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The two players under the most scrutiny after Week 1 were probably Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.
Manning hit Cruz six times for 58 yards in the Giants’ Week 1 loss to the Cowboys, but he failed to score a touchdown and dropped three huge passes. Some began to wonder if the superstar from 2011 would fizzle out and eventually be remembered as a one-hit wonder.
Cruz proved all his naysayers wrong with 11 catches for 179 yards, which included a game-breaking 80-yard touchdown grab. His yardage total topped his previous career high of 178 yards (2011, Week 17 vs. Dallas) by only one yard.
It’s not very often that you use the term “workhorse” to describe a wide receiver, but Cruz certainly fits the mold. He still provides big play potential, but he also works his tail off to get open in short-yardage situations as well. The way he evades would-be tacklers after catching the ball demonstrates his determination to fight for every extra yard.
Nicks, who is still recovering from a broken foot, only managed to haul in four balls for a total of 38 yards against the Cowboys. It was suspected that his foot was bothering him, resulting in slower routes and less separation. After spending more of his time on the workout bike than on the field this past week in practice, few expected him to have a dominant performance in Week 2.
But that’s exactly what Nicks did against the Bucs. He caught 10 passes for a career-high 199 yards and a touchdown. Nicks also caught a 50-yarder in the game’s final minutes, which led to the game-winning touchdown run. In 10 days, Nicks went from virtually a non-factor in Week 1 to an absolute game-changer in Week 2.
Contrary to what was expected, the Giants’ wide receiver tandem was pretty much unstoppable against Tampa Bay. Hopefully, we’ll see a few repeat performances as the season wears on.