Nov 302008
 

Giants Keep Rolling, Down Skins 23-7: The NFL Champion New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins 23-7 earlier today at a rain-soaked FedEx Field in Landover, MD.  The win improved the Giants’ overall record to 11-1 (4-0 in the NFC East).  The Redskins fell to 7-5 (2-3 in the NFC East).

The Giants were without a number of key players including DT Fred Robbins (shoulder), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), and WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring/gunshot).

The Redskins’ defensive strategy was to load up against the Giants’ running attack and dare the Giants to beat Washington with the passing game.  The Giants responded with 296 net passing yards, while also rushing for 108 net yards.

The Redskins received the ball to start the game.  The Giants held them to a three-and-out.  On their first possession, the Giants then drove 71 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead with QB Eli Manning hitting WR Amani Toomer on 40-yard touchdown pass.  The drive was kept alive twice on 3rd-and-long by Manning passes to WR Domenik Hixon.

Washington was held to another three-and-out on their second drive.  New York then marched 67 yards in 11 plays, settling for a 31-yard field goal by PK John Carney to take a 10-0 first quarter advantage.  Key plays on this drive included a 5-yard run by HB Derrick Ward on 3rd-and-3, a 24-yard pass to TE Kevin Boss, and a 15-yard completion to Toomer combined with a personal foul penalty on the Redskins.

The Redskins finally managed their initial first down of the game on their third possession, near the end of the first quarter.  Washington picked up another being forced to punt again.

The Giants then proceeded to score on their third straight drive of the game as New York moved the ball 60 yards in six plays to set up a 38-yard field goal by Carney.  The big play on the drive was a 48-yard catch-and-run by Ward.  Giants 13 – Redskins 0.

Washington scored their only points of the game on the ensuing drive, and that was aided by a questionable call.  The drive started with a poor kickoff that was fielded at the 28-yard line and returned to the Redskin 43-yard line.  Six plays later, CB Corey Webster intercepted a pass at the Giants’ 34-yard line, but Webster was called for a phantom illegal-use-of-the-hands penalty that wiped out the pick.  On the very next play, WR Devin Thomas scored on a 29-yard end around to cut the Giants’ advantage to 13-7.

The Giants did drive to the Washington 34-yard line on their ensuing possession, but on 3rd-and-6, a Manning pass intended for Hixon was intercepted at the Washington 25-yard line.  The Giants’ defense held and the Redskins punted after one first down.  The Giants drove to the Washington 38-yard line on their next possession, but Manning was stuffed on 4th-and-1 and the Giants turned the ball over on downs.  The Redskins did managed to get into field goal range right before halftime, however Washington’s kicker missed the 42-yard field goal attempt.  At halftime, the Giants led 13-7.

The Giants received the ball to start the third quarter.  After picking up one first down, the Giants were forced to punt.  Washington was then held to a three-and-out by the Giants’ defense.

On New York’s second possession of the second half, the Giants drove 48 yards in six plays to take a 20-7 advantage.  The drive began with a 23-yard run by HB Brandon Jacobs.  On 3rd-and-10, Manning found Ward for 11 yards down to the Redskins’ 2-yard line.  Two plays later, Jacobs scored from one yard out.

The ensuing drive by the Redskins ended when CB Aaron Ross intercepted a deep pass from QB Jason Campbell at the Giants’ 3-yard line.  The Giants were able to move the football out to the Redskins’ 45-yard line, but then were forced to punt when Jacobs was stuffed on 3rd-and-1.

The Redskins were held to yet another three-and-out on their next possession, but so too then were the Giants.  A key moment in the game came on Washington’s fourth possession of the second half.  Facing a 4th-and-1 from their own 39-yard line, the Redskins decided to go for it, but HB Clinton Portis was stuffed for no gain by DE Justin Tuck.  The Giants picked up one first down to set up a successful 39-yard field goal by Carney.  Giants 23 – Redskins 7.

With about three and a half minutes to go in the game, the Redskins decided to go for it again on 4th-and-6 at the Giants’ 34-yard line.  The pass fell incomplete and the Redskins turned the football over on downs for the second straight possession.

The Giants could not pick up a first down after a holding call on Boss wiped out a 51-yard run by Ward.  On the Redskins’ final possession of the game, Washington did manage to reach the Giants’ 17-yard line, but S James Butler recovered a fumble on the game’s last play.

Offensively, Manning completed 21-of-34 passes for 305 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.  Toomer caught five passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, Ward five passes for 75 yards, Hixon five passes for 71 yards, Boss three passes for 45 yards, and WR Steve Smith two passes for 22 yards.  Jacobs carried the ball 21 times for 71 yards and a score and Ward 10 times for 30 yards.

Defensively, the Giants held Portis to 22 yards rushing on 11 attempts.  Tuck was credited with two sacks, DT Barry Cofield with one sack, and DE Renaldo Wynn with one sack.  Ross had an interception.  Cofield and CB Terrell Thomas forced fumbles, with Butler recovering one.

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were DT Fred Robbins (shoulder), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring/gunshot), OT Adam Koets, DE Jerome McDougle, LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring), CB Sam Madison, and PK Lawrence Tynes.

Burress to Report to Police Authorities: According to press reports, WR Plaxico Burress, who wounded himself in the right leg when his concealed firearm accidentally discharged in a Manhattan nightclub Friday night, will report to police authorities when requested.

