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Dream On: Giants Upset Eagles 29-16

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Did anyone see that coming? I can honestly say that I did not, but you have to give the Giants credit for coming out and playing an excellent game against the sort-of-self-proclaimed “Dream Team”.

 Remarkably the Giants were able to slow down the high-powered Philadelphia offense even before Michael Vick left with a broken non-throwing hand in the fourth quarter.  The Giants beaten up secondary was outstanding as Corey Webster shut down Desean Jackson for most of the day, and Aaron Ross had the game of his life.  Ross was involved all afternoon causing several other pass breakups and making some big tackles in addition to picking off Vick in the first quarter on a tipped ball and intercepting Mike Kafka’s first pass of the game on a terribly thrown ball.  Ross stepped up tremendously after being benched last Monday night against St. Louis and leaving Giants fans with little reason for optimism this week.  Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s blitzes also work very well.  It’s never easy to bring Vick down, but the Giants did a great job of not letting him break off long runs and sacking him in vital situations.

The NYG run defense still has room for improvement, but LeSean “Shady” McCoy is a top two running back in the league and they performed admirably when trying to slow him down.  Shady seems to beat the first tackler every time and commands a gang to bring him down.  The Giants were lucky that McCoy didn’t break off a huge TD run, but also did a great job stuffing him in short yardage situations like the two enormous goal line stands in the first and third quarters.

Rookie middle linebacker Greg Jones continues to be a problem and has trouble shedding blocks, but fellow rookie Jacquain Williams led the team with nine tackles.  Outside linebackers Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley continued help the rookies by stepping up in critical situations.  Antrel Rolle is a headcase and I stand by my prior statement that the Giants should look to upgrade on him in the offseason, but for now he is unfortunately too valuable to bench in such a thin secondary.

The offense was even more impressive than the defense, led by Victor Cruz’s coming out party.  The former undrafted free agent out of UMass has been a star for the NYG in the past two preseasons and made his first NFL start on Sunday in Philadelphia.  Cruz did not disappoint and took his first catch of the day 74 yards down the sideline for a touchdown while leaving two defenders in his wake.  His second catch of the day was a leaping 28 yard TD in double coverage, right over Eagles prized free agent acquisition Nnamdi Asomugha.  Cruz stepped up big time filling in for Mario Manningham and while Super Mario figures to reclaim his starting spot next week, Cruz should continue to be a big part of the offense.

Cruz had some of the most impressive plays of the day for the NYG, but most important was the turnover-free play of Eli Manning.  Eli completed 16 of 23 passes for 254 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no turnovers of any kind.  Manning just did not make any of the boneheaded plays that we have become accustomed to seeing from him.  He looked accurate and whatever was causing him to be short on throws last week has clearly been corrected.  The Giants needed a perfect performance from Manning in such a critical game against the division rival Eagles, and that’s exactly what they got.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is also to be commended for excellent play calling, especially in the first half of the game.  The Giants first touchdown was a play action pass where Manning swung the ball back to Brandon Jacobs who burned Eagles rookie linebacker Casey Matthews for a 40 yard score.  The play was beautifully designed by Gilbride and executed by Manning and Jacobs.  The offense returned to it’s vanilla nature a bit in the second half before a timely screen play to Ahmad Bradshaw resulted in a 14 yard TD that sealed the victory.

The Giants were outcoached in Week One, aided by Rams mistakes in Week Two, but came out and played a complete football game against their bitter rivals in Week Three.  The win has restored a sense of optimism amongst the Giants faithful and with a seemingly easy schedule for the next few weeks, it may be too early to count Big Blue out despite the ravaging injuries on both sides of the ball.

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