Senior NFL Columnist

Monday Musings: Giants get it right

--- What do I believe is the key to winning in the NFL? Throw to score, run to win. That means throw early, get a lead, dictate tempo and then pound it when you have the lead. The New York Giants lived that against the 49ers. The Giants couldn't get the run game going early, so Eli Manning did his thing. The Giants jumped to a 10-3 halftime lead as Manning threw for 176 yards and the Giants ran for 23 yards. In the second half, the Giants ran for 126 yards against a 49ers defense that was getting gashed at times and won 26-3. It's not the number of passes that backs a team off. It's how you attack them. If the Giants had just lined up and played power football against that 49ers defense, they go home losers. But they passed to set the tone, then came back and pounded it to win it. It's simple, really.

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--- The Texans disguised some issues on their way to 5-0. One of them is that, aside from J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith, the front seven isn't playing as well as expected. Conner Barwin, who is in a contract year, still doesn't have a sack. Against the Packers on Sunday night, that lack of pressure showed up in a big way as Aaron Rodgers torched them for six touchdown passes. Corner Johnathan Joseph, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season, is struggling. The word is he's banged up, even if he isn't using that as an excuse. He clearly isn't playing at the same level as he did a year ago.

--- Let me start this out by saying I think Ray Lewis is the best middle linebacker ever. But let me also say this, something nobody else will say: The Ravens might be better off without Lewis. Yes, I said it. Lewis has been horrible for most of this season. He gets engulfed by linemen and doesn't get off blocks. You never like to see a veteran like him go down, especially this late in his career, but a younger, faster player might be what the Ravens need now inside. Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan will likely be the starters now. They haven't exactly been playing great, either. The bigger hit to the Ravens' defense is the loss of Lardarius Webb. He is their best cover player. Without him, they lack a premier cover player. That will show up without a pass rush -- probably starting this week in Houston.

--- The Packers' receivers beat man coverage against the Texans. That's something they have to continue to do because teams will show that until Greg Jennings is back healthy. "We heard it all week," Packers receiver James Jones said. "We knew what they were going to do us." The Packers made the Texans pay. But expect more from St. Louis this week with Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins.

--- Most laughable notion of the week: Somebody asking Shonn Greene if he was thinking about a new contract after his 161-yard day against the Colts. What? The guy misses more holes than a donut shop. He has no feel for the position. Greene had a good day. But a long-term deal is a joke right now.

--- One of my favorite all-time shows was The Wire. In it, the character Omar used to say, "Omar don't scare." Neither do defensive backs when lined up against the 49ers' receivers. That will be the 49ers' undoing unless they start doing something about it. Without a real scare threat down the field, teams can take away tight end Vernon Davis, which is what the Giants did Sunday. Somebody needs to scare -- and it isn't Randy Moss.

--- Big props to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. That was a big-time throw to beat the Patriots. If he keeps that up -- and he gets a good test this week at San Francisco -- the Seahawks just might be a deep playoff team.

--- The Falcons are 6-0 heading to their bye week, but why do I get the feeling they still haven't played their best football? Matt Ryan with three picks against the Raiders was a big shock.

--- The Cowboys botched the end of their game with the Ravens. They had time to get closer for an easier field goal. I put that on coach Jason Garrett. You have to understand the situation better.

--- Did anybody blame Tony Romo for Dez Bryant dropping the two-point conversion pass to tie? Just wondering.

--- We have a Mario Williams sighting. Two sacks. It's about time.

--- Tim Tebow is the best punt protector in NFL history. There, I said it.

 
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