“We will make arrangements for Mr. Burress to be present when required,” said Burress’ lawyer.  “He’s not running away from this. He intends to deal with this responsibly, and we hope it works out in the end.  I would ask that the public, the Giants, the media and everybody else withhold judgment.  He’s presumed innocent, hasn’t been convicted of anything, and we have a long road ahead of us.”

General Manager Jerry Reese said that he has tried to reach out to Burress.  “I reached out to him and I did not get a return phone call,” said Reese.  “We haven’t spoken to him yet.”

“We’re still investigating the circumstances of how he was shot,” said Giants’ President and CEO John Mara.  “I want to wait until we find out all the facts and circumstances.  I don’t know what happened there.  And until we find out exactly what happened, we’re not going to make any comment or make any decision about his future.”

“I’m disappointed that any of our guys would put themselves in this situation,” Mara said.  “But our first concern is for Plaxico’s health and well-being.”

“We’ve been in touch with NFL Security, they’ve been in touch with the police and we’ve told them that whatever they need from us, we’re going to give them,” said Mara.  “We’re going to let the investigation play out.  There are a lot of unanswered questions.  We’re cooperating fully with both the police and NFL Security.”

MLB Antonio Pierce was with Burress when the incident occurred.  “Antonio has been cooperative with NFL Security,” Reese said. “He’s been interviewed by NFL Security, I’m not sure if he’s been interviewed by the police yet.”

Nov 302008
 

Plaxico Burress Accidentally Shoots Self in Leg at Nightclub, Arrest Warrant to Be Issued: WR Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub Friday night. He spent the night at a local hospital and was released Saturday afternoon. There are conflicting reports on the extent of the injury, some saying that Burress merely grazed himself while other saying that the bullet penetrated both skin and muscle tissue in his right thigh. A police official was quoted as saying the bullet went in and out of Burress’ thigh without hitting a major artery or bone.

There are also conflicting reports on how the weapon was discharged. Some press reports say the weapon went off when Burress was voluntarily handing the firearm over to club security. The Daily News is reporting that the gun slipped down Burress’ pant leg and it went off when Burress reached for it.

SNY.tv is reporting that Burress does not have a gun permit and that an arrest warrant will soon be issued for carrying an unlicensed handgun. The Daily News is reporting that Burress is expected to be arrested on felony weapons charges. The NFL has also begun its own investigation and Burress could face disiplinary action from the League, including suspension.

Various press reports say police visited Burress’ home last night by were unable to talk to him. Burress’ wife apparently told police, “You can’t come in. You can’t talk to my husband.”

“He went for his gun and fumbled it. And now it will cost him,” a police source told The Daily News.

According to press reports, MLB Antonio Pierce was with Burress at the time of the incident. The Daily News is reporting that Pierce actually carried the gun away from the scene of the incident. The paper said a Giants’ official will be turning the weapon over to police authorities. It is not known yet if Pierce is also in trouble with the law and NFL authorities. The New York Times is reporting that there may have been at least one other Giant with Burress and Pierce.

“We have people on the scene trying to gather information, get all the facts, determine exactly what happened,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Right now we’re concerned about Plaxico and finding out all the details.”

The Giants released the following statement yesterday:

“We are aware of the fact that Plaxico was involved in an apparent accidental shooting last night. We have been in contact with Plaxico since shortly after the incident. Plaxico suffered a wound to his right thigh. Obviously, our primary concern is for Plaxico’s health and well-being, and given the circumstances, we are relieved to say he was released from a New York City hospital at approximately 2:00PM today. We have been in touch with NFL Security on this matter. At this point, we are attempting to gather all the facts surrounding this incident. This incident could become a matter for law enforcement officials, and because of that, we have no comment on any of the details.”

Burress had already been ruled out of today’s game against the Redskins due to a hamstring injury in his right leg, the same leg wounded by the bullet.

Editorials on Burress:

Giants Place S Sammy Knight on Injured Reserve; Sign DT Jeremy Clark to 53-Man Roster: The Giants have placed S Sammy Knight (hip) on Injured  Reserve, effectively ending his season. To fill Knight’s roster spot, the Giants have signed DT Jeremy Clark to the 53-man roster. Clark had been on the Giants’ Practice Squad.

Article on the Giants’ Offensive Line:Giants Offensive Line In It Together by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on WR Domenik Hixon: Giants Receiver Domenik Hixon Has a Style That’s Versatile by Wayne Coffee of The Daily News

Nov 292008
 

November 28, 2008 New York Giants Injury Report – Burress Out Against Redskins: DT Fred Robbins (shoulder), WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), and LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring) did not practice again yesterday. Burress and Goff have been ruled out of the game against the Redskins on Sunday. Robbins and Bradshaw are officially “questionable” for the game.

“It’s just a little sore,” Robbins said of his shoulder. “I didn’t want to bang on it during the week.”

DE Justin Tuck (lower leg) returned to practice and practiced fully. HB Brandon Jacobs (knee), WR Domenik Hixon (ankle), and DE Jerome McDougle (knee) practiced fully. Jacobs is “questionable” for the game against the Redskins; Tuck, Hixon, and McDougle are “probable.”

Notes: The NFL announced that the Giants game against the Cowboys on December 14 will remain an 8:15PM kickoff, as originally scheduled. Game times in the season’s final seven weeks are subject to change because of the NFL’s flex schedule policy.

Nov 282008
 

November 27, 2008 New York Giants Injury Report: DE Justin Tuck (lower leg), DT Fred Robbins (shoulder), WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), and LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring) did not practice yesterday.

