Oct 242007
 
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New York Giants 33 – San Francisco 49ers 15

by Damon Micalizzi for BigBlueInteractive.com

(Editor’s Note:  Damon is the Public Information Officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California.  He works around the clock with fire and other government agencies to keep the public informed).

Preface

As much as I love football, as much as I love the Giants, as I sit down to write this at 1:19 on Wednesday morning, my tired eyes and the lingering smell of smoke remind me that there is so much more to life than football.

I am very fortunate to live in beautiful Southern California.  It’s not so beautiful now.  Ashes continue to fall outside my window. It almost looks like snow flurries.  Everyone here wishes it was snow.  I’ve seen people’s homes burn to the ground while they stand watching in disbelief. Some of them now have nowhere to go. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced up and down the Southern California Coast, while Firefighters valiantly try to save their homes.  Mother nature hasn’t helped; as gusts that would make the swirling winds of Giants Stadium seem like a ceiling fan, continue to fan the flames in very unpredictable ways.

While Firefighters and other Emergency Teams continue to wage war against these fires that seemingly just won’t quit, all many people can do is wait. And pray.

Thank God, my home and my family are safe.  Though it’s hard to fully concentrate on football, writing this is a welcome distraction from the drama lighting up the skies in the distance.

Needless to say, this review will be a bit brief.

In Brief…

I haven’t been able to see too much TV the past few days, but from what I have seen and read, the Big Blue Bandwagon is getting pretty full. Don’t get me wrong.  It’s nice to hear some of the alleged experts finally start to acknowledge some of the good work done by the boys in blue over the past four weeks.  I just hope that the guys in the locker room don’t start to believe the hype.  If Giants fans have come to learn anything over the past few decades it is this: When the G-Men are supposed to be good… They break your heart.  It’s when they have had a chip on their shoulder, that they have had their best seasons.  Case in point, the years when they were supposed to be second fiddle to San Fran or Chicago.  For one reason or another this franchise has flourished when they weren’t supposed to.  They seem to relish being the underdog.

What a difference a month makes. Picked by many of these talking heads to finish in the cellar of the NFC East to start the season, I now am in disbelief by all of the positive press the Jints are receiving.  A five game winning streak has some of these clowns talking about a Giants Superbowl appearance.  While I believe wholeheartedly that this team has the talent to do it… Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  After losing to Dallas, the consensus choice to represent the NFC in the big game, and Brett Favre’s Cinderella Swan Song to start the season, the Giants have been impressive in winning their last five games. However, the combined record of the teams beat:  8-18.  Let’s not crown them yet.

Offense

I can’t believe I am saying this, but Kevin Gilbride called a hell of a game. From the first play of the game, I fell in love with the game plan.  Play action on a quick out to Shockey.  Not only does the play action freeze the linebackers and safeties who are most likely eager and amped at the outset of the game, but it gets Shockey involved from the get-go, which is never a bad thing.

Eli Manning looks more savvy and polished with each week.   From his continued ability to read the defense and audible to the “right” play to his knack for drawing offsides penalties with his cadence, Manning no longer looks the part of a wide-eyed kid playing in the NFL.

He has yet to have that “great game” this season, but it seems that every week is full of those “if only” plays.  If only the running backs didn’t drop five balls that hit them in the hands. If only that pass wasn’t tipped at the line, it wouldn’t have been picked.  The difference however, between this year’s “if only” plays and the ones of seasons’ past is, this year, his numbers still look pretty good and those plays aren’t costing the Giants the game.

Eli was crisp from the Giants’ very first possession. Using the play action fake to move the ball down the field with a series of passes that were right on the money.

Of course, the play-action pass is 150% more effective when you are running the ball at 5 plus yards a clip.  You can tell that Brandon Jacobs is starting to feel more confident in his knee as he is running the ball with a little more gusto. His speed is very unassuming as he routinely turned the corner off tackle against San Francisco for six and seven yard gains.  When it was all said and done, Jacobs had 107 yards on just 18 carries and a TD.

