Giants, Jets Show Playoff Aspirations In Week Eight Victories
By Michael Avallone Sports Columnist
After the first NFL weekend where both New York teams saw a W hung next to their names, the Jets and Giants came back strong in week 8. Gang Green manhandled Miami on national TV while the G-Men did their annual number on Minnesota. It’s become clear that barring a total collapse, both teams should reach the postseason for the first time in two years.
Giants PASSING OFFENSE (C+) He really wasn’t needed with the way the running game was motoring along, but Giants QB Kurt Warner had one of his weaker performances of the year. He completed 13-of-21 attempts for only 144 yards and no TDs. On the bright side, he didn’t turn the ball over either. His longest completion was 26 yards to TE Jeremy Shockey (team leading 60 yards). The offensive line struggled for a second consecutive week, allowing Warner to be sacked five times. However, it’s become clear to New York fans what St. Louis already knew: Warner holds onto the ball too long.
RUSHING OFFENSE (B+) RB Tiki Barber continues to play like a legitimate MVP candidate. The Giants back ran past the century mark for the fifth time in seven games and added two more TDs to his total. The O-line played well, opening up holes for Barber and reserve RB Mike Cloud (nine carries, 55 yards) who scored two touchdowns of his own. For one game at least, New York was able to solve its red-zone woes.
PASS DEFENSE (B) The Giants were able to hold the Vikings passing game in check, no small feat with the numbers Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper is putting up so far this year. However, Big Blues job was made a lot easier by the ineffectiveness of WR Randy Moss. Still suffering from a strained hamstring, he caught only one pass in the first half before leaving the game. Rookie SS Gibril Wilson and CB Will Allen each picked off passes, but the Giants rush failed to register a sack.
RUSH DEFENSE (A-) Considering that the game plan was to stop Culpepper from bombarding their defense through the air, the Giants were surprisingly alert at stopping the run. While it’s true that Minnesota is missing their starting and second-string back, it was a good sign that the leading rusher was Culpepper himself (32 yards). LB Carlos Emmons and LB Nick Greisen (11 combined tackles) were especially effective, clogging the lanes and forcing the running game inside. The Giants (5-2) seem to have the Vikings number, going all the way back to the 41-0 thrashing they gave them in the NFC Championship game. That being said, Minnesota (5-2) had been playing extremely well, Randy Moss or no Randy Moss. This was a huge win for Big Blue coming off their terrible loss at home against Detroit. With their next two games at home against the Bears and in Arizona, it is conceivable the G-Men could be 7-2 heading into matchups with the Falcons and Eagles. Up Next: vs CHI (2-5) Prediction: NYG 21, CHI 14.
Jets PASSING OFFENSE (A-) Jets QB Chad Pennington didn’t put up sexy numbers (11-of-19, 189 yards) just the ones that matter the most. He threw three TD passes and picked apart the Miami secondary when he needed to. New York used nine different receivers and only WRs Wayne Chrebet (two catches, 41 yards) and Justin McCareins (three catches, 56 yards) caught more than one pass- including two TDs. RUSHING OFFENSE (A) The Jets finally got what they expected from backup RB LaMont Jordan. Replacing starting RB Curtis Martin, who left with a bruised knee, Jordan ran for 115 yards and a TD — the same exact number Martin had. As a team, New York ran for an NFL season-high 275 yards.
PASS DEFENSE (A-) It’s not hard to defend a passing game that is virtually non-existent, but the Jets did the job well. Gang Green was all over Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler, sacking him four times and intercepting him twice. FS Jon McGraw had a season-high eight tackles and an INT while the defensive line proved too much for a makeshift Miami unit.
RUSH DEFENSE (B) The Dolphins did have some success running the ball, but abandoned it once they fell too far behind. Miami RB Sammy Morris averaged a healthy 4.4 yards per carry, but the Jets were able to stuff the run and force it up the middle when needed. The fact that the Jets (6-1) pounded out 41 points against the hapless Dolphins (1-7) was no big feat. However, with New England’s loss, Gang Green again finds itself in a tie for first place in the AFC East. It’s obvious that Coach Herman Edwards will not allow his team to slink back to the pack, a la the 2000 Jets version. With an always visit to Buffalo next week, New York has to stay on its toes to avoid falling behind the Pats again. Up Next: @ BUF (2-5) Prediction: NYJ 19 BUF 10.