Diary of a Giants Fan: Giants Escape Arizona With Win – Grades
Well. That was...interesting. The Giants took the field Sunday looking to back up an emotional win against Philly with another against Arizona. In what was the absolute definition of a roller coaster game the Giants took a gift from the Gods and found a way to snap victory away from the jaws of defeat. This is Diary of a Giants Fan - @JoeBianchino
The game opened in chippy fashion with both teams at each other from the opening kick off. The Giants took that kick and promptly did nothing. In fact, a Giants running back turned the ball over for the first time this season. Ahmad Bradshaw coughed it up on a third down, giving the Cardinals possession in the red zone. The Giants D would hold however, as it has done so often this season, and force a Cardinals field goal. 3-0 Cards.
Another mindless possession for the Giants led to the Cardinals second drive of the game. Kevin Kolb led the red birds down the field but the drive was halted abruptly by the first Osi Umenyiora sighting of this short season. The formerly hobbled defensive lineman ran down Kolb and forced a fumble. Big Blue was unable to capitalize, however, as the offense was now fully stumbling over itself. The Cardinals offense, however, was doing work, with passes complete to guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucett...Really guys? Early Doucet? We're giving up yards to Early Doucet? Lock it up.
The Giants D would hear my plea and would indeed lock it up, holding firm in the red zone for another Cardinals field goal attempt. 6-0 Cardinals. The Giants offense would come alive however, finally, inside of eight to play in the first half. Eli Manning began to move the team with a good mix of run and pass. The drive was capped off by a touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw on a brilliant cutback. 7-6 Giants.
Momentum would begin to take to the side of the Giants now. Defensively the team was rushing Kolb with a fervor that I'm not sure we've seen this year. Tolefson certainly had his best game of the year, and Osi - while looking half speed at times - looked good overall in his first game. Offensively the Giants had begun to look both balanced and efficient. I know. Shocking right? I would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes. The Giants were able to get into field goal range at the end of the half and Lawrence (Larry) Tynes would courageously fight through some roughing of the kicker and boot home the field goal. 10-6 G-Men at halftime.
Taking stock at halftime you could see that the Giants had come out flat. It's true. The Cardinals had infinetly more energy and emotion at the start of the game and had they been able to do anything at all in the red zone they'd have a definitive lead. The Giants D was holding however, though they would need to tighten up the run defense in the second half. Though not mentioned in this article as of yet (Really? How did I not mention him yet), Beanie Wells was having a very good game. The defensive line was getting good pressure, such good pressure in fact that Kevin Kolb was beginning to flee the pocket before any pressure had emerged. ***Side Note: Boy, did Andy Reid fleece the Cardinals in that trade.*** Anyway, the Giants offense was improving and would just need to stay the course to get the win.
The second half opened with one irrefutable truth becoming even more clear. Larry Fitzgerald is really good. I mean, really good. The Giants had been doing a decent job on the dreadlocked Cardinal throughout the game until he went up and took an interception out of the arms of Deon Grant for a big gain. I mean he straight up took it away from Grant. Beanie Wells, now mentioned for the second time, would punch in a one yard TD to finish the drive. 13-10 Cardinals.
Hey. Remember earlier when I said that the Giants offense would have to stay the course to get the win? Yeah. About that. Several uneventful possessions, including horrific pass blocking leading to a sack/fumble, would lead to a Cardinals possession inside the Giants ten. Overcoming a false start on Kevin Kolb, that's right a false start, on Kevin Kolb (Andy Reid SERIOUSLY fleeced the Cardinals), the red birds would punch it in via Beanie Wells again. 20-10 Cardinals. Sigh. I've seen this movie before.
But then. There was a twist ending on this movie. The Giants would take the field and show some real life offensively. They were finding more and more success through the air now, with the running game seemingly stalled out. An"Eli! What are you doing?!" type floater-pass would find Jake Ballard and the big man would rumble down to the Cardinals one. Brandon Jacobs would take it home for the score. 20-17 Cardinals. The Cardinals ensuing possession would end with an Antrel Rolle interception (Yes you read that right) putting the Giants offense back in business. Here we go, right?! No. The Giants would stall out and hand it back to the Cardinals.
Unable to stop the run, the about to be four-time-mentioned running back Beanie Wells would take the ball into the end zone and take my heart with him. 27-17 Cardinals with just over five to play. Well, I've definitely seen this movie before. The title? Disappointment.
