Giants Sleepwalk Through Finale: Game Notes and Game Balls

Richard ReschCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 03:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings and Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants talk after the game on January 3, 2010 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 44-7.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

*The game ball for the final game and for the season goes to Steve Smith. Eli Manning had a great season, and you could argue he should be the team's MVP (in fact, I'm sure most people would), and it's not a bad choice. But I'm going with Steve Smith, who broke the Giants' reception record with 107. He also had 1,220 yards, seven touchdowns and I'm sure he led the league in third down conversions. Smith was a warrior all season long, giving up his body for the team. He deserves to go to the Pro Bowl.

*Eli Manning finishes the season with 27 touchdowns, a new career high, and 14 interceptions. His 4,021 yards, 7.9 average, 62.3 completion percentage and 93.1 QB rating are also career highs. There were a lot of groans when he received his $100 million contract, and while that is a loaded contract, I think Giants fans are happy that Eli is locked up for the long term.

*For a linebacker who is supposed to be a "run stuffer," Jonathan Goff had a hard time tackling. He had at least two missed tackles, and was out of place on a couple more. He's been ok, but I don't think the Giants should feel safe going with him at MLB next year. Unfortunately, they have no more time to evaluate his play, and will have to go on what they saw in these last few games. It will be an important decision.

*Michael Boley and Aaron Rouse were both fooled badly on Vishante Shiancoe's 10 yard touchdown catch. Boley had a pretty good season when healthy, but he has shown he is prone to lapses every once in a while (but then again, who isnt?). He's good enough to be the second best linebacker on a good defense. Rouse on the other hand was a step up from CC Brown, but he should not be a top three safety. I wouldn't mind seeing him back as a fourth or fifth safety.

*DJ Johnson was covering Sidney Rice for much of the game. This alone is enough reason to fire Bill Sheridan. Sidney Rice is a legitimate No. 1 receiver, headed to his first pro bowl. DJ Johnson? If you had asked me what position he played before this game, I probably would have guess running back. The fact that he was covering their best offensive threat for even one play is inexcusable, even with Corey Webster and Aaron Ross injured.

*Apparently Brett Favre has his own set of rules. The person foul on Osi Umenyiora was just an awful call. Osi hit Favre right after he threw the ball and their facemasks rubbed together. Of course, he was flagged for helmet to helmet contact. My guess is that if this was almost any other QB, the flag would have stayed in the ref's pocket.

*Almost as bad as that call was FOX's broadcast of this game. I understand that the game got out of hand very quickly, but that doesn't mean fans don't want to see replays. Instead of showing a replay of a pass interference call, FOX decided that football fans would rather see a replay of Brett Favre and Osi Umenyiora sitting on the ground after the play.

*(While the score was 41-0)
Moose: This is a bit of payback for the Vikings. Do you remember the final score of that 2000 NFC Championship game?
Goose: ...42-0?
(This really happened. I may be paraphrasing a bit, but the spirit of the exchange remains the same. Goose is as slow in the head as he is on foot).

A note about Cris Carter's misinformed anti-Giants sentiment:

During ESPN's pre-game show, there was a segment in which everyone picked one pre-season prediction they got wrong. Tom Jackson said that he thought the Giants were going to be better. Obviously he was wrong about this.

But Cris Carter, seemingly surprised by the question, blurted out "I actually thought the Giants had replaced Plaxico Burress and I was wrong."

So is he actually suggesting that the Giants' failure to replace Plaxico Burress is what cost them this season?

Yes, Cris, because the Giants' passing game is clearly what did them in. Let's just ignore the fact that Eli Manning had career highs in basically every passing category. Let's also ignore the fact that the Giants' passing game was ranked 11th in the NFL, seven spots up from where it was in 2008 when the Giants went 12-4, and ten spots up from where it was in 2007 when the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Let's just forget the fact that Steve Smith's 107 receptions are more than Burress had in his last two seasons (26 games) combined. Let's forget the fact that the oft-injured, 32 year old Burress was not himself even before he put a bullet through his leg, and that the Giants' passing game was better this season without him than it EVER was with him.

Clearly the absence of Plaxico Burress is what caused the Giants' defense to give up 40 points five times, what caused Kenny Phillips to have arthritis, what caused Jeff Feagles to be 43 and what caused Kevin Gilbride and Bill Sheridan to be the Giants' coordinators.

Let's just forget all of these facts, and just lazily blame the Giants' struggles on the absence of their former top receiver. The Giants had numerous other holes that cost them games, while the deep receiving core and solid passing game was the only thing the Giants had to hang their hats on. To suggest that the absence of Plaxico Burress was their biggest flaw this season shows a lack of knowledge about the team.