Giants OL really did a decent job against the Cowboys. There were a few sacks and some pressure, but Giants made some yards in the running game and the pass protection was decent. I noticed that most of the time, Giants kept only the base 5 OL-men in for pass blocking and had the TE and RB in pass routes most of the time, making their pass blocking efforts more impressive. Of course when Cowboys blitzed, the Giants kept an extra blocker to pick it up. RB occasionally chipped Ware, but a good effort overall.
You always groan on ST penalties for illegal block, they seem so pointless. Often, it seems that the illegal block in the back happens when the blocker is really trying to execute the block legally but either doesn't get in the perfect position, or the potential tackler (aka the blockee) shifts his body slightly or accelerates in that last step or two before contact to make the block illegal. However, Sunday night, Martin of the Giants got called for one of the dumbest, the worst illegal block calls I have ever seen. It happened after the Cowboys first punt in the first quarter. He was the trying to block the gunner to set up a return. The gunner got a good release and Martin was trailing him down the field by a full yard or two, both of them all alone on the sideline. Then suddenly, inexplicably, Martin reaches out with both hands as far as he could, plants his hands right in the small of the gunner's back and shoves him. It was the dumbest penalty you can imagine. There was no room for interpretation by the refs, not judging if the block was truly in the back, it was the text book definition of penalty. Furthermore, it was performed wide out in then open, not in a morass of traffic, so the referees could easily see what was happening. It cost the Giants about 20 yards of field position and was just a real dumb play.
Barden was inactive for the game, largely because he had a miserable game last week against the Jets. He dropped a few balls and clearly ran the wrong route on several other plays. I still say he could be a weapon at the goal line and Giants should figure out a way to dress him for the game. Devin Thomas caught a ball. He was a highly respected WR coming out of college in the draft a few years ago. I don't know why he didn't make it.
I think Giants fans are a little overconfident. I know Giants played their best game of the year this past week and were decent the week before against the Jets. But the Giants have the worst record of all teams in the NFC playoffs and could easily lose to Atlanta. You are what your record says you are, but Giants did have a tough schedule. Besides the St Louis Rams, Giants are the only team to have played Packers, 49ers and Saints, the top 3 seeds in the NFC playoffs. Of the 16 games each team plays, 14 of them are the same for the teams in each particular division, with only 2 games variable. Sometimes those games are really important. This year, Giants and Cowboys all played 6 games in the NFC East, 4 games against the AFC East and 4 games against the NFC West for a total of 14. The additional two games for the Giants were Saints and Packers, while the extra game for the Cowboys were Lions and Buccaneers, a decidedly easier schedule. We can say it's "only" 2 games, but that represents 12.5% of the schedule The fact that the Giants finished outright with a better record than the Cowboys and did not have to rely on tiebreakers is interesting if not impressive.