This game can be summed up in this anecdote: At one point in the game I noticed the Giants had 175 more passing yards than the Raiders. This wouldn’t have been so strange, except for the fact that the Giants had 173 passing yards at the time. You do the math.
Raiders RB Justin Fargas’ father Antonio Fargas played “Huggy Bear” on the 1970s TV show “Starsky and Hutch.” But if any player on the Raiders should inherit the cuddly, unimposing nickname, it’s JaMarcus Russell. The Giants defense and Russel "hugged it out" six times for six sacks, stripping and recovering three fumbles. They might have had an interception if he wasn’t so gosh darn inaccurate. His lack of a presence in the pocket is alarming. It is no stretch to say that the former first overall pick does not strike fear into his opponents.
Eli Manning toughed it out and made the most of his ten pass attempts, completing eight for 173 yards and two touchdowns, good for a perfect 158.3 QB rating. Although Manning did not practice for much of the week, there was really no chance he was going to miss this game.
The bigger mystery is why a rating system that goes to the arbitrary number of 158.3 is still the most accepted way to evaluate a quarterbacks performance, and how you can be perfect with two incompletions.
Although the story of the game was Eli’s ability to play with his injury, the offensive game ball goes to Ahmad Bradshaw. He got the offense going with two first quarter touchdowns to give the Giants a 14-0 lead. On the Giants’ first drive he did what Brandon Jacobs could not, plowing the ball in from a yard out.
His second touchdown was classic Bradshaw, shifting and weaving and making guys miss for a 19 yard gain. He had a couple other plays, such as a 24 yard run and a 55 yard screen pass, to cement the fact that he’s in the business of making guys look foolish. He finished with 110 yards on 11 carries, one reception for 55 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 375 rushing yards on 58 carries, 6.5 yards per carry.
ESPN.com pointed out that Ahmad Bradshaw has been nigh unstoppable this year in the first quarter, with 135 yards and two touchdowns on ten carries (13.5 yards per carry) in the first quarter this year. In all other quarters, Bradshaw is averaging 5 yards per carry, which is still very good.
As far as the other part of the Giants’ two-headed running game, Brandon Jacobs did little to quiet his critics, and for that matter, the fans. Spectators at the stadium were getting irritated with Jacobs’ inability to hit the hole today, and many of them let their feelings be known.
I understand the concern, but I wouldn’t call him out publically. Not only because I still believe that he’s got the goods, but I also wouldn’t criticize him because…well you’ve seen the guy. I don’t want to get on his bad side.
He’s trying to be patient, which is important, but where’s the explosiveness? Where’s the Brandon Jacobs that makes defensive backs pee themselves to sleep? As long as there is no hidden injury, I am confident that Jacobs will get back to his bruising ways sooner or later.
In two games since returning from injury, Hakeem Nicks has five receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted six times today, the most of any Giant, so it’s clear that they are trying to get the talented rookie involved in the offense. Seems like a good idea to me.
If Domenik Hixon is healthy enough to go, there’s no reason for Sinorice Moss to be this team’s punt and kick returner. He just doesn’t seem to have the right instincts to do the job. He’s quick and speedy, but he makes some questionable decisions (seen today when he muffed a spinning ball to set up the Raiders’ only touchdown*). He also has a habit of falling down or running right into the “teeth” of the defense.
Lawrence Tynes was perfect on all three of his field goal attempts. Yes, they were all under 40 yards, but chip shots have been a problem for him this season. He’ll look to extend his streak of above average games to two next week indoors at the Superdome.
David Carr is no Eli Manning, but he’s got to be one of the better backup QBs in the league. Most teams can ill-afford to lose their starting QB, and the Giants are no exception. But at least for games against cupcake teams like the Raiders, I’d feel confident with the athletic Carr starting.
The defensive game ball goes to…the entire defense. Kind of lame, to give it to everyone, but I don’t feel right singling out just one person from this performance. The D was relentless and Oakland’s offense never had a chance. Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Dave Tollefson, Michael Johnson and Terrell Thomas combined for six sacks and three forced fumbles. Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Antonio Pierce all recovered fumbles. CC Brown had a fumble return for a touchdown that was wiped out due to a blown call by the referee.
Speaking of blown calls…
[Start Angry Rant]
Is it too much to ask for the officials to get every call right every time?
Maybe, but as a sports fan, that is what I demand!
It’s one thing on plays like Kenny Phillips’ fluke interception of Tony Romo after the ball hit off of Jason Witten's foot (although I still blame the ref for blowing the call; it’s what I do). But then there are blown calls like the one in Sunday’s game against the Raiders that are unacceptable.
For those of you that didn’t see it, Justin Fargas was stuffed for no gain by Brown and Umenyiora at the Giants’ five yard line. As Fargas was fighting for extra yardage, the ball popped out, was scooped up by Brown and returned 95 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the refs blew the play dead because the running back’s forward motion was stopped.
Replays indicated that the ball was already in CC Brown’s hands by the time the refs blew the whistle. And though everyone could see the incorrect call was made, the complicated instant replay rules indicated that the call could not be reviewed.
Even though the NFL has instant replay, they wrote the replay rules in a way that could render potentially game-changing plays un-reviewable.
If the play was allowed to stand, as it should have been, the Giants would have taken a 35-0 lead, and likely would have shut out the hapless Raiders.
Luckily, the play didn’t really matter in the long run, or that blown call would have been magnified.
Sports fans watch the games to see the athletes compete. When refs blow calls, we blow our lids. But the real shame is when these blown calls play a large part in the outcome of the game.
I will give the NFL credit for at least implementing instant replay and updating their rules every year in an effort to make it better. At least they have acknowledged that it is the 21st century and that technology can help to eliminate some of the human error (from the humans not actually playing the game) to keep the competition balanced and the games more pure.
This is something that the gentleman’s club of Major League Baseball has not done. Baseball refuses to admit that technology can make the game better, and now they are suffering through a postseason marred with game-changing blown calls (including two blown calls on the same play that directly led to the Phillies beating the Rockies on Sunday night).
In conclusion, while the NFL’s instant replay system needs some work, it’s still better than the joke that is Major League Baseball’s “we only review home runs because no other play is important in determining the outcome of a game” policy.
[End Angry Rant]