Sep 282001
 

Approach to the Game – New Orleans Saints at New York Giants, September 30, 2001: This game is far, far more important than the two AFC games already played. Aside from their divisional opponents, the Giants play four other NFC teams this season – the Saints being one of them. The others are the Vikings, Rams, and Packers. To win the division, the Giants probably have to split these four games. And on top of all of that, if the Giants don’t win the division, then any chance to make the playoffs via the Wild Card route may rest of this Sunday’s results since New Orleans will undoubtably be in playoff contention.

The Saints are a lot like the Giants. They are a well-rounded football team who plays great defense and who can run and pass on offense. The play of the two quarterbacks and special teams may prove decisive.

Be loud and supportive this weekend Giants fans – the Saints are one of the best teams in the NFL and the team needs the twelfth man to help them out.

Giants on Defense: Those looking for an improved pass rush this weekend won’t find it. The Saints have arguably the best offensive line in the NFC. The Giants also must concentrate big-time on the ground game. And lastly, once the Giants are in passing situations, the down four must maintain pass rush lane discipline in order to keep the very mobile and elusive QB Aaron Brooks from hurting them. In other words, the pass rushers can’t be as creative or unpredictable as they would like. This makes it easy to pass block for New Orleans.

Kenny Holmes gets yet another tough opponent in perennial Pro Bowler Willie Roaf. But the Giants did not sign Holmes merely to play well against the average players of the league. It’s time for Holmes to start really earning his paycheck. I don’t care about the pass pressure this week from Kenny; what he needs to do is anchor well and/or penetrate against the ground game. The Saints are going to test the right side of the Giants’ defense big-time and Kenny will be the man on the spot. The Giants need another big game out of DT Keith Hamilton this week since he plays next to Holmes. “Hammer” faces LG Wally Williams. Aside from Holmes, the other guy up front who has to play better against the run is DT Cornelius Griffin who has demonstrated problems against the double-team. Unfortunately, like last week, he faces a very good right guard: former first rounder Chris Naeole who can muscle and maul with the best of them. It doesn’t get any easier for DE Michael Strahan who faces one of the best right tackles in the game, Kyle Turley (another first rounder). OC Jerry Fontenot is a savvy technician. The Saints’ line is one of the few power lines in the game and the Giants have had problems in the past with power lines (i.e., the Titans). There feature tail back, Ricky Williams, will over-power you too – similar to Eddie George. The Giants are going to have to play a very physical game up front if they want to stop the running game. At the same time, they need to use their quickness to penetrate and disrupt.

Key to defending the run will also be the play of the linebackers. Jessie Armstead needs to start making more plays. Brandon Short’s physical style should come in handy. Hopefully, Mike Barrow plays as well as he did last week. Terrelle Smith is a crunching lead blocker at fullback and Deuce McAllister is this year’s first round pick who backs up Ricky Williams. It’s a dangerous backfield. The good news is that TE Cam Cleeland of the Saints is hampered by a hamstring. If he does play, he is a dangerous weapon who must be kept aware of. The bad news is that Ricky Williams is becoming a bigger factor in catching the ball out of the backfield. He really hurt the Bills with his pass catching last week. The linebackers need to do a good job of covering him.

QB Aaron Brooks has performed incredibly well in his short tenure as a starter, despite his inexperience. Obviously what the Giants need to do in coverage is to mix things up and attempt to confuse him. Keep switching between man, zone, and combo man-zone coverages. Play tight, then play loose. Keep him off balance.

WR Joe Horn made the Pro Bowl last year and he can get deep. It will be interesting to see if the Giants keep Will Allen on him or move Jason Sehorn over. Willie Jackson is steady. Albert Connell has very good speed and he has given the Giants problems in the past as a Redskin.

A real key is going to be to contain Brooks in the pocket. He is similar to Donovan McNabb in the way that he can hurt you with his feet. All four down linemen must be disciplined enough to not create big gaps when rushing the passer. Look for John Fox to use many of the same defensive tactics that he employs against the Eagles in passing situations.

Giants on Offense: The nightmare for the Giants up front is the Saints’ defensive line, arguably the very best in all of football. All can rush the passer and play the run. It doesn’t help that RG Ron Stone (shoulder) is ailing. He faces the run-stuffing monster of the group, Norman Hand. Stone will be able to assist his team (and his contract status) greatly if he can consistently generate movement on Hand. LG Glenn Parker may have the toughest test in combating Pro Bowl DT La’Roi Glover (17 sacks in 2000) – a player who may be better than Warren Sapp. He’s going to need help from Dusty Zeigler there. LT Lomas Brown faces Pro Bowl DE Joe Johnson – one of the most underappreciated players in the league among fans. He is a difference-maker. DE Darren Howard, who impressed greatly last year as a rookie, faces RT Luke Petitgout.

The Giants’ offensive line is going to have to play one of the best games they have ever played in order for the offense to be effective. The Saints are going to make plays. They will stuff many runs and they will sack Kerry Collins. But what the Giants need to do is keep these negative plays to a minimum and not get discouraged. Smart offensive design and play-calling by Offensive Coordinator Sean Payton will be crucial. The Giants may want to slow the Saints down with some misdirection, screens, and draws. It will be interesting to see if the Giants use more of the power running approach (Ron Dayne) or the quick-strike approach (Tiki Barber).

Also interesting to watch is whether the Giants come out passing or running. I think I would come out throwing and try to get an early lead – then settle back into the ground game. I would pass on first and second down when the chances of success are greater. The Saints have a decent secondary, but one that can be exploited if the offensive line can give Collins and the receivers time (a big “if”). Ike Hilliard will probably see about 10 plays of action, but it is Amani Toomer and Joe Jurevicius who need to make plays and score touchdowns. Taking a shot with Ron Dixon might be wise as well. SS Sammy Knight is their leading play-maker in the secondary.

The Giants need Kerry Collins to play tough this week. He’s going to get pressured, hit, and sacked. He must rebound from all of this and continue to make plays. Most importantly, don’t make any killer turnovers. For the Giants to win, he MUST out-play Aaron Brooks.

Giants on Special Teams: Games between evenly-matched teams are often decided by special teams play. Michael Lewis is a dangerous punt and kick returner.

Sep 262001
 
Ad placed by the New York Giants in The Kansas City Star (September 2011)

Ad placed by the New York Giants in The Kansas City Star

New York Giants 13 – Kansas City Chiefs 3

Game Overview: Give the coaching staff and the players credit for being mentally prepared to win this game given the emotional couple of weeks the team and the City have gone through. The Giants had a built-in excuse for a loss in a place that NFC teams have not been successful. But the Giants put the game away early, then coasted the rest of the way.

Special Teams: As good as they have been in a long, long time. The kicking game was outstanding. Owen Pochman nailed two kick-offs into the endzone with the wind at his back and one to the two-yard line when kicking into the wind. Coverage on the two that were returned was good with Thabiti Davis being active. Morton Andersen was perfect on his two field goal attempts – right down the middle. Rodney Williams’ punting remains strong, though he could have done a better job on two coffin corner attempts – one bounced into the endzone and the other was short to the 17 yard line. His other two punts were boomers with height and distance and he finished with a 43.8 yards-per-punt average. I spotted Dhani Jones and Brandon Short also making a play on one punt return.

Tiki Barber looked much better on punt returns this week and broke a 23 yarder that set up the Giants’ first field goal. The interesting thing is that, unlike the preseason, the Giants have finally started to double the opposition’s gunners. Emmanuel McDaniel and Will Allen had key blocks on the return. Another decent return was brought back due to a block in the back by Clayton White. Ron Dixon was OK on his only return.

Defensive Line: Aside from DT Keith Hamilton, the line was fairly quiet. DE Kenny Holmes should have intercepted the ball on the first offensive play of the game on a zone blitz. He later batted a ball down at the line of scrimmage. But aside from that, LT John Tait pretty much had his way with him. DE Michael Strahan was not much of a factor. He got handled (a rarity for him) on the 19-yard run to his side on the Chiefs’ second drive. Michael did defend a short pass well to the halfback, getting out quickly to make the tackle. He also had one good pass rush on the play where CB Jason Sehorn also blitzed in the 3rd quarter. Strahan later followed this up by tackling the running back for a loss. DT Cornelius Griffin got some quick pressure on the second play of the game, but didn’t make much noise either. He continues to have some problems at the point-of-attack against the double-team. Hamilton picked up the Giants only sack. It came in a huge situation: 4th-and-7 on the Chiefs’ last drive of the first half. Keith overpowered the center on the play. He also gave the interior of the Kansas City offensive line fits at times with his strength.

Linebackers: A much better performance by all three. Keep in mind that the Chiefs like to throw to their backs and tight ends a lot and all three were called upon to be in coverage much of the game. It’s hard to notice someone when they are effectively covering their man and the quarterback isn’t throwing in their direction.

The defensive star of the game for the Giants was Mike Barrow (11 tackles). He and Brandon Short set the tone on the first play with a blitz that almost led to an interception. Barrow did a nice job on the Chiefs’ fourth drive when he shot into the backfield and nailed the ball carrier for a loss. On the very next drive, he clobbered the back coming out of the backfield for a short pass. In the second half, he was very active in pass defense and made a very nice play in the backfield on a running play (Strahan caused a fumble on the play). Jessie Armtead got handled early on a running play by Tony Gonzalez, but he did a good job on two occasions where Trent Green tried to scramble for a first down. On the Chiefs’ second drive, he was the sole defender to sniff out a misdirection toss to the back. Although he missed the tackle, he disrupted the timing of the play and prevented a big gain. He later missed a tackle in the backfield. Jessie almost sacked Trent Green on a blitz; intentional grounding should have been called, but wasn’t.

Brandon Short had me a bit worried early when he got caught up in traffic on the 19-yarder on his side. However, after that, he did a good job of forcing the issue by a couple of times coming up aggressively to take on blockers on runs in his direction. Surprisingly, Short (like Armstead and Barrow) did a good job in coverage, including on Gonzalez.

Defensive Backs: Strong game for the most part though it is tough to grade the unit given the Chiefs woes at wide receiver. All four starters in the secondary (and the linebackers) were involved at some point in covering Tony Gonzalez as Defensive Coordinator John Fox came up with a good plan to disrupt his game. Gonzalez had a big 3rd-and-3 catch early, but was held pretty quiet after that.

Williams made the defensive play of the game with his interception in the endzone when it looked like Kansas City was about to score. He did a good job of baiting Trent Green and then coming over to help out Short on Gonzalez on the play. Williams almost came up with a second interception in the first half on a diving attempt. On the negative side, Williams took the wrong angle on the 19-run mentioned earlier. However, his strong run defense prevented a first down on the 3rd-and-3 play right before the Chiefs’ field goal in the third quarter.

Sam Garnes continues to have some problems helping out the corner on deep sideline passes. He just isn’t getting over fast enough. Both Jason Sehorn and Will Allen got beat deep and in both cases Garnes was a step late.

Will Allen did pretty darn well. He had some problems with Gonazlez on one play where the tight end pivoted away from him. He also got beat deep by Chris Thomas when he was caught looking back at the quarterback too early. But he showed great recovery speed on a 3rd-and-6 play earlier where he almost came up with a diving interception. On the play after he got beat deep, he perfectly broke up another deep pass into the endzone. In the 4th quarter, Allen perfectly defended what I think was a skinny post pattern. I liked the way Allen also aggressively attacked the ball carrier on a screen pass and on a run to his side of the field.

Jason Sehorn kept his man quiet except for two plays. He got beat by Chris Thomas on an out pattern for a first down on the Chiefs’ last drive of the first half. He later got beat pretty badly by Snoop Minnis for a big gain on 3rd-and-11. This set up the Chiefs’ only points of the game. On a side note, it was good to see Jason being used on the blitz again and he almost sacked Green. This shows that John Fox has more confidence in his other corners this year.

Will Peterson is the new nickel back. He played well and only appeared to give up one play. Peterson got beat by Chris Thomas on 3rd-and-7 for a first down in the 4th quarter. However, he immediately followed that up by doing a great job defending a deep sideline pass.

Quarterback: If you take away Kerry Collins’ three interceptions (a big “if”), then he played a very efficient game (20-34 for 208 yards) and kept the chains moving – especially in the first half. One of his picks was a bit understandable in that his long pass to an open Amani Toomer was knocked down a bit by a stiff wind. But the other two picks came when he threw into double-coverage. Collins was the first to admit his mistakes after the game. Speaking of turnovers, the old Kerry Collins used to fumble all the time when hit (in 1999 and before he came to the Giants). Fumbling was not a problem for him in 2000 and he did a great job of holding onto the ball when he was crushed from the blind-side in the third quarter.

