By Billy Fellin
Woo-hoo! I love this time of year. The Yankees are in the playoffs, the Hurricanes start tonight against the Canadiens and the Giants are finally showing signs of life! In my return from a long hiatus from Sportscolumn, I will be discussing the Big Blue. They didn’t play great in the opening two games, but against the Redskins and Eagles they came alive and high hopes for the season are back.Not playing great in the first two games is putting it lightly. Yes, they put up a lot of points against Dallas on opening night, but Dallas put up a lot right back. Not to mention that every time a Giants player got hit, it seemed like, they were injured. Brandon Jacobs, Plaxico Burress and Eli Manning all were injured in the opener, among others. Eli and Plaxico played on through their injuries and Jacobs is due back in the game on Sunday against the Jets. The defense in the Dallas game started out good, but wavered as the game went on. They were able to stop the running game on first and second down, but third down was always a pass and more than likely one of Dallas’s receivers was wide open for the first down. Dallas beat the Giants 45-35.
It was also true during the Green Bay game. Brett Favre was throwing on the Giants secondary at will. The Giants only scored thirteen points that game and the offense did next to nothing. The Giants showed more lack of discipline in this game, committing six penalties. Amani Toomer had a backbreaking penalty in the red-zone, a 15 yard taunting penalty that a veteran such as Toomer has no business making. Green Bay beat the Giants 35-13.
Enter Week 3, a match up of the Giants against the then undefeated Redskins. This really was a turn around for the Giants season. Despite three turnovers the Giants held out to beat the Skins 24-17. The big statement of this game was the Giants’ 24 unanswered points in the second half as well as the defense holding the Redskins to only 240 yards total and then the brilliant goal line stand at the end of the 4th quarter. I’m sure I wasn’t the only Giants fan to have a heart attack every down of that goal line stand.
So entering Week 4, Giants fans had high hopes against the Eagles, now that everyone could actually tell they were the Eagles, as they weren’t wearing those hideous uniforms. The Giants were dominant the entire game. The defense held strong all game, recording twelve sacks of Donovan McNabb, six by Osi Umenyiora, both franchise records and the twelve sacks tied an NFL record. Another record was the point differential between two weeks for the Eagles, going from 52 against the Lions to just 3 against the Giants. Plaxico Burress caught a touchdown pass from Eli Manning and Kawika Mitchell ran back a fumble by McNabb for a touchdown. The downside of this game was missed opportunities by the Giants, the score could have been a lot higher had they taken advantage of some of these opportunities off Eagle turnovers.
The Giants have renewed hope for the season. The defense finally seems to be clicking and Eli Manning is proving to be cool and calm in any game situation. Could this be when he finally stands out as a leader, the quarterback that the Giants traded for and hoped he would come to be? Plaxico Burress isn’t fazed at all by his sprained ankle, and has caught 6 touchdowns this season. Jeremy Shockey needs to get more involved in the offense; only recording 16 catches this season. Derrick Ward is proving himself a quality back in the absence of Brandon Jacobs, and with Jacobs return to the line-up, these two could be the new Thunder and Lightning.
The Giants also have a favorable schedule. They play Dallas again, and the Patriots for the last game of the season, but they also play Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit, San Francisco, Atlanta, Buffalo and this week’s match-up against the Jets. The Giants easily can beat any of these teams but will have a challenge against Dallas and New England.
There is new hope in the swamps of Jersey as the 2007 NFL season rolls on. Keep an eye on Big Blue this season. They may just surprise a whole lot of people.