Posted on: December 28, 2008 6:54 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2008 12:39 am

RECAP: Vikings 20, Giants 19

And Now, We Wait...


Giants close out the season 12-4; Big Blue backups push the Vikings to the brink in grabbing the NFC North Title.

Grey Reugamer. Kevin Boothe. Adam Koets. Those were three of the five offensive lineman in front of QB David Carr. Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware were his runningbacks. Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss and TE Darcy Johnson were Carr's receiving targets. These were the players on the field for the majority of the second half of today's game - the players that contributed in taking a 19-10 lead on the Vikings with 5:31 left in the 3rd quarter, and the players that held the lead until the last second ticked off the clock as Ryan Longwell kicked a 51-yard field goal for the 1 point win.

The victory gives an NFC North division title to head coach Brad Childress' team who'll host the Eagles on Sunday at 4:30pm. Philadelphia made it to the dance, thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears collapsing like a house of cards. Oh, yes - and a very impressive 44-6 walloping of a Dallas Cowboys team that shocked many of us into realizing we actually thought were good just a few weeks ago.

Getting back to our game... The highlight for Giants fans was Derrick Ward, who's 77 yards on 15 carries today pushed him past the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. In tandem with Brandon Jacob's 1,089 yards, they become the fourth pair of backs to rush for over 1K in the same season for the same team. The other three paires were Larry Csonka & Mercury Morris (1972); Franco Harris & Rocky Bleier (1976); and Kevin Mack & Earnest  Byner (1985).

The backups were solid today, and put forth a valiant effort against a very good defense and a hot quarterback in Tarvaris Jackson. Ultimately, Terrell Thomas slipping and falling to the turf as Bernard Berrian bolted down the sideline was the difference in this contest. Berrian's 54-yard touchdown pulled Minnesota within 2 points in the fourth Quarter. John Carney, who hadn't missed a field goal all season that made it past the pile up at scrimmage, missed slighty wide to the right on his fifth attempt of the game with just 3:22 remaining (Carney finishes the season with an amazing 35 of 38 - other than the miss today, the other two "misses' were blocked attempts). The Vikings took over at their own 38 and managed 30 yards in 9 plays, but it was enough to allow Longwell a shot. Adrian Peterson also had a big play for a touchdown in the first half, when he found a seam to the right of the line and sprinted 67 yards for the end zone. Other than that run, Peterson had 20 carries for 36 yards as the Giants D-line held him in check all day. 

It was an interesting game from the perspective of a Giants fan. The loss means that Tom Coughlin's team lost three of it's final four games down the stretch, which is definitely not the way you want to head into the postseason. But this loss doesn't feel like a loss in the traditional sense; The Giants certainly didn't hand this game to Minnesota, and they played hard right through to the end. But I look at the names above, and remember that it came down to the very last play. And I remember that it was without the services of Kevin Boss, Brandon Jacobs, Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield, Aaron Ross - and without Eli Manning, Amani Toomer and the majority of the starting offensive line for the second half.

And I remember seeing veteran CB Sam Madison carted off the field in the 3rd quarter with a broken ankle.

I'm OK with this loss. I'm OK with waiting for two weeks to see who'll make the trip to the Meadowlands.

I'm OK, and I think the Giants are OK. And now, we wait.


Posted on: December 28, 2008 12:39 am
Edited on: December 28, 2008 9:27 am

NY Giants "Things to Do" list for Sunday 12/28

The three R's of preparing for the Playoffs.

For the Giants, Playoffs begin in two weeks. Defending the title? That begins Now.

Despite the fact that the Giants have wrapped up home field advantage and a first round bye in the post season, it's not likely that Tom Coughlin will approach Sunday's game against the Vikings conservatively. That's not to suggest that Coughlin wouldn't - or shouldn't - rest a couple of key players to give them an extra week of much needed recovery time. There's enough depth on this team, particularly at running back and on the defensive line, that affords Coughlin the opportunity to outright sit a couple of players, limit the playing time of a few others, and still maintain a full head of steam as Big Blue goes for their 13th win of the season.

The Giants may face Minnesota in the playoffs a few weeks down the road. For that reason alone, a convincing victory Sunday against this Minnesota team - that must win to guarantee themselves a playoff appearance  - is important. It would send a strong psychological message right to their thought process. A convincing victory with many of their first-string players wearing baseball caps - instead of helmets - would send a strong emotional message to their hearts. Either affect goes a long way... the Vikings are a solid team that's had the Giants number in recent years.

Besides, "taking it easy" down the home stretch is not how Coughlin operates. Historically, he's never pulled back the reigns. "You can't play like that," said veteran wide receiver Amani Toomer. "You never know who you're going to play, so we're not going to hold anything back. That doesn't seem like how Coach (Tom) Coughlin would play the game."

Offensive lineman David Diehl agrees. "I think you just do what you have to do to win the football game, regardless. Don't get me wrong, there's little different things you can do here or there. But we are who we are. This is our 16th game. We've shown what we do."

"I hear things like we have everything locked up and all this nonsense, but we still have to go out and play well," added Chris Snee. "If we go out and take a step backwards, it doesn't make sense to me. We have to keep that winning feeling."


THINGS TO DO LIST for Sunday 12/28


  RB Brandon Jacobs    DT Fred Robbins

Fred Robbins returned to action last Sunday night after a fairly significant layoff due to a shoulder injury. The good news is that he looked strong and healthy, while the not-so-good news is that he wasn't nearly as effective stopping the run as he normally is. He will play some to get reacclimated and work on his rhythm, but they should replace him at some in the first half with Jay Alford. Though he played last week, scored three touchdowns and was effective in spots, Brandon Jacobs is still nursing two sore knees and should be riding the pine this Sunday in Minneapolis. The closest he should get to the field is when bringing some water to Derrick Ward as he comes off the field. Ward will get the start in the backfield, but will likely give way to Ahmad Bradshaw for the majority of the second half. I don't doubt that Brandon could play if he had to, but the reason to sit him is two-fold. His knees are one reason...

 DE Jared Allen

... is the other reason. Let's see... Matt Schaub. Aaron Rodgers. Kyle Orton. I won't go as far as to call Allen out as a cheap shot artist (as many in the media have), but I'll say that late hits, low hits and injuries seem to follow this guy around. Allen is the kid you knew in school that you couldn't quite put your finger on; he could be fun to hang out with and seemed friendly enough - but trouble always seemed to find him and you never felt 100% comfortable in his presence. Heck, I'd go as far as to say the Giants should play straight two tight end sets and have three guys keeping strict tabs on Allen to make sure he's got a white jersey on him at all times. Which brings me to item #2 on the list...


  QB David Carr

Coach Coughlin will go all out for the win. That's fine with me, as long as he does so with Carr in the second half.

and Recycle

 WR Mario Manningham

Second year receiver Steve Smith had a very similar season last year to the one Manningham is having this year. Not so much in terms of grasping the offense and understaning the playbook, but more so regarding the nagging minor injuries and lack of playing time leading into the final weeks of the season. Smith had 1 catch for 8 yards the entire season heading into the week 17 matchup with the New England Patriots. He caught 3 balls in that game for 27 yards, and while he may have turned a few heads and had some - like myself - saying "Hey, the kid looks pretty good", nobody could have predicted how those extra reps would help him become a key contributor in the postseason. When I watch the game Sunday afternoon, I want to see Manningham get some serious playing time. I want to turn my head and say "Hey, the kid looks pretty good."


Player Quotes source: NY Daily News

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