The other area where Collins has really progressed is that he looking off the safety more and more – that shows that he’s maturing into a real veteran. His favorite target on the day was Joe Jurevicius, but he also found Amani Toomer a few times to keep drives alive. Most impressive was his work on the Giants’ TD drive and the two-minute drill (actually 64 second drill) right before halftime. On the TD drive, he hit Jurevicius twice before finding Tiki Barber on a screen. He then threw to Dan Campbell for 22 yards. On the drive before halftime, he hit Toomer once and Jurevicius twice to set up the field goal with only four seconds left.

On the first drive of the second half, it looked like the Giants were going to mount another successful long drive again. Collins hit Toomer for a first down on 3rd-and-6. He then found Tiki over the middle for a first down on 3rd-and-10. But the drive stalled when Collins rolled out of the pocket and threw the ball away in the next third down situation. It was a bad play by Collins as he was facing no pressure at all.

Wide Receivers: Joe Jurevicius (7 catches for 90 yards) had his best day as a pro. What I liked is that he has finally started to use his big body in coming down with the ball against tight coverage. This happened on the catch over the CB on the Giants’ fifth drive on a deep sideline pass. The only negative I saw on JJ was that he missed a block on WLB Donnie Edwards that led to the halfback getting nailed in the backfield on the second drive of the game.

The Chiefs seemed to focusing more attention on Amani Toomer (5 catches for 51 yards), as they should have. Still, Toomer came up with several short- to intermediate-range catches to pick up first downs. Toomer did drop one ball on 3rd-and-9. Ron Dixon and Thabiti Davis did not make an impact in the passing game. I get the sense that the Giants are setting something up for a later opponent when they had Dixon carry the ball out of the backfield.

Tight Ends: Fairly strong game for the tight ends, especially in the run blocking department. It’s interesting that the Giants like to pull Dan Campbell quite a bit now – almost like a guard. They seem to like the play where he and Glenn Parker pull to the right. Another interesting twist is what the Giants did with Greg Comella on one play and Dan Campbell on another. On different plays, one of these two was lined up in a down position a step off of the line of scrimmage between the tackle and tight end. On one of these occasions, Comella pulled and actually got a great block on the defensive lineman that Glenn Parker also made contact with.

I spent a lot of time watching Dan Campbell blocking this week and came away impressed. Campbell didn’t start of the game blocking well as he missed his block on a pull to the right and Ron Dayne got nailed at the line. He also couldn’t come up with an errant pass from Collins on the first drive. But after that, he played well and did a good job of not only sustaining his blocks, but also getting movement. He combined with Greg Comella to lead the way for Barber on a six yard run on the third drive. On the next drive, the big play on the TD march was his 22 yard catch-and-run where he showed pretty good speed for a big man. He had a very good block on Dayne’s ensuing touchdown run. So did Howard Cross. There was an interesting play that was a bit of a role reversal for Campbell and Cross. Campbell remained in the down position as Cross become the move tight end. Cross then stopped in front of the back and became the de facto lead fullback and got a good block. I really like the way Payton is mixing up his use of the tight ends and Comella.

Running Backs: Greg Comella’s blocking keeps improving and improving. He also had three catches for 15 yards. One catch went for a first down on 3rd-and-5.

What impressed me a lot about Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber this week was their blitz pick-ups. Both did a great job of providing Kerry Collins with extra time. Tiki Barber (12 carries for 33 yards; 4 catches for 30 yards) is getting more into the flow of things, but he still isn’t quite there yet. He had two big plays on the TD drive: a screen pass that picked up 11 yards and a 13 yard counter to the left. Tiki also picked up 9 yards on the delay handoff on the last drive before halftime. Barber did drop a pass and a pitch.

Ron Dayne (16 carries for 46 yards) continues to run well. The times when he gets nailed for no gain are times now when inevitably the blocking broke down on the play – in other words, it wasn’t his fault. Contrary to last year, he is also showing better vision and moves in short yardage situations. And, as I have emphasized before, he is keeping his feet moving upon contact now. There were many times when he dragged tacklers and extra yard or two on Sunday. His right-side touchdown was a thing of beauty as he exploded through the hole with solid vision and power.

Offensive Line: Pass protection was very strong as Kerry Collins generally had good time to throw. The only exception came on some confusion/miscommunication when the left side of the line did not adjust to pick up a linebacker blitz and Collins was nailed. The run blocking was a bit up-and-down, but the Chiefs were playing a lot of men up at the line of scrimmage and they have a very active linebackers and safeties (sometimes you have to give the opponent credit too fellas). I was impressed with the game Luke Petitgout had. Not only did he keep his man quiet in the pass rush department, but when I watched him, he was getting very good movement in his run blocks. He did have one false start penalty however. Ron Stone had to leave the game for a couple of series with a shoulder injury, but returned. He played pretty well too, except for one play where his man shot into the backfield and tackled Tiki Barber for a loss in the third quarter. I even saw Stone get out on the middle linebacker and make a very good block, leading to a five-yard gain by Dayne. While he was out, Jason Whittle came in and did a great job. Whittle, Petitgout, and Zeigler blasted the center of the Chiefs’ line on Dayne’s 10-yard run in the second quarter. Petitgout and Glenn Parker combined with Campbell and Cross to blow up the left side of the Chiefs’ defense on Dayne’s 7-yard touchdown run. On a 2nd-and-4 play in the second quarter, Parker, Lomas Brown, and Comella created the space for Dayne to pick-up another first down. Parker and Brown did likewise make strong straight-ahead blocks on a 4-yard carry on the first offensive play of the second half.

After an up-and-down preseason, Lomas Brown has really settled down and is playing well at left tackle. Parker had his ups-and-downs in the run blocking department. When he gets out quick enough on his pulls, he can be very effective. But if he doesn’t, the play gets disrupted in the backfield pretty easily. The Giants have to be careful that their opponents now know that New York loves these right-side pulls.

The Giants’ line finished the game with a great drive where they ran off the final 7 minutes and 21 seconds of the clock. The drive started off with a great block from Ron Stone. Dayne did a good job of moving his feet on 3rd-and-1 to pick up the first. The drive was kept alive by a big-time play from Collins where he stepped up into the pocket despite some intense pressure to hit Toomer for a first down on 3rd-and-7. Kerry followed that up with a naked bootleg for a first down on 2nd-and-9. Then twice the line afforded Dayne more room to run against a defense stacked against it. Barber’s swing pass for a first down on 4th-and-2 allowed the Giants to kneel on the ball.


Goin To Kansas City…

by David Oliver

Reading Montreal Man’s thread yesterday made me feel better. I thought I was stuck in gear and couldn’t get out, and I felt guilty because the rest of the Country seemed to be moving forward. The events of the last two weeks are akin to a very personal loss, the loss of a family member. Losing anywhere from 6 to 10,000 fellow citizens, many of them Giants fans, is horrifying – it is difficult to comprehend slaughter of that magnitude. The loss of a cultural icon is like the taste of dirt in the mouth after a nasty tackle. So it was morbid habit that led me to the TV. And the people of Kansas City responded as most mid-Westerners, with a sense of humanity. Sure, they are different than New Yorkers but I have never failed to be overwhelmed by their friendliness and kindness on my visits to the area. Watching the Giants during the Anthem was difficult. Thabiti Davis stood in a salute, Dan Campbell openly shed tears. The hats, the solemnity, made me ashamed for not going.

So how harshly should we judge this team, or grade it’s performance. They have been through more than most of us these past 2 weeks, and that is saying quite a bit. And they are young men, most in their 20s, many in their early 20s.This thing about getting back to business, it’s darn tough. The bottom line is this: the Giants won the game. Was it electrifying as the Vikings Championship rout? No. Did the team look like a well-oiled, precision instrument, ready to return to the Super Bowl? In truth, No. Did the team look like a bunch of stumblebum, no account losers? Hell No. The Giants played for pride, they played for NY and New Yorkers, they played for us. They carried the burden and they didn’t let down. That says tons about the character of these young men, and their coaches, so I am willing to cut them quite a bit of slack on this one.

I read in The Post today where some news agency is prohibiting their reporters from wearing the American Flag – they are doing this in the name of journalistic objectivity. Beats me as to what they are talking about. We all watched that game yesterday, and being a patriot and a Giants fan, is not impeding my objectivity, well, at least until someone tells me what true objectivity in journalism is really. So, after cutting the team all that slack, I should point that there were some warts on the beauty and all the makeup of the day’s events couldn’t hide them.

Coaching: Offense – for all the confusion over Sean Payton’s play calling, it is getting better. There was a ton of movement and deception, without any fumbling, guys running into each other or time penalties. What this tells me is that the work in progress is nearing some final stage. It worked well in the first half. Greg Robinson (KC defensive coordinator) is a smart coach, who utilizes an aggressive strategy. This is not a bogus defense; it is quite good. Review the tape again. It’s not that the motion didn’t work in the second half; there wasn’t as much motion. The Giants did adjust. They realized that going into the wind, the passes weren’t getting there. And they realized that there was an opportunity to establish a run game. The Giants don’t lose many games when they run 26 times or more. They did that. The two backs accounted for about 90 yards. The use of Dixon in the backfield may have been mystifying, but I thought there was a good opportunity for a reverse as the KC guys were over pursuing. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was competent.

Defense – Harder to gauge. John Fox has been forced into some unorthodox formations to hide deficiencies. Rushing a three-man front allowed the Chiefs to get some pretty good ground yardage. But, it stopped TE Tony Gonzalez. The D was dropping people into zone blitz formations, using corners on tight ends and blitzing safeties and Lbs – problem was that KC picked up a lot of them. Bottom line – until I know the Giants front 4 are healthy, Jason Sehorn is back 100 percent and Allen and Short play together for a while, I can’t figure out if the Offensive Coordinators are on to Fox, or whether this line is as good as we all believed it would be.

Kicking Game: Pokemon (Owen Pochman) seems like the real deal on kick offs, Mort (Morten Andersen) is the real deal on FGs and Rodney “BoomBoom” Williams has a very nice foot. Crunch time comes when someone has to go. If the Giants carry 3 kickers all season, it may hurt if someone is injured elsewhere. Just a little review – why do Specials look better? Pokemon kicks off three yards deep – run back to the 16. Pokemon kicks off five yards deep – no return. Pokemon kicks off into the wind to the two, return to 25. Rodney Williams 51 yd punt, bounced into end zone. RW punt – tried for corner – out at the 17. RW booms punt 53 yds into wind – first punt with spotty coverage – 15 yard return. RW punt 48 yds, 4.7 hang time. Anderson, solid on two field goals.

Kerry Collins: Not outstanding, but solid. He hasn’t panicked or withered under the pretty good rush efforts of two teams. He is developing a nice rapport with Joe Jurevicius (JJ). Amani Toomer is the go to guy. KC is trying too hard to make something good happen. KC has a lot of trouble throwing on the roll out – so do a lot of other QBs. The throw to Amani that was picked – as color commentator Bill Maas pointed out it was into the wind and would have had to travel 60 yards in the air. The third INT followed a sack. KC was a little rattled on this possession. All in all, he had some nice fakes was throwing hard and crisply. BB56, you mentioned a play where KC stepped up in the pocket and “found ” his receiver. He was running for his life and spotted a receiver. He fired that ball, on the run, not his strong suite, and it was a very, very nice catch (20 yard gain). Only 1 sack; 4 or 5 hurries.

Running Backs: Very nicely balanced attack. The Great Dayne is running more purposely. He is slamming into the holes. His off tackle TD was a very nice run. Dayne also made the tackle on KC’s first INT and he made a beautiful block on a blitz pick-up on the Giants’ third possession. The game plan is working more straight ahead runs for RD and that is helping as it cuts down the time he needs to get into the hole. Tiki is still rounding into shape. His punt returns were better, he made a few nice runs and caught a few. However, he was shoe-stringed a couple of times, which won’t happen when he is up to full speed. He is getting knocked around, which also says something about conditioning. But he is getting there. Thunder & Lightning are preparing for Broadway. Dixon – not a running back. The nicest drive was the most balanced and it was the TD drive. Tiki off the right side for 5. KC to JJ, w/empty backfield – 1st down; KC to JJ to the 47 (Dayne & Glenn Parker picked up the blitz); Tiki for a couple, KC to Tiki to the Chiefs 37 (KC had a nice fake); Motion penalty. KC to Dan Campbell – amen, a tight end play – very nice; fake left, quick out to Tiki; Tiki away from the blocking, nice gain; Dayne for the TD. Tiki also picked up a blitz. One nice run play was the naked bootleg by KC to keep the final drive going.

