Top 5 Performers in New York Giants’ First Win of the Season
Top 5 Performers in New York Giants' First Win of the Season
It wasn’t much of a spectacle under the lights on Monday Night Football. The watchful eyes of the nation fell upon the Meadowlands for a basement battle between the 0-6 New York Giants and the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings.
This mistake-ridden slugfest wasn’t easy on the eye and many a channel was changed with little in this one for the neutral spectator.
At least those neutrals that looked on in dismay could be happy that they had no allegiance to the contest, spare a thought for the poor Vikings' fans who had to endure their team's exasperating performance as the greater of two evils.
The visitors rolled the dice by opting for the out-of-sorts Josh Freeman at quarterback, and there is little doubt that his poor performance contributed to the Giants' first success of the season. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers trigger-man hit nine receivers on the night for just 190 passing yards and completed fewer than 50 percent of his attempts in a forgettable debut.
There were a drab total of just six scores registered in the game, five of which and every one following the opening quarter, came courtesy of the Giants.
The clock expired not a moment too soon as the media poured onto the field and surrounded Eli Manning as if he had just claimed his third Super Bowl MVP award. Believe it or not, this is a pretty big deal for the New York footballing Giants; they are finally on the board and have avoided their worst start to a regular season in history.
It may also be worth noting that the Giants have collated winning-streaks of four-or-more-games in the last seven consecutive seasons, a statistic which should at least ruffle some feathers in the NFC East. Despite starting a dismal 0-6 this season the Giants are just three games off the pace and whispers of their notorious late-season comebacks have already begun to emanate from the swamps of Jersey.
In a game that appeared to have produced nothing of note, we’ve dug deep to find five of them for your disposal. Here are five key components that made up the Giants' maiden ‘W’ of the 2013 season and must continue in the same vein if they are to sustain this improbable fight-back.
5. Eli 'Pick Free' Manning
The Giants' victory was not the only first of this glorious evening. It has taken quarterback Eli Manning equally as long (seven weeks) to go an entire game without throwing an interception.
A highlight reel in the Monday Night Football pre-show showed how Manning was not the only one to blame for tossing the most picks on this season; a culmination of poor route running and offensive line frailties were heavily involved in the Giants' turnover woes in 2013.
His final game statistics of 200 passing yards and one interception were nothing to write home about and modest by his own estimation. But if nothing else, this proves that a turnover-free Manning and a Giants victory go hand-in-hand.
4. Rueben Randle On A Roll
Second-year wide receiver Rueben Randle's stock continues to rise as the weeks roll on this season.
Randle's impressive leaping touchdown grab was the highlight of the night and the only passing touchdown registered. The six-pointer put him level with Victor Cruz to lead the Giants with four touchdown receptions on the season and he has accumulated the most yardage over the last three games.
While he remains one of the most picked-up players in the Fantasy Football ranks recently, Randle's recent performances have rendered Hakeem Nicks almost obsolete, and many are questioning whether a trade should be sought. This speaks volumes about Randle's recent production and potential moving forwards.
With height and pace in his armory, Randle has all the attributes to be the next big receiver off the endless supply chain in New York.
3. Antrel Rolle's Resurrection
Welcome to the party, Antrel Rolle.
His performances so far this season have been have been as off-the-mark as his wild predictions in the media. The two-time NFC champion had been in hiding up to this point and a contributing factor in the Giants' leaky secondary this season.
His fortunes and that of his team seem to be running parallel on the way up. Rolle totaled four tackles and an assist on the night from free safety whilst also defending three passes as he found his feet again in the backfield.
Most poignantly on the night, Rolle intercepted a Josh Freeman pass in the end zone and returned it for 25 yards en route to a shutout of the Vikings offense. He is another whose experience and return to form will be a major factor in any lateral Giants success.
2. Defensive Front Seventh Heaven
Speaking of things that looked a shell of their former selves, enter the New York Giants defense. Once revered nationwide for their smash-mouth style, impressive blitzing and 'sack attack', the Giants defense have gone soft in 2013 registering the fewest sacks on the season and giving up a record number of total points.
It would be an exaggeration to say they were back into their old habits last night, but there were certainly signs of improvement and togetherness.
Look no further for a prime example of this than the fact the Giants' front-seven are now attributed with Adrian Peterson's worst game of the season to date. The reigning NFL MVP was smothered all evening as the Giants cut straight into the heart of the Vikings' offense. Peterson managed a humbling 28 rushing yards on 13 carries, which ironically was his worst outing since Week 14 of 2010 -- a 21-7 loss to the New York Giants.
The capture of Jon Beason from the Carolina Panthers has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. He added five tackles and four assists in Week 7 to follow his game-leading performance debut in Chicago. The linebacker corps seem inspired by his all-action mentality; Jacquain Williams showed up on the night with five solo tackles, and all of a sudden there is a healthy competition for places up front.
It's no secret that the Giants defensive line has been one of the most disappointing aspects of their 2013 so far. Where it came from we may never truly know, but they turned in an inspired performance on Monday night. Jason Pierre-Paul looked more mobile than we've seen him all season, Justin Tuck registered his first full sack of the season whilst Shaun Rogers continues to haunt Adrian Peterson after receiving that hefty praise in the offseason.
The defense stepped up big-time after a slow start to the 2011 Super Bowl-winning season. They are going to need a similar impact this time around to propel the Giants forward.
1. Peyton Hillis' All-Purpose Posting
Talk about a match made in heaven.
Peyton Hillis was the talk of the town prior to the Giants' Week 7 meeting with the Vikings. Many questioned his relevance in the NFL after he his form plummeted dramatically following his standout 2010 campaign. Ironically, the last time Peyton Hillis suited up in a football uniform in New York was for that infamous Madden cover-shoot for which he will be forever renowned.
Hillis was expected to have a bit-part to play on the remainder of the Giants' season with Andre Brown due back in Week 10, David Wilson still in with a chance of returning and Brandon Jacobs turning in the best Giants rushing performance of the season one week earlier. Yet when Jacobs was ruled out of the game with hamstring troubles, Hillis was thrust into the limelight alongside rookie Michael Cox as the only viable options for the evening in Week 7.
Anyone who thought Hillis was washed-up and beyond salvation may now be thinking twice. A large part of the Giants' offensive woes this season have been due to the lack of a capable third-down back, and Hillis may be the answer to their prayers. The former Cleveland Browns franchise back saw as much production in the passing game as he did on the ground, making himself readily available to bail out Eli Manning in the short passing game and impressively gaining ample yardage after the catch.
Hillis led the Giants in rush attempts and accumulated 45 yards and a touchdown on the ground in Week 7, whilst also tying with Victor Cruz for receptions (5) and adding a useful 45 receiving yards on the day.
Although his status down the stretch this season is by no means set in stone, his debut performance was key to the Giants' maiden success and will be hard to ignore. His physique, stamina and perseverance seem an ideal fit to the Giants' run game, and his knowledge and awareness in passing situations was vital against the Vikings.
Peyton Hillis may very well be reborn in New York city.