Archive for January, 2008

Next Stop: AZ

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Simply one of the best championship games I’ve have seen, and it equates in so many ways to the 1991 championship game win over San Fran. Facing a legendary QB (Montana versus Favre). Last play is a game winning FG. No one really giving the visiting Giants a chance. There is just so much to talk about so let’s get right to it.

The Giants are in the Super Bowl because they basically beat Green Bay in every phase of the game. Let’s start with the weather. Everyone focused on temperature all week, but if you took someone who knew nothing about either team, they would have told you the Giants were from the Frozen Tundra and not the Pack. Anyone see Favre on the sideline? He looked whipped because of the cold. Eli?? That guy never even blinked, and his performance on the field was outstanding. A glance at the stats doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story. Almost every pass he threw was catchable and accurate, and he probably lost about 60-75 passing yards on drops. In a wind chill of  minus 25, Eli Manning played superb and for the third straight week, outplayed his counter part. Brandon Jacobs set the tone with his absolute crushing hit on the first carry of the game, while Plax gave Al Harris a lesson in humility. Any whispers about Burress not being a big game player were put to rest. He’s done it all this season.

Defensively, the Giants put he clamps on the Green Bay offense. I knew they’d shut down Ryan Grant. More formidable was the Green Bay passing game, but here’s where the cold actually helped the Giants. And Steve Spagnuolo again called a tremendous game. Green Bay finished an awful 1-10 on third down conversions. This shows you how far the Giants have come. Their major weakness entering the 2007 season was getting off the field on third down. Again, Corey Webster (again!) made the big play, this time a pick in OT to put the Giants in position to win it. This guy, destined to be cut next training camp, has played himself back on the team. Maybe the kid got a wakeup with his midseason benching.

Finally, how about Lawrence Tynes. This guy has taken abuse this season from radio callers and bloggers alike, but it’s somewhat a mystery to me. Outside the 40 this season, he’s perfect (8-8). Overall, he is 23-27 (85%) which is pretty damn good. And when you consider the problems we had early on with the snaps from center, I think he’s done about as well as we could hope for, especially in the Meadowlands. So flashback to Sunday night. He’s already 2-2 and has a chance to put the Giants in front with six minutes and change left with a 37 yarder. Misses it. Again gets the chance to win it with four seconds left…very high snap, Feagles gets it down, clunks it wayyyy left. At that point, for the first time really in the game, I though the Giants were doomed. And you had to really feel for Tynes. He’s kicking a rock hard ball in the most awful conditions, nevermind it’s a pressure packed spot. But to his credit, and we heard this from Coughlin, he was ready to roll when the Giants were faced with 4th and 5 from the GB 30 yard line in OT.

And what does Tynes do? Nails it. First kick ever over 40 yards to win a playoff game at Lambeau Field.

Giants win, Giants win.

And Tynes is now 9-9 over 40.

The Comeback Kid

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

No, I am not talking about Bill Clinton or wife Hillary. I’m talking Corey Webster. Corey Webster???  It’s interesting that he gets top billing in this week’s entry (especially after making it into last week’s as well) but it exemplifies the Giants this past weekend. All guts. Do people realize the Giants played that second half with their first three starting CB’s out of the game? The Giants did their best “rope-a-dope” in the first half, limiting the Cowboys to just 14 points which had to be considered a moral victory. Then Spagnuolo did a tremendous of job dialing up different looks and schemes to frustrate Tony Romo in that final quarter. Clearly, that is the most rattled we’ve seen the Dallas QB who definitely was “flustered” as Fox announcer Joe Buck pointed out.  Osi and Strahan somehow got stronger as the game went on. The Giant defense, always a target of the NY media, finally came through in the biggest of spots, not once, but twice.

The offense didn’t have the ball a whole lot, but made big plays when it had to. Scoring on the first drive to take a 7-0 lead was huge. Scoring at the end of the half to tie the game at 14 was quite possibly the turning point of the game. Sure Dallas would regain the lead by kicking a FG on their opening second half possession, but that score before the end of the half put some doubt into the Cowboys. As fate would have it, a huge third down drop by Patrick “The Mouth” Crayton in the third quarter would help lead to the go ahead score, courtesy of an RW McQuarters’ clutch punt return to put the team within easy striking distance. Then the defense did their part.

Eli Manning was again efficient and didn’t turn the ball over. That drive before the end of the first half featured big time throws. Has he arrived? At the very least, he has proven that you can win big games with Eli Manning at QB. Football more than any sport is a team game, and one guy can’t do it alone. Manning is finally getting help from all areas, including (finally!) the coaching staff these past three games.

Finally, it’s on to Green Bay with a Super Bowl berth on the line. Green Bay is feeling pretty good right now, and here’s hoping they come in a bit too cocky. We already know it is going to be cold and a strong running game will be in order. I am more concerned with Bret Favre then the suddenly potent Packer rushing attack. I am confident they will keep Ryan Grant in check. It’s just a matter of the Giants covering the Packers’ wideouts (especially in their five wide formation) and forcing Favre into bad throws. It’s a huge task, especially since this will be their third straight road playoff game. Can they do it? I wouldn’t put it past them.

Going Back to Dallas, Boys!!!!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Remember LT’s great quote after beating the Bears in 1990: “Going back to San Francisco, boys,” he shouted on the winning sideline. I think everyone wanted another shot at Dallas and we get it this Sunday, 4:30 EST. They are going there because the Giants proved to be just a flat out better team than Tampa in every single phase of the game. After withstanding the emotional rush that Tampa had in the first quarter, the Giants simply imposed their will on the inferior Bucs. Eli played about as smart and efficient game as you’ll see from a QB. He was completely in control and hit several key third down passes. The 91 yard, eight minute drive to seal the game was a thing of beauty. The defense harassed Jeff Garcia all day and covered his receivers with equal tenacity. Even the much maligned Corey Webster, who I have taken shots at on this blog, came up big with a interception, special teams fumble recovery, and two passes defended.  A potential weak spot turned into a strength on this day.

As terrific a win it was, I almost got the same enjoyment out of watching Eli’s post game press conference. It was pretty funny hearing him speak on Rondi Barber, whom he victimized on that final TD pass. Eli took the high road (good for him) but still got a chuckle from the press about his comment of “good game” to Rondi afterwards. I don’t have Sirius radio but their Barber Shop program would be a fun listen this week. I’m sure they’ll have some good excuses.

So what do the Giants need to do to beat Dallas? It’s a big challange. The real question is what state of mind are the Cowboys in? They sorta limped down the stretch and their marquee player, TO, might not be 100%. They’ve looked particularly ordinary without Owens and his health will be a major factor. If he is only, say 75%, I give the Giants a good chance to win. And let’s not forget that Wade Phillips as well as Romo have their own playoff “monkey” to contend with.