Giants record: 6-2
This time last year: 6-2
Time of game: 2:50
Stat worth noting: Despite being unable to finish drives, the Giants were solid on third down – converting six of their 11 opportunities, including a late-game third-and-four that allowed them to kill the clock.
Stat worth noting II: For the second straight game, first-round pick Mathias Kiwanuka was solid, posting seven tackles and New York’s only sack of David Carr.
Turning point: Trailing the lowly Texans 10-7 midway through the fourth quarter, New York faced a third-and-six from the Houston 19-yard line. While the original play call was a pass, Eli Manning saw there were only two defenders to the right side and wisely checked off and changed the call to a handoff. Tiki Barber was able to get around the right end, gain seven yards and move the sticks. Three plays later the Giants took the lead for good.
Play to remember: With the Texans driving late in the fourth quarter, rookie Gerris Wilkinson made the play of the game. He drilled Houston FB Jameel Cook immediately after he caught a pass at the New York 35 and forced a fumble. The ball bounded right to Corey Webster and the Giants had denied Houston’s upset attempt. Three first downs later Big Blue was in the locker room with a ‘W.’
Play to forget: Leading only 7-3 midway through the second quarter, New York was looking for a TD and a little cushion. As a result of sixth OL Rich Seubert’s holding penalty it never came. A Tiki Barber run moved the ball down to the Houston two-yard line, but Seubert’s infraction moved it back to the 19. After a couple sacks of Eli Manning, the Giants were forced to punt.
2 – Game lead New York has in the NFC East over Philadelphia and Dallas. Big Blue also currently owns the tiebreaker over both.
5 – Consecutive victories by the Giants.
29 – Quarters it took this season before Tiki Barber, the league’s leading rusher, scored his first touchdown, a 16-yard jaunt in the first quarter.
“It wasn’t pretty at all. We have to be thankful we got away with a win and now we put it behind us and go forward with Chicago.” – Giants RB Tiki Barber
“We played a pretty clean football game. We were in a position to win.” – Texans coach Gary Kubiak
What went right
That there was no structural damage to Michael Strahan’s injured right foot. It appears that whether or not he will play against the Bears will come down to his pain threshold. If that’s the case, don’t be at all surprised to see Strahan ready to go Sunday night.
Despite numerous offensive struggles, the Giants were able to put together the game-winning drive when they needed to. Eli Manning marched Big Blue 67 yards in 11 plays to recapture the lead at 14-10. Jeremy Shockey caught a 14-yard pass on the drive before capping it with a three-yard TD.
Shockey was back to his dominant self, grabbing eight passes for 66 yards and the game-clinching touchdown. With the Texans playing a lot of man-to-man coverage it was obvious that Shockey was going to be open often and Manning did a superb job of finding him.
Very quietly, Tiki Barber had an excellent game, averaging 6.8 yards per carry en route to a 115-yard afternoon. Barber scored his first TD of the year and also added 40 yards on three catches.
What went wrong
The Giants started the game without five starters and lost another (Michael Strahan) in the second quarter. With Plaxico Burress unable to go, Tim Carter stepped in at wide receiver, while Bob Whitfield was a last-minute fill-in for RT Kareem McKenzie. The defense was forced to begin the contest sans RDE Osi Umenyiora, WLB Brandon Short and RCB Sam Madison.
New York’s defense was clearly unprepared for the Texans’ dink and dunk passing game. While Big Blue bent but didn’t break, they were unable to get any consistent pressure on David Carr and allowed the Houston receivers way too much room to roam.
Protecting only a 7-3 lead at the start of the third quarter, the Giants drove down and then proceeded to botch a 37-yard field goal try. The snap was solid, but holder Jeff Feagles was unable to get the ball down properly and the Giants lost a golden scoring opportunity.
After a two-week total of only seven penalties, New York was back to its flag-drawing ways. They were penalized six times for 53 yards in losses and one holding call basically cost them seven points.