A look back at the NY Giants' season-opening victory over the Washington Redskins
QB Eli Manning. His performance was probably a bit overlooked Sunday because he didn't hit any bombs. But he was superb: 20-for-29 for 256 yards, one TD and one INT. That was a bad INT, yes, and never should have been thrown.
WR Steve Smith. He said he was determined to come out and perform well after the preseason drop, and he did just that. Some very nice catches in the clutch.
WR Mario Manningham. Nothing for me to say when JV laid out his day beautifully right here.
DE Osi Umenyiora. I'm still waiting on former Giants LB Kawika Mitchell to respond to my tweet about what to call a "perfect play" when it happens a second time. Umenyiora called it "perfection twice." Meh.
Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. If not for a fake field goal that fooled the special-teams unit and a field goal that was the result of a "sudden change" after an INT deep in Giants territory, we'd be talking about the Giants' holding the Redskins to 7 points for the third straight meeting. And that TD, of course, came in garbage time, so it was practically a shutout for Sheridan in his DC debut. I wrote here about the big stop after the INT, but let's also not forget the three-and-out early in the second quarter after the Giants missed a fourth-and-1. That was another potential momentum changer that was nipped in the bud by Sheridan's D. Good job by Sheridan to stay in a base defense on third-and-10 in that series because the Redskins ran it there to try giving P Hunter Smith some more room -- to no avail.
LB Antonio Pierce. If you're going to give a pat to the coach on the sidelines, you have to give one to the coach on the field.
DE Justin Tuck. Two very big plays on that "sudden change" series and one other stop on the series after the failed fourth down. A big-time player came up big in two big spots. Big.
CB Corey Webster. Absolutely one of the best interceptions I've seen by a Giants player in my six years on the beat. Maybe the best. Off the top of my head, I'm having trouble thinking of any other contenders. Also, great job by Webster of shutting down WR Santana Moss.
TE Kevin Boss. He's just a quiet, consistent guy who makes big plays at the right time. Jacobs called him "our hero tonight, if you ask me."
DT Albert Haynesworth. He's the real deal, people. And how about the 'Skins lining him up at DE on passing downs a few times? If you're Giants LT David Diehl, I'd say it's pretty safe you can a.ssume a bull rush.
LG Rich Seubert. For taking on Haynesworth 1-on-1 a few times and not backing down. Look, Seubert is a very, very good player, but he should have been overmatched there and he wasn't.
WR Derek Hagan. Nice job on special teams. In my Saturday story, I quoted WR Domenik Hixon as saying Hagan's releases on punt coverage were very good. He showed it when he drew an illegal block penalty on CB DeAngelo Hall.
K Lawrence Tynes. I have no idea what the story was with the line-drive kickoffs, but he nailed those three FGs.
'Skins LB London Fletcher. One of the most underappreciated players in the league. And, like Haynesworth, one of the rare cases of money well spent by Washington.
Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-LedgerGiants defensive end Osi Umenyiora's strip and fumble return for a touchdown heralded his successful return from injury, and demonstrated a flaw in the technique of Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell.
Pam Oliver. Pretty sure she played through some kind of illness because she seemed very under the weather on Friday. Way to tough it out, Pam.
FOX's entire broadcast crew. What a joy their broadcasts are to watch in comparison to CBS, ESPN and NBC. I've said this before: their cameras routinely catch things you'll never see from the other networks. Yesterday's prime example (on top of a few other good catches) came in the third quarter when Webster and Moss were shaking hands and "hugging it out" (with an official watching and listening nearby) after their on-field scuffle in the first half. So glad I cover an NFC team so I can get the better broadcasts for the majority of the year.
Redskins S LaRon Landry. It's great when a guy can play with a little extra fire on the field, no matter the motivation to get the juices going. But for Landry, who was trying to exact revenge on Jacobs for when he was run over in last season's opener, getting fired up meant playing like a lunatic -- in a bad way. Landry got flagged for a late hit on Jacobs and would have gotten another one if the officials had bought Jacobs' flop on a post-whistle hit from Landry. On top of those two, Landry was also showing very little discipline while running like a wild man all over the field. He didn't break down to tackle Manningham on an in cut on the Giants' first drive, so he missed the tackle and went flying by, allowing Manningham to gain an extra 7 yards. Landry also overran a few other plays early on.
