Zac’s note: This piece was first published on my Examiner page
The New York Giants defeated the Washington Redskins 23-17 on Sunday. It’s the second year in a row that the Giants began the regular season by beating the Redskins. A full game recap and box score can be found here.
The Good: The Giants scored the first 17 straight points of the game and were dominant on defense for the first 29:00 of the first half. The half will mostly be remembered for two plays, one on offense and one on defense. Newly incorporated wide receiver Mario Manningham made quite the impact early in the second quarter. Manningham caught a short Eli Manning pass, avoided a few tackles and tiptoed down the sideline for a 30 yard touchdown. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora provided the other highlight in his return to NFL regular season play. Near the two minute mark in the second quarter, Umenyiora stripped the ball from Redskins’ quarterback Jason Campbell, picked the football up and sprinted 37 yards down the field for six.
Wide receiver Steve Smith ended the game with six catches for 80 yards and tight end Kevin Boss had three catches for 62 yards. Smith looked like a star for much of the game and Boss continued to show that he can run short patterns as well as rumble down the field for large gains. Two very different options in the passing game and both are great.
Other than one big run, Redskins’ running back Clinton Portis was a non-factor. He finished with only 62 yards on 16 carries.
Eli Manning finished the game completing 20 of 29 pass attempts for 256 yards, one touchdown and one interception. These are stats I’ll take from Manning every game of the season. Still, you’ll see Manning’s name mentioned in the next segment.
The Bad: The Giants’ rushing attack was, well, far less impressive than what we saw for most of 2008. Brandon Jacobs finished the game with only 46 yards on 16 carries. Ahmad Bradshaw led the Giants in rushing with 60 yards on 12 carries. It didn’t help that Danny Ware dislocated his elbow on the opening kickoff of the game. Nevertheless, the overall rushing stats are nothing to be happy about.
Eli Manning’s stats are very good but you also can’t ignore that he probably should have seen one or two more of his passes picked off by the Redskins defense. Watching Manning try to force the ball into double or triple coverage is what leads me to opening a frosty beverage during Giants games. There were also a handful of clock-management moments that made me point at the TV and say “Bad Eli!” With that said, 20-29 for 256 yards and a TD are nothing to get upset about.
The Giants were completely fooled by the Redskins on the fake field goal that resulted in a Washington touchdown at the end of the first half. New York head coach Tom Coughlin had a “I just got out-coached by who?” look on his face after the Redskins scored on that play. That just can’t happen again, especially when you’re up 17-0.
The Ugly: Rookie wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was carted off the field during the fourth quarter. The Star-Ledger is reporting that it’s a “foot sprain.” No word on how long Nicks will be sidelined.
Overall: The Giants start the 2009 NFL regular season 1-0. Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest of victories but there were far more good moments than bad. The Giants’ defense was especially good for most of the game (and Redskins’ quarterback Jason Campbell is terrible). In the end, it’s one game in and one game won. I’ll take it.