the new york football giants
29 October 2006 ¬
" Giants D Red Hot, New York over Tampa Bay 17-3 "
Funny enough, the Barber Bowl didn't end up hinging on the play of the Barber Brothers.

Tiki racked up his fewest yards from scrimmage in a game this season, and Ronde didn't have any picks or big plays as the Giants rolled to their fourth straight win - and it's no coincidence that this was the fourth straight game dictated by the New York D. Umenyiora sat (as expected) and Kiwanuka didn't miss a beat (as expected,) picking up a sack and overpowering the Tampa O-Line. As a team, Tampa had only 40 yards rushing and 174 yards of total offense.. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Giants' defense As Advertised, the defense that was conspicuously absent during the first three games of the season. During the subsequent four game winning streak, New York is allowing a scant 10.5 points per game.. that's more than enough breathing room for Elijah and company to do damage on the other side of the ball.

RW McQuarters finally got the starting nod, but only because Madison is nursing a hammy.. and was pretty much a no-factor. No word on who will start next week against the Texans.
25 October 2006 ¬
" Umenyiora Hurting.. Mathias to Start? "
Osi Umenyiora is nursing a hip injury suffered during Monday's 36-22 win over the Cowboys. Kiwanuka may very well start alongside Michael Strahan next week as New York takes on Tampa Bay in, you guessed it, the "Barber Bowl." I'm not particularly worried.. the injury doesn't look that serious, and Kiwanuka is capable of stepping in and making an immediate impact against the Buccaneers. Make no mistake, he will be anchoring this defensive line opposite Osi long after Michael Strahan has hung up his cleats. There's something really encouraging in looking at guys like Kiwanuka and Brandon Jacobs and knowing that these two are capable of filling shoes that belonged to Stray and Tiki Barber.

The Giants are officially first in the East. 4-2 may be precarious, but 3-0 is beyond reproach. Take that one step further -- the next games against Dallas and Philly will be at the Meadowlands, and with the way the Redskins have been playing lately, finishing perfect in the division is a distinct possibility. If only we could dodge that whole "get blown out in the Wild Card Game" bullet..
23 October 2006 ¬
" Staying Perfect in the East.. Giants over Dallas 36-22 "
Mr. Nickles went to Hollywood, dropped Bledsoe for a Safety, deflected a would-be touchdown pass, then ruptured his Achilles tendon. Done for the year. Disappointing, but up until this game, you would have been hard pressed to notice that he even played for this football team. Torbor steps in and picks up a sack of his own -- circle of life.

Across the board, the Giants continued their ridiculous defensive turnaround. Six sacks, four picks, a safety, a touchdown.. Strahan tied LT on New York's all-time sack list. His first thoughts when ESPN showed him the stat graphic? "He looks a lot meaner in that picture than I do."

I've been RW McQuarters' personal cheerleader the past few weeks, but he made both of us look pretty foolish tonight. On one play, he gives TO enough room to make the catch, get in the end zone, stretch his legs, think about what he's having for dinner after the game.. etc. On another, a personal foul late hit, also on #81 (which is mildly satisfying, but still.) Earlier in the year, RW had a red zone brain-freeze against Seattle that resulted in an easy touchdown.. and Sam Madison, who's head I've been calling for, has a pick for the second straight week. Alright, I'll shut up. For now.

Coming up next.. the Barber Bowl. Honestly, I think the two of them could swap positions without missing a beat. Ronde went pick-six twice against the Eagles this week. I'd love to pry him away from Tampa Bay when his contract is up. No one in the history of the NFL would be embraced faster than Ronde Barber in a Giants uniform -- Tiki retires and we replace him with a genetic clone? Dynamite stuff, even if it is on the wrong side of the ball.
19 October 2006 ¬
" Life Without Tiki? "
Tiki Barber confirmed this week that he is considering retiring after the end of this season. This doesn't strike me as a huge surprise, although it would be about a year sooner than I would have anticipated. At 31 years old, he's already on borrowed time as far as starting running backs go, and he's got too much pride to play a backup season before fading into forced retirement a la Marshal Faulk or Eddie George. The announcement probably caught a few folks off guard - I mean, he is less than a year removed from racking up the second-most yards from scrimmage all time in a single season (almost 2400.)

Giants fans should be saddened, but not worried. Brandon Jacobs is the real deal. He has the speed to get to the outside and he has the raw power to lower his shoulder and go up the middle (although he isn't nearly as big a threat as a pass-catching back.) Still.. things just won't be the same without Barber in the backfield. The NFL won't be the same without him.

If the Giants win the Super Bowl, I think he'll be out for sure. If they get tantalizingly close and fall short.. well, maybe he'll think about giving us one more season.
18 October 2006 ¬
" State of the Division: THE NFC East Heading Into Week Seven "
It's a three horse race right now. Philly's lose to the Saints really evens things out - and was anyone else unbelievably impressed with that game-winning New Orleans drive that ate up more than eight minutes of clock? So much for the Eagles defense. Okay, so they're starting Joselio Hanson at corner. But that's part of what makes it so funny.. especially if you're a Giants fan. Remember how Eli abused Hanson during The Comeback?

