2004-10-15 / Sports

Giants, Jets Shock NFL With Fast Start

By Michael Avallone Sports Columnist

  • Seasons are not won and lost over the first four or five games. A 1-3 start can turn around just as quickly as 3-1. That being said, what the Giants and Jets are accomplishing early in the season is truly surprising. Though neither team was dominant, both played hard-nosed and gutted out tough divisional wins, a key to a successful season. As the Jets get ready to face the putrid 49ers, the Giants will be off before gearing up for a showdown with the resurgent Detroit Lions on Oct. 24.
  • Giants

    PASSING OFFENSE (B-)—Giants QB Kurt Warner was not as precise as he had been over the past four weeks but he did enough to keep the Cowboys defense from stacking the line against the run. His numbers (18-of-33, 216 yards, 1 TD) was far from awe-inspiring, but it was enough to get the job done. The O-line blocked reasonably well for Warner, allowing just three sacks. TE Jeremy Shockey was strong for the second consecutive week, catching his second TD pass of the year. Though his stats were not eye-popping (5 catches, 44 yards), his blocking and rough play were big pluses for New York. On the negative side, injury-plaguedWR Tim Carter suffered a fractured hip diving for a ball, ending his season.

    RUSHING OFFENSE (B+)—Where would the Giants be without RB Tiki Barber? After an inconsistent 2003 season, the Giants back has looked less like the fumble-prone player of years past and more like a mini-Marshall Faulk. He gained 122 yards on 23 carries and led the team with five receptions for 76 yards, including a run of 58 yards and a 55-yard reception. Heading into the bye, no. 21 has amassed over 800 yards of total offense while rushing for 100 or more yards in four of five games.

    PASS DEFENSE (B)—With their running game virtually non-existent so far this year, the Cowboys have relied on QB Vinny Testaverde’s arm for yardage. Yesterday, the 40-year-old slinger was unable to deliver. For the first time all season, Testaverde failed to complete a pass for 20 or more yards and was held to 15-of-25 passing for just 126 yards, one TD and one interception. Though the Giants only sacked Testaverde twice, the linebackers put enormous pressure on the aging QB, forcing him to make quick and ill-advised passes.

    RUSH DEFENSE (C)—For a Cowboys team that had been receiving almost nothing on the ground, New York could have done a lot better at stopping the run. Veteran Dallas RB Eddie George flashed some of his old form, rushing for 75 yards on just 15 carries, including a 24-yard scamper. A relatively quiet game from DE Michael Strahan allowed the other members of the Giants rush to step up, but when DT Fred Robbins left early in the second quarter with a strained shoulder, reserve William Joseph showed why he comes off the bench. In total, Big Blue allowed 166 yards rushing, a total Coach Tom Coughlin will not find to his liking.

    Despite a less-than dominating performance, the Giants (4-1) were able to rack up 26 points against a Bill Parcells-led team, holding them to just 10. Not too shabby. The Cowboys (2-2) may be a flawed team but a win in Big D has never come easy for the G-Men, so they’ll take whatever they can get. It has become clear that New York has accepted the new coaching staff’s philosophy and it is paying off in the standings. Two weeks ago the playoffs seemed to be a longshot, but after back-to-back road wins against two of the top NFC teams from a year ago, the Giants are starting to make believers out of everyone. Up Next: BYE

    Jets

    PASSING OFFENSE (B+)—The Jets opponent Sunday may have been winless, but no one can say the Buffalo Bills defense is not first-rate. Expecting the Bills to stop RB Curtis Martin, New York decided to take the game to the air. In the capable hands of QB Chad Pennington (31-of-42, 304 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), Gang Green was able to amass the necessary yardage, but could not get the ball into the endzone regularly. WR Wayne Chrebet (eight catches, 90 yards) led the team in both categories for the second straight game. It was his best performance in almost three years.

    RUSHING OFFENSE (C+)—The Jets knew what was coming and adjusted accordingly. RB Curtis Martin failed to reach the century mark for the first time this season, rushing for just 77 yards on 22 carries. The Bills massive front line is a nightmare for opposing backs trying to find a hole, so all things considered, Martin’s numbers weren’t too bad. The team’s total run yardage of 85 was.

    PASS DEFENSE (B+)—Gang Green’s pass rush was consistent, sacking Bills QB Drew Bledsoe (16-for-29, 197 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) four times, three by DE John Abraham. Buffalo had to punt on its first seven possessions, a testament to the pressure from the Jets. However, the declining Bledsoe did manage to complete two TD passes, marring an otherwise standout effort for J-E-T-S.

    RUSH DEFENSE (A-)—Bills RB Travis Henry had a poor game, carrying the ball 14 times for just 33 yards. His success against New York is usually a given, so his ugly numbers were sign of how tough the Jets front line was. Although RB Willis McGahee (eight carries, 42 yards) showed some of his promise in the second half, the Jets linebackers, namely Jonathan Vilma and Victor Hobson, were there to clog the lanes and force the play to the outside at key moments.

    If you’re a pessimist, you can say the Jets (4-0) should never have won this game. Needing a last minute field goal by K Doug Brien against an 0-3 team with no offense is not a confidence builder. Or is it? The Bills (0-4) are not as bad as they appear and as the old saying goes, “A win is a win is a win.” I’ve been wrong about the Giants the past few weeks but something has to go my way right? The popular choice would be Gang Green moving to 5-0 with a win over a horrible San Francisco squad. However, I just get the feeling this is going to be one of those games, particularly with the New England Patriots looming in two weeks. Up Next : vs. SF Prediction:SF 23 NYJ 17.

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