The Optimist’s Guide to Week 1
So. Last night’s game was unfulfilling to say the least. After months of anticipation, the 2013 NFL season greeted Giants fans to the same talented but fickle team we’ve seen for much of the last decade. But despite the sour taste I and many other fans have from last night’s ending, there was a lot to like about the way the Giants played in Dallas. And I believe (pray) that those good things are more sustainable than the absurd number of turnovers that doomed Big Blue in Week 1.
– Passing game: Despite Eli’s 3 interceptions, the passing game was on point for most of the game. We heard all preseason that Manning and his receivers were a bit out of sync, and then Hakeem Nicks, Victor Crus and Rueben Randle all rack up more than 100 yards receiving. Cruz was the star of the game with his 3 TD’s, but we already know about him. I was most excited about Randle, who did a great job of justifying the hype that surrounded him during training camp. He kept pace with his more established teammates and made several difficult catches when every one of them was important to keep the Giants in the game. Besides Randle, the other big addition to the passing game was Brandon Myers, who led the team in catches last night, although many of them came on the team’s last drive when the game was all but over.
– Secondary: The defense was fantastic last night. They were given short fields all night due to the Giants’s turnovers, yet held the Cowboys to 22 points (subtracting the two touchdowns that Dallas scored on defense). The secondary did a great job of containing Dallas’ wideouts, particularly Corey Webster who blanketed Dez Bryant before Bryant left the game with an ankle injury. Prince Amukamara was good as well before he was forced to leave with a concussion, and even Ryan Mundy made a huge tackle on Jason Witten in the fourth quarter as the Giants tried to come back. For what was supposed to be a weakness on this year’s roster, the Giants’ secondary really came through in Week 1.
– Pass rush: The pass rush was quiet for much of the night, as a hobbled JPP was unable to cause the havoc we’re used to seeing from him in Dallas. In the second half though, they stepped up with some big hits on Romo who was dealing with an injured rib after being crushed by basically the entire team on a play just before halftime. Most importantly, they forced the Cowboys into negative yardage on their last offensive possession to get Eli and the O the ball with over 2 minutes left and a chance to take the lead. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Obviously these bright spots are overshadowed by the final score, but don’t forget that with only 5 turnovers the G-Men were poised to steal this game. The Giants are a better team than the Cowboys, and they can potentially be an excellent team with a little help from the run game and a little more care from our franchise QB. This game will be nothing but a blip on the radar when the Giants are fighting for the division in December. And most importantly, the biggest takeaway from Week 1 is that football is back!