Oct 29, 2006

Giants Week 8: A Win is a Win

That was the ugliest win of the season. But in the NFL, style points don't count. If a few close plays go Tampa's way, the Giants are lamenting a loss.

As an intelligent commentator said, "Most games in the NFL are lost rather than won." That was the case today, as the Bucs dropped pass after pass, comitted one huge unforced turnover, and even when the receivers were open, their rookie QB couldn't put the ball in their hands. Bruce Gradkowski completed just 20 of 48 passes (42%).

But the biggest discrepancies were in the running game and the turnover differential. With the latest version of 'Thunder & Lightning,' Tiki and Big J combined for 108 rushing yards, while Tampa ran for just 40. This also allowed the Gints to hold the ball 10 minutes more than Tampa. Jacobs had his usual assortment of punishing runs - including carrying Ronde Barber for 5 yards, and even Tiki had a particularly hard fought run, carrying a DB on his back as he gained a first down. It's really tough to see how any team can stop both of these guys. Maybe you stop Tiki, or maybe you stop Jacobs, but not both. The toughest test of the season is 2 weeks away as the Bears, having the #2 D in the NFL, come to town.

The Giants didn't commit any turnovers, and although Tampa had just one, it was HUGE. Gradkowski's pitch to Cadillac Williams was fumbled, and Fred Robbins recovered at Tampa's 28. The Gints scored 3 plays later to solidify the game with a 14-0 lead.

Tampa WR Joey Galloway dropped two big passes that hit him in the hands. The first drop I can understand, as Gibril Wilson was bearing down on him - and ended up drilling him anyway (what's the old saying? 'You're going to get drilled anyway, so you might as well catch the ball.') The second drop occurred without any threat of a big hit, so the blame lies squarely on Galloway (and the Giants D for letting him get open). If he makes one of those catches, the score might be very different.

In contrast to Galloway, Plaxico Burress made several great catches, including a spectacular grab to give the Gmen a 7-0 lead. It was a well designed play, and I expect to see it more often in future games: 2 WR shotgun, Tiki went in motion wide of Plax, Eli faked a screen to Tiki, the safety bought the fake, leaving Plax (6'5") one-on-one with Ronde Barber (5'10"), and Eli put it where only Plax could catch it, which he did with just his left hand.

Anyway, the D was mostly excellent (with help from the 40 mph wind). Despite missing 4 starters - DE Osi, CB Madison, LB Arrington and LB Short (who left in the 1st quarter), the D still held Tampa to just 174 total yards. Torbor, Wilkinson, and Emmons played well in the absences of Arrington and Short, while Kiwanuka filled in admirably (recording his first career sack) for Osi. Despite not getting a sack, Mike Strahan put continuous pressure on the QB, while Pierce, Robbins and Cofield held Cadillac Williams in check.

Next week is the lowly Texans, and the Gmen cannot look past them or they will lose. Houston has some dangerous offensive weapons, especially WR Andre Johnson, so they need to stay focused.

17-3 Giants (1 game lead over Dallas)

3*: Plaxico, 7 catches, 86 yds, 1 TD
2: Kiwanuka, 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumble
2: Pierce, 8 tackles, 1 forced fumble
2: Strahan, 4 tackles, 4 QB hits, 1 pass deflection
1: Webster, 6 tackles, 2 pass deflections
1: Tiki, 29 touches, 88 yds
1: Big J, 7 carries, 41 yds, 1 TD
1: Cofield, 1 tackle, 1 QB hit, 1 pass deflection

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