HB Brandon Jacobs (knee), WR Domenik Hixon (ankle), and DE Jerome McDougle (knee) fully practiced.

Nov 272008
 
New York Giants 37 – Arizona Cardinals 29

Summary: You could see it in Eli Manning’s eyes on Sunday afternoon that calm but deadly stare that he gets when the game is put into his hands.  Eli doesn’t look troubled, excited, nervous or anxious he just looks – straight ahead at what he has to face.  Manning’s demeanor upon learning that Plaxico Burress would play just a few minutes and the Giants most imposing weapon, Brandon Jacobs would only be clad in streets said just one thing…”I’m your huckleberry”.  Just as the legendary Doc Holliday employed an icy cold stare and deadly accuracy to play a pivotal role in the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral (most appropriately located in Tombstone, AZ), Manning stared down his latest opponent and was again the last man standing.  A little too poetic to describe a game marred by egregiously bad officiating and some sloppy play?  Perhaps, but Eli came riding in to save the day when his team needed him most.

The upstart Cardinals came in guns blazing, with an unblemished home record, a pinball machine type offense and plenty of confidence that starts with head coach Ken Wisenhunt.  A frenzied home crowd, anticipating an upset was buoyed by the Cardinals defense early as the Giants were held to seven plays and two punts on their initial possessions of the game.  After a Neil Rackers field goal put the Cards up 3-0, the teams combined for six lead changes in the first half that ended in a 17-12 halftime bulge for the G-Men.

After the break, the Giants roared out to take a 24-12 lead that would prove too difficult to overcome for the high powered but one-dimensional Cardinals.  Held to only 23 yards rushing, the Cards had no choice but to rely on the creaky but ever dangerous Kurt Warner and his impressive trio of WRs.  The aerial attack gave the Giants fits at times, but for the most part, Warner and company had to earn each score as Steve Spagnuolo and his defense prevented the big play, played bump and run well and harassed Kurt Warner just enough to come away with a win.  Spagnuolo’s counterpart Kevin Gildbride, once again had the Giants over 30 points, despite missing his two biggest weapons.  Week in and week out now, the Giants continue to just win regardless of who plays or who plays well.  What we’ve seen all season is a balanced attack and scary deep roster that is stocked with enough talent to overcome almost any adversity.

Quarterbacks: For weeks now, Eli Manning and the Giants passing attack have been an afterthought as the ground game has throttled opponents into submission with relative ease.  Minus the table setter in RB Brandon Jacobs and his most dangerous receiving threat, WR Plaxico Burress, all eyes were again on Eli to lead his team to victory and Easy E did not disappoint.  Things didn’t start too rosy for Eli as deep passes on 2nd and 3rd down of the Giants first drive were batted away by rookie CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the drive stalled in three plays.  A sack by DE Bertrand Berry doomed the next drive, as Derrick Ward failed to pick up a 3rd and 12 and the Giants again were forced to punt.

Eli’s Michael Myers (of Halloween fame, not the asexual Austin Powers star) side came out again after his first two drives; just keep hanging around long enough and he’ll eventually hack you to pieces with a blank stare. Eli and the offense finally got on track late in the first quarter, with Manning starting the drive with a perfect strike to Domenik Hixon and finishing 6-6 for 45 yards as the Giants took a 7-3 lead.  A near INT almost cost the Giants a shot at points on the Giants’ next possession that started at the Arizona 17, thanks to a Hixon kickoff return.  A perfect fade to Hixon glanced off his fingertips and a promising drive was reduced to a chip shot FG.  Manning was on target with both of his passes in the red zone though, but his receivers didn’t make the plays.  To finish up the first half scoring, Eli only needed to cover 32 yards after a 68 yard return by Domenik Hixon and he responded again going 3-4 for 29 yards and a 12-yard strike to Amani Toomer.

Manning’s nicest toss of the day came early in the 3rd quarter as he lofted a perfect corner route to WR Steve Smith for 30 yards on 3rd and 2.  Maybe more impressive than the throw was Manning’s ability to be stand in as LB Chike Okeafor was in his face and introducing him to the turf as he let go of the ball.  As has become his habit, Eli put the ball where only his target could make the play and he followed that pass up with a well-executed play action pass to FB Madison Hedgecock for a 24-12 lead.  The hot hand continued as #10 went 6-7 for 66 yards and his third TD of the day, a 10 yard toss to TE Kevin Boss that put the Giants up 31-19 and effectively ended the game.  On the day, Manning was 26-33 for 240 yards and three TDs and most importantly, did not turn the ball over and got everyone involved in the passing game, hitting seven different receivers.

Running Backs: The absence of Brandon Jacobs was felt in the running game, make no mistake about that.  Coming into the game, the Cardinals had been 7th in the league against the run, but the Giants churned up the Ravens to the tune of 207 yards but were held to 87 yards and only 3.2 yards per carry by a less dominant defense.  Without Jacobs’s body blows, Derrick Ward’s jabs were less effective to the tune of only 69 yards on a workmanlike 20 carries.  Ward scored the Giants’ first TD, ran tough as usual and again had a good day receiving with four catches, but the room he usually operates with was just not there against a Cardinal defense that was determined to stuff the run.