The Line: Some very good blocking, some spotty. Considering that KC started with 8 men in the box and finished by blitzing on almost every play, there were some good pick ups by the backs and some nice blocking by Greg Comella and the interior of the line. The rush only got to KC once, the pocket collapsed once and there were 3 or 4 other hurries. There were also some nice holes for the backs, which must be recognized because of the 8 man front. Considering that Parker and Howard Cross are still working into shape and that Stone had a bruised shoulder, the performance wasn’t bad. It wasn’t dominant, but it wasn’t bad.

Defense: Here I have some worries. Christian Peter and Cedric Jones were journeymen. But no one ran on the right side of the Giants’ D. This year, both opponents have gone around that side at will. Conclusion, Kenny Holmes is still hurt and Grif (Cornelius Griffin) isn’t 100%. Cutting Ryan Hale saved money, but it also has lessened the rotation, which means that Grif in particular can’t rest the ankle. And the rookie corners have been terrible in support. These guys better heal quickly because there is a huge vulnerability on the right which will be exploited. Hammer (Keith Hamilton) is a beast, but with three guys hanging onto him all the time, he isn’t scoring. This emphasizes the weakness everywhere else as with three on Hammer, the other guys are 1-on-1. Strahan had a so-so game. Of the linebackers, Mike Barrow is a dervish. He was smacking guys all over the place. Jessie Armstead has been in absentia (although he almost had an INT and had a nice blitz) and Brandon Short is still learning his position. He made some nice breaks into the backfield, but he gets lost in some coverage schemes. The corners – Will Allen at least stays in the vicinity of his man and makes a play once in a while. But he looks into the backfield too much. The Seahawks have two inexperienced corners and Donovan McNabb made them pay. KC has no legit wide receivers healthy, but Snoop Minnis was beginning to find the seams. Had Sam Garnes not knocked him out, the game would have been closer. These kids have to grow up fast. In a way, it’s good Green Bay will be at the end – frankly, Farve would have eaten our corners alive. Peterson is going to be good, but he didn’t take EMacs’ (Emmanuel McDaniel) job – it has been given to him. The coaching staff has now made the conscious decision to go with youth and it will hurt the Giants badly when the gunners start firing. Fox’s defenses are complicated. The Giants now have a LB, and end, a tackle, and 1 or 2 corners new to the scheme, and none have played a whole game together. Fox is using every trick in the book to hold it together and it’s working, for the time being. New Orleans is another big test as Ricky Williams and Deuce McAllister will be coming at them. The safeties miss one now and then, but Shaun Williams has come up big and Garnes walloped Snoop into next week which saved the game.

Take a look – Kenny Holmes started by dropping into zone blitz formation, with early success. But there was no pass rush early in the game. The KC receivers dropped a few. Gonzo (Tony Gonzalez) caught one over the middle, Richardson went around the right side for 19 – 19 yards on the Giants D. Gonzo and Richardson again had success but Shaun Williams INT in the end zone – probably the biggest single play of the game. Then, Green had all day, but the coverage was excellent, Barrow started exerting, coverage again. Green had all day to stand back there on the 4th possession, but the coverage was great.. Then Priest Holmes went up the middle on a big run and Barrow again exerted making two tackles. Allen had nice coverage on a long incomplete – he was beaten but the pass didn’t get there – very unlike Green against the Giants. The Chiefs repeatedly picked up blitzing Giants, Allen was caught looking into the backfield, Shaun Williams had a very nice defensed pass then Hammer shook off his blockers and made the one handed grab and sack of Green – really showed his strength on this one. That was all in the first half. Then Minnis began making catches – that is until Sam Garnes knocked him out and out of the game. Richardson started pounding the middle until the entire D got angry and gang tackled him. The Giants went back to a four-man line but there were a lot of missed tackles on a screen play. The D then stiffened. Green started missing receivers – actually there weren’t any major league receivers in there for KC Sehorn made a play, then Barrow made a couple of more plays. On the next possession, Jessie blitzed, then Priest Holmes fumbled, then Barrow in again, a big rush by Hammer but Peterson was beaten. However, Peterson had perfect position on the next pass, which was incomplete. Allen had a nice defensed pass, Richardson dropped one and Peterson missed a FG.

That was the game. One of my buddies who was there on the sidelines said it was kind of lackluster. A lot of defense, and a lot of hard play. It wasn’t a photogenic game he told me -basically a lot of asses and elbows. In the end, it was a win and any win is a good win. I can’t tell you about the wind, or the emotion as I wasn’t there. The Giants have a lot more work to do on both sides of the ball. But maybe I’m picking nits – 3 points allowed to a Vermeil team, led by Trent Green, neither of whom the Giants have much such success against, is a pretty good outing. John Fox has earned his salary so far and I’m glad he’s still here.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs, September 23, 2001)
Sep 212001
 

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs, September 23, 2001: Two of the toughest places to play in the NFL are Denver and Kansas City. In fact, on an ominous note, the last NFC East team to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City was the Giants – but that came 22 years ago. The Chiefs, like the Giants, are desperate for a win since they lost their opening game to the rival Raiders in heart-breaking fashion in overtime.

But aside from all of that, the big challenge for the Giants is to somehow find an emotional reserve gas tank for this game. No other team except for the Jets went through what the Giants went through last week. Many of the players live in sight of where the World Trade Center stood and the Giants practice right across the river from that spot. Many people who live in their neighborhoods were directly impacted by the tragedy. And it was the Giants who got a first hand look at the devastation. They also visited fire houses and police stations who had men and women killed in the accident, and met with children who had lost their fathers or mothers. How jumpy were they? At one point last week a number of players originally refused to return to the practice bubble after a fire alarm went off for a second time. When they did practice, the team was noticeably somber (though Thursday’s practice was more upbeat). Now the Chiefs plan an extended, emotional opening ceremony. These are not good signs. Football is a game based on emotion and while it is easy for us arm chair quarterbacks to say “Win one for the City!”, it often doesn’t work that way. The emotional gas tanks of the Giant players must be near empty.

Giants on Offense: The key is for Head Coach Jim Fassel and Offensive Coordinator Sean Payton to develop a workable strategy that allows both halfbacks Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber to get into the flow of a game. Last week, Ron Dayne ran well, but the Giants only let him touch the ball six times. Meanwhile, aside from one or two runs, Tiki looked rusty. Barber is the game-breaker and he needs his touches, but if Dayne is to be truly effective, he must get to carry the ball at least 15 times in a game.

The offensive line must be more consistent run and pass blocking this week. They were too up-and-down against Denver. The Chiefs’ defensive ends, LDE Eric Hicks and RDE Duane Clemons are both good pass rushers who sometimes have problems defending the run. Hicks was a pleasant surprise for Kansas City last year with 14 sacks. He faces Luke Petitgout. Inside, Ron Stone and Glenn Parker scare off against defensive tackles John Browning and Derrick Ransom.

Weakside linebacker Donnie Edwards can cover and blitz. Giants’ fans may remember MLB Marvcus Patton from his days as a Redskin. He’s a tough player who is beginning to slow down. Lew Bush struggled last season in attempting to replace Derrick Thomas.

The corners for the Chiefs, Ray Crockett and Eric Warfield, are only so-so. Amani Toomer and the rest of the receiving corps should be able to do some damage here. FS Jerome Woods however is a fine player who can hit. He’s the glue in the secondary. SS Greg Wesley is another big hitter. However, his over-aggressiveness can be taken advantage of.

Giants on Defense: The Giants were embarrassed last week in giving up almost 500 yards of offense. The pass rush was almost invisible and the linebackers were rarely heard from. There were all kinds of trouble covering the receivers. By the fourth quarter, the run defense became porous.

First and foremost, DE Kenny Holmes and DT Cornelius Griffin need to get it in gear. Holmes was most disappointing last week as a pass rusher. He faces 1999 first rounder LT John Tait, a talented player. Griffin also faces a tough task in facing RG Will Shields – one of the very best guards in all of football. Last week, Griffin’s run defense was found wanting. Thus, the Giants need big games out of Michael Strahan (who will be matched up against 1998 first rounder Victor Riley) and DT Keith Hamilton (versus LG Marcus Spears). OC Casey Wiegmann rounds out this very big and very talented unit.

The Chiefs don’t really have a feature running back and the Giants should be able to shut down their running game provided the defensive line and linebackers show up this week. Jessie Armstead, Mike Barrow, and Brandon Short need to be much more active and make more plays than they did against the Broncos. They also need to do a good job in coverage against the running backs as the Chiefs like to throw underneath the coverage. Priest Holmes is a tough runner who has always given the Giants problems (when he was with Baltimore). Tony Richardson is a quality fullback.

Of course the big question is how the Giants will cover Tony Gonzalez – the best receiving tight end in the game and a true difference maker. It would be asking too much to have Short cover him and Barrow would even probably have his hands full. I would suspect that these two would provide double-team support to Sam Garnes or Shaun Williams on Gonzalez. The Giants also need to keep an eye on TE Mikhael Ricks, a converted wide receiver.

When the Chiefs throw the ball farther down the field, their targets may be rookie Marvin Minnis and Chris Thomas. Derrick Alexander may not play due to an Achilles injury. Ricks may also be shifted back to receiver for this game. The return of Jason Sehorn will bolster the secondary, but he Chiefs will try to take advantage of Will Allen, the most likely starter on the left side.

Aside from Gonzalez, the big worry for New York is QB Trent Green. Green has a history of killing the Giants when he played for the Redskins and Rams. He does not have a strong arm and is not a big guy, but he is a smart, accurate thrower who can run the football. The Giants need to get pressure on him and force him to make mistakes.

Giants on Special Teams: Rodney Williams performed at a Pro Bowl level in Denver. Can he keep it up? Tiki Barber and Ron Dixon need to do a better job on returns (though Kansas City has one of the better punters in the league – Dan Stryzinski). Kick and punt coverage on the Giants remains a concern.

Series History: Regular Season – Giants lead series 7-2.

Sep 132001
 
Denver Broncos 31 – New York Giants 20

Game Overview: I wasn’t optimistic heading into this game given the fact that the Broncos would be pumped to open their brand new stadium on Monday night with a win. Like the Giants did in the NFC Championship Game, the Broncos brought out their team legends as well and this only fueled the fire. When it announced that CB Jason Sehorn would not play, New York’s fate seemed sealed.

The defense for the Giants was atrocious – giving almost 500 yards in offense and the most yardage in a game since 1988. So much for the vaunted defense! Some of the problems had to do with the fact that QB Brian Griese had a very hot hand. Much had to do with problems at cornerback with rookie Will Peterson and journeyman Dave Thomas struggling mightily. However, I felt that Head Coach Mike Shanahan of the Broncos also called a wonderful game and out-coached Defensive Coordinator John Fox. Most disappointing was the play of the defensive line and linebackers.

Offensively, there were some very good drives and plays, but the Giants started off slowly and could not keep pace with the red hot Broncos. There were too many breakdowns on the offensive line that helped to stall drives as well.

Giants on Special Teams: P Rodney Williams was the clear star of the game for the Giants. Incredibly, he averaged over 55 yards a punt on eight punts! He had a 90-yard punt that traveled almost 70 yards in the air. In addition, there was a 68-yarder and numerous 50+ yarders. Williams not only hit for distance, but got great height and did a good job placing the ball. On one punt, he even was in on the tackle. The Giants did not do a good job in protecting him on one occasion where a rusher was allowed to come right up the middle and almost blocked the punt. The big negative on Williams was his inability to field the snap on the Giants’ last extra point try.

Punt coverage was terrible on the punt right after the Giants’ goal line stand. Emmanuel McDaniel got out of his lane and missed the returner. This led to a 26-yard pick-up and put the Broncos in great field position on their first touchdown drive.

Owen Pochman played and did well on his first two kick-offs. One went deep into the endzone for a touchback and the other landed at the one-yard line. However, his third kick was a terrible low, line-driver. Kick-off coverage was below average on the one kick sent to the one yard line.

The Giants return game was not impressive. Ron Dixon doesn’t appear to be in sync with his blockers. He’s reverted back to last year’s regular season form in that he is not attacking directly up the field. Tiki Barber held onto the ball, but could not break one.

