Diary of a Giants Fan: Giants Lose Week One – Grades
The 2012 Giant season started with a bang - though, admittedly, that bang was the thud of the Giants falling onto their face...hard. They lose to the Cowboys 24-17.
In twelve years, no defending Super Bowl champion had begun their campaign with a loss - should we really be so surprised that the Giants are the one to buck the trend? I know it's intellectually dishonest to say that the Giants have fostered a tradition of frustration when only six months ago they won a Super Bowl - and more than likely this is simply the bitter demons of the moment shouting down whatever good sense I possess - but it just seems the truth; except for when their backs are pressed firmly against the ultimate, end-game style wall.
Wednesday, in no such situation, the Giants began their Super Bowl defense and opened slowly. A David Wilson fumble stymied the G-Men's only quality offensive possession in the first half, and the team mustered only three points - gift-wrapped thanks to a Michael Boley interception and return deep into Cowboy territory. The lead given by that field goal was relinquished quickly, however, as a Giant defense, who'd played well to that point, faltered for the first time toward the end of the half - Corey Webster beaten badly by Dez Bryant to set up a Tony Romo touchdown pass. The Giants would head into the half down 7-3.
The deficit deepened just out of halftime as the holes in Corey's Web were exploited again, and the Cowboys were suddenly up 14-3. A "Why would you throw that ball" pass from Manning was grabbed by Hixon and rescued some momentum, punctuated by a touchdown run from Ahmad Bradshaw - but not with an exclamation point, or even a period. No, this touchdown served as little more than a measly comma, as a circus run from Murray gave the Cowboys a field goal, and one drive later, they put their own punctuation on the game with another touchdown - this time, an emphatic exclamation point (is anyone still with me on this metaphor?).
A late touchdown pass to the Black Unicorn (Martellus Bennett) proved fruitless, as the defense couldn't stop their foes on what proved to be the game's final possession. And so, the season opener proved disappointing for Giant fans - though seeing those four Super Bowl trophies before the game's start was pretty sweet.
Grades: Offensive Line - C-: There were no holes to run through, Eli Manning was sacked three times, and there was really nothing overly impressive about their game. They weren't the worst of the Giants' problems, but were a problem none the less.
Running Backs - C: A quality TD run from Bradshaw served as the only real bright spot in the run game. David Wilson announced his arrival into the NFL much the way the Giants announced their arrival to this season: with a bumbling mistake - a fumble inside Cowboy territory. Still, I'm not sure the poor running didn't have more to do with lackluster offensive line effort. Either way, not great.
Wide Receivers - D: Hey Victor Cruz, maybe a little less time on the book and a little more time CATCHING THE BALL! Now that's incredibly unfair, but then again, I'm not in the best mood...so...CATCH THE BALL!
Eli Manning - C+: Manning had a decent night, but I'm left wanting more. The Giant offense was stagnant for much of the game and the guy who we've come to count on to pull them from the funk couldn't tonight. The loss in no way falls on his feet - between the drops and poor blocking he had no help - but, like I said, I just feel like I've been left wanting.
Special Teams - C: Kicked well, returned poorly.
Defensive Line - D: Speaking of expecting more: Paging Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora. The Giants sacked Tony Romo twice on Wednesday night, with said work coming from Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph - the key players in what is widely believed to be the best pass rush in the league unable to crack to the Rubik's Cube that is one of the worst O-Line's in the NFC. Poor, poor job.
Linebackers - C+: Honestly, I thought the LBs were the Giants' best unit tonight. Michael Boley had an interception, Rivers and Blackburn played well, and they limited their mistakes. One mistake, however, cost the Giants dearly as Ogletree - OGLETREE?! - slipped behind the unit for a TD. Not good, but not the problem.
Defensive Backs - F: You know, I've always struggled with change, so I guess it's comforting that nothing has in the Giant secondary. Then again, when you're the Giant defensive backs and change proves illusive in 2012, you end up getting third-degree-style burned again and again - and, apparently, only by way of two plays. It's been a long time since the slant and stop-and-go fly have worked so well, but Corey Webster, Michael Coe, and Justin Tryon had not yet arrived on the scene. Awful, awful job tonight.
I don't know about you Giant fans, but after that loss, and after proofreading what I just wrote, I'm in dire need of a pick-me-up - admittedly, what's above is a little dark. So let me do my best: Though it could in no way be spun that the Giants played well Wednesday (I know, not a great start so far), perhaps the more important word to take out of "Season Opening Loss" isn't loss, but "Season Opening." In the five seasons from 2007-2011, the Giants have lost their season opener twice - and won the Super Bowl both times. Now I'm not suggesting they'll do it again, but we've been here before, Giant fans. We've seen this all before. Does anyone think that this team won't get better? That what we saw Wednesday will happen in the big moments that will come down the line? I don't. So buck up. We've stumbled out of the gate - but there's a hell of a lot more race to be run. Things aren't so bad. RECKLESS DEFIANCE FOR ALL! GO GIANTS!