Hixon, Jacobs shine as G-Men start season 4-0
Coughlin & company sent a clear message to the rest of the NFL - "We ARE the champs, and I got your '6th seed in the NFC' predictions RIGHT HERE!" - in trouncing the Seahawks 44-6 at the Meadowlands Sunday. It was their largest margin of victory since defeating the Eagles 62-10 back in 1972, and puts an exclamation point on their first-place status in the NFC East.
There was no question from the git-go who was in control. On their first posession, Brandon Jacobs 44-yard run was immediately followed by Manning's 32-yard TD strike to Domenik Hixon. The Giants landed the first punch and never stopped swinging, beating up on the Seahawks 44-6. New York scored on their first six posessions, and as I had pointed out in my "Giants to do list" posting for this game, exploited the Seattle secondary early and often. In his first 7 completions, Manning connected on passes of 32, 22 and 29 yards. David Carr replaced Manning to start the fourth quarter, and even threw TD pass of his own to Sinorice Moss (yes, I said Sinorice Moss). Moss had two TD's on the day.
Manning set a personal best with 215 yards passing in the first half, and Brandon Jacobs' (15 carries, 136 yards, 2 TD) 44-yarder was his longest career run from scrimmage.
Manning got everyone into the act, especially Domenick Hixon who started in place of the suspended Plaxico Buress. Hixon had 4 catches for 102 yards and a TD before the half. He also had a nice run on an end around for 16 yards. Hixon left the game with just under 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter after taking a shot from behind courtesy of Josh Wilson. Hixon was sitting on the ground after making a sliding catch; before he could get to his feet, Wilson came flying in and rammed Hixon in the back of his helmet. Hixon was diagnosed with a concussion, but was on the sidelines late in the game with a big smile on his face.
Giants tackle Kareem McKenzie also suffered a concussion, leaving early in the first quarter. 3rd year man Kevin Boothe filled in admirably in place of McKenzie, and held his own against Seattle lineman Patrick Kerney. In total the Giants racked up 523 yards of offense (compared to the Seahawks187), including 254 on the ground. Derrick Ward played his role as the change-of-pace back with 7 carries for 40 yards, and as become the SOP Ahmad Bradshaw took it home in the 4th quarter with 11 rushes for 65 yards. The line pushed the Seattle front four clean off the ball, clearing gaping holes all day and despite allowing a sack, Manning had nothing but time in the pocket.
Matt Hasselbeck (11 for 21, 105, 1 INT) found early success with his favorite WR's Deion Branch (3 for 31) and Bobby Engram (8 for 61), both of whom returned from injuries and played their first games of the season. Hasselbeck had really struggled in his first three outings without Branch (foot) and Engram (shoulder), but their return today had little impact on Seattle's offensive woes. Even Julius Jones (17 for 61) ran well for the most part. The Giants hit Seattle with too many haymakers early on, pinning them to the ground and stifling their offense at just the right moments (Seattle was 1-11 on 3rd down conversions).
Thoughts and conclusions
*The Seattle defense, while problematic in the secondary, has a very strong front seven. The Giants had no trouble in the ground game today, and EWF (Earth, Wind and Fire) are obviously a force the rest of the NFL will have to worry about. Is it gauche to go out on a limb and proclaim this threesome the most dangerous running game in the league?
*Eli Manning has four games under his belt in '08 and so far we've seen no signs of those "WTF" moments. As each successful game goes by, it's getting easier to beleive that yes - in fact - his time has come.
*Plaxico Burress will not pull a Shockey: Unlike Jeremy, Plaxico will take what he witnessed on the field at the Meadowlands today and be driven to come back with a vengance and make his mark in the Giants offense. Let's just hope he finds his rolodex before his next sick day.
*It's nice to know that Lawrence Tynes will be available should anything happen to John Carney. Carney is 12-12 in FGA this season and will not be replaced unless absolutely necessary. I know the old saying - you don't lose your starting job due to injury. But this isn't exactly Phil Simms & Jeff Hostetler here.