Defensive Line: In the first half, the Giants’ run defense was pretty stout as New York held Terrell Davis to only 27 yards on 12 carries. However, the Giants wore down badly in the second half and, in my opinion, embarrassed themselves with some of the sloppiest run defense I’ve seen the Giants ever play. Quite frankly, it looked like the team gave up. The defensive line had much to do with this poor play (as did the linebackers). The pass rush was even worse as it was lacking in the first and second halves. Oh there were brief glimpses of potential, but nothing to alter the outcome of the game. Here are the particulars:

DE Michael Strahan was pretty active early despite being obviously held on a few occasions. He had one strong pass rush on Denver’s first drive where he forced Griese to unload the ball early on 3rd down. His run defense was pretty strong too as the Broncos weren’t able to do much damage to his side on the ground. On Denver’s second TD drive, Strahan was obviously held by the right tackle on an important Griese scramble, but the officials never threw the flag (there were a few very bad calls like this on the Giants that had an impact on the game in the first half). But Strahan was not much of factor on the pass rush and by the fourth quarter his stout run defense was disappearing. Mike Anderson’s TD run came on his side and he was effectively taken out of the play.

DE Kenny Holmes did not play well. He was not a factor at all as a pass rusher and his run defense was up and down. At times, he was very stout on his side and jammed things up. But there were other times where he was taken out of the play or took himself out of the play. What made matters worse was that the linebackers to his side often didn’t make the play either in these situations.

Inside I thought Cornelius Griffin played a bad game against the run. When facing the double-team, he was often shoved back a few yards right into the other linebackers – effectively taking them out of the play as well. He also jumped off-sides twice. Where he did flash in run defense was pursuit – but he was not strong at the point-of-attack. Aside from a few pass rushes (two coming near the end of the first half), Griffin didn’t make much noise in the pass rush department. Neither did Keith Hamilton. Keith was flagged for a terrible offsides penalty where it was clear that the quarterback moved. But there was another time where he did jump. Hamilton made some plays in run defense, but was surprisingly quiet on the pass rush.

Linebackers: Were these guys ever on the field? Why did they bother to fly to Denver in the first place? Terrible. Embarrassing. Got fooled too much by misdirection by a team known for it. Weren’t aggressive and didn’t make any plays.

My first finger will point at Jessie Armstead. I’m real glad the Giants didn’t give him more money in the offseason because he has done squat in the preseason and first regular season game. Jessie was pretty much invisible as he was effectively handled too often against the run. For example, on the Broncos’ second drive, Kenny Holmes got clobbered on the outside and Denver blockers shielded both Armstead and Mike Barrow from the ball carrier who was heading to the left sideline for a good gain. Then Jessie was beat badly on the wide reverse on Denver’s first TD drive. He got faked out of his shoes on the play. Most distressful was his poor coverage against the tight ends – getting beat twice including on a deeper pass. The only plays I can remember him making was one against a draw that he stuffed and the play where he combined to Barrow to keep the fullback out of the endzone on 4th-and-goal.

Mike Barrow was also very disappointing. Aside from a few plays against the run, he was taken out of too many plays. On the first TD, either Barrow or Shaun Williams probably should have been covering the fullback. Brandon Short didn’t have a good game either. He was flagged for holding on the second TD drive. On Mike Anderson’s TD run, he was effectively pushed down the field about five yards by the tight end. That isn’t supposed to happen to the strongside linebacker. Earlier in the drive, both Short and Holmes had overrun the play where Davis cut back against the grain for a big 26-yard gainer that pretty much took the Giants out of the game. The only bright spot I can recall was the play where he broke up a short pass in the 4th quarter.

Defensive Backs: The corners did not play well, but they were also fell victim to (1) a hot passer who constantly threw the ball to the right man and (2) no pass rush. Unfortunately for the Giants, there was no way that Dave Thomas and Will Peterson could BOTH be given help on EVERY play and thus one of these two was usually out there on an island. Griese took advantage of that. But it was also shocking to me to see plays where Thomas was locked up on Ed McCaffrey all alone with no safety help even in the picture. Thomas had a bad game. There were plays where he was cleanly beaten by the moves of McCaffrey and plays where he had good coverage, but never made a play on the ball. He got beat badly by McCaffrey on the second touchdown and despite good coverage on the TD pass to Rod Smith, he never turned around to play the ball. After that, he was benched in favor of Will Allen.

Will Peterson had problems covering Pro Bowler Rod Smith. The good news is that he didn’t seem to be intimidated or back-down. Also, he had good coverage on some of the plays against him, but like Thomas, never played the ball. Peterson was not burned deep until late. Most of the time he kept everything in front of him. Early on Smith caught a pass in front of him, but Peterson made a sure tackle. But he later got beat to the inside on a slant where Shaun Williams saved a long touchdown with a sure tackle. On the second TD drive, Smith caught a short pass, but was able to stiff arm Peterson to the ground and pick up good yardage. In the 4th quarter, he teamed up with Sam Garnes to break-up a pass in the endzone (a real nice play by Peterson). He was the man covering Kennison on his long reception on 3rd-and-1 despite very good coverage – the problem was that he never turned back to knock the ball down.

Emmanuel McDaniel got burned badly by McCaffrey on one play, but luckily the play was brought back due to a penalty. Will Allen played once Thomas was benched and looked good. He broke up a pass on 3rd-and-7 with an aggressive hit. He had tight coverage on Rod Smith on a short slant caught for nine yards. He then perfectly defended a deep throw very late.

Shaun Williams was active in the first half as blitzer and was a big factor in disrupting the early running game, including down on the goalline. He also crushed McCaffrey coming over the middle and ended his season. Sam Garnes had one early big hit, but had his share of bad plays. He missed two tackles on the last TD drive, including one on the 26-yarder by Davis and the TD run by Anderson. The holding penalty called on him against the tight end was bullcrap – the tight end was illegally blocking him downfield.

Quarterback: Decent game for Kerry Collins (19-of-34 for 258 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), but he was out-played by Brian Griese. Collins was not aided at times by some sporadic pass protection. On the first drive, Collins tried to squeeze the ball into double-coverage on 3rd-and-8, but missed and the Giants went 3-and-out. On the third drive of the game – the Giants’ first TD drive – Collins hit Joe Jurevicius for a first down on 3rd-and-2. He slightly underthrew Jurevicius on the flea flicker that should have resulted in a TD, but he came right back and threw an absolutely perfect pass to Amani Toomer for a 43-yard touchdown – a great play.

On the very next drive, Collins slightly underthrew Jurevicius again deep on play that should have resulted in a TD – but I also thought Jurevicius could have still caught the ball. What Collins did do well is when the play wasn’t there, he threw the ball away. He didn’t force things. I also liked the way he looked off the safety on a few plays. On the Giants’ last drive of the first half, Ron Dixon dropped a perfectly thrown slant on 3rd-and-6.

The second half started off with a great drive. Collins hit Jurevicius for a first down on 3rd-and-11. He then threw a beautiful touch pass over the linebacker for a 40-yard catch-and-carry by Tiki Barber. Then came a nice screen to Greg Comella and a rocket fired to Amani Toomer on a rollout on 3rd-and-1 for a touchdown.

The next drive was hampered by a penalty, a forced throw by Collins into double coverage, and a missed blitz pick-up resulting in a sack. On the third drive of the second half, Collins was sacked on 3rd-and-2 when no one got open. The next two drives also went nowhere with the pass protection becoming shakier and Collins getting a bit more flustered. The last drive came against the prevent defense. Collins was hit on the first play, but managed to throw an intermediate pass to Thabiti Davis for a first down. Kerry then threw an amazing pass to Jurevicius on a forced rollout that was dropped. On 3rd-and-10, he hit Dixon for a first down and then found Jurevicius over the middle in traffic. The drive was finished up with a TD pass to TE Marcellus Rivers.

Wide Receivers: Amani Toomer (5 for 78 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Joe Jurevicius (5 for 76 yards) played well. However, Jurevicius did drop one pass and I thought he could have made a play on the ball on the second deep one from Collins. His catch in traffic over the middle on the final drive was an excellent play however. He immediately followed that up by breaking a tackle on a slant.

Ron Dixon made a fine leaping reception on the last drive against the sideline, but dropped a key pass on 3rd-and-6 on the final drive before the first half. Thabiti Davis made a very nice catch in traffic to start off the last drive.

Tight Ends: When I watched them, I thought Howard Cross and Dan Campbell blocked well (though I did see Campbell get knocked on his butt one time). Campbell and Glenn Parker did a good job of leading Dayne on a run to the right for 10 yards. Marcellus Rivers made a fine reception for a TD despite a tough hit from the linebacker.

Running Backs: Ron Dayne (6 carries for 30 yards) played well like he did in the preseason. He picked up 11 yards on a draw play that he almost broke for bigger yardage. He also did a good job of running through the tackle on 3rd-and-1 (something he didn’t do last year).

Tiki Barber had one very nice 16-yard burst up the middle, but seemed to have problems with his footing most of the night and eventually changed his shoes. He got stuffed on 3rd-and-2 on the drive right after the Giants’ first TD and that hurt – the Giants were moving the ball then.

Offensive Line: Up and down. There were times when Collins was afforded superb pass protection and other times when he got pressured and sacked. Same story with the run blocking. This group probably is still a bit rusty from not playing all together in the preseason.

LG Glenn Parker didn’t play very well at times. He missed his man in pass protection on the first drive and this forced Collins to get rid of the ball in a hurry. That play came against Chester McGlockton. He later had problems with Leon Lett. OC Dusty Zeigler got beaten badly by a tackle on the second drive and Dayne was tackled as soon as he got the ball for a 4-yard loss. Luke Petitgout then missed his man on a cut block on the very next play on an attempted screen pass. Lomas Brown missed a cut block in the second half and Tiki Barber was caught from behind.

The most upsetting play was when the Broncos sacked Collins with a 3-man rush when Petitgout got beat to the inside and Ron Stone didn’t help out quickly enough. That came on 3rd-and-10 on the Giants’ second to last drive.

All in all, the line did not play poorly and certainly did not lose the game. But there were enough mistakes to help stall drives.


Mile High Letdown

by David Oliver

So how do you start a review of a game played over a week ago and before the events of the Tuesday morning following? I would not write a report except for the merciful call to honor by just plain Eric (as distinguished from Eric of BBI). Like most of you, I have not recovered fully from the shock, the loss of life, the loss of an icon. Sadly, although an icon can be rebuilt – life can never be replaced. Although not a religious person, I believe in a merciful God. I have asked that God over and over this week to wrap the bereaved in that mercy. My wife works in the shadow of a CIA building and her firm works closely with Oracle. One Oracle rep was on a plane, and seven were in the Trades at the time of the attack. None survived. The ripple effect doesn’t stop. Saturday morning we were having breakfast together – not a common thing – and we were talking of the TV coverage, of the marvelous bravery of the deceased, the survivors and those covering the event. She started telling me of an interview with one of the survivors, a woman who was recalling leaving the building and passing a group of firemen on the stairs. She told me the woman said the thing she would never forget was that they all had blue eyes. At that, my wife broke down and cried. Like Mostafa in L.A.’s grandmother, I have only seen my wife cry four times in 34 years.

Saturday night we went out to a local Iranian restaurant. We both wanted to make a statement to our friends that they were Americans and should feel safe. I asked one of the fellows taking orders how they were coping and the look he gave me was one of immense sorrow. They weren’t coping any better than us, so it was a fitting that WE spent Saturday night together. And that flag, that beautiful flag has been flying proudly. We have been putting a flag out for many years and this year my wife found an electric flag and red, white and blue rope lights. They shone on the 4th of July, Labor Day, and every night since Tuesday. Now many of you don’t believe in displaying the flag and I don’t have a problem with that. But let me share a couple of very small experiences I had. Both were in Mexico. I was involved in some negotiations in Mexico City on July 4, 1993. Our hosts felt badly that we had to work on “our Nation’s birthday”. There were American flags on the table, and everywhere we went. Notes were slipped under our hotel room door, with the flag on them and wishing us a joyous day. The funny thing is that we couldn’t get into the American Embassy for the party that night – only the “important” were invited. We negotiated from 9 a.m to 3:30 a.m. And those American flags never left the table. The next was on a subsequent trip, a friend and I were touring the Castillo-Maximilian’ s Palace, which is now a museum. We were going from room to room, and we heard some school girls giggling in a side room. We walked in, facing a glass case. In that case was an American Flag which had been taken in the conquest of the Alamo. I looked in disbelief, then horror, then sadness. I later wrote in a farewell talk that at that moment I knew how the Roman Legions felt on hearing of the capture of Varius’ Eagle. It is written that they cried. A Flag isn’t much – it’s a piece of dyed cloth – but to me, to us, it is a symbol of all that is wonderful in the world, of all this country has bestowed on my family. So we fly the Flag here.

