Crucial Games In Store For Giants, Jets On Sunday
By Michael Avallone
It was another lost weekend for New York football. Both the Giants and Jets blew early leads and now both teams face uncertainty in their drives to the playoffs. Already without star DE Michael Strahan, Big Blue has finally made the switch everyone expected. QB Kurt Warner is out, Peyton Manning’s little brother, Eli, is in. As for the Jets, the Quincy Carter era, albeit temporary, started out well, but Gang Green showed how important it is to have a calm and cool quarterback in crunch time. Unfortunately, he was standing on the sidelines watching his team fall apart against the Ravens.
PASSING OFFENSE (C-) — The Kurt Warner experiment is over and the Eli Manning era at the Meadowlands is set to begin. Not all of the blame can be laid at Warner’s (19-for-30, 193 yds, 1 TD) feet, but the former MVP has increasingly held the ball too long in the pocket, a deadly combination with the poor pass protection he has received. Warner managed to hook up with WR Amani Toomer (8 catches, 100 yds) but was sacked six more times, bringing his season total to 40 in nine games.
RUSHING OFFENSE (B) — The Giants better hope that RB Tiki Barber holds up for the entire season, or any chance they have of making a the playoffs will be shattered. Barber gained 108 yards on 21 carries and added another rushing TD despite poor blocking by the offensive line. Backup RB Ron Dayne saw action for the first time since Week 7 and gained just 19 yards on three carries.
PASS DEFENSE (B-) — The numbers look good, but Arizona QB Josh McCown is not exactly Brett Favre. McCown completed 12-of-24 passes for just 90 yards The pass defense held Arizona QB Josh McCown to 12 completions in 24 attempts for just 90 yards and no TDs. Big Blue’s secondary held star WRs Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to just seven catches and 37 yards combined.
RUSH DEFENSE (C+) — Considering New York was without both DEs Michael Strahan and Keith Washington, the run defense more than held its won. Cardinals RB Emmitt Smith gained just 67 yards on 19 carries but did what he does best — running the ball into the endzone for two scores. His three-yard scamper late in the third quarter proved to be the game-winning score for Arizona.
For the second consecutive week, the Giants (5-4) blew an early lead. A 14-3 cushion is definitely not a comfortable margin, but against a Cardinals team (4-5) that has struggled to score points, it would seem to have been enough. Unfortunately, Big Blue’s offense again stalled under Warner and now the inevitable has happened. All eyes will be on no. 10 this weekend when the youngest Manning begins his professional career against the Atlanta Falcons. Expect some mistakes but also expect some excitement... Up Next: vs ATL (7-2)
Prediction: NYG 24, ATL 21
PASSING OFFENSE (C-) — Considering it was his first significant action in a regular season game since last January, QB Quincy Carter did not play all that bad. Then again, he did not play all that great either. Carter completed all eight of his attempts in the first half but wound up throwing for just 175 yard on 13-of-22 passing. The biggest passing blunder came when RB LaMont Jordan threw an interception…in the endzone no less. WR Santana Moss led the team with 75 yards on three catches.
RUSHING OFFENSE (A-) — After an off week against one of the better defensive teams, Gang Green’s rushing attack roared back to life versus the Ravens. The O-line did a nice job of keeping Ravens LB Ray Lewis off RB Curtis Martin (119 yds, 2 TDs). New York ran all over Baltimore for 156 total yards on the ground..
PASS DEFENSE (C-) — Allowing Ravens QB Kyle Boller to throw for 213 yards on 19-of-33 passing is nothing to be proud of. The Baltimore QB came into the game averaging just 138 yards passing. Though the Gang Green’s defense did sack him three times in the first half, they never touched him during the final two quarters.
RUSH DEFENSE (A-) — Too bad the Jets could not control the passing game the way they did the Ravens running game. Baltimore RB Jamal Lewis was held to just 71 yards on 30 carries — a 2.4-yard average – as the New York kept their opponents just 76 yards on the ground.
This was a game the Jets (6-3) never, ever should have lost. Blowing a 14-0 late in the second quarter against a team that is as inept offensively as the Ravens (6-3) is simply unacceptable. The odd halfback option interception and a lack of a killer instinct when New York was threatening to win the game late in the 4th quarter were enough to do them in. Next week’s game at the “Dawg Pound” will be no walk in the park. Another loss and the Jets may be looking at a repeat of the 2000 season…. Up Next : @ CLE (3-6)
Prediction: NYJ 19, CLE 14.