Ahmad Bradshaw was a non-factor, which was a surprise given Jacobs’ absence, but the second-year back only toted the rock four times for nine yards.  Despite his occasional explosive run, it appears the coaches just don’t have the faith in #44 to not cough up the ball or pick up a blocking assignment correctly otherwise there is no way a weapon like that is kept on the sidelines.  The things we as fans don’t see, are often the reasons we don’t see players we clamor for.  Bradshaw might rip off big runs and excite us with his speed and explosion, but this team is predicated on playing mistake free football and until Bradshaw can do that consistently he’ll be nothing more than the mercurial change of pace he’s been.

Clearly Madison Hedgecock read the review last week and begged his coaches to give him the ball ONE more time so he wouldn’t be lumped in with the linemen.  Wish granted Hedgehog, you came up big with not one but TWO…TWO catches.  That’s almost as lucky as that time my late uncle who was Nigerian royalty left me $1,000,000 in his will even though he never knew me and THEN I won the Irish National Internet Gambling and Gaming lottery all via email!  What will I do with all that money???

Wide Receivers: Domenik Hixon (thanks again Mike Shanahan, you deserve to watch him excel after cutting him) led the way for the Giants as he seems to do anytime he’s called upon.  Hixon led all Giant receivers with 57 yards on six catches and even chipped in with 11 yards rushing to go with his 200 yards in the return game.  When the Giants needed a lift, Hixon was there like that desperate friend who will do anything to hang out with you.  Old man Toomer continued to spit on my early-season wish to relegate him to third WR, pulling in four catches for 30 yards and a pretty 12-yard TD catch and run late in the first half as the Giants trailed 12-10.  Steve Smith got most of his 45 yards receiving on a 3rd and 2 sideline pass from Manning but again was there to bail the Giants out on a 3rd down and set up a big score in the 4th quarter on a 3rd and 5 where he picked up 9 yards.  Sinorice Moss, as all Giants seem to do, made a play when called upon.  Moss pulled in two for 20 yards, and ran an ankle-breaking route on a 12-yarder when the Giants needed it most on a 3rd and 3 at the Cardinals’ 16 as the G-Men drove for their opening score.

Tight Ends: Kevin Boss had another solid outing receiving with four catches for 48 yards and another TD.  Boss’ best catch was a 28-yarder from Manning down the left sideline that set the stage for the clinching TD pass that Boss would catch six plays later.

O-Line: 87 yards rushing a week after torching the Ravens for over 200 might be a cause for concern, but the big guys gave up one sack and kept Eli clean for most of the night.  Even when the ground game isn’t chewing up opponents, this line can pass block with the best of them and give their QB time to operate.  There has been plenty of “best OL in football” talk lately and even though the Giants were held under 100 yard rushing, the line, just like the rest of this team, proved it has more than one trick in its arsenal.  Manning was under the gun to deliver the ball a few times but give the Cardinals’ front credit, they kept attacking and might just be the type of DL that could give our guys fits.

Front 7: Author’s Note: Given the varied fronts and personnel packages the Giants use under Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, I’ll be looking at the front 7 as a whole initially rather than separating the D-line and Linebackers.  Hybrid roles such as LBs playing in a 3 point stance make analyzing the front 7 as one unit more cohesive.  It may change as we move forward or from game to game.

Not a statistically pretty performance as the Giants gave up 351 yards in the air and only collected one sack against Kurt Warner and his latest aerial circus.  Numbers however, rarely tell the whole story as Warner and his receivers were kept from making the big play most of the night, and despite only being sacked once, Warner was knocked around all afternoon.  After a shaky opening drive in which the Cardinals marched 63 yards and were held to 3 points, the defensive game plan came into view – bend but don’t break.

MLB Antonio Pierce led the front 7 with six stops and did an outstanding job again orchestrating the defense on the fly.  Pierce had a lock down on the Cardinals’ running game seemingly by himself, anticipating nearly every run and leading the charge to stop it.  Flanking him, LBs Chase Blackburn and Danny Clark only combined for five stops but were instrumental in holding the Cardinals’ running game in check all day.  Pierce’s head-rattling stop of WR Anquan Boldin on a bubble screen prevented another Cardinal TD, and displayed again that Pierce is truly the heart of this unit.  If Pierce is the heart, DEs Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck are the long-menacing arms.  That’s not really a saying, but it should be because that’s what those two are, long-armed menaces!  The duo only combined for three tackles, one sack and one forced fumble but they were flying off the edge and up the gut all day long and making Kurt Warner miserable and uncomfortable all day (hmmm new nickname idea for those two – the “In-Laws”!  Who else can make you miserable and uncomfortable all day without touching you that much!)  Tuck’s sack, forced fumble and Kiwi’s recovery early in the 3rd quarter stopped the Cardinals dead in their tracks, got Eli the ball at the Cards’ 40 yard line and helped the Giants to a 24-12 lead that would stand up all day.  I refuse to go into the holding discussion here as this game was tough enough to watch and stomach once from that standpoint.  Backup DEs Dave Tollefson and Renaldo Wynn logged more minutes than usual and combined for four stops, but more importantly kept the starters fresh and kept the heat on Warner and the Cardinals’ offense.

DTs Fred Robbins, Jay Alford and Barry Cofield did the dirty work again but just like the running game, the heart of the DL didn’t play the starring role on Sunday.