I was just reading a thread in The Corner Forum discussing the structural collapse of the buildings, how one fell like a tree and one imploded, of the shafts and the steel beams. It seemed to me to be somewhat similar to the Giants game against Denver. Unlike many of you, I came away from that game with few good feelings. It was eerily reminiscent of those teams of the late seventies – good for 50 minutes of football, fighting valiantly, then collapsing and losing. It was too similar to the loss to the Ravens, with one major difference, Kerry Collins didn’t buckle, the defense did. Coach Denny Marcin warned me at the close of camp that he hadn’t seen the front four play together at one time, so he wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, he knows now. I have to wonder if Kenny Holmes’ knee isn’t still bothering him big time, because he was a non-factor, all night. More disappointing was that his mates finally just gave out. I’m not sure how I want to do this, position by position, or set by set- so let’s look at the plays.

Giants First D – Hamilton penetration, from the right tackle spot, Grif jumped, the receiver slipped, then Strahan got a good rush. Punt. Giants First O – Tiki to the left side, a pass pressure from the left, Parker missed his block, then good protection but the pass high over JJ. Rush on the punt, but a boomer, 58 yards.

Giants Second D – Pass complete, Peterson made a shoestring tackle; Davis for a 1st, long count, bad call by the refs, beautiful pass over the middle to Rod Smith who cleanly beat Peterson. Run up the middle, Pass to McCaffrey who beat Thomas. Blitz, but Smith came out of the backfield for a 1st. Davis turned the corner on a good run as Holmes was caught inside and there was no support. Strahan tackled Davis. S. Williams blitzes and stops Davis in the backfield. Then, no pressure, McCaffrey beats Thomas. Anderson goes up the middle, Grif gets no movement off his man. Williams again in the backfield. 3rd and goal – stopped; 4th and goal, stopped.

The battle of field position looks ugly. There are two bad calls against the Giants. KC to Toomer at the 8, Dayne stopped in the backfield as big Chester McGlockton beats Ziegler, Tiki was rocked and knocked down by Bertram Berry. Another good Williams punt of 54 yards, and again no real coverage to speak of.

Denver on the 34 – looks like the Super Bowl. Griese fake and toss to Smith for a 1st, but illegal contact, a reverse goes for 17, Holmes makes the tackle downfield. Davis stopped at the goal by Hammer and Peterson. Beautiful fake and pass to Patrick Hape. No Giants in sight. 7-0.

Dixon takes the kick to the 26. KC to Comella, Dayne for a couple, pass to JJ for a 1st, Tiki up the middle for 16, flea flicker knocked down, Tiki trips over Parker, nice fake, good protection, perfect pass to Toomer, 43 yards TD. Giants 7 – Denver 7. It looks like a game. The nice thing is that the Giants O answered.

Pokemon puts kick to the goal, but no one runs down there again and it’s out to the 29. Defensive holding on Short. Dennis Miller interjects he’s beginning to like these refs as they are not too hung up on the rules. Davis stopped at the line, Grif is feisty; out pass to Smith, who stiff arms Peterson and its off to the races. Then a play fake and Griese run, Davis gains 8, Davis for 2, Griese to McCaffrey over Thomas. Broncos 14 – Giants7.

The Giants take over on the 16, KC to Toomer for 8, Dayne for the 1st, Bronco blitz but Dayne goes over tackle for another 1st. KC to JJ for another 1st, pitch to Tiki, nice cut out, 8 yards. KC fake, nice throw, incomplete to JJ. Barber met in the hole. Angle punt to the 11 yard line.

Griese throws to the tight end for a 1st, Davis runs, Griese to Smith, tackle by Jessie, 1st down Flare to Smith, again Jessie. Hard count, Hamilton jumps. Anderson tackled by Strahan. Grif finally breaks through and makes a hit. Broncos punt. Giants take over, good protection, no one open, KC throws it away. Tiki for 6, KC fires to Dixon, incomplete. Punt – this one not so good. Denver takes over. First passed is tipped, incomplete, pass to McCaffrey, great moves. The hands to face on O-Line. Then Davis runs, Jessie tackles him. It’s third and 21 and Griese completes a pass to McCaffrey. Denver attempts a 65 yard FG- just wide. Giants come out and try a 63 yard FG but there is a high snap and Pokemon pulls it left.

Halftime. Considering the bad field position, the rough calls by the officials and the lack of pressure by the defense, this is not bad. It gets better as the Giants come out in the 3rd. Tiki for 0, Tiki loses 1; KC gets time, hits JJ for a 1st. Dayne nothing, KC to Tiki for a big gain (44yards). Comella on a screen to the 12. Pass to Toomer for a TD but it looks as if he stepped out. The Giants don’t have a clue on clock management and not only fail to line up and kick the extra point, they muff it with a penalty giving Denver enough time to challenge the TD. The refs in a make up call, give the Giants the TD. It is now 14 – 14.

At this point Terrell Davis has the gaudy numbers of 12 rushes for 27 yards. Then Griese to McCaffrey, a false start, Griese to McCaffrey, 1 handed grab and end of season as Shaun Williams puts a patented Phil in L.A. hit on him. Williams also down. Davis goes around end, breaks it, then he goes over Guard for 4, then Smith over Thomas, TD, so long Dave Thomas, we hardly got to know you. Broncos 21 – Giants 14.

Giants – Busted play, KC for 2, Tiki outside, flag, illegal formation, KC long throw into the void, Romanowski comes in, untouched, and renews his acquaintance with KC The Giants secret weapon cranks a 90 yard punt, boy I’ll bet he hated to leave Denver.

The next series is nothing for either team, punts boomed back and forth. Will Allen is now in the game and looks fast. Tiki is obviously gassed.. Griese is now 16-of-21, there is not much pressure in the middle, Kenny Holmes is making CJ look good. Oops next series, Griese is now 18 of 25. The score is Broncos 24 – Giants 14.

Fourth quarter and we are still hopeful. Dixon takes the kick to the 24, Tiki for 2, KC on a scramble and slide, KC pass batted into the air, he catches it himself, run Kerry, run. Punt – finally get one covered. Denver – fumbled snap but Broncos recover, perfect slant pass, Allen running in-stride and makes the tackle. Long pass to Eddie Kennison over Peterson at the sidelines, Davis cuts back, no pursuit, Garnes misses tackle. Anderson for the TD, Garnes again missed. Now 31 to 14, the G Men are gassed, this thing is out of hand.

Giants get ball, KC to Tiki short, KC to Tiki short, movement on the D, 1st down, KC to Tiki, inc, KC to Davis, Inc. KC sacked- 5 blockers, 3 rushers. Rodney punts 68 yards.

The Giants D comes on the field for the 10th time. Davis for a couple, Davis through a big hole, lousy tackling, Carswell gets in the act for a long gain, Finally Barrow stops Anderson, Strahan makes a stop, Grif jumps, long pass, Allen right there. Davis is now up to 102 yards rushing and heads to the bench. Rodney Williams has punted 8 times. The Giants O shows life. KC to Thabiti Davis, then an incompletion, the Broncos jump twice, then JJ drops a pass, Dixon makes a leaping catch, JJ takes a big hit and holds on for a nice catch. JJ again, catch and run. Marcellus Rivers gets his first TD. Juggled snap, missed extra point, 31 to 20 Broncos

The Giants D gives up the most yardage since 1988.

Observations – It looked as if the Giants were still in preseason mode. Considering Tiki hasn’t played, the defensive line hasn’t take a snap together in some time, Sehorn is missing, and they played in Denver, how hard should we be on them? The offense showed it could move the ball, but Sean Payton failed to utilize Dayne effectively again. Terrell Davis did nothing for three quarters – the Giants were up to the task- in the 4th, he ran all over them. This is the type of game Dayne needs – 20 to 25 touches. It’s not only Dayne that needs to establish rhythm, so does the line. Tiki was in the game way beyond what he should have been. He should have been rested after the half. Damon Washington could have given him some much needed rest. Parker missed an early block, but got stronger as the game progressed. I think he will be ready for the next game. The rest of the offensive line did their job for the most part. Kerry looked very good, Amani was on his game, JJ did ok. The Giants need to utilize the tight end more, or Comella more. Thabiti Davis showed some good stuff late in the game.

The defense – Never looked ready. There were some good stops early, but Kenny Holmes was almost a handicap. He has to be still hurting. Switching Hammer and Grif didn’t help. MS played a decent game but was obviously frustrated as he kept getting held and the refs ignored it. Barrow was the only LB who looked good, at least for some of the game. Brandon got a good schooling and Jessie was late to the party when he did show. The corners were terrible. I think Thomas sealed his fate by playing as bad a game as he could play. Peterson is a gamer, he is tough, he was no match for Rod Smith, who beat him, pushed him and made him look like a rookie. He is going to be good, but he wasn’t. Will Allen impressed me more. He showed good speed and stayed with breaking receivers. He must learn position as he was behind the ball a lot, but at least he knew where he was. Garnes missed tackles, Williams didn’t. Rodney Williams showed a big time leg. Pokemon can kick off. There is still no cover team. When Tiki gets up to game speed, and if the Giants figure out how to use Dayne consistently, the offense will be just fine.

There are suddenly many questions about the D. Is Holmes ok? Can Grif stop the run? Has Jessie lost a step? How fast can Brandon Short get it together? Will Sehorn get a full season in? Is Sam Garnes strictly a sea-level player? John Fox usually rebounds after a horrendous defensive game. I look for big things this week.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Denver Broncos, September 10, 2001)
Sep 082001
 

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Denver Broncos, September 10, 2001: I’ve got to be honest here. I can’t get a feel for what to expect this year. The negative side to me says that a combination of an extremely tough schedule, injuries, and a post-Super Bowl letdown will result in a disappointing season. That doesn’t mean that the Giants are a bad team or poorly coached – the odds are simply stacked against the G-Men in 2001. The positive side of me says that this is a better team and that there is no proven COMPLETE team in the conference. If the Giants can just manage to keep their heads above water for the first six games or so, they should be alright and be a factor in the playoffs again. Which view is right? Who the hell knows? All I know for sure is that 2001 is bound to be nerve-wracking and gut-wrenching.

As for the Broncos, the NFL could not have picked a tougher match-up for the Giants. The Broncos are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and Denver is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, places to win in the NFL. If that weren’t enough, the Broncos are officially opening their brand new stadium on Monday night football – so you know the team and the fans will be pumped.

Do I need to remind Giants’ fans our Monday Night win-loss record? (15-23-1 if you really want to know). What if DT Cornelius Griffin (ankle) can’t play or is ineffective because of the injury? What about Jason Sehorn (knee)?

But the Giants have one big factor in their favor: they aren’t supposed to win. Everyone in America except for Giants’ fans expects Denver to take it to New York. If you ask me, the pressure is on Denver to perform – not the G-Men. Thus, the Giants should go out there and let it all hang out. Put on a show and shut some of the critics up. This game could end up being a disaster or a very memorable game for Giants’ fans. Whatever transpires, the players, coaches, media, and fans have to remember one important fact – this is an out-of-conference road game. In the grand scheme of things, if the Giants were going to pick one game to lose, this would be one of them.

Giants on Special Teams: I don’t need to lecture fans on how many games are won and lost on special teams. Specials often become the deciding factor in close ball games. That is not a comforting thought. What is comforting however is that the Giants have a veteran placekicker (Morten Anderson) who does well under pressure (knock on wood). It will also be interesting to see if the Giants activate rookie PK Owen Pochman to kickoff or go with Anderson in that department as well. Regardless of who kicks off, the Giants coverage teams need stay in their lanes, get down the field quickly, and make sure tackles. The field position battle will be very important.

That’s why the punting game is critical too. Rodney Williams has a super strong leg, but he needs to be consistent as well. Too many of his booming punts were matched by low, line drives. That could be trouble Deltha O’Neal, Denver’s punt returner. Look for the Broncos to try to rattle Williams by coming after him in attempt to block a punt. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Giants run a fake punt in this game if the situation calls for it.

In the punt return game, the big issue with Tiki Barber is ball security. He hasn’t fielded punts in live action all summer. I doubt he will have much room to run unless the Giants do a much, much better job of impeding the gunners on the other team. Kick returner Ron Dixon could make matters a lot easier for his teammates with a great return or two.

Giants on Defense: Denver is probably the most-balanced offense in the league and one of the most difficult to defend. Their offensive line may be the smallest in the league, but it is filled with strong, mobile athletes who play with great leverage and technique. Denver’s run blocking schemes are a bit different. They use a lot of angle blocking and use some questionable tactics at times by blocking low. However, the technique is effective in that it often puts opposing defensive linemen on the ground. What the Giants must do is match their quickness up front at the snap of the football and avoid falling prey to these tactics as much as possible.