Washington CB DeAngelo Hall. And to think, the Giants were interested in him during the '08 off-season. Bet they're very glad they didn't pull the trigger there and instead went to the draft to find CB Terrell Thomas in the second round.
'Skins QB Jason Campbell. Good job by the Giants' defensive players of talking him up last week and saying he looked more comfortable in the preseason. That's called being politically correct and trying to inflate your opponent's comfort level -- only to knock it down. Also, good job by Troy Aikman of pointing the finger at Campbell, not LT Chris Samuels, for Umenyiora's sack/FF/FR/TD. Campbell's drop was much too deep and he didn't step up in the pocket after planting at the end of his drop. He had plenty of room to step up. Guess he got too comfortable, huh?
ODDS AND (TIGHT) ENDS
LB Chase Blackburn said after the game the Redskins' first play from scrimmage, a 34-yard run by RB Clinton Portis, was one person's fault and that Pierce was able to identify the problem right away. Blackburn wouldn't say who the player was, but a few minutes later, Umenyiora volunteered the info by saying the first run was his fault. If you look at the play on tape, you'll see he didn't move right with the rest of the line as the 'Skins ran a stretch play to that side.
As for the correction Pierce made, Blackburn said, "Obviously, we can't have that. You can't start the game the way we did. We got it fixed right away. On the field, we were able to correct it. We figured out what happened right then and there, we solved it and boom, made the calls from there on out. When you're coming up in the gap, and there's a call made or not made, you can tell what happens in front of you. We're coming from the second level, so we can see. Just like the safeties can see if we're out of a gap. ... (Pierce) got in front of everybody and said, 'Hey, calm it down. It's a one-time thing. We're not going to run this right now.' He made the correction."
William Perlman/The Star-LedgerAfter allowing a 34-yard run on the Redskins' first play from scrimmage, the Giants run defense stiffened and held Redskins running back Clinton Portis to 28 yards on his 15 other carries.
After that correction, everybody was in the right spot for the Redskins' runs. Of their final 19 rushes (not counting the fake FG), 16 went for less than 6 yards. One went 6 yards after DE Mathias Kiwanuka barely missed Portis, one went for 7 yards after Thomas didn't tackle Portis at the line like he should have and then Campbell scrambled for 16 yards against a prevent defense on the final drive. Excellent run defense by the Giants Sunday.
Hey, NFL, take a look at RB Ahmad Bradshaw's 22-yard run late in the first quarter. Watch the punch to the face by Hall on Hixon (that knocked out either Hixon's mouthpiece or an ear pad). Let me know what you come up with.
But I guess I can't expect you to see that when you missed the face mask on DE Andre Carter that I saw from atop the stadium. I wasn't alone, as there were almost 80,000 other people who saw it, plus Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who had to hold his tongue after the game.
We've been all fired up over the Giants' 5-man DL since camp. But did you notice Washington whipped out their own 5-man front yesterday? They did it on Carter's sack and forced fumble ... I mean, face mask.
WR Sinorice Moss was on the edge on that fake-FG TD run by WAS P Hunter Smith. I'm not going to a.ssume it was his fault and he had contain. I do know he was more careful on the next FG attempt, though that might have been a "safe" call against another fake.
If you're one of those people who didn't think QB Andre' Woodson would help the 'Skins and that the Giants would change all of their calls at the line ... um, no. There was one audible the Giants often run that they threw out there Sunday and, trust me, the 'Skins were soooooooo ready for it. I'm not going to drop it here because it's part of that unspoken code that you don't write about game strategy, but I was looking for it, I heard it on the tape and I watched the 'Skins reaction. Whether Woodson tipped them off to it or not, they knew what was coming. Very surprised the Giants didn't make a change there.
The Giants have some interesting roster decisions to make here. They have to bring back LB Michael Boley after his one-game suspension, but they also have to create a roster spot for an RB (maybe Allen Patrick from the practice squad) to fill in for injured RB Danny Ware, who figures to miss a few games. Could be interesting because the Giants certainly don't want to lose a couple of guys who might have to be cut loose here.
And finally, if I'm going to point out the days Browns' WR Braylon Edwards catches three passes for 51 yards and a TD while the Giants' WRs are dropping balls against the Jets, it's only fair I note when he has one catch and causes an INT while Manningham is dodging defenders and Smith is making clutch grabs.
P.S. As always with my game reviews, in which I'm handling a lot of info in a short amount of time, I've been known to have a mental gaffe or two and leave something or someone obvious out, so let me know what I missed.