Well, how about that? For once, the Giants felt good about themselves going into a game after a win and didn’t shoot themselves in the foot.
They not only trounced the Texans 34-10 with a season-high offensive outburst, but also set a franchise record. Hakeem Nicks, he of the two first-half touchdown catches, eclipsed Amani Toomer’s single game reception mark for a wide receiver with 12 catches for 130 yards.
On top of that, Eli Manning went on an 11-completion streak in the first half, one short of his personal record, and the Giants’ defense completely took out Arian Foster, holding him to just 25 yards rushing.
Nice way to follow up an ugly victory over the Bears last week. It’s quite possible that win touched off a spark with some people. Whatever. The Giants are now 3-2, which keeps them in a first-place tie with Washington.
Lots of good in this game, but a little bad, too.
NICKS: The guy made catches all over the field, and would have had another one and surely a third touchdown had he not dropped Manning’s long shot in the third quarter. He really looked great on a first-down pass on which he got his toes down just inside the white. The Texans need to fire Bernard Pollard, the DB who bit on something or other and left him totally free in the end zone. But the fact is Nicks still caught the pass for his sixth TD of the season. He continues to show the playmaking ability of his rookie season.
MANNING: Yeah, he shouldn’t have thrown that second-half interception. Dumb move. But he was hard to fault in the first half as he took full advantage of field position. Even when he didn’t have it, Manning put together drives of 85 and 62 yards, and moved his team to within field goal position after starting a drive from his 3. He finished 27-of-42 for 297 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Probably too many throws, considering the Giants were gaining on the ground, but he needed an outing like that after looking anything but overpowering against the Bears.
SAGE ROSENFELS: So why is Manning’s backup in here? Because he served as the new holder for Lawrence Tynes. He had a flawless game, even fielding a slightly high snap and getting it down in time. Tynes seemed comfortable in hitting field goals from 45 and 42 yards. Hmmm. Now, if Rosenfels could only punt.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The banged-up unit played well, turning big sacker Mario Williams into a non-factor. They lost David Diehl in the second half, but Shawn Andrews stepped in and did a serviceable job. Gotta blame Adam Koets for a bounced shotgun snap that Manning had to smother, but at least it didn’t turn into a turnover. The run-blocking was good overall, as Ahmad Bradshaw had 67 yards on 16 carries and Brandon Jacobs had 41 and a touchdown on 10 carries.
BRANDON JACOBS: Speaking of Jacobs, nice to see him ploughing up the middle again. He had one scatback moment, but for the most part he made the best use of his 265 pounds. Maybe he needs the media to get on his back more often – he seemed to run “angry.” And that’s always a good thing with Jacobs. Also, he didn’t fumble.
JONATHAN GOFF: This kid continues to grow at middle linebacker. He nearly intercepted a pass for tight end Owen Daniels, and he dropped Foster for one of the running back’s three first-quarter touches for loss by slicing through the Texans’ zone blocking scheme for a clear shot. If he keeps going like he has, Giants fans won’t have to worry about the middle linebacker for seasons to come.
OSI UMENYIORA: He had two of the Giants’ three sacks (Justin Tuck had the other one) and he forced two fumbles. That gives him a team-high six on the season. But more than statistics, Umenyiora looks less and less like the disgruntled, injured underproducer of 2009, which is a good sign for the pass rush.
COREY WEBSTER: His first-quarter interception eventually allowed the Giants to up their lead to 14-0. The cornerbacks were all over the Texans wide receivers, disrupting their timing with Matt Schaub. Andre Johnson was a non-factor with five catches for 95 yards.
KEVIN BOSS: There are few tougher guys in the league. He took at least three hard shots in a four-catch, 40-yard day. But he continues to get up and do it again. Some good in-line blocking by the big tight end, too.
MATT DODGE: He didn’t do poorly overall, hitting four punts for a 49.2 gross average. But one of those was a liner and another fell short and took a fortuitous Giants bounce. He’s getting there, but not by leaps and bounds.
ADAM KOETS: He continues to hold his own at center. But you can’t be bouncing shotgun snaps. Thankfully, it didn’t come in a critical situation. He also got flagged for an uncalled-for leg whip, and could well have gotten another had the ref been looking that way. Those are 15-yard deals. Not good, especially since they’re so obvious and avoidable.
COACHING: You’re up by 18 halfway through the third quarter and the first thing that pops into your mind is to throw it three straight times? That wound up being Manning’s second interception, which put the Texans on the Giants’ 18 and set them up for their only touchdown 32 seconds later. It might have been a real momentum-turner, but the braintrust finally got back to the regular gameplan and Manning engineered a field goal drive on the next possession. Nobody is advocating sitting on the lead. Just run the normal offense.