I reviewed the game last night and I came away even more impressed by the OL play. First half Giants did not run very well, but you can often write that off to the home team being particularly pumped up by the home crowd and extra emotional in their play. Coughlin often talks about having to stand up to that initial surge from the home team, handle it and kind of get the game under control in a normal flow. Giants did that, withstood the surge and then the normal quality of play from each team took over. But even withstanding that initial emotional SF defensive surge, Giants OL pass-blocked extremely well. Then when they got their sea legs and got some momentum and emotion going on their side, in part sparked by the 2nd half kickoff return from Wilson, they absolutely dominated. Beatty is playing at such a good level. Their RDE is very strong and he absolutely neutralized him.
A nostalgic review that represents this idea of withstanding the initial burst of the home team - think back to the opening game of the 2007 playoff run. Giants opened against Tampa and the Bucs came out smoking. Giants were behind 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and had not gained a yard on offense. Then Eli hit a little pass play to Toomer, withstood the initial charge of the Bucs and completely controlled the game, scoring 24 straight points to put it away.
That TD that Giants scored on first drive of 2nd half against 9ers that pushed the score to 17-3 was important for more than just the fact that it pushed the margin to two scores. It was also the way the Giants scored - pounding the ball into the end zone on the ground against what had been thought to be an impregnable 49er red zone running defense. Giants had first and goal at the 7 and Bradhsaw ran it three times for the score. Notice also that all three runs were behind the left side of the OL, Beatty and Boothe making a crease and getting good push. Aside from the two TD lead, Giants attacked the manhood of the 49ers team and won.
If Locklear continues to play well at RT, Diehl becomes a really valuable substitute. He is athletic enough to be an extra TE in short yardage situations and he can be a substitute at several OL positions. I would like to see Giants develop Brewer and Petrus to see if they can grow into NFL players, but it's hard to do it in real games.
I have said several times that I don't love Bradshaw. he's a very good player, very rugged, tough, has become very good at picking up blitzes - rarely misses an assignment or a block - so I am not knocking him for that part of his game. I still think that there are too many times when he leaves his lead, turns away from the intended hole and tries to bounce things outside looking to hit a home run on every play. (How's that working out for the Yankees in the playoffs?) Sometimes, you have to take the 2 or 3 yards that are there and look to the next play instead of trying for 50 and turning it into a loss. My son noticed that this happened on Sunday on one play when it was 3rd and short; I checked it out and he was right. Bradshaw took a draw play, could have made the first down, but took one false step outside hesitating for just a moment to look for the big play. Then when he turned back to the intended hole, the crease had closed. I am surely nit picking a little bit, because he has played well, and he does finish every run getting the most out of it. I am just saying - he's not perfect.
Apparently there was an old Giants locker room reunion in SF with Jacobs and Manningham meeting up with their old teammates. (Rich Seubert was there too, since he lives in CA now in his retirment.) Manningham is more comfortable in the SF offense - not surprisingly because the SF offense is simpler, has fewer reads and sight adjustments, which was not Manningham's strengths. Harbaugh simplifies things a bit for his QB and his team and it works out for Manningham. Jacobs has not seen the field yet and has started to squawk about not playing. I wonder if the ex-Giants have a slight pang of buyer's remorse.... not that they had a choice; Giants didn't really want to re-sign them.
Cowboys are 2-3 but they are from being done for the season. They dominated the Ravens on Sunday on the field, outgaining them by around 200 yards. They could have won the game but for some poor clock management, coaching mistakes and a missed FG. Statistics are for losers - I get that. But it does indicate that they have talent and they can be a real threat. Same for Eagles - their offense is very productive and are being undone by mistakes and turnovers. This is the second year in a row that is happening, so maybe it is the nature of this team, but still..... it does indicate that they have some talent. Or course when they played the Giants, they played a near perfect game and still only won by 2 points - so I am not saying they are better than the Giants - I am just saying they are formidable.