The big match-ups up front will be DE Michael Strahan versus RT Matt Lepsis (Strahan is also likely to see double-team resistence from the tight end as well) and DT Keith Hamilton versus LG Lennie Friedman (with OC Tom Nalen – one of the very best in the business – helping out). An absolutely huge question mark for the Giants is the health of DT Cornelius Griffin. If he can’t go or is ineffective, the Giants may be in deep trouble. Behind Griffin are rookie reserves Ross Kolodziej and Lance Legree. Denver’s right guard is Dan Neil. It will also be interesting to see how strong a run defender DE Kenny Holmes is in his battle against LT Trey Teague. Denver is likely to run more to their left than the right against the Giants. Thus, Holmes will be tested as will the linebackers playing to that side (the Giants flop their outside linebackers quite a bit).

Denver has an extremely strong rushing attack, but I think they will come out throwing the football. I think they will want to get on top of New York big early and force the Giants to throw the football more than they want to. They also know the Giant defenders will be geared up to stop the run. So look for a lot of play-action early with quite a few shots in the intermediate to deep range of the field. QB Brian Griese is remarkably poised and accurate for such a young quarterback. The Giants must not get suckered by this play-action, especially the safeties and linebackers. In particular, FS Shaun Williams most not be overly aggressive (his trademark) and SLB Brandon Short is very inexperienced. Look for the Broncos to try to match-up their tight ends or backs on Short. The halfbacks are an option there but so is FB Patrick Hape.

Then there are the downfield threats. One of the dumbest things Dan Reeves ever did was waive Ed McCaffrey. Now he’ll likely be match-up on Dave Thomas much of the evening. The good news is that Thomas has the size to challenge McCaffrey, but Thomas can have his problems in coverage at times. If Jason Sehorn plays and is effective, I’d like to see the Giants give Thomas some help. That’s the big question because if Sehorn can’t go, the defense may be in dire straights. Then they have to rely on Emmanuel McDaniel (who had a very inconsistent preseason) or one of the rookies (most likely Will Peterson) against the very dangerous Rod Smith. It also mean that defending the third receiver – Eddie Kennison, a big-time speedster with fine size – becomes harder. Indeed, the McDaniel-Kennison match-up may the biggest problem for the Giants.

Ultimately, Denver will want to focus on the ground game. Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan won’t want to expose Griese (who is coming off of shoulder surgery) to a lot of hits from the potentially dangerous pass rush of the Giants. Plus, running the football is what Denver does best. The Bronco offensive line does such a wonderful job of creating space for the running backs that each of Denver’s halfbacks have had 1,000-yard seasons: Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson. The Giants are going to have to play stout up front and be VERY careful of the cutback run. That’s where Denver excels is on the cutback. So New York must be physical and aggressive, but they also must play smart and disciplined. Two players on the spot will be Kenny Holmes on the right side of the defense and Cornelius Griffin (or his replacement) inside. The Broncos will test the ability of these players to defend the run.

Giants on Offense: The Giants are going to have to score more than a few points to win because I doubt the defense is going to be able to shut down Denver. With Ike Hilliard out, there will be tremendous pressure on Joe Jurevicius and Ron Dixon to perform. The Giants also need Kerry Collins to play a consistently accurate ball game and not make killer mistakes. The crowd is going to be loud and the atmosphere unfriendly, but big-time players make plays with the spotlight on them.

If I’m Sean Payton and Jim Fassel, I come out throwing too. Denver’s defense will also be licking its chops to stuff the run against Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne. I play-action early just like the Giants did against Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game with Ron Dayne in the line-up. Amani Toomer will face CB Denard Walker – who is known more his physical bump-and-run coverage than being a real fluid athlete. The Giants absolutely need Toomer to win this match-up and make some big plays. Because Walker is aggressive, Toomer may be able to do some damage deep. The Giants also need Joe Jurevicius to win his match-up against second-year man Deltha O’Neal. Jurevicius is 6-5, O’Neal is 5-10. My gut also tells me that if the Giants are going to win, they need Ron Dixon to make a some big plays in the passing game. The nickel cornerback is veteran Eric Davis, who has been around a long time. He’s very experienced, but he may not be able to keep up with Dixon.

It will be interesting to see if Dan Campbell is employed much in the passing game. The Giants may use him down on the goalline. I tend to believe however that FB Greg Comella is going to be Kerry Collins’ safety valve this year (along with Tiki Barber of course). Don’t be shocked to see Comella see as many as six balls thrown his way.

The wild card in the passing game and running game is Tiki Barber. How rusty will he be? Will the lack of contact all summer lead to fumbles or durability problems? At the same time, the Denver defensive coordinator has to be concerned that he hasn’t seen Barber all summer and has no idea what new plays the Giants may have with him in the line-up. They’ll have to go off of the 2000 game film.

Like Denver, New York will also eventually want to get back to the ground game. How much playing time does Tiki see in these situations vis a vis Ron Dayne. Dayne, as we all know, had a great summer and looks primed for big things. But Tiki is still the break-away back and the Giants may need more fire power against Denver. However, if the Giants are fortunate enough to take lead, Dayne could become the hammer that breaks the backs of the Broncos.

Much of what the Giants can and can’t do will depend on the play of the offensive line, Dan Campbell, Howard Cross, and Greg Comella against the front seven of Denver. LG Glenn Parker will have his hands full with DT Trevor Pryce – a disruptive player who can rush the passer. Glenn may need some help. The Giants need RG Ron Stone to pretty much handle Chester McGlockton and/or Leon Lett on his own. Lett has looked sharp this summer. Lomas Brown and Luke Petitgout should do well against Kavika Pittman and Keith Washington.

The Denver linebackers (the dickhead Bill Romanowski, Al Wilson, and John Mobley) are all good athletes who can move it. Look for Denver to blitz quite a bit in order to shake up Kerry Collins. Blitz pick-ups by the line, tight ends, and backs will be critical. So will the ability of these blockers to get out on the linebackers on the second level and engage them in the running game. Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber will need space to run; penetration into the backfield will kill the ground game.

Series History: Regular Season – Giants lead 4-3; Post-Season – Giants lead 1-0.

Sep 072001
 
Kerry Collins’ Glass Jaw

by Dog

One round to go and the kid advances to the semifinals of the Golden Glove competition. He clearly has dominated his opponents in this competition. This kid is pure natural talent. His first time in a ring was only eight months ago. With this performance, he has attracted the attention of several top trainers in the New York City area. He’ll win this match unless his opponent can knock him out. If he can be coached this kid could probably take a shot at turning pro within a year.

The bell rings and the fighters leave their corners. The kid’s competitor is a hardened veteran in his mid-thirties. He has solid technique but not quite enough talent to start a professional career. His love for the sport drives him more then the pursuit of greatness. The old veteran smiles as he marches in to the center of the ring to face the kid for the final round. It was a strange smile for the kid has dominated him the entire match. Now unless he can knock out this kid its over. The end of the last round the kid revealed a flaw. The old veteran picked up on it. It was just a matter of time before this talented kid is taught a valuable lesson. A lesson he should have learned before he even stepped into the ring. The old veteran couldn’t keep himself from smiling as he left his corner.

The kid observed his opponents smile as the bell rang out the start of the final round. He didn’t think too much of it as his adrenaline kicked in and all that mattered was keeping up with his opponent. There was no need for him to go on the offensive. An aggressive approach could lead to a possible mistake. The kid just has to be standing at the end of the round and he’ll win the match.

The old veteran started the round with a different approach altogether. He gave the appearance of being on the offensive but he wasn’t throwing any punches. He was dancing all over the ring and the kid found himself naturally following him. No punches were being thrown. The kid couldn’t think of any reason for his opponent’s new tactic. The kid followed his opponent around the ring throwing an occasional jab to play it safe. He thought this approach would be the wisest. However in keeping up with the veteran the kid’s breathing and heart rate began to increase. The kid began to breathe heavy. He instinctively loosened up on his mouthpiece to gulp for air. As soon as his jaw muscles relaxed the old veteran stepped in and landed a solid jab to the side of his jaw immediately followed by a roundhouse to the kids chin.

The jab was the blow that ended it for the kid. The pain shot through to his entire skull. It felt as though his jaw was forced through the back of his skull and his face exploded into pieces. His knees immediately buckled upon impact. White light filled his vision blinding him. All was black. The initial pain was so severe he never felt the further damage inflicted from the second blow.

The kid lay motionless in the ring. The blackout was only for a few seconds. The pain intensely reverberated throughout his entire skull. He did not move. His jaw was broken in two places. The old veteran won with the knockout. The kid’s jaw was set and wired and he was back into training in just a few months. But he never regained his confidence in the ring. He could not control the fear of having his skull explode with pain. Any contact to his face caused him to lose his composure and become too defensive. He would always love the sport but never be able to advance his career. The term ‘glass jaw’ does not necessarily mean a fragile jaw. It also refers to the debilitating fear of breaking a jaw or sustaining a severe blow to the face. Many boxers end their careers after sustaining a broken jaw in the ring.

Kerry Collins is the best-armed quarterback to wear Giants uniform in a decade and arguably longer. At the end of this season, if Collins can remain the starting quarterback, he will likely be ranked fifth on the Giants all time QB list with number of completions, passing yards and touchdowns. Kerry Collins has the potential for greatness but he also could suffer from a glass jaw.

As a kid Kerry Collins won championships every where he played. In high school his team won the Pennsylvania State 4-A title going undefeated his senior year 14-0. He threw for 2043 yards and 17 touchdowns. At Penn State in 1994 his senior year he led his team to victory at the Rose Bowl. The Nittany Lions went 12-0 that year while Collins threw for 2679 yards, 21 touchdowns and posted a 172.9% pass efficiency rating. As a man Kerry has discovered the NFL is a lot tougher then college. He also learned that life can be the toughest league of them all.

He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 1995 draft with the fifth overall selection. He started thirteen games his first year and was the first rookie quarterback since Dan Marino to have a winning record. In 1996 Kerry Collins led the Panthers to the NFC Championship game. The Panthers lost that game to the eventual Superbowl winners the Green Bay Packers. Kerry ended the season with a 79.4 quarterback rating. He had the second highest quarterback rating increase in the NFL. He jumped from his rookie season rating of 61.9 to 79.4. He also had the second fewest interceptions among quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts. His season ended with a trip to Hawaii where he played in the Pro Bowl. The 1996 season was only his second year in the NFL.

Collins started his third NFL season with an impressive training camp. Unfortunately his training camp would come to a violent end during the second preseason game. Kerry Collins football career and his life would begin to spiral out of control. A Bill Romanowski helmet to face assault brutalized Kerry. Although no flag was thrown, the act could not be labeled a hit. It was an assault. Kerry already released the pass and was standing tall in the pocket when Romanowski assaulted Kerry’s blindside. Collins never knew what happened. The pass was completed to Wesley Walls. Romanowski came unblocked. Although the ball was released, Romanowski never halted his charge or changed his angle of pursuit. He never even slowed down. Interesting behavior for an established veteran in a preseason game. The helmet to helmet hit was made illegal the previous season. Still Romanowski smashed his helmet directly into Kerry’s jaw. The jaw fractured in two places. Kerry Collins said, “It felt like my face exploded”. It was impressive how quickly he jumped back up. But his eyes were glassy and he was bleeding profusely from the mouth. He walked over to the sidelines and wouldn’t return to the field for 5 weeks. The jaw was stabilized with four metal plates two inserted at each point of fracture. The metal plates accounted for his ability to return so quickly. They would remain in place for several months. Kerry Collins returned in Week Three and played the entire season. He threw 21 interceptions and posted the leagues worst quarter back rating. Coach Capers and Collins both admitted he came back too fast from the injury. He was never given the time to regain his confidence. To compensate the Panthers decided not to pay him a 6 million-dollar bonus that would have initiated the final three years of his contract. Suddenly Collins was a restricted free agent and after receiving minimum attention from other teams he signed a one-year deal with the Panthers for 1.15 million.

