Monday, January 16, 2012

N.Y. Giants ~ California Here We Come

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE


Green Bay Packers       20



Down goes Title Town!   Down goes Title Town! 

They did it.  Eli Manning and Perry Fewell's Defense beat the mighty Aaron Rodgers of the Twenty-Fourth and a Half CENTURY..!  They beat the rich history of famous Lambeau Field.  They beat the legend of the Green Bay Packers.  They knocked off the defending Super Bowl Champions.  They defied all the doubters and naysayers.  The Giants even overcame referees that seemingly were  conspiring against them as if forced by some diabolical plot hatched by the Networks.  But no matter.  The Giants beat all that; and the odds too.

"We're going back to San Francisco fellas."  -  Lawrence Taylor, January 1991 

"We're Baaack!"  -  Carl Banks, January 1991

That's right.  The New York Football Giants are back.  And now they're headed to San Francisco to try and rip their hearts out too; just like they did to all the cheese-heads in not-so-frigid Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sunday night.  Yes Momma, you heard correctly.  You can shed that winter coat.  We're going to sunny California.

And now, I guess all the comparisons will shift from the 2007 team towards the 1990/91 Super Bowl run and the classic NFC Championship Game the Giants played against the 49ers twenty-one years ago.  But before we pack our bags and go there, there is so much to revel about and celebrate right here in Giants Town.

With ice still in his veins since January 21, 2008, Eli looked Mission Impossible in the eye again, and Green Bay blinked on cue.  The Giants went up 3-0 on the first drive of the game and never trailed the Packers and their vaunted offense the rest of the night.  Eli Manning deserves a much better descriptive account regarding his night than I can humbly attempt tonight.  But what I can say with certainty though, is that on January 15, 2012, Eli Manning was far better than Aaron RODGERS of the Twenty-Fourth and a Half CENTURY....!  So how many more ELITE quarterbacks does a guy have to beat in order to get some respect around here anyway?

They say luck is the residue of skill and design.  In the Giants' case, a HAIL MARY! - didn't hurt either.  Eli Manning attempted thirty-three passes and completed twenty-one for 330 yards.  He connected with Hakeem Nicks for two touchdowns, and once with Mario Manningham for another.  But there was so much more than just that play.  Eli carried the day, put us ahead, and kept us there, while Coach Gilbride relentlessly baited Green Bay by running the ball to the Left Side all game long.  Then in the final minutes, Coach Gilbribe finally counter-motioned the run towards the Right Side (where they've run the ball most effectively all season long) with Brandon Jacobs who scampered down field for the game's final touchdown.  Jacobs' run sent Lambeau Leaping for the exits and his Giant team mates packing for a trip to play the Niners - Just like the old (older) days.

But it was Victor Cruz and Eli Manning who really made all the throws and catches Aaron Rodgers and his arsenal of weapons could not complete or replicate.  Where the Packers receivers continually dropped their passes, time and again Victor Cruz was making big catches for critical third down conversions.  He did his damage Sunday in the middle of the field, where for Green Bay, there were only incompletions.  Scoring plays are no doubt great.  But the plays that get you in position to score are no less important.  And in this game, Victor Cruz exploited an area of the field where good Safeties dispense pain.  But there was no such threat coming from the Packer Secondary in this game.  Victor Cruz also smartly recovered a 4th quarter on-side kick attempt by the Niners.

Defensively, Perry Fewell employed the same scheme that defeated the Jets; the Cowboys; and the Falcons.  For the fourth consecutive game, the Defense took away the deep pass and forced their fourth consecutive quarterback to accept the underneath play instead.  So far, the plan has worked out brilliantly for the Giants for as long as they continue to make sure tackles.  That said, enter Michael Boley, who played his third consecutive great game; games like Linebackers of the past used to have around here.  It was the Giants' Linebacker who led Sunday's pass rush with two of the Giants four sacks.  And collectively, they harassed Aaron Rodgers many more times through-out the game.  The down field coverage stayed tight for lengthy periods which in Sunday's case, helped the pass rush along.  So give the Secondary a huge assist there.

The Safeties also deserve a bit of mention as well.  Along with tight coverage that left Rodgers scrambling about, Deon Grant; who intercepted Rodgers by the way; and Antrel Rolle, both had brilliant games making sure tackles, combining on fourteen solo tackles between them.  Michael Boley led the team in tackles with nine.

Also credit the Defense for creating four turnovers (three fumbles) Sunday and for forcing Aaron Rodgers to become Green Bay's leading rusher of the game.  Watching him run all over the place for key first downs time and again was enough to make me scream.  But the Giants Defense was more resilient and more relentless than Aaron Rodgers was great this game.  For on this day, the Giants reduced him to just being good.  He was held to 264 yards on 26/46 passing; two touchdowns; one interception; and one lost fumble off an Osi Umenyiora strip.

The fact the Packers attempted an on-sides kick in the second quarter I believe is a testament to Green Bay's fear of playing the Giants from behind, and risk having their pass rush tee-off on Rodgers.  Why else take such a huge gamble so early in a playoff game?  Because they remember the trouble the Giants put them through last game, and knew this time, the Giants were bringing something extra to the dance.  Like I said in my pre-game post - We can score, and Green Bay can score.  But I said our Defense was more physical and better than Green Bay's.

If many had their way, Tom Couhlin would have long been in a park somewhere feeding pigeons and playing chess.  Luckily for all of us, Coach Coughlin and his staff will start going through the San Francisco game films and initiating preparations for the next game.  Why?  Because unlike twenty-eight other teams in the NFL, we still have more Football to play.

And one last word to Tom Coughlin detractors.  Frozen Tundras and getting taken out at the legs have done little to hinder his ability to Coach this team.  He coaches hurt.  There's no question about his toughness.  Coughlin also has the undivided attention of each and every player in his locker room.  As the final seconds ticked down, Brandon Jacobs could be seen going over to his Coach and congratulating him.  See?  Brandon Jacobs loves his Coach.  He loves being a Giant.  He loves his team mates.  He just hates the Media and in return, they've created trouble for him.  Back to the point, the Giant players will play for and respond to Tom Coughlin.

For those of you who sought change when things weren't going so well, consider this.  After Bill Parcells left, Ray Handley was the in-house promotion and a miserable failure.  Then Dan Reeves came in as the successful more experienced approach.  The Giants then turned to the off-campus approach and brought in Jim Fassel.  By the time he left here, the locker room was like a diva version of Delta House.

It is no coincidence the Giants organization has enjoyed the most success under the regimes and styles of Tom Coughlin and Bill Parcells.  We've already tried alternatives.  And around here, this system seems to work very well for us, Thank you.

This will be a fun week of posts.   See You in Cali.


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