Despite all of the anticipation that built since we last saw them play, the Giants’ loss did not destroy their playoff hopes any more than a win would have sealed their spot. Here are a few silver linings to take away from last night’s game:
Keith Rivers: Rivers had a fabulous first game as a Giant. No one knew what we would be getting out of Rivers when the Giants traded away a 5th-round draft pick for him this offseason, but he has the potential to be a steal if he keeps playing like he did last night. Rivers had 7 tackles, second most on the team, and was around the ball on practically every snap that he played. If he continues to play that well, the Giants’ linebacking situation becomes very sturdy.
Domenik Hixon: One of the biggest questions coming into this year was how the Giants were going to replace Mario Manningham, who left as a free agent to sign with San Francisco. Judging by last night, we may not miss him much. Coming off a second torn ACL in 15 months, Hixon had 3 catches for 55 yards, including a tremendous 39-yard grab to set up the Giants’ first touchdown. He had the second most receiving yards on the team, behind Victor Cruz’s 58, and was one of the few bright spots on an offense that struggled for most of the night.
Steve Weatherford: The punting game is never sexy, but last year’s transition from Matt Dodge to Steve Weatherford may have been the single biggest positional upgrade the Giants made from the year before. Last night, Weatherford was excellent as usual, punting four times for an average of 50.3 yards, including one punt that was downed inside the 20 yard line and another that should have been, but the coverage team couldn’t keep the ball from rolling into the end zone after it bounced perfectly at the one yard line.
The biggest silver linings are that this was only one game in a long season, and that the Giants easily could have won with a few breaks on key plays. The areas that failed the Giants were the same ones we figured would be issues coming into the season – the running game and the secondary. A lucky win would have glossed over those problems and created the illusion that nothing was wrong, but a loss to a division rival on a national stage ensures that no one will be overconfident heading into next week. Hopefully, the results will be better.