Kerry Collins paid heavily for the Romanowski assault. Yet Romanowski only paid the NFL issued fine of $20,000. Romanowski stated “Its very unfortunate he got hurt. It wasn’t my intention.” Bill Romanowski seems to have a revolving credit with the NFL. Later in the season he was fined $7,500 for spitting on 49er receiver JJ Stokes. During the 99 season Romanowski was fined three more times. Each fine was from an illegal helmet to helmet hit. Tony Gonzalez, TE for the Chiefs, was the recipient of Romanowski’s assaults on two occasions. The first assault amassed a $7,500 fine against Romanowski the second assault cost him $10,000. Early on in the season Romanowski also victimized Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer with the same type of illegal hit and was fined another $10,000. After the second assault on Gonzalez Romanowski was asked about the amount of the fine, his reply was “I don’t care. I’ve got a lot of money”

If Kerry Collins can stay healthy and the Giants can manage his salary he should be able to comfortably surpass Phil Simms as the Giants all time leading quarterback. Phil Simms is a Giants legend. The more pressure you put on him the better he performed. Phil Simms was tough in the pocket and was able to take the physical punishment, but Simms never had his jaw crushed by a linebacker’s helmet. It takes incredible fortitude to be able to stand in a pocket after surviving that kind of assault. Add the fact that Kerry was blindsided and you have to wonder if he ever starts to lose control of his fear against an aggressive and loud defense. Besides the Superbowl performance his worse performance came during a regular season game. His quarterback rating was a paltry 20.1. He threw three interceptions and only completed 44 percent of his throws. The game was against none other then Bill Romanowski and the Denver Broncos.

Opening day is quickly approaching. Denver will be loud on Monday Night and the cool September air will be very thin. The Broncos no longer play at Mile High Stadium but their new stadium is still a mile high. The Giants must consider the cool thin Colorado air during their preparations. I was hoping to see Fassel take the team to Ramapo Mountain each morning and have the players run the Hill made famous by Comella and Barber. Afternoon practice would be held in the bubble for light contact scrimmages with game day sounds blasting in the loud speakers. Neither the offensive line nor the defensive line have proven back ups for rotation to keep everyone fresh in the thin mountain air. The Broncos will try to establish an early lead. If they succeed in establishing a first half lead they will attempt to run down the defense by giving the ball to Anderson, Davis or Gary. They could even rotate their backs to keep them fresh and further wear down the Giants defense. Stamina is going to be a major factor in this game.

This game is monstrous for the Broncos. They take exceptional pride in their ability to win their home games. This is their first game in their new home so expect the Bronco’s to be ready for war. Romanowski is prepared to pay $20,000 to win this game. Kerry Collins has a demon to face. The real drama Monday night will involve Kerry Collins, Bill Romanowski and our offensive line.

Sep 032001
 
Baltimore Ravens 38 – New York Giants 9

Game Overview: This game wasn’t as bad as the final score indicates – am I’m not just talking about the performance of the Giants first team offense and defense – both of which played well. People may accuse me of wearing rose-colored glasses, but there were plenty of positive performances by second team players. There were many contributing factors to the blow out. On defense, Defensive Coordinator John Fox played it straight up with the second and third teamers – while on the other hand the Ravens’ second and third team offense schemed quite a bit (i.e., worked to isolate wide receivers on Giants’ linebackers). The Ravens also employed their first teamers against the Giants’ second teamers for a time in the first half and used guys like WR Jermaine Lewis into the 4th quarter. Finally, the inability of the Giants 2nd/3rd team offense in the second half to move the ball also led to the 2nd/3rd team defense being on the field an inordinate amount of time on a very humid day – the defense simply wore down.

On offense, the play of the second string offensive line was not as bad as advertised (more on that below). Damon Washington continued to impress as well.

Special teams continue to be a problem, though there was improvement this week.

Special Teams: Now we know why P Rodney Williams doesn’t kick off – he stinks at it. His kick-offs were VERY low line drives that did not reach the endzone. That experiment is over. Look for Owen Pochman or Morten Anderson to kick-off in the regular season.

Rodney Williams punted a lot. His first punt was not impressive. Neither were his last two. But everything in between was excellent – with very good distance and height. He’s improving his consistency.

Will Allen demonstrated the same shaky hands while fielding punts as he did at camp and his fumble led to a turnover that opened up the flood gates in the second half. Look for Tiki Barber to return punts again this year. The blocking on punt returns remains dubious at best – again opposing coverage men seem unimpeded at times. Jack Golden was flagged with an illegal block as well. Blocking for kick returns is improving. I saw a number of nice-looking wedges being formed. Unfortunately, on his one return, Ron Dixon didn’t do a good job of following his blockers.

As for the coverage teams, they looked improved this week (which isn’t saying much). Kick-off coverage was hampered by Williams’ poor kick-offs. There was one punt return that picked up big yardage when no one contained on the opposite side of the field. DeWayne Patmon was active.

Defensive Line: The stars of the first team defensive line were the usual duo: Michael Strahan and Keith Hamilton. Strahan gave the Ravens fits – even when double-teamed. You could tell that Keith Hamilton was fired up for this game and he dominated in the middle of the line. On one play, both crushed Elvis Grbac as he just got rid of the ball. Strahan later beat a double-team block to pressure Grbac again; he later didn’t fall for a play-action fake and flustered the quarterback on a roll out. This was Kenny Holmes’ first game back in a long time and he was facing Jonathan Odgen. The bad news is that he didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback; the good news is that he did not get blown off the ball in run defense. Ryan Hale did not impress (and has since been waived).

The second team defensive line flashed at times, but did not apply consistent pass pressure and their run defense was spotty at times. Part of this was due to scheme. During much of the preseason, when the Giants’ first team defense was in the game, John Fox continued to blitz and mix things up. The Giants didn’t do that with the second and third teamers against the Ravens. Cedric Scott was very quiet early on and I was starting to get real down on him, then he started to finally make some plays by penetrating into the backfield. The one thing he needs to do better is wrap up. I noticed this at camp too. He will often get into the backfield and have the ball carrier right in his sights, but then not wrap up and finish the play off. This happened 2-3 times against Baltimore. Scott did come up with a sack by keeping with it when there was good coverage by Will Allen and Will Peterson down the field. He also made some plays against the run, and on one play pressured the quarterback by not falling for a play-action fake. On the big 70-yard run, however, he did a good job of getting penetration into the backfield to disrupt the play, but didn’t see the ball carrier until it was too late as he ran right by him. In a way, his fine penetration caused the hole in the defense.

At the other end, Frank Ferrara fought extremely hard and did an OK job of stringing out sweeps to his side. He also combined with Ross Kolodziej on a stunt where both pressured the quarterback (leading to an incompletion on 3rd-and-8). But Frank had his problems at the point of attack and was overwhelmed a couple of times.

Inside, Ross Kolodziej and Lance Legree flashed at times. I’m glad to see that both made the team. Legree made two fine back-to-back plays where he first pressured the quarterback on a bull rush and then avoided a block, flowed down the line, and nailed the ball carrier. Legree probably played more than any other Giant on Friday and was on the field a lot; he eventually started to wear down a bit. Kolodziej is not as stout as Christian Peter at the point of attack, but he has better movement skills.

DaMonte McKenzie cost the Giants when he jumped offsides on 3rd-and-4. The penalty was called on Ferrara, but it was McKenzie who jumped.

Linebackers: The starting trio of Mike Barrow, Jessie Armstead, and Brandon Short played well. Barrow was very active against the run, had decent coverage against Shannon Sharpe on one play, and then beat Sharpe to the outside for a crushing sack on Grbac. Jessie Armstead made a nice play defending the run on a cutback.

As for the reserves, Jack Golden was active. He made a number of good plays in run defense and did a decent job in pass coverage. I was disappointed to see that Dhani Jones was not more active. Kevin Lewis did a good job against the run at times, but had his problems in coverage. Something that Phil McConkey pointed out was correct – the Giants didn’t jam the tight ends at the line and allowed them too easy of a release. This makes pass coverage by the linebackers much more difficult. Also, the Ravens kept two scoring drives alive that should have been stopped by matching up fast and quick wide receivers (Quadry Ismail and Jermaine Lewis) against Kevin Lewis in coverage. The Giants either need to give Lewis help in that situation or Lewis has to smack the hell out of the wide receiver within the five yard area. Clayton White played quite a bit but didn’t make much noise.

Defensive Backs: Emmanuel McDaniel was not heard from and that is good news. He must have done a good job of covering his man or Grbac never bothered to throw his way. Dave Thomas had great coverage on a 3rd-and-10 play and should have come up with the interception, but the ball went right through his hands for a completion. He did OK otherwise. SS Sam Garnes got beat by Shannon Sharpe for a 22 yard completion when Sharpe got a clean release off of the line and split the safeties. Garnes was active in run defense and made one real hard hit. Shaun Williams was quiet.

Will Allen got a bum deal from many in The Corner Forum. He got blamed for two big plays that really weren’t his fault. The first was a deep pass to Brandon Stokley when the Giants were in two deep coverage. Allen’s job was to redirect the receiver to the sidelines (which he did) and then play the short zone. When he saw that Clarence LeBlanc wasn’t going to get over in time to cover the deep zone, he chased after Stokley. Looking at the play, it looks like Allen is trying to cover up his mistake – but he was trying to cover up LeBlanc’s mistake.

The second play was the touchdown to Jermaine Lewis. For some reason, Fox had the Giants playing a loose zone down near the goalline. Allen lined up against Lewis but backed off to the outside zone of the endzone. Lewis faked a slant then ran straight back to the back of the end zone against Omar Stoutmire. In effect, Stoutmire was trying to cover the extremely quick Lewis (a big mismatch). Allen shot over to help Stoutmire when he saw what was happening – but again, it wasn’t his man.

Phil McConkey mentioned that Allen had very tight coverage a couple of times and Allen was not playing against chopped liver. Much of the time he was facing Travis Taylor (the 10th player taken in the 2000 NFL Draft). The only time I wasn’t thrilled with his coverage was on a deep pass to Taylor that Taylor dropped. Allen had good position, but he didn’t play the ball (though Allen contends he was pushed off on the play). Will Allen made a nice play in run defense on a sweep, but didn’t wrap up later on after a short completion.

Will Peterson wasn’t heard from much and that is good news. He did get beat on a slant on 3rd-and-7, but he had tight coverage on the play (it was a perfect throw). Peterson did a great job of hustling down field and fighting off a block to bring down the running back on the 70-yard gain. CB Ralph Brown made a very good tackle on one short pass and then immediately followed it up by a very poor attempt on 3rd-and-long; the receiver broke his attempted tackle (and an attempted tackle by Stoutmire) and scored. CB Kelly Herndon also missed a tackle after a short completion.

The back-up safeties were up and down. They hit well (especially LeBlanc and Stoutmire). But DeWayne Patmon took the wrong angle on the 70-yard run. There were also the aforementioned problems in coverage by LeBlanc and the tackling problem by Stoutmire.

Quarterbacks: I thought Kerry Collins was so-so (I have higher expectations for him). He did a good job of moving the offense between the 20’s, but he wasn’t terribly accurate in doing so. If Collins doesn’t slightly overthrow Amani Toomer on the game’s first play, Toomer scores (the ball was completed by Toomer had to dive for it). Collins also underthrew Joe Jurevicius on 3rd down inside the redzone on one occasion and later overthrew him on 3rd down in the redzone on another occasion. Collins was sharp on his out passes however and his best pass of the day was the extremely accurate slant pass to Toomer that kept a drive alive. His worst decision came on a roll out to the right where he threw against the grain deep into double-coverage. If Toomer didn’t turn into a defensive back on the play, the ball would have been intercepted. Collins also did a bad job of “selling” the screen on the screen pass to Damon Washington that Ray Lewis stuffed.

Jason Garrett was efficient…that’s his game. He won’t make the spectacular play but he will nickel and dime you to death. He makes smart decisions (for the most part) and takes what the defense gives him. Jason doesn’t get flustered much either. He had a poor throw on the attempted screen to Washington that was intercepted – the ball was nowhere near Damon as it hit the back of a lineman and was tipped into the air. But aside from that Garrett did a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly and moving the team.

It was tough to judge Jesse Palmer. There were plays where he looked sharp and others where he did not. Part of that had to do with some breakdowns in pass protection (though some of that was his fault – more on that in a bit) and he was also hurt by drops. Jesse has to learn to throw the ball away when no one is open (or he doesn’t see anyone open). Too many times he took a hit or sack because he wouldn’t throw the ball away.

Offensive Line: I was very impressed with the work of the first team line. They pretty much controlled the line of scrimmage against a top-notch front seven. What really stood out to me was the way each linemen would block the man immediately over their head and then break off quickly to engage another defender. That’s the kind of tactic that OL Coach McNally teaches over and over again. The left side of Lomas Brown and Glenn Parker finally played well together and Ron Dayne was able to pick up good yardage to their side of the field. I was very much impressed with the work of Dusty Zeigler in this game and loved it when he effectively took Ray Lewis out of the play on one Dayne run to the inside (Zeigler also clobbered a defensive back on the play). Zeigler and Ron Stone also so effectively made blocks on a right-side run that it didn’t matter that Luke Pettitgout whiffed on his. (Dusty did miss one run block however when his man disrupted the Dayne run in the backfield). Pass protection was equally strong. All around – a great effort.

