“They’re the number one rushing team in the league,” was about all Lewis had to offer after this one.
Baltimore had not allowed any team to rush for more than 76 yards all season. Brandon Jacobs had 70 yards in the first quarter. Ahmad Bradshaw had a 77-yard run in the fourth quarter. Baltimore had not given up more than 200 yards rushing in a game since Oct. 5, 1997, when Pittsburgh ran for 214 yards. The Giants, with another 41 yards from Derrick Ward, rolled up a total of 207, averaging a gaudy 6.3 yards per carry.
For the Giants it was just a matter of sticking to the game plan.
“We had the breakout run there late that, of course, gave us a lot of that yardage in one play, but we were pretty steady,” Tom Coughlin explained. “I thought in the first half for sure we were very steady with our run game and kind of just kept picking away, picking away, and we have had some good results this year. Our offensive line has done an outstanding job, our fullback, our tight ends, and everybody together, our power runners have done a good job so that is a very good team, the number one team defensively in the league against the run, and we were able to do some good things.”
Good things indeed. Good things that certainly didn’t surprise left tackle David Diehl in the least.
“We know if we keep pounding the ball and doing what we do best – and that’s playing smash-mouth football – that things are going to crack,” he said.
With a trio like Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw you get the feeling that no one can possibly stop them when they’re all firing on all cylinders. If the best unit in the league couldn’t, then who can?
“I’m glad all three of those guys are on our team,” Justin Tuck said.
And so are Giants fans. No doubt about that.
Talk about a heads up play. Fred Robbins turned in perhaps the biggest play of the entire game when he blocked Matt Stover’s 32-yard field goal attempt – with his helmet. The Giants were leading, 7-0, when New York’s resident sack machine put his head in between Stover and the goal posts.
“That’s what you call using your head,” Robbins smiled after the game. “It’s big whenever you can block a field goal. That’s three points that could be the difference in the game.”
Robbins realized that things might not have gone so easily for New York without his big play.
“It’s a big momentum swing,” he continued. “It feels good. Getting a chance to get your hands on one is great. That really got things rolling.”
While Robbins’ heroics directly led to points, Sam Madison was unable to get his hands firmly around the loose ball. Madison was unable to pick the blocked field goal up on the run, and as a result, was denied an opportunity for a nice, easy TD.
“I was waiting for it to bounce,” Madison said. “Earlier in the year you’d see teams block a field goal and get a perfect bounce.”
Because Madison wasn’t one of the men attempting to block the field goal, he was downfield as what the Giants call the ‘scoop and score guy.’
“I just didn’t do it,” he laughed.
To be quite honest, on this day, with this running game and this defense, the Giants really weren’t in much need of special teams help.
If you’re not happy for Darcy Johnson, then something’s clearly wrong with you. Johnson, who spent all last season on Injured Reserve, caught not only his first career pass, but his first career touchdown pass as well.
Johnson’s 1-yard end-zone grab capped New York’s game-opening explosion of three touchdowns on its first three possessions. Manning lofted a spiral that a wide-open Johnson was able to corral in the left side of the end zone.
“I’m just grateful,” a humble Johnson said afterward. “I went out and made the most of my opportunity.”
Johnson ran a crossing pattern where he’s supposed to make it look like he’s going to block. However, once he slipped into his pattern he found himself wide open.
“They forgot about me,” he said. “I went up and made a play.”
Coughlin, who had plenty to be pleased about, was especially happy for Johnson.
“It was a nice catch for Darcy and it wasn’t an easy catch,” he said. “It was up over his head, the wind was a factor there, and so it was nice to see him get involved and be able to make a play.”
With that grab, Johnson became the first Giant to score a touchdown on his initial career reception since another tight end, Marcellus Rivers, did it on Sept. 10, 2001 at Denver.
“Every level I played football my first catch was a touchdown,” Johnson stated. “In high school, college and here.”
Johnson was just happy to finally be able to contribute to a victory – at least on the stat sheet.
“I’m just glad we got the win with it,” he said. “That made it even better.”
As a result of his big grab, Johnson’s mother should be expecting an early Christmas present.
“I have the ball,” Johnson smiled. “I’m going to get it painted and probably give it to my mom.”
Yet another wonderful moment in this Giants season chock full of them.