Defensive Backs: Before we get into specifics, CB Aaron Ross was jobbed by the officials about as badly as anyone I have ever seen.  From his first ticky-tack interference call against the almighty Larry Fitzgerald, to his phantom holding call to his ridiculous interference call in the end zone, Ross was treated like public enemy #1 by Pete Morelli and his one-sided officiating crew.  It was a busy day finally for the boys in the back, and again despite the gaudy yardage totals, a solid effort for the secondary.  The plan to limit yards after the catch was evident all day.  Giant defenders played tight bump and run coverage from the opening bell to slow down the precision timing routes of the Cardinal receivers.  Leading the way for the secondary was rookie FS Kenny Phillips who led the team with seven stops.  Phillips’ 1st quarter blitz on 3rd down put a halt to Warner’s second drive and for the first time this season we saw legitimate heat up the A gap from a safety which has been a Brian Dawkins/Jim Johnson specialty I’ve been yearning for since Spags’ arrival.  Phillips displayed his uncanny ball awareness and made his most important play of the game on a one-handed jab on the football that stole a TD from All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald.  James Butler also had a great outing on Sunday, racking up six stops and seemingly being everywhere on short passes and in the run game.  Rookie CB Terrell Thomas, who continues to come on strong finished with six stops and an outstanding INT that again gave the G-Men great field position for an easy 3 points and a 34-19 lead.

More than any individual though, the DBs all played as cohesive unit, gang tackling in the running game, on screens and on the crossing and movement routes that make this Cardinal offense so deadly.  Most would look at 351 yards passing and think it was a bad game, but this group did a great job limiting big plays, preventing yards after the catch and frustrating Boldin, Fitzgerald and Breaston all day long.  I have not seen this team gang tackle with as much intensity, fluidity and awareness of the play calls in perhaps forever.  Great great job by ALL of the DBs and especially to their play caller, Steve Spagnuolo who had them in the right spots all day long.

Special Teams: Domenik Hixon was the star of the game for the Giants, racking up 269 all purpose yards, 200 of it coming on kick and punt returns.  Most importantly, Hixon set the Giants up with a short field twice in the first half that led to 10 easy points in a game that would demand the Giants keep up in the scoring department.  Hixon put the Giants at the opponents 17 and 32 yard lines on back-to-back kick returns and made the offense’s job that much easier.

Coaching: I’ve said all I need to about the intelligent game plan employed by Steve Spagnuolo, to limit the big play, gang tackle and throw off the timing of the Cardinals’ offense.  Giant defenders were at the right spots all game long, a clear indication of tireless film study and the ability to translate that on the practice field.  Offensive play caller Kevin Gilbride couldn’t rely on his hammer or his deep threat, so he made do with 37 points, three passing TDs and spreading the ball to seven different receivers.  Take something away, and Gilbride will beat you some other way.  He has the weapons and he knows how to use them. (That sound like a Wrangler commercial to anyone else?)

Colonel Tom Coughlin again had his troops ready for a shootout and they came out and withstood a hostile crowd and a lively Cardinals team and eventually settled into an 8-point road victory.  Coughlin has the pulse of his team, and gets them ready to respond every week.

JPog (Joey’s Player of the Game) – Domenik Hixon, no contest.  Two kick returns to give the Giants an easy 10 points, 57 yards receiving to lead the team and 200 yards in the return game.  No matter what Hixon is asked to do, he excels at it and most enjoyably he does it with the same intensity every time.  An assist has to go to Jerry Reese for signing Hixon after the Broncos deemed him expendable and not quite ready to contribute.  For your fantastic return efforts Dom, you get a two-sided jersey, with Phil McConkey’s #80 on the front and Dave Meggett’s #30 on the back.  You’re as tough as McConkey and as dangerous as Meggett.  Let’s just hope you don’t grow a big stupid mustache and start waving towels on the bench.

JBog (Joey’s Bum of the Game) – You know what you did Pete Morelli.  Watching the game, I was beside myself (Hi self, how are you?  Oh I’m good, say you’re quite handsome where do you get your good looks?  Oh stop it you!) for most of the game with non holding calls but it wasn’t until the 3rd quarter when you helped march the Cardinals down for a 90-yard drive to pull within 24-19.  Yes you Pete, not Kurt Warner, but you.  3rd and 5, Giants get a stop you make up a call on Aaron Ross – 1st down Cardinals.   There was no penalty, there was no contact but you took it upon yourself to assist in the outcome of the game.  You prize is having to live with the fact that you called a one-sided game and the Giants still couldn’t be stopped.  You stink, I hate you and I hope your Thanksgiving turkey gives you gas.

Author’s Note – It’s been a pleasure providing my sometimes long-winded and always goofy insight for you guys over the course of this season so far.  I hope you’re having as much fun reading as I am writing.  God Bless you all during the holidays and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! – Joey

(Box Score – New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals, November 23, 2008)
Nov 272008
 

11/27/2008

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Washington Redskins, November 30, 2008: The most impressive thing about the way the Giants are playing right now is that for the last five weeks, they have defeated teams with winning records that were favored by many to provide the Giants with their second loss of the season.  The vanquished were not only talented and more desperate, but they sought the national glory of defeating the Super Champions.  For the most part, these have been tough, physical games, but the Giants have swatted away the Steelers, Cowboys, Eagles, Ravens, and Cardinals.

The biggest challenge for New York is to somehow maintain this high level of play.  This will not be an easy task.  Playing tough, competitive games week after week against playoff-caliber opponents takes a mental and physical toll.  Most teams slip up and suffer a letdown.  The Giants have only done this once this year (against Cleveland).  Can they maintain the momentum yet another week?