After reading comments in The Corner Forum and not seeing the game until later, I thought the play of the second team line was going to be a disaster. It wasn’t. There were a few rough moments, but these guys did a decent job against a very deep and experienced Ravens’ defensive line. The second team line of Chris Ziemann, Rich Seubert, Jason Whittle, Mike Rosenthal, and Chris Bober did a good job as the second team offense moved the ball well in the second quarter. In fact, the first drive against the first team Ravens’ defense was stopped due to a dropped pass.

One guy who I kept an eye on a lot was Rich Seubert. There was one play I loved where Seubert drove Ray Lewis about 10 yards down the field on a Washington carry to the right side. Seubert gets movement in his run blocks, but still has some problems in pass protection. If he can improve in that area, the Giants may have a player there.

Also inside, I liked the way Jason Whittle handled himself pretty much handling a defensive tackle over his head all by himself. There was one play where Whittle and Mike Rosenthal started to block the tackle, but then Mike broke off to help out with Bober outside – a head’s up play by Rosenthal.

Chris Bober got a bad rap in this game. He didn’t play a particularly strong game, but he wasn’t as bad as some said. He had two breakdowns in the first half. He got beat to the outside too quickly on one play where Garrett was forced to unload quickly. Bober later was ineffective in his cut block attempt on the screen pass that was intercepted. But a sack in the second half “credited” to Bober was not his fault – it was Palmer’s fault. Let me explain. The imaginary “pass pocket” is not just the area to the sides and front of the quarterback, but to the back as well. An offensive lineman is taught in many instances to push the rusher wide of the pass pocket. This is what Bober did on the play in question. However, not only did Palmer hold onto the ball too long, but he drifted back outside of the pocket right into the charge of the defender. Bober looks bad on the play, but it is Palmer who made the mistake.

Bober looks to me like a perennial back-up type. Like a Jumbo Elliott, he doesn’t have super quick feet. But he also lacks Jumbo’s long arms to compensate. If Bober if forced to play left tackle this year, I think the Giants are going to have to help him out with a tight end or H-Back against top-flight ends. RT Chris Ziemann looked good at times in the running game (he also badly whiffed on one block), but struggled at times with outside quickness in pass protection. I still think he has promise and am glad to see him on the Practice Squad. Terrence Sykes got badly beat for the sack that caused the defensive touchdown.

Tight Ends: I didn’t see keep my eye on Dan Campbell as much as I would have liked in terms of blocking. They did not throw in his direction. Marcellus Rivers did a decent job run blocking on one occasion and then didn’t sustain long enough on another and allowed his man to make the play. He seems to be improving however.

Wide Receivers: Amani Toomer looked real sharp, but he was playing against a rookie. Still his diving catch was great, he looked sharp on his out patterns, and did a good job on his trademark slant route for a big play. I really liked the work Toomer did as a blocker on one of Dayne’s runs.

Joe Jurevicius got open quite a bit but Collins didn’t get the ball to him. Ron Dixon dropped an easy chance on a quick pass to the outside (that damn inconsistency again!). Thabiti Davis had two drops and that hurt, ending drives. He did make one nice reception in traffic over the middle. Pat Woodcock didn’t look bad.

Running Backs: The first thing I want to mention is the great job Greg Comella did run blocking this week. He really did an excellent job of leading Ron Dayne into the hole and taking out defenders. Ron Dayne was sharp. He is getting more and more comfortable and the line finally gave him some room to operate. Ron was a shoe-string tackle away from turning a big gain into a huge gain. He’s doing a better job of reading his blocks as well as setting them up.

Damon Washington had a good game. When he’s teamed with quality players on the field, his impact is more apparent. He did a good job of picking up a first down on pass on 3rd-and-12. Later he made good yardage on an inside run. Damon also did a good job of picking up the blitz on one occasion.


by David Oliver

I like to take along a CD on my daily walk. Today it was a Willy Nelson Album of the old standards. Right out of the box came Time Just Slips Away, followed by Crazy (damn I just love the Patsy Cline version). Both songs could be theme songs for Giants fans. The old ballad (Time) goes something like this:

Isn’t it funny
How time just slips away

Yes it is. Wednesday of last week was my son’s 32 birthday. On Friday, Mr. Rogers hung up that sweater for one last time, after 33 years. Also on Friday, the Giants played the Ravens, culminating the Ring of the Niebelung cycle which began last January. A loss in the Super Bowl and a loss in the PSI wastelands, both followed by the endless angst of we, the faithful, here at BBI.

I have waited until the cuts were made before posting this review for a number of reasons. That has given me the benefit of reading through the various threads and analyses posted in The Corner Forum. And good they were. I talked to many of the “questionable” keepers after the game, and some of the cut players as well and their comments might shed some light on the topic.

The game itself was the longest, quickly played game I have witnessed in some time. From mid-way through the 3rd quarter, it seemed interminable. But these kids, on both sides, were fighting for their lives. “Is it going to be a nervous weekend? It’s my life,” Clarence LeBlanc told me in the locker room. He felt he had a good camp, but as he didn’t make the decisions, he just did his best and hoped the coaches saw something. That pretty much sums it up for these players. The first unit went out and they played as if they had something to prove. Forget the chatter about just a game. Michael Strahan and Shannon Sharpe could be seen having a very animated discussion over the Greenspan cuts and the impact on their investment strategies Jim Fassel (JF) had his new gameday face on, and it’s not pretty – this man is aging quickly. Brian Billick, on the other hand, looked like King of the Manor – enjoy it, Coach, fame is fleeting. The backups went out to solidify position, knowing full well that at least one or two of them weren’t going to survive. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t appear as if those really in jeopardy knew it or somehow they failed to seize the opportunity. And then there was the helter-skelter – guys scrambling all over the place, often not really knowing what was happening, just trying to grab attention. In some cases it worked. Through it all, there were only two guys who noticeably had laid it all out, Frank Ferrara and Lance Legree. They were tired, no, spent, with barely enough energy to dress, trying valiantly to keep their composure under stress. Most of the guys in the locker seemed comfortable. LeBlanc and Pat Woodcock concerned, Rich Seubert and Chris Bober confident, Cedric Scott now knowing what it is he is up against.

Kevin Lewis (Klu) told me after the game that it was wild out there. I asked about communication, and he told me, “It’s all those things, and then you start mingling in the third unit…and you’re yelling, screaming at each other, you know…and then the crowd becomes a factor, and because you’re trying to hear you have to yell and scream to make sure the other guy gets it; sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t…and then, the same guys you saw playing the game are the same guys you saw running up and down the field covering kicks, playing defense, running back down the field, and that’s a definite factor as well.” These are the guys fighting for their football lives with the deck stacked against them. Klu went on: “The coaching staff told us before the game that they wanted to see guys running around out there and playing hard. There were definitely a lot of cases where you saw guys flying around and playing hard, attempting to make plays. As we develop (as a team) we’ll get better because we’ll start making those plays.” I asked him about that very thing and told him that from the sidelines it looked as if those plays weren’t being made. He said, “It’s hard; you have to suck it up for every play. Like my linebacker Coach, Coach O (Tom Olivadotti) always tells us, you take each individual play, you play one down at a time and that’s how you get through games, one down at a time. With the second and third unit out there playing, although you’re tired, you have to suck it up, play that play, and then you go back to the huddle and get it up for the next play. A lot of guys are carrying that tiredness to the next play, they’re carrying (the feeling), oh, I messed up on the last play, and that screws up the next two plays.” Lewis is one of the smartest guys in the locker, always affable and smiling, in a quiet way and has made some friends on the team. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t find a way to stand out. It’s as if JF needs a new linebacker every two years just to change the faces, as in O.J. Childress begat Lewis who begat Clayton White. I’ve never talked to White, couldn’t pick him out of a crowd, and don’t remember seeing anything which would lead me to believe he’s a better ball player than Lewis. But JF likes the way he runs down field on kickoffs. To be honest, preseason coverage was so atrocious, I didn’t even notice him there.

The line play was ferocious, even in the late going as these kids were banging heads out there. Cedric Scott told me a little of his development and said “trying to work on my technique and get all this stuff down, that the coaches ask for, because it’s a totally different game from college. This game here is all about technique, playing with leverage. In college, if you’re bigger and stronger, you can get away with a lot of things. In this league, you’ve got to do every thing right to make plays.” We talked about his development and he showed how grounded he is as he told me, “I’m not real consistent yet, I’ve got to use my hands better, but I’m going to keep working at it.” We talked about the speed of the pro game and he told me it was a “little faster” and we discussed the tackles. He said they were bigger and “quicker, they move their feet better, sometimes you can give a move to the inside and they’ll bite on it, but these guys are so much more technically sound, they move their feet real good.”

Phil’s favorite ball player, Pat Woodcock, responded, when I asked him how he felt, by telling me, “You know what, I don’t know how I feel. It’s a little disappointing to be in my position and go out and play like we did in the second half, it’s a little bit disappointing to not be able to go out and make a play, in order to secure yourself, maybe…I think I’ve worked hard and I hope I’ve shown the coaches what I’m capable doing and hopefully that I can help the team win football games.” I asked him what he liked best about camp and he told me, “The teammates. All the guys have helped out and been supportive in every way, better than I could have ever expected.” I asked him what were his expectations and he said, “I really don’t know. I’ve never done this before, so, I’m just hoping that my work on the field has spoken and that I’ll be around next week.” Hey, Phil in L.A. ever had a case of sweaty palms and she told you, no, we don’t know each other well enough. Yeah, I think so. You and Woodcock have something in common. Now that’s a story I’ll buy into.

What else can you say about the game. First unit looked decent, second unit held it’s own against first unit Ravens, third unit mixed in, and there was a fumbled punt, a breakaway run, and general ugliness. Did it signify anything? I guess if the Giants have to play their second-third units for a whole game, it could be Little Big Horn déjà vu. But short of that happening, it cost two semi-veterans their jobs and earned a little respite for four or five rookies. The most glaring lesson of the day was Special Teams – they still suck AND keep Will Allen off the field during punts.

I talked to Bober and Seubert. Both have impressed me all preseason, but neither looked particularly good out there against the Ravens. I chided Bober by saying, hey, you had a rough game out there today, and his answer made me feel Canadian, as he looked at me and said, “Eh! What do you mean?” We talked and he told me that he thought he had a pretty good game. So I asked if he and Seubert saw anything different out there and the answer was, “They played straight up. They didn’t do as many games as we thought they would.” Seubert told me he felt pretty good but that he’s be nervous this weekend. He told me he was just trying to learn from the older players. He said, “Camp was an experience. I thought they were going to mess with us a little more, but everybody helped out, the older guys showed us around and taught me a lot of things. I learned more in camp than I learned in my 4 years of college.” As we talked, his confidence grew and he told me, “I’m a little nervous before a game, but once it starts, it’s just another guy. I go against one of the best defensive linemen in practice, so practice gets you ready for games like this.” Bober was very confident and seemingly knew he was on the team. Frankly, as we discussed it, he convinced me as his man was getting penetration, but he didn’t give up the big one. He was riding his man, locked on, and showed technique. In retrospect, after the game, I could see a lot of the Lomas Brown technique in pass blocking. Seubert was beaten a couple of times and Terrence Sykes looked horrible (sorry, Eric).

Jack Golden was a wild man out there, leaping over guys and making plays. JF’s warning hit home and Jack realized this was for the right to stay – he showed up. It gives him something to build on. Lance Legree was active in the middle. I saw him miss a tackle or two, but he was grabbing, reaching, submarining and generally breaking things up so the backers could make a play. Dhani Jones was also a wild man and as he plays he is picking it up. I feel a lot more comfortable should he have to play to spell Barrow, but if he’s forced into full time duty, there will be some growing pains. Jason Garrett got hit enough times out there to convince him that he ought to leave this stuff to younger guys. Damon Washington showed his mettle again – he is a tough, shifty runner; a nice blend of Tiki and Dayne. The tight ends again did nothing. The secondary, 2 and 3 units, showed their youth, but heck, Randall Cunningham was pitching and that was kind of unfair.

Well, that was about it for the Ravens game. Hopefully during the week, I’ll get a chance to do a little analysis for you as to how I think the team has shaped up. I am not planning on going to Denver. Just as Ernie Accorsi and JF, the damn salary cap in the Oliver household is forcing some tough decisions. Go Giants!

(Box Score – New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens, August 31, 2001)