If you weren’t happy with the Washington win, is there anything to complain about now?  Sure the Rams suck, but one of the hallmarks of great NFL teams is that they blow out the scrubby ones.  This game is a reassuring sign that we are among the NFL elite.  Two games into the season, the Super Bowl Champs couldn’t be more encouraging.

Yes, it was a seven-point game as late as the fourth quarter.  But to say that the final score did not reflect the feeling of the game is bullshit: the Giants dominated this game on a play-by-play basis from start to finish, but it wasn’t until the final minutes of the fourth quarter that the scoreboard reflected this.  Look at it this way: we outgained them 441-201. 

At halftime, the score was only 13-6, yet the Rams had not advanced past the Giants’ 36-yard-line.  It was only those two 54-yard field goals by Brown – one of which was enabled only by Tuck’s facemask penalty [on a play he was held on, no less] – that kept the Rams in the game.

The G-Men seemingly put it away by mounting an emphatic 97-yard drive on their first possession of the third quarter, but the lucky bomb to Holt – who probably didn’t even catch the ball – meant that the G-Men had to keep the can of whoopass open.  To their credit, they did for the rest of the game. 

Offense: 

Eli was excellent, going 20-29 for 260 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 9 yards per attempt – for perspective, realize that his career YPA is 6.3.  He made a couple of bad throws, but didn’t seem to make any dangerous throws or bad decisions like the near-picks last week, which is an important distinction. 

The square-ins and back-shoulder fades to Plax, the hitches to Toomer, the touchdown on the post to Toomer – that’s the throw Eli routinely makes the best, in my opinion – the catchable passes to the backs, that pass to Boss that got called back, that gorgeous touch-pass to Hixon down the sideline, and last but not least, the lefty toss to Jacobs that set up Carney from 33…  Great job, Eli.

The pass protection was solid overall, save for a brief period near the end of the second quarter when Long sacked Eli and then McKenzie got a holding penalty on the next series.  Overall though, they did a good job. 

But the pass protection had nothing on the run-blocking, which is probably the single best facet of this team.  Jacobs had 93 yards on 15 carries, Ward had 58 on 8, and Bradshaw – in addition to his touchdown catch – had 5 carries for 32.  Overall, we had 203 yards and averaged 6.8 yards a pop.  Much of the credit for that goes to the fatties up front.

Like a lot of Giants fans, NYGMen has long beat the pro-Bradshaw drum, wondering why the clear-cut best back on our team doesn’t get more burn.  Once again, Ahmad was electrifying.  On his touchdown run, when he exploded through the hole with one man to beat, was there any doubt he was gonna beat that guy?  And after today, is there any doubt he’s criminally underutilized?  Please Tom, since we know you’re reading this, FREE AHMAD! 

As for Ward, he was very effective too.  Ward hits the hole decisively and he hits the hole hard.  With our physical offensive line and our physical fullback, he’s a good fit.

And now Jacobs…  Look, I know his overall numbers were good today (though much of his totals came from one perfectly blocked 30-yard run at the beginning of the third quarter).  And I know his overall numbers last year (5.0 yards per carry) were good too.  But please, how much more effective are the other two backs when they enter the game?  To put it another way, when was the last time you remember Jacobs being more effective than Ahmad or Ward? 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but the coaching staff’s insistence on making Jacobs the featured runner is holding this team back.  Yes, there’s a place for Jacobs on this team; it’s just a lot smaller than the coaching staff thinks. 

Moving on, the receivers were very good too.  Plax abused whoever covered him, and Smith made a couple great plays, one of which was called back on the down-by-contact call.  Amani, for some reason, was featured, and he acquitted himself well.

I’m not sure why Amani got so many looks – probably because Plax was being double-covered, though I’m not sure – but some of those plays showed pretty clearly that he’s lost almost all of his speed.  Amani is a very skilled receiver, adept at finding creases in the zone and a master of the toe-tap.  But at this point of his career, he’s just too slow to run by defensive backs.  There were at least two plays yesterday where he was isolated one-on-one against a corner, but the defender was able to run stride for stride with him.  Amani still has his uses, for sure, but he also has his limitations.  Going forward – and by forward, I mean possibly as early as the second half of this year – we’re going to be happy that we have Maningham, Hixon, and Moss on the roster. 

Defense: 

201 yards of total offense, and only 68 allowed against a ground game that boasts Steven Jackson, one of the best backs in the game.  6 sacks and pressure on Bulger all day.  The Tuck touchdown.  For the second straight game, what a performance by the D.

As was the case on offense, it all started up front.  Tuck, who has become the face of the defense after the Osi injury, was a beast.  Big Fred, who has late-bloomed into a star, was beastly as well. 

The pressure on Bulger was constant, and Jackson didn’t have any success running between the tackles.  The only success Jackson did have was running outside, but that’s a small thing to complain about.

The starting corners, Webster and Ross, were absolutely phenomenal.  How exciting is it that we have two potentially awesome young corners?  Who could have predicted this before last year? 

And even though the Rams’ touchdown came at Phillips’ expense, wouldn’t you even say that that play was overall encouraging?  I mean, here was our rookie safety running stride for stride with one of the best receivers of the era.  He made a smooth attempt at the ball, and although he didn’t haul it in, it was only an unpredictable bounce of the oblong ball – and a highly questionable call – that made that anything worse than a nice break-up.

Not so spectacular was Butler, who was late arriving in safety help on a big play during the series on which Holt scored the touchdown.  Yes, I know safeties are always left holding the proverbial bag, but doesn’t it seem that way too often, Butler is nowhere to be found on deep help?  He seems to lack the range you want from your deep safety – you have to think it’s only a matter of time before its Johnson and Phillips getting the majority of the burn. 

And Dockery had a bone-headed pass interference to keep that touchdown drive alive: on third down, he laid a hit on a receiver before the marker.

Special Teams: 

This was an underrated aspect of this game.  The punt and kickoff coverage was excellent, which was a relief after the brutal kickoff coverage last week.  And Hixon’s punt return in the fourth quarter should finally close the book on the R.W. era.