The ultimate goal, obviously, is to win another NFL Championship.  The intermediary goal is to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs and a post-season bye.  The latter is particularly attractive as the Giants will need it.  The Giants will need to mentally re-focus themselves after over two months of tough football against competitive teams without a break.  They will also need to heal up. Injuries have been mounting.  The Giants last had a break at the end of September.  Another break in early January is very attractive.

As for the game against the Redskins, don’t expect a cakewalk.  For one, division games seldom are.  Remember last season when the Giants were heavily favored to defeat the Redskins at home in December?  The Skins blasted the Giants.  Secondly, the Redskins will be far more desperate.  They have lost two of their last three games.  A loss to the Giants may signal the end of Washington’s Wild Card hopes.  In effect, this is almost a playoff game for the Skins.  Lastly, Washington will be honoring former safety Sean Taylor, who was murdered last year.  This will simply provide yet another emotional element into what figures to be a highly charged atmosphere.  Can the Giants match the Redskins’ intensity?  Talent matters.  But so does desire.

Giants on Offense: Make no mistake about it – Washington is a defensive team.  It’s their defense that makes them competitive and a dangerous threat to the Giants on Sunday.  The Redskins are exceptionally well coached on defense.  Lacking a strong defensive line and an ability to pressure the passer with their down four, Washington has nevertheless maintained its strong defensive capabilities.  Washington is third in the NFL in defense (4th in pass defense, 7th in run defense).

The Giants will also be hampered by injuries.  HB Brandon Jacobs (knee), WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring), WR HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), and WR Domenik Hixon (ankle) are not 100 percent.  And TE Kevin Boss is coming off a concussion and painful contusions to both knees.  Jacobs and Burress may not play.  Somewhat offsetting this is that the Redskins’ defense is also banged up.  RDE Andre Carter (foot), RDT Kedric Golston (ankle), LDT Cornelius Griffen (shoulder), MLB London Fletcher (foot), and SLB Marcus Washington (ankle) are all hurting.  That’s five starters in the front seven.  Considering that fact and the fact that the strength of the Redskins’ defense is their talented and deep secondary, the game plan is obvious.  Run the football.  Pound, maul, grind it out.  Take the desire out of the defensive players and the life out of the crowd (except for the New York Giant diehards in the stands).

When the Giants do put the ball up, passes to the backs and tight ends may be more productive against a banged up linebacking corps.  As mentioned, the secondary is tough.  The Skins are four deep at corner with Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot, and DeAngelo Hall.  The safety combo of LaRon Landry and Chris Horton is among the best in the NFL.  Moreover, if Plaxico Burress doesn’t play, Washington (like the Cardinals) won’t have to worry about double-teaming the split end and can concentrate on stopping the run. That said, if the Redskins can’t pressure Eli Manning, receivers should get open.  A key match-up will be LT David Diehl versus DE Jason Taylor.  If Carter doesn’t play, Taylor will likely shift over to his more natural weakside end spot and he could cause problems for Diehl.

As I’ve harped on in recent weeks…protect the football, keep negative yardage plays to a minimum, and finish drives in the red zone.

Giants on Defense: Washington can run the football, but they are not an impressive offensive team.  The Skins rank 14th in the NFL in yards and 27th in scoring.  The passing game is 21st in the NFL; the running game is 3rd.

Hmmm…obviously, even more than is normal, the focus is stop the run.  Clinton Portis is the primary threat at running back (already over 1,200 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry).  Portis is also beat up, including an issue with one of his knees.  Backup Ladell Betts isn’t having a great year, but he is a physical back who has performed well in the past.

The Redskins will likely test Fred Robbins who has two injured hands and an injured shoulder.  The Giants have played some tough and physical games in recent weeks and hopefully the front seven on the Giants can rise to the challenge of yet another physical opponent.  Play tough and stout at the point of attack.  Maintain gap responsibility and play with leverage.  Out-physical and out-quick the Redskins up front.  RT Jon Jansen is a player on the decline; he will line up over Justin Tuck .  LT Chris Samuels has had some knee issues; he will face Mathias Kiwanuka.  Kiwanuka may be looking for some payback given that Samuels took a cheap shot at the back of Kiwanuka’s knees in the opener.  The guards (Pete Kendall and Randy Thomas) are savvy veterans, but older players who may struggle with quickness at times.  (Kendall also has been battling a knee problem).  The Giants’ defensive tackles need to play tough against these two and OC Casey Rabach.

When the Redskins are able to run, QB Jason Campbell has done a good job of protecting the football.  Remarkably, he has thrown only three interceptions in 340 pass attempts.  However, he will hold onto the football.  If the Giants can stop the run, and get after the passer, they can get to Campbell and may force him to make some costly mistakes.

The primary receiving threats on the Redskins remain the usual suspects: Santana Moss at wide receiver and Chris Cooley at tight end.  These two should be the focus of the coverage.  Watch out for trick plays involving WR Antwaan Randle El who has attempted three passes this year, completing two of them.  Skins’ Head Coach Jim Zorn is a West Coast Offense guy so the Redskins will also pass to the backs.  Inside the red zone, the Skins like to throw to Cooley and FB Mike Sellers.

Stop the run.  Focus on Moss and Cooley.  Watch out for the trick play.

Giants on Special Teams: One of the few negatives on the Giants this year is the continued poor performance of the kickoff coverage units.  This group needs to get better.  The kickoff coverage unit continues to put the Giants’ defense at a disadvantage.  Rock Cartwright is the primary kickoff returner.  He does have a 58-yard return this year and is averaging a respectable 25 yards per return.  Antwaan Randle El is the punt returner.  In exceptional situations, the Redskins will use Moss to return punts and he does have an 80-yard return for a touchdown.

