Arizona Cardinals Prove New York Giants Are Not Elite

Richard ReschCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 25: Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants misses a catch close to the end zone under pressure from Bryant McFadden #25 of the Arizona Cardinals on October 25, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

For the second week in a row, the Giants were outplayed by a quality NFC opponent. And for the second week in a row, Giants fans and players are re-evaluating their team. The Giants are clearly not an elite team, but are they even a playoff team? At this point, it's hard to believe they are the best team in the NFC East anymore.

- Eli Manning had his second straight poor outing. Manning was 19 for 37 for 243 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He made some poor decisions, threw into double coverage, had some passes deflected and others sailed out of bounds. Even his touchdown pass was the result of a lucky bounce. Against a secondary that has been as bad as the Cardinals this season, the Giants have no excuses for their poor passing performance.

- Brandon Jacobs looked like the old Brandon Jacobs, gaining 76 yards on thirteen carries (5.8 yards per carry). He looked like himself, plowing through defenders on his four-yard rushing touchdown. Maybe Gilbride should have given him more than thirteen carries.

-I love that Ahmad Bradshaw always battles for the extra yardage, but he has to do a better job of tucking the ball away. He fought to pick up 14 yards late in the fourth quarter, but left the ball unprotected. The ball was stripped and recovered by the Cardinals, and the Giants offense was lucky to get the ball back at all.

- Even Jeff Feagles had a terrible game, averaging only 34.4 yards per punt. You know things are going bad when even Feagles is playing poorly.

- Too many delay of game penalties.

- The defense played pretty well considering the tough spots they were put in. Cardinals drives consistently started in or around Giants territory thanks to the offense's inability to sustain drives and Jeff Feagles' poor punting. They sacked Kurt Warner twice and hit him seven more times. They held the normally accurate Warner to 20 of 36 passing for 231 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 72.8 passer rating. Although some people are getting on the defense again, giving up only 24 points to one of the best offenses in football is definitely a step in the right direction after last week.

- Why wasn't there a personal foul when the Cardinals DB propelled himself helmet first into Kevin Boss late in the fourth quarter? Boss miraculously hung on to the ball, but fifteen more yards would have been huge. It should have at least been hitting a defenseless receiver, if not a helmet to helmet hit.

There also should have been pass interference on Terrell Thomas, who arrived early on a pass to Larry Fitzgerald earlier in the game.

- Mario Manningham's butterfingers resurfaced, this time proving more costly than ever. Manningham dropped a beautiful pass from Manning on what would have been a touchdown to cut the lead to three. Instead, the Giants settled for a field goal that moved them to within seven.

Give Mario Manningham one more game to prove he should be starting. Either way, Hakeem Nicks should be getting equal playing time. The receiving core has great potential, and Manningham is a part of the future. But the rookie Nicks is more polished right now and Manningham's drops are too costly.

- The offensive game ball goes to Hakeem Nicks, who again was one of the only bright spots in a tough loss. Nicks' heads up (lucky) catch of a deflected ball turned into a 62- yard touchdown in which he outran the entire Cardinals defense. He now has a touchdown in four straight games and has to be in the conversation for offensive Rookie of the Year.

- The defensive game ball goes to Terrell Thomas, who had an interception and four passes defensed. He is quickly turning into one of the better players on the Giants' defense, and has probably earned himself a starting spot if Aaron Ross ever returns.