Big Blue will be under Monday Night Lights this week against Dallas for the first of two this season; they square off against Jacksonville on Monday night in a few weeks. TO never ceases to amaze. The story this week is that he wants to be "involved sooner" in the offense, two days after catching three TDs against the Texans. I know the media is at least partly to blame for making every off-color remark headline news, but still. Parcells is gritting his teeth so hard my jaw hurts.

Washington inexplicably ate it against the Titans, and they're in a pretty big hole at 2-4 (0-2 in the division.) I guess I just totally misread this football team. Before the season started, the Moss-Randle El-Lloyd trio looked like one of the best in the game, but in retrospect, that's just not enough variety at the position. It puts a lot of pressure on Chris Cooley to pick up the tough yards. The injury to Portis didn't really help matters either.
15 October 2006 ¬
" Giants D Flattens Vick, New York Wins 27-14 "
It's strange to watch a defense look so helpless for the first three games of the season, and then to look so fearless over the next two. Seriously, whatever drugs they're putting in the water fountains over at the Meadowlands, keep 'em coming. Up the dosage. Go nuts.

The Giants sacked Michael Vick 7 times and forced two turnovers en route to the win; previous to Sunday's contest, Vick had never been sacked more than 5 times in one game. Even Sam Madison, my favorite scapegoat, came up with a red zone pick off a tipped pass (although the ball was practically deflected into his numbers. Sorry, but I still don't buy him as a starter over RW, who made a great read on a quarterback keeper and stuffed Vick at the line of scrimmage in the second half.) Osi had two more sacks, but I'm more impressed by the continued tenacity of Fred Robbins at tackle. If he keeps this up, and Barry Cofield contributes (1.5 sacks today,) that front four could open up a lot of options for LaVar, as well as ease pressure on the secondary.

And oh, by the way, Tiki Barber had 185 yards rushing and over 220 from scrimmage. Ho hum.

Jeremy Shockey caught 6 balls for 55 yards and two touchdowns. I'm not sure you're going to see many signatures up on the Bench Shockey - Start Shiancoe petition this week, although in all fairness, Jeremy did pick up another holding call. Much love to Visanthe, though.
08 October 2006 ¬
" Just What the Doctor Ordered, Giants over Redskins 19-3.. Breaking the Bye Week Blues "
Coming into Sunday, the Giants had the worst record in the NFL following the bye, a woeful 3-14. Unfortunately for Washington, 2 of those 3 came against the Redskins.

Elijah and company rolled over the 'Skins, 19-3, and in doing so they made almost every adjustment I was looking for, save for starting McQuarters at corner over Sam Madison. I split this game into two smaller yet incredibly important victories: the first being a 2-0 division record, and the second being the D stonewalling a Washington offense that came in ranked 3rd in the NFL in total yards. Robbins, Stray and Umenyiora pressured Brunell all day, each picking up a sack (after combining for 2 through the first 3 games) and giving him little time to let Moss hurt New York deep. Big Blue stifled the running game as well, holding Portis to 76 yards on 19 carries, and the Giants have yet to allow any one back to pick up 80 or more yards on the ground this season.

Cue the collective sigh of relief. 2-2 was more than just a good way to bounce back -- it was downright necessary, with the G-Men playing the next two on the road at Atlanta and Dallas. Following the win, and Philly's shootout victory over the Cowboys, the Giants sit behind the Eagles second (and more importantly, undefeated) in the NFC East.

Shockey followed up his "outplayed and outcoached" remarks by catching exactly one pass for thirteen yards and drawing an offensive pass interference call that brought back an Eli-Amani touchdown. That's one way to spell contrition. But I'll curb the sarcasm, and soak up the win instead.
02 October 2006 ¬
" State of the Division: The NFC East Heading Into Week Five "
Well, what a difference two weeks makes. The Giants are now playing the worst football in the division -- hands down -- after the performances of the Redskins, Cowboys and Eagles this week. Dallas and Philly won convincingly, while Washington pulled off a comeback against the best defensive unit in the league. The G-Men have now gotten absoultely pasted in three straight games, and the only thing holding the season together is a miraculous 4th quarter against Philadelphia (although they inched realistically close to an even more miraculous 4th quarter against Seattle.)

What can I say? Everything is going to depend on how New York comes out against Washington. The Giants need to go no huddle, put something on the board during their first possession, and then put Washington three and out.. it would really do wonders in the morale department. If we end up getting into and losing a grudge match against the 'Skins, I'm not sure this team is going to the playoffs. I know it's pretty early to start talking that way, and I know my temperment was a lot more upbeat as few as two weeks ago, but a lot his changed.. 1-3 and a divisonal loss would be a major obstacle to overcome. I know the G-Men are past that rough Indy-@Philly-@Seattle stretch, but it really doesn't get much easier, and it's going to be that way for the entire season.

Something's gotta give, and by the time New York kicks off against Washington next Sunday, Tom Coughlin and company will have had two weeks to figure out what that is.