The Giants own kickoff return unit finally broke out of its funk last week with Domenik Hixon returning kickoffs.  It will be interesting to see if he remains the primary returner (keep in mind his ankle is dinged).

Nov 272008
 

November 26, 2008 New York Giants Injury Report: WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring), HB Brandon Jacobs (knee), HB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), DT Fred Robbins (shoulder), and LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring) did not practice yesterday.

WR Domenik Hixon (ankle) and DE Jerome McDougle (knee) were limited.

“(Burress’ MRI showed that) he has a hamstring injury,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He will not practice (on Wednesday). He will end up being day to day… He has a strained hamstring…So we are just going to have to wait and see. He will rehab as he has all along. He is constantly working on that. So hopefully that can be something that is overcome in a short amount of time. But let’s face it, it is a hamstring.”

“Jacobs will not practice (on Wednesday),” said Coughlin. “I expect him to work (on Thursday).”

Bradshaw hurt his neck in the game against the Cardinals. X-rays taken of his neck were negative. “I pretty much knew it wasn’t that bad,” said Bradshaw. “Hopefully it’ll be 10 times better (on Thursday).”

Article on General Manager Jerry Reese: General Manager Jerry Reese is Giving a Giant Thanks by Mike Lupica of The Daily News

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin Loses Popular Vote But Leads Giants to Wins by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Nov 252008
 

November 24, 2008 New York Giants Injury Report: WR Plaxico Burress played only one series against the Arizona Cardinals due to concerns about his hamstring injury. He underwent tests yesterday. “We should know more about it later in the day (on Monday),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I don’t know (if he made the injury worse). I don’t think so. But we are going to have to wait and see based on (Monday’s tests)…So if we didn’t set it back, then he will be in his second week and I think that hopefully we can get it right.”

When asked about other injuries, Coughlin responded, “(LB) Jonathan Goff came out of the game with a hamstring. (HB) Brandon (Jacobs) did not play (due to his knee injury). We are hoping that (DT) Fred (Robbins), who jammed up a shoulder, seemed to have good flexibility (on Monday). So hopefully he will be okay as well…(TE Kevin Boss suffered) a mild concussion that they don’t think is an issue. But he did kind of bang both knees up, but they were just contusions.”

Notes: The NFL announced that the Giants game against the Eagles on December 7 will remain a 1:00PM kickoff, as originally scheduled. Game times in the season’s final seven weeks are subject to change because of the NFL’s flex schedule policy.

The last time the Giants won 10 of their first 11 games was 1990.

The Giants have become only the second team in NFL history to win five consecutive games against teams with winning records. The 1970 Minnesota Vikings own the record with six straight wins against teams over .500.

The Giants won their seventh consecutive indoor game and are now 24-12 in regular season dome games. Their .667 winning percentage in indoor games is second-best among teams that play their home games outdoors.

Nov 232008
 

Minus Jacobs and Burress, Giants Keep Rolling, Win Sixth Straight: Halfback Brandon Jacobs (knee) was inactive.  Wide receiver Plaxico Burress (hamstring) aggravated his injury and left the game after the Giants’ first drive.  But the Giants still outscored the Cardinals 37-29 in Glendale, Arizona.  The victory was the Giants sixth straight, giving them a 10-1 record.  The Cardinals’ loss, their first at home this season, dropped them to 7-4.

The Cardinals actually out-gained the Giants in first downs (27 to 18), total net yards (371 to 321), and net yards passing (348 to 234).  The Giants were also surprising unable to break the 100-yard mark in the rushing game, being limited to 87 net yards rushing.  Penalties (some questionable calls) were also a problem with the Giants being flagged nine times for 76 yards.  But the Giants not only won the turnover battle (2 to 0) but also made a couple of big plays in the kickoff return game.

The Giants received the football to start the game but went three and out.  The Cardinals then managed a 13-play, 63-yard drive that stalled at the Giants’ 16-yard line and resulted in a successful 34-yard field goal.  Cardinals 3 – Giants 0.

Both teams exchanged punts after short drives.  The Giants then drove 62 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-3 advantage.  Key plays on the drive included a 17-yard pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Domenik Hixon, a 1-yard run by HB Derrick Ward on 4th-and-1, and a 12-yard pass from Manning to WR Sinorice Moss on 3rd-and-3.  Two plays later, Ward scored from 1-yard out.

But the Cardinals quickly responded as the ensuing kickoff was returned 55 yards to the Giants’ 42-yard line.  Seven plays later, HB Tim Hightower scored from four yards out.  Arizona went ahead 9-7 (the extra point attempt was aborted on a muffed hold).

An offsides penalty on the Cardinals led to a re-kick on the ensuing kickoff and Hixon broke an 83-yard return down to the Cardinals 17-yard line.  The Giants could not pick up a first down and were forced to settle for a 33-yard field goal by PK John Carney.  Giants 10 – Cardinals 9.

However, an unnecessary roughness penalty on OC Shaun O’Hara on the field goal attempt did push the ensuing Giants’ kickoff back 15 yards.  And the 27-yard return by Arizona provided excellent field position with the Cardinals starting at their own 49-yard line.  Arizona was able to drive to the Giants’ 2-yard line, but was forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal.  Cardinals 12 – Giants 10.

