The opening game of the NFL season is always very exciting, but it doesn't usually answer very many questions.
The prevailing wisdom about the Giants is that they caught lightning in a bottle last year, getting hot at just the right time and riding the momentum to a Super Bowl championship.
So the big question for them was this: Are they the team that beat the seemingly invincible Patriots last year, or are they the mediocre team they appeared to be before they faced the Patriots in the final regular-season game of 2007?
The Redskins rebounded from a 5-7 start and the shocking death of safety Sean Taylor to clinch a wild-card playoff berth. Can they parlay their strong finish into a winning season and a deep playoff run in 2008?
Predictably, neither question was answered last night.
The opening festivities at Giants Stadium whipped the home crowd into a frenzy. Retired defensive end Michael Strahan, with the Lombardi Trophy in hand, exhorted the Giant faithful before introducing the defending Super Bowl champions, and the fans responded in kind, with an explosion of cheers.
The Giant offense came out swinging, opening the game with an 11-play, 84-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Eli Manning. It was to be the Giants' only touchdown of the night, but combined with four field goals by recent pickup John Carney. It was enough to get the job done.
The offense appeared to behave like a sprinter during the early heat of a track meet, shutting it down and coasting to the finish line once victory seemed assured.
The Giants' defense, however, exhibited no such intentions. Despite the loss of Strahan and the injured Osi Umenyiora, the Big Blue D held the Redskins to 209 total yards (125 pass, 84 rush).
The Giants' offense displayed typical ups and downs. Brandon Jacobs was a beast, bruising the Redskins defense for 116 tough yards, and Plaxico Burress had 10 receptions for 133 yards. Eli, however, threw several bad balls, including one that was picked off by Fred Smoot.
Additionally, the Giant receivers seemed a little out of sync with their quarterback, at times failing to get their heads around in time to make a catch and letting a ball or two slip between their fingers.
For their part, the Redskins weren't able to get anything going for new Head Coach Jim Zorn, gaining only 51 yards in the first half and never really getting on track on either side of the ball.
Still, it was only Week One, and both teams have plenty of time to improve before they meet again November 30. The Giants will try to remain undefeated September 14 against the Rams in St. Louis, while the 'Skins try to improve to 1-1 when they play their home opener against the New Orleans Saints.