I.

For the second week in a row, we didn’t play our best game. But 6-2 is 6-2, and with the schedule we’ve had, you really couldn’t have asked for a better first half. I said four weeks ago that it would greatly behoove us to go 3-1 in our upcoming four-game stretch, which would place us at a solid 5-3 going into the second half. But we swept those four games, getting the hard part over with convincingly, on the road, against good teams, and then cobbling together enough plays in these last two games to avoid a letdown, battling a pesky but not devastating injury bug all the while.

This is no small accomplishment, and right now, Strahan news notwithstanding, you have to be as optimistic about the Giants as you’ve been in over a decade. I am not exaggerating: This team can be expected to go places.

II.

This past month has been great, not only in terms of what we’ve done, but with what’s happened around us.

Starting with the division: The Eagles have dropped three of the last four, losing to the Saints, Bucs, and Jags. It’s worth noting that they were favored in all three of these games. But despite being one of the league’s more talented teams, they stand at 4-4, two games behind us, to say nothing of the tiebreaker, which, with our division record, seems to be a safely within our grasp.

And Dallas. Was that great yesterday or what? Like the Eagles, they’ve also dropped three of the last four — all to NFC East teams, no less. If we win just one of our three remaining division games, we clinch the divisional tie-breaker over the ‘Boys, meaning that Tony Romo or not, they have to make up three games over these last eight. That’s not gonna happen.

But for a time yesterday, it really looked like we might end the day in a 5-3 tie with Cowboys. What a difference a few plays makes.

Outside of the division, good things are happening too. The Bears loss gives us a chance to claim the inside track to home field advantage this Sunday night. (The Meadowlands is gonna be completely rocking. Time for the red jerseys? I think so. I like the red jerseys, by the way. I can’t really explain why, but I do. But only for one game per year. That’s the key. Speaking of red jerseys, I just ordered the Pierce 58, rounding out my jersey collection, which also includes the blue Tiki 21 [the classic], and the white Osi 72 [nothing better than a white dude on the Upper West Side rocking the Umenyiora 72 jersey]. It’s funny about jerseys: As my friend Cory once said, “Sometimes, it’s just the right time and the right place to add to your jersey collection.”) Maybe the road to the Super Bowl won’t go through Soldier Field after all.

Another potentially imposing NFC team, the Seahawks, is having their struggles. Because of their shitty division, they should cruise to another division title, and they’ll start playing better once they get their two offensive Pro-Bowlers back, but there’s no question that this team is much weaker team than the NFC Champions of last year. Hopefully, we won’t have to go to Qwest Field again this year. If we do, though, I’m very confident that we’ll beat them.

III.

Ok, the game itself: Strangely, even though we were playing the notoriously terrible Texans, and even though we almost lost to them, and even though the final score was a depressing 14-10, I thought this game was much more satisfying than the Tampa game.

For one, we were battling through a substantial number of injuries. Our two best defensive players (Strahan and Osi), one of their talented backups (Tuck), a starting cornerback (Madison – who’s probably no better than R.W., but who was still missed because of the 4 and 5 wide receiver sets the Texans were running), two of the linebackers that we started the season with (LaVar and Short – although Wilkinson made the biggest play of the game in their place), our best receiver (Plax), a guy who would probably be our second or at least third best receiver (Sinorice), and our right tackle (McKenzie).

Nine key men down from our opening day roster – This is considerable up-bangage. If we went into the season with the roster we trotted out today, I’m not sure that we’d even be an above average team.

And the Texans, despite the fact that they’re the Texans, actually played pretty well yesterday – they’ve generally played solid ball over the past month or so. Let me put it this way: That Texans team yesterday was in a completely different league than the Bucs team we beat the week before.

I mean, give the Texans some credit: They came out with a great game-plan and executed it very well. Knowing that their pass protection is terrible and their quarterback is fumble-prone, they devised an attack of short, quick passes from a spread offense.

All told, Carr threw 30 passes, completing 21 of them for 176 yards. The key was the percentage: Nickel and diming us, the Texans strung together some good drives and kept our defense on the field. The game plan not only masked Carr’s deficiencies but also played to his strengths: He is very quick getting into his drop, and he was both accurate and savvy with the short passes he had to throw. As my friend Wong said sometime in the 4th quarter, “The Texans really couldn’t have asked for a better game out of Carr.”

The Texans receivers were well-suited to the task as well: Andre Johnson is an absolute beast at 6-3, 220, and our guys had a really tough time with him: He caught 9 balls for 83 yards.

And losing our Pro-Bowl ends really hurt. Even though Carr was taking short drops, the pressure we got from Kiwanuka and Awasom (who seems more like a run-anchor guy than a pass rusher) left something to be desired. Yes, I know the company line in Monday’s papers was that those guys played well, but they’re certainly no Osi-Strahan tandem.

(To his credit, Awasom made one of the biggest plays of the game by drawing a holding penalty that debilitated a Texan possession and led to us getting the ball back and scoring.)

But anyway, considering the fact that we were missing so many key guys, and that the Texans executed a well-conceived game-plan almost to perfection, and that we had the hardest time catching a break, and that we were primed for a let-down before the Bears next week, you can’t be displeased with how this game went. 14-10 isn’t sexy, but 6-2 most certainly is.

IV.

The recent play of Eli, on the other hand, may be a cause for concern. Thanks to some big numbers he posted during the season’s first three games, his numbers for the year still look pretty good, but it’s been awhile since he’s had an impressive performance.

Yes, we’ve won every game since then, and granted, Plax’s absence rendered our receiving corps pretty depleted, but Eli still looked pretty bad. He is still plagued by bouts with inaccuracy – there were a number of throws on sideline out patterns on which he didn’t give his receivers much of a chance. Against one of the worst pass defenses in the league, which was stacking guys in the box to stop our running game (which they weren’t even able to do because Tiki’s a God), Eli’s performance left something to be desired.

To his credit, he rebounded when he needed to, going 8 for 9 and leading the team downfield on a decisive fourth quarter touchdown drive. Ah, Eli! Some day, you will put it all together.

V.

And of course, Strahan. There’s not much more to add to this – here’s the latest Pasquarelli article that explains everything about this Lisfranc stuff. It’s obviously very bad news. I mean, the guy is our best defensive player, and even though he plays in New York and he’s in commercials and he loves the limelight and he has the single-season sack record*, I would venture to say that Strahan is actually an underrated player. The guy is just so solid; he’s as good against the run as he is as a pass rusher. We’re gonna miss him, but we can reasonably expect to have him back at full strength when the playoffs start, which is when we really need him.

Let’s hope we get both Osi and Tuck back for next week so that at least we can trot out three talented players at our two D-End spots. More news on that will be forthcoming. I guess the lesson here is that Ernie Accorsi was right: You can never have too many pass rushers. Thank God we have depth at this all-important position.

There’s much more to say, but it’s late. Remember to vote, G-Men fans!