GRADE: F.
SECONDARY: You know that contract Kevin Dockery thought might be coming his way after that good showing against Washington? Forget it. He looked absolutely sick against the Panthers, missing at least two tackles that wound up in big gains and failing to break up even one pass. Not to pick on him -- he just looked the worst of all of them -- but it was sad seeing him miss Steve Smith near the line on his 11-yard gain in the Panthers' first touchdown drive. Terrell Thomas got pushed back on Muhsin Muhammad's touchdown catch and missed Stewart on his 52-yard journey. Michael Johnson actually broke Smith's arm on his third-quarter touchdown catch, but a simple wrap-up would have taken Smith down short of the goal line instead of giving him the chance to bounce off Johnson and traipse into the end zone. You get points here for preventing points, not breaking bones. No interceptions, and undrafted rookie Bruce Johnson was the only defensive back credited with a breakup. Again, this unit has been battered with injuries throughout the year and played without corners Corey Webster and Aaron Ross. But they didn't even show up, and that's unforgiveable. GRADE: F.
SPECIAL TEAMS: They couldn't even get the extra point operation down this time. Jeff Feagles did fine in the punting department, and the kickoff coverage was just okay. But Hixon's kickoff returns never gained the Giants any outstanding field position, and that was as much a fault of his blockers as himself. Lawrence Tynes hit a 40-yard field goal. GRADE: D.
COACHING: It's my contention -- and you may correct me if I'm wrong -- but coaches can all the plays they want; they're not going to work unless somebody executes. And when a team doesn't even bother showing up, execution can't happen. Tom Coughlin has to take the ultimate responsibility for that. Somewhere between Saturday night and the second possession Sunday afternoon, the Giants lost their will. Down 3-0, with everything to play for, everything simply stopped. Until then, though, at least the offense did well. Kevin Gilbride called a masterful first possession, and it wasn't his fault that Manningham fumbled. But virtually nothing he called after that worked. And the defense was a shambles from the get-go. Bad calls, bad schemes, uncontested passes, a back who looked like an unbroken Mustang running the prarie. Just horrible. The players didn't play, but the coaches have to take the fall here, too. GRADE: F.
Okay, gang. Your turn.