But then. ANOTHER TWIST ENDING! What is this Saw?! Eli Manning, who to me is one of the best, if not the best, two minute situation quarterback in the league would begin to lead the Giants down the field. He would find Jake Ballard again for the touchdown, 27-24 with 3:37 to play. KEVIN BOSS WHO?! The defense would hold the Cardinals offense to a three and out, giving the ball back to Eli "Two Minute" Manning (I may need to work on that nickname) and the Giants offense with 3:21 to play. Given good field position by the special teams Manning would begin to move his offense.
...Then this happened. Manning found emerging decent wide receiver Victor Cruz over the middle. Cruz broke a few tackles then, with me screaming "DON'T FUMBLE," he would wisely dive to the ground, quitting while he was ahead. He'd leave the ball and rush back to the huddle for the next play. The problem? HE WAS NEVER TOUCHED. The Cardinals recovered the apparent fumble, they'd take possession and the game would end.
But then...ANOTHER TWIST ENDING!
In one of the more mind-boggling things I've seen in football, the referees would say that Cruz "gave himself up" and therefore ended the play without needing to be touched, possession would stay with the Giants. I'm sorry. Is this football? What kind of a rule is that?! Don't get me wrong, I'll take it - and I do think that he was 'giving himself up,' but that seems awfully soft to me.
Wether the call was good or not the Giants would keep possession and would immediately capitalize on the gift they'd been given. Manning would find Nicks with an excellent pass for the go-ahead touchdown 31-27. The defense would give Giants fans a terrible scare, allowing the Cardinals to drive well into Giants territory before Umenyiora netted another sack and Cory Webster broke up a fourth down play intended for Larry Fitzgerald. Kneel Downs and a win for the Giants.
This was as up and down a game as you could ever see. At times the Giants offense looked like world-beaters, while at other times they looked...just awful. The defense echoed the Jekyll and Hyde offense looking stout in the red zone but weak between the twenties. In the end however, the Giants were able to get the win. Did it come with some help from the zebras? Sure. But you know what? Once again the Giants took what was given to them. For the second straight week the Giants battled back from a double-digit deficit and got the win. Eli Manning, once again, cemented his stature as a truly brilliant late game quarterback with two touchdown drives inside the final five minutes. If you're a Giants fan you're worried because this should have been a much easier win. But you know what? It was a win, and in this league that's all that matters. Get the W and try and fix the problems next week. The New York Giants, 3-1. Who knew?!
GRADES: Defensive Line - B+: Played a very good game. They had Kevin Kolb running for his life, even before there was pressure. They also came up with big sacks at big moments. Imagine what this front could look like when Tuck and Umenyiora are healthy at the same time.
Linebackers - C: Not good. Not bad. The Cardinals ran the ball too well and the linebackers, I feel, tackled too poorly in that part of the game specifically. Room for improvement but by no means were they the problem with the Giants defense.
Defensive Backs - C+: Here's the problem with the Giants defense. Then again, I have them graded above the linebackers this week. They played a solid game. I'm still confused why these backs seem happy to give ten yards of cushion on third and short, but they didn't let Larry Fitzgerald beat them and they made big plays when they needed too. Good game, boys. Great game for Rolle.
Special Teams - B: This was a good game for the Giants special teams. Why? Because I didn't notice them, and if I didn't notice them, they didn't ruin the game. Aaron Ross even had a big punt return to set up good field position for Eli Manning on the final drive of the game.
Offensive Line - D: At some point this season the offensive line is going to give Eli Manning good protection for the entire game. This was not that game, so that's the grade they get.
Running Backs - B: Bradshaw and Jacobs I thought both had good games. Both got in the end zone, though Bradshaw committed the first turnover by the pair all season. Had it not been for that fumble this grade may have been an A as I think they did the best they could with the touches they got.
Wide Receivers - C: There was no stand out play that brought the grade up from the receivers this week as there had been in weeks past. There were a few drops and a few poor, or just plain wrong, routes run. Good game, but we need to see better. Nicks had a fantastic game, though. Oh, and MAKE SURE YOU'RE TOUCHED CRUZ!
Quarterback - A-: I think Manning had a great game this week. He once again he managed the game well and when given time moved the ball well through the air. He led the Giants on not one, but two touchdown drives inside the final five minutes and if not for a sack/fumble that was the offensive line's fault he would have had an unblemished game. Eli Manning, excellent two minute quarterback, ultimate game-manager.
Follow me on Twitter @JoeBianchino and look for my preview of Week 4 action later in the week. GO GIANTS!