(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
ST. LOUIS – Earth, wind and fire. There was some debate over who first coined the phrase, but make no mistake about it, the Giants’ three-headed running back is catching the attention of just about everyone these days.
“We got the best backfield in the league, hands down,” Brandon Jacobs said. “The guys in the backfield, everyone can be a starter somewhere.”
“We have three good backs that can all do the job,” Ahmad Bradshaw added.
While Jacobs believes that Derrick Ward came up with the moniker, sack machine Justin Tuck claimed it was him. And who are we to argue with a guy that returned an INT for a TD?
“It’s the best of all three worlds,” Tuck said. “We’re blessed to have them.”
Needless to say, big, bad Brandon Jacobs is earth. He rolled up 93 yards on only 15 carries to set the pace in St. Louis.
According to Tuck, Ahmad Bradshaw is the wind considering his flashy speed. He entered the game late and gained 70 yards on only six touches.
“Ahmad came off the sideline last in the fourth and guys’ legs were tired, it kind of reminded me of the playoffs last year,” Jacobs said. “Coming in, guys’ legs were tired and they say ‘who the hell is this quick guy that is coming in here?’ He went in there and did exactly what we asked him to do, go in there and get a touchdown.”
That leaves Derrick Ward as fire, with his unusual combination of power and speed. All he did was average 7.3 yards per pop, running around and over defenders for 58 yards on only eight carries.
But the spotlight shone brightest on Bradshaw, who, after sitting for almost two full games, finally joined the offense. With a little more than 10 minutes to play in St. Louis, Bradshaw took an inside handoff and gained three yards. While Bradshaw has been involved on special teams, this was the second-year player’s first carry of 2008.
However, by the time the final 10 minutes had ticked off the game clock, Bradshaw had reached the end zone twice, with both a rushing and receiving touchdown. Pity the fools like myself and my buddy Mike DiPaolo that didn’t start Bradshaw in our fantasy league.
“Ahmad came in and gave us a great boost,” Plaxico Burress said. “He gives us a big punch. When you give him the ball he does great things with it.”
Coughlin had a feeling early on that Bradshaw was going to contribute against the Rams.
“We always are looking for a change up kind of tempo guy that at some point of the game could be the answer for that,” he said. “That is what Bradshaw provided us. When we went into the game, we could see in the beginning of the game that he was really quick, like his old self. He provided us a real nice addition as we used all three running backs today.”
And believe it or not, but the Giants were led in preseason rushing by Danny Ware, who is their fourth-string tailback. Ware’s 181 yards were good for sixth in the NFC during the exhibition slate but not good enough to even get a look in this impressive and confident rushing attack.
“We have some serious swagger in our backfield,” Jacobs said.
Even the Chicago-based funk band led by Maurice White would have to be proud.
Taking care of business
The Giants came. They saw. And they flew home with a win – once again. Yes, the season is still very early but these Giants just inspire a lot of confidence – mostly because they’re so confident. Every time the Rams even thought about making a game of it, the Giants just slapped them right back down. It was basically a matter of the Giants knowing they were better and continuing to beat the Rams over the head with that knowledge until the clock read triple zeroes.
“Our mind never wavers,” Burress said. “We were always saying, ‘let’s go down and get ourselves a touchdown.’ They’re seven points away from tying the game up. Like I said, we never waver; we concentrate on each play, never get ahead of ourselves and take each play seriously. That’s the attitude we have and we answer the bell when we’re needed to.”
These Giants are playing just like the 2007 champs – and they know it.
“Championship teams win the fourth quarter – home and away,” Antonio Pierce said.
“That’s the mark of a champion,” Tuck said. “We had to come in today and get a win.”
Offensively, the Giants just have too many weapons to stop.
“I think our offense is tough to put your finger on,” Amani Toomer said. “We’re a very diverse group in terms of distributing the ball. We can get you (from) a lot of different angles.”
Defensively, it’s pretty much more of the same. Steve Spagnuolo’s unit is so good because everyone just does their job. No freelancing required with this group.
“For us it was just about being disciplined and no one doing more than they’re asked – in a good way,” Pierce explained.
With their 2-0 start, the Giants have already distanced themselves from the previous three clubs in franchise history that stumbled out of the gate after winning or reaching the Super Bowl. In 1987, the Giants dropped their first five contests, with three of them being scab losses due to the player’s strike. The ’91 bunch lost two of its first three contests. The 2001 Giants were drubbed in their season opener in Denver.
Like we’ve written before, this Giants team seems so much different than previous groups and certainly gives you no reason to believe that anything other than another very good season has just begun.