Diary of a Giants Fan: Giants Run Over Browns – Grades
Even when it's easy, it isn't easy. Regardless, it's a win. 41-27 Giants.
After last week's down-to-the-wire gut punch, I, for one, came into Sunday's battle against the 0-4 Browns looking for something easy, something comfortable, something without any fuss - I was looking for the sweatpants of NFL football games.
Instead, the early portions of this game felt more like some sort of hellish, multi-button fly, inexplicably tight, wool slacks - annoying, unsettling, and with considerable fuss. The cause of the discomfort was a first play fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw, immediately captalized on by rookie RB Trent Richardson, who joyfully accepted Osi Umenyiora's invitation to "come and get it." Another quick touchdown for the Browns deepened the Giants' woes to an early 14-0 hole, and all of a sudden, Giant fans were reliving a horrible nightmare - outplayed and apparently outgunned by an embarrassingly inferior team.
But unlike years past, that was the end of it. There was no ever-more-depressing downward spiral. In fact, from then on, the Giants dominated.
Seemingly fed up with letting his teammates have anything to do with the game's outcome, Manning threw the Giants on his back, driving them straight down the field for a touchdown, and didn't stop there. The connection with Cruz proved to be the first seven points of a 27-3 run to end the half, aided by a Stevie Brown interception and fumble recovery.
And as though Tom Coughlin - who looked a little too much like a 70 year-old man trying to play it gangster in his flat-brim, gray and pink Giant hat - found the switch, it all began to click for the G-Men. Ahmad Bradshaw looked half a decade younger, the offensive line looked a full decade younger, and the secondary looked like entirely new players. They'd keep it going in the second half, a David Wilson forty yard touchdown run tying the knot on what ended up being a pretty comfortable pair of sweatpants.
Grades - Defensive Line - D: If this game were a pair of sweatpants, the defensive line was the biting elastic waistband. They failed to sack Brandon Weeden, allowed Trent Richardson to run roughshod, and went largely unnoticed throughout the game. Had it not been for a few batted passes, this grade would easily be a failing one.
Linebackers - C: It wasn't a terrible effort from this squad, who could really use a healthy Keith Rivers, but part of the blame for Richardson's success falls to the linebackers' poor tackling. Still, Blackburn had an interception, and they did hold the Browns under 100 yards rushing.
Secondary - B-: When Antrel Rolle failed to help Chase Blackburn cover a wide receiver he had no business being matched up with - resulting in a long touchdown - we seemed destined for the type of day that would keep Giant fans teetering on the edge of sanity. But after that, the Giant secondary could barely be noticed - which is really the best compliment you can give a defensive back corps which we all know is not "shut down." They picked off Weeden and beside that one play, kept him to only 230 yards passing. Not great, but with injuries, pretty good.
Special Teams - B: The return game was apathetic, but Tynes made all his field goals and - while kick coverage was subpar overall - a forced fumble on a post-touchdown kickoff helped turn the tide of this game.
Offensive Line - A: After helping cause the Bradshaw fumble, the Giant offensive line settled in and provided solid pass blocking and some big time running lanes. Great game, their best of the season.
Running Backs - A+: In weeks to come, it may prove that Andre Brown's greatest contribution to the Giants was his threatening Ahmad Bradshaw's job, and helping to revive the tough, hard-nosed runner we fell in love with. Today, that was the Bradshaw we saw, running for 200 bruising yards and helping dominate the final three quarters. David Wilson added his first career touchdown as well, blasting away from all comers - a great, great day for this corps.
Wide Receivers - A: I can't think of anything they did wrong. Randle and Cruz each had big days, and, quite simply, they made no mistakes.
Eli Manning - A: Are we seeing a theme with the Giant offense? Manning, I think, revived my Dark Knight comparison today. He wasn't a stat machine, but he was exactly what the Giants needed. Down 14, stumbling through the game, and in some real trouble, he launched an impressive drive and pulled the Giants back into the game. From there, he managed and did exactly what was necessary to get the job done. No more, no less. Great game.
The Giants head to San Francisco to battle the 49ers next Sunday. Be sure to check back here mid-week for a preview of said game and, as always, Go Giants!