Derrick Ward is going to have to start catching the ball.  He’s dropped far too many passes this season.  Many if not all of them were his fault.  He continues to be a more than serviceable backup for Jacobs, and he is a threat both between the tackles and in the open field, but he dropped two passes that hit him in the hands. One of them would have been a TD.  Fortunately, Manning found Amani Toomer in the endzone two plays later.  On that throw, Manning expertly looked off the LB, pumped slightly to Mike Matthews, who was running an under route, and when the LB came up a step on the pump, Manning placed the ball just over his head where only Toomer could get it.

There’s a reason Reuben Droughns is returning kickoffs and handling short yardage.  I don’t know if he went to the Tom Coughlin Institute of ball security because he’s fumbled more than a few times in seasons past. Defenders are so good at stripping the ball these days; Droughns’ vice grip should not go unnoticed.

Nor should the play of the offensive line.  They are protecting the quarterback extremely well and they are opening huge holes for the running backs.  More importantly to Giants’ fans, they are not drawing penalty flags the way they (Luke Pettigout) did in the past. Take your hat off to David Diehl. The guy has done everything on the line except snap the ball and all he’s done is start every game for the past five years and do a more than solid job at every position. Chris Snee takes on D-Lineman with a nasty streak and Shaun O’Hara did a fabulous job of getting to the linebackers.  This group is quietly having a great season.

Defense

Remember when Giants’ fans were wondering where the hell is the pass rush after the first two games of the season??  Remember when they gave up 80 points in weeks one and two? Again, I’m not going to get too excited about this game because San Francisco is just awful, especially on offense.  Still though, Steve Spagnuolo has done a marvelous job with this unit.  Six more sacks on Sunday, and they probably could have had ten.  I don’t know if the front four is just so good they are masking the deficiencies of certain positions in the back seven but they are so good it might not matter.

Michael Strahan had maybe his best game in two years. Justin Tuck continues to wreak havoc almost every time he enters the game and Osi Umenyiora is undoubtedly the League’s Defensive Player of the Year… Thus far at least.   The Giants are not only getting pressure on opposing QBs, they are creating turnovers.

It sure seems like Sam Madison and Aaron Ross have more INTs this year than the Wills did in five years as the Giants starting corners.  Who would have ever thought that if you put a press corner in press coverage that he would play better?  Ross did get beat on the TD catch by Arnaz Battle.  I watched that play over and over.  He’s a hawk and his eyes got big, he misjudged the ball, gambled and lost.  He will only get better.

Special Teams

I said it earlier in the year and I’ll say it again:   Lawrence Tynes is going to cost this team a game at some point in the year.  He is garbage.  You don’t shank extra points.  Even if you kick it bad, on an extra point it’s supposed to go through.  This guy could screw up a cup of coffee.

To Sum It Up…

If you didn’t see the game and someone told you that the Giants would drop five passes, miss an extra point, have a punt blocked in the endzone for a safety and Eli would throw an interception, what would you think the outcome of the game would be?

Surely you wouldn’t think the Giants won in a blow out.  Six sacks and four turnovers along with a ball control attack that takes chunks of time off the clock are the reasons the Giants were able to overcome those issues.  And remember, the 49ers stink.

Now they take their act overseas.  I’m not worried about a letdown at Wembley.  Osi could probably beat the Dolphins by himself.  Plus they aren’t as likely to get as much media love in Great Britain.

By the way, apparently Tom Coughlin and the boys pay attention to my game reviews.  Last week I asked for McConkey… I mean McQuarters to stop being so quick to wave his arm in the air and actually try to return a punt for once and he did, three times.

Here’s my plea for this week: Lawrence Tynes was born in Scotland. If he is still is on the roster on Sunday, leave him there.

More importantly, someone send us some rain here in California.

(Box Score – San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, October 21, 2007)
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