A return by Hixon once again sparked the Giants as he raced 68 yards down to the Arizona 32-yard line.  Six plays later, Manning hit WR Amani Toomer for a 12-yard touchdown as the Giants regained the lead 17-12.  Both teams exchanged punts late in the second quarter and the half ended with the Cardinals attempting an unsuccessful 68-yard field goal.

The Cardinals received the football to start the second half.  On the sixth play of the drive, DE Justin Tuck sacked Cardinals’ QB Kurt Warner and stripped him of the football.  DE Mathias Kiwanuka recovered, giving the Giants the football at the Arizona 40-yard line.  A 30-yard pass from Manning to WR Steve Smith on 3rd-and-2 led to a 2-yard touchdown pass from Manning to FB Madison Hedgecock.  Giants 24 – Cardinals 12.

The Cardinals did manage to drive to the Giants’ 32-yard line on their next possession, but an errant shotgun snap forced the Cardinals out of field goal range and they punted.  After picking up one first down, the Giants were also forced to punt.

Then began a bizarre 12-play, 90-yard touchdown drive by the Cardinals that was aided by four defensive penalties called on the Giants, a couple of them dubious at best including a phantom pass interference call on 3rd-and-5 at the start of the drive.  Hightower scored on a 1-yard plunge right after another questionable pass interference penalty in the end zone.

Nevertheless, the Giants impressively responded with a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive of their own.  Key plays included a 6-yard run by Ward on 3rd-and-1, a 28-yard pass from Manning to TE Kevin Boss, and a 9-yard pass fro Manning to Smith on 3rd-and-5.  Manning finished the drive with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Boss.  Giants 31 – Cardinals 19.

On the second play of Arizona’s next possession, Warner was intercepted by CB Terrell Thomas who returned the football to the Cardinals 29-yard line.  The Giants did pick up a first down by converting on 3rd-and-11 (Manning to Smith for 12 yards), but New York settled for a 27-yard field goal.  Giants 34 – Cardinals 19.

The Giants’ kickoff coverage unit failed to perform again as the Cardinals returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to the Arizona 48-yard line.  Six plays and 2 minutes and 15 seconds later, Arizona scored to cut the Giants lead to 34-26 with just over four minutes to play.

The Cardinals attempted an onsides kick but the Giants recovered.  The Giants picked up one first down, setting up a successful 33-yard field goal by Carney to give New York a 37-26 advantage.

With less than two minutes to play, the Cardinals did drive to the New York 26-yard line to set up a successful 44-yard field goal to cut the lead to 37-29, but the ensuing onsides kickoff was recovered by the Giants.  Manning then took a knee to end the contest.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 26-of-33 for 240 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.  Hixon caught six passes for 57 yards, Boss four passes for 48 yards and a touchdown, Smith four passes for 45  yards, Toomer 4 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown, Ward four passes for 30 yards, Moss two passes for 20 yards, and Hedgecock two passes for 10 yards and a touchdown.  Ward carried the ball 20 times for 69 yards and a touchdown, HB Ahmad Bradshaw four times for nine yards, and Hixon one time for 11 yards.

Defensively, while the Giants did give up 348 net yards passing, the Cardinals were held to 23 net yards rushing.  Thomas picked off one pass.  Tuck accrued the Giants’ sole sack and forced a fumble on the play as well that Kiwanuka recovered.

Post-Game Notes and Quotes: Inactive for the Giants were HB Brandon Jacobs (knee), WR Mario Manningham, OT Adam Koets, DE Jerome McDougle, LB Gerris Wilkinson (knee), CB Sam Madison, S Sammy Knight (hip), and PK Lawrence Tynes.

Jacobs on not playing: “I practiced on Thursday and Friday and really felt I would play today.  When I came to the stadium today, I talked to Ronnie Barnes and the coaches, and I told them that I was not confident that I would be able to play at the level I expect and they expect.”

Article on WR Amani Toomer: New York Giants’ Toomer Tenure Ending? by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Nov 222008
 

November 21, 2008 New York Giants Injury Report – Burress Will Be a Game-Time Decision: WR Plaxico Burress (hamstring) and S Sammy Knight (hip) did not practice again yesterday. Burress and Knight are officially listed as “questionable” for the game against the Cardinals on Sunday.

“Nothing new except (Burress) is a little better than he was the day before,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin when asked about Burress. “He did some things. But it will wind up being a game-time (decision), I’m sure.”

“It is just one of those things where dealing with the weather and how things are going for us, I just don’t want it to linger so to speak,” said Burress. “Not to really go out and put myself in a bad position where I hurt it worse. I am going to see how I feel on Sunday and basically just go from there…Knowing me, as of right now, I will play, but like I said you have to be smart about it because it is a hamstring. The weather is going to be cold out here for the rest of the season and hamstrings really don’t normally do well in the cold weather, so like I said I am just going to make the decision based on how I feel when we get out there and warm up on Sunday. I feel pretty good, it is a little sore, but I have jogged and haven’t felt anything, but it is a different ballgame when you are out there making moves and sprinting and stuff.”

HB Brandon Jacobs (knee), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), CB Kevin Dockery (back), LB Chase Blackburn (neck), LB Gerris Wilkinson (knee), LB Jonathan Goff (concussion), and DE Jonathan McDougle (knee) all practiced fully and are listed as “probable” for the game.

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughin Returns to Desert with Warmest of Memories by Mike Lupica of The Daily News

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