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Giants Escape Dallas – Grades: Diary of a Giants Fan

In one of the craziest games you’ll ever see, the Giants managed to shrug off the blowing of a 23 point lead and escape Dallas with a key, NFC East win.

Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

A few weeks ago I opened an article with a simple statement: “Sport fandom is shortening my life.”  Today, as I sit in silence nursing the tattered remains of what were already frayed nerves, I’d like to amend said decree to read thus: I can’t take this anymore – or as Murtaugh put it, “I’m too old for this…[stuff].”

Fandom can, at times, prove a most cruel form of masochism. The ups and downs; the comebacks and the collapses; the wins and the losses.  On Sunday, we Giant fans were given a healthy dose of each; though early, it looked as though only the positives would shine through.

A veritable slew of Cowboy turnovers helped the Giants to an early 23-0 lead, capped by a JPP interception return for a touchdown.  Held only to field goals on three scoring drives, however, the Giants left the door open for a possible comeback – if only Tony Romo could walk through it.

Midway through the second quarter – shrugging off the swarm of ever-present critics – Romo didn’t just walk through the door, he blew the damn thing off its hinges.

A touchdown run by Jones, a field goal, and two touchdowns to open the second half suddenly had the Cowboys ahead, the Giants on their heels, and I in need of oxygen.  A few defensive stops kept the Giants in the game until Eli Manning reminded us why we believe in Eli Manning.  Completions to Nicks, Randle, Hixon, and Bennett took the Giants into field goal range for Tynes to capitalize and reclaim the lead.

A Felix Jones fumble on the ensuing Cowboy possession gave the Giants a chance to pad that lead.  As had become the theme of the night, however, Manning and company managed only a field goal, and so it was a five point advantage with just over three minutes to play.

Two possessions would be had in that time – both testing the bounds of cardiac health.  Though Romo drove deep into Giant territory on the first, the drive ended harmlessly enough with Stevie Brown’s second interception of the game.  The second, however, proved a different story as Romo found an inexplicably open Dez Bryant in the back of the end zone who, if not for a thick coat of paint, would surely have scored.  As it was, the receiver’s fingers hit out of bounds, the cardiac arrests of Giant fans everywhere were assuaged, and with the help of a final play, thunder-deep overthrow by Romo, Big Blue had escaped with a win.

I’m a fan-veteran of two of the more breathtaking Super Bowls in recent memory, and I confess myself struggling to find a more exasperating win than this one.  And only a few days before Halloween I find a parallel between the Giant team that took the field today and the homicidal lunatic around which the holiday’s most well-known movie franchise has been built.

Mike Myers always starts strong – jacking up the body count in mythic faction.  Just past the halfway point though, his foe always seems to fight back and, eventually, looks to get the better of the supernatural killer.  But in the end, you look back to where the  vanquished body should be lying and find that the 18 bullets, chain saw, flamethrower and   pick-up truck had little impact.  He’d gotten away.  Like Mike Myers, the Giants may not have been as successful as we would have hoped, but they survived – and sometimes that’s all you can do in the NFL.  Survive, and move on.

GRADES: Offensive Line – B+: It was another solid game for the offensive line who helped the running backs collect over 100 yards rushing and kept Eli Manning on his feet for all but one pass attempt.  Good work for this ever-improving unit.

Running Backs – B: Very quietly, Ahamad Bradshaw and company had a good night – combing for 103 yards and a touchdown.  Perhaps one could knit-pick, but I’m rarely in the mood to do so after a win – especially when there are real concerns to be had…

Wide Receivers – D: Speaking of real concerns, what in the hell happened here? Nicks, Cruz, and Bennett all fell victim to a bad case of the drops tonight, killing Giant momentum early in the game.

Eli Manning – B-: It would be difficult to find an overwhelmingly positive adjective with which to appropriately describe Manning’s performance on Sunday – nothing stood out as particularly good.  And so I will rely on a line I have quoted so many times before – he made the plays when it counted.  It wasn’t great, but it was what was needed.

Special Teams – A-: Poor coverage on one kick-off represents the only blemish on a solid day, highlighted by the five-for-five day of Lawrence Tynes.  Oh, and Weatherford for MVP.

Defensive Line – B: Most would have to agree that the D-Line’s performance could have been better, but they dialed up pressure at some great times and collected four sacks of Romo – not to mention an interception and touchdown.  The upward trend of this underperforming unit of stars continues.

Linebackers – C-: How many times can Jason Witten be wide open for an eight yard gain?  At some point someone has to recognize that he’s running the same route every play, right?  RIGHT?

Secondary – F: Twenty seconds to play, only a touchdown beats you.  How does Dez Bryant make his way behind the secondary and into the end zone?  Gross incompetence, that’s how. It hasn’t been the rampant problem it was last year, but it was on display today. Amukamara got burned, Hosely looked outmatched, and quite frankly, the unit was bad. Except…

Stevie Brown – A+: Two picks, a fumble recovery, and a revelation.

Survive. That’s all they had to do, that’s what they did.  Next week it’s Giants – Steelers from Met Life Stadium.  Check back for a preview of that game and, as always, Go Giants!

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