2004-10-08 / Sports

Surprising Start Fuels Optimism For Giants, Jets

By Michael Avallone Sports Columnist

By Michael Avallone
Sports Columnist

  • What exactly is going on here? Only a cockeyed optimist would have predicted that the Giants and Jets combined record after the first weekend of October football would be 6-1.
  • Have the G-Men finally bought into Tom Coughlin’s style? Can the Jets continue to their undefeated streak? As sports usually show, things do tend to even out over the course of a season. But for now, Jets’ and Giants’ fans can revel in the glow of a successful start to the 2004 season.

    Giants

    PASSING OFFENSE (B) The Giants passing game was adequate, letting the rushing attack fuel the offense. QB Kurt Warner was again steady, spraying his passes around to six different receivers, including the game-winning TD pass to TE Jeremy Shockey (five rec. 74 yds) in the fourth quarter. Although he did throw his first INT of the year, Warner was an efficient 20-of-26 for 187 yards. The offensive line was solid once again, giving Warner ample time to find the open receiver.

    RUSHING OFFENSE (A-) This is where the Giants did a majority of their damage. RB Tiki Barber carried 23 times for 182 yards, the third time in four games he has gone over the century mark this year. As a team, Big Blue gained a blistering 245 yards on the ground, a credit to a quickly-improving O-line. This was the year Barber was supposed to have his carries slashed in order to get RB Ron Dayne more touches, but with production like Sunday, including a 52-yard TD run, Coach Tom Coughlin may have to think twice.

    PASS DEFENSE (A-) Before knocking him out of the game, the Giants held Packers’ QB Brett Favre in check, allowing just 118 yards on 12-of-18 passing.

    Although the Giants failed to register a sack, they constantly pressured Favre, before finally knocking him out for good on a hit by DE William Joseph. CBs Will Petersen and Terry Cousin both had interceptions while rookie SS Gibril Wilson led the G-Men in tackles (10) for the second consecutive week.

    RUSH DEFENSE (A-) The Giants made stopping Green Bay RB Ahman Green a top priority. One of the top runners in the league, Green rushed for just 58 yards on 15 carries, a ridiculously low number considering how close the game was.

    An aggressive defense led by LB Barrett Green (six tackles, one forced fumble), was the key in stopping the Packers rushing attack. A steady stream of blitzes and different looks enabled New York to hold a vaunted offense to just one TD.

    Regardless of the fact that the Packers (1-3) lost Brett Favre during crunch time, the Giants’ “D” did a damn fine job on a first-rate team. Although the opposing offense will not be as dangerous next week, a trip to Dallas is never fun for Big Blue. As important as the Green Bay win was, the upcoming game against the divisional-rival Cowboys is a two-game swing in the standings. I went against New York (3-1) last week and they surprised me. Two weeks in a row is asking a bit too much though….

    Up Next : @ Dallas (2-1)

    Prediction: DAL 19, NYG 17.

    Jets

    PASSING OFFENSE (D) One word can describe the Jets’ passing attack on Sunday: “putrid.” Granted, Miami does have a stellar defense and maybe it was just one of those days for QB Chad Pennington, but whatever it was, it was not good. Pennington completed just 14-of-24 passes for 143 yards with one INT.

    However, the numbers do not tell the whole story. Pennington made several poor throws that could have been disastrous had Miami cashed in on the chances given them. WR Wayne Chrebet led the team with 48 yards on three receptions.

    RUSHING OFFENSE (B+) This grade would be even higher if not for Gang Green’s horrendous performance on short yardage situations. The Jets were just 1-for-11 on third-down, a statistic they are lucky to have won with. RB Curtis Martin continued his strong start, rushing for 110 yards on 24 carries, including a TD. Martin has now rushed for over 400 yards during the first three games.

    PASS DEFENSE (B-) The only reason the grade is not higher is due to the talent, or lack thereof, of the Dolphins’ receiving corps. Miami QB Jay Fiedler was back in the starting role and completed 18-of-33 passes for 206 yards, a respectable performance. However, the Jets did intercept him twice while active DE John Abraham sacked Fiedler twice, forcing and recovering one fumble.

    RUSH DEFENSE (A-) Again, not much of a test for the Jets’ defense, but they did the job well enough to be successful. Aside from a 53-yard run by Dolphins RB Henry Leonard, Gang Green held the toothless Miami rushing game to just 47 yards on 20 carries.

    All in all, the game was an ugly display of football. That being said, the Jets (3-0) will take a win in any way possible, even against a horrible Miami (0-4) squad. Although the true test against the Patriots is still a few weeks away, New York succeeded in not falling into the trap of playing a lousy team after the bye week, something Coach Herman Edwards warned his players about.

    The chances of the Jets remaining undefeated over the entire season is virtually nil, but with a weak Bills’ team coming to the Meadowlands next week, New York has an excellent chance of reaching the first quarter mark at a perfect 4-0.

    Up Next : vs. Buffalo (0-3)

    Prediction: New York Jets 17, Buffalo Bills 14.

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