At this point, it’s getting a little repetitive, but it’s worth saying again: Another week, and yet another statement.  Has there ever been a better time to be a Giants fan?  It seems like nearly every week, we severely outplay the opposition.  When we don’t catch breaks and we’re playing a good team – Eagles game, Steelers game – we win gut-it-out games that prove our character.  When we do catch breaks like we did yesterday, we blow teams out.

 

I. The Running Game

 

Not only does this team win convincingly every week, they win in the most enjoyable way possible: by dominating the line of scrimmage and ripping off big chucks of yards on the ground.  If there is a signature image of the 2008 New York Giants, it is Brandon Jacobs turning the corner with a head of steam, his stride kicking into full gear as the crowd noise rises around him before blowing past flimsy arm tackles on his way to a big gain.

 

Jacobs left the game with what he and Tom Coughlin described as a “sore knee” – he will have a precautionary MRI today and people are saying it’s not serious, but this is obviously cause for concern until he’s officially out of the woods.  But even without him, the train kept right on rolling yesterday.  On the first series Jacobs sat out, Ward came in and accumulated 50 total yards rushing and receiving, setting up our third touchdown in our first three series’ that pretty much ended the suspense right there.

 

And as he does every week, Ahmad managed to do something impressive late in the game, even when everyone knew a run was coming.  His 77-yard burst – during which he devastatingly cut back on a slightly out of position Ray Lewis – was his most remarkable run this year.

 

By now, we’ve probably all heard the numbers: the G-Men rushed for 207 yards against what was by far the best run defense in the league.  This makes it five times in 10 games that we have surpassed the double-centch.  What this means is that the Giants turn in a rare rushing performance half the time; there is as good a chance the Giants will thoroughly dominate on the ground as not.  I don’t mean to sound hyperbolic here, but we are witnessing something very special.

 

With any good running game, the temptation is to parcel out credit on an either/or basis.  Is it the O-line, or is it the running backs?  But this is a false choice in our case, because I firmly believe it’s both. 

 

I have been hard on Jacobs in the past, but it’s time I own up to the fact that I was very wrong: Jacobs is fucking amazing.  As my brother said, watching him is like watching an Earl Campbell highlight film.  But I think it’s important to note that, even more than other backs, Jacobs talents are brought out by the dominance of his O-line.  While Jacobs has improved dramatically at maneuvering in tight spaces, he is most dangerous at the second level, when his stride kicks in and he starts running downhill.  When he gets a head of steam, there is nobody in the game better.  I don’t mean this to sound like a backhanded complement, but Jacobs and our line are perfect complements for each other.

 

As for Ward, he has no weaknesses in his game, and is an excellent player by virtue of being good in every phase: He runs hard between the tackles; he blocks well – he had one very nice blitz pick-up on the first series on Eli’s 21-yard throw to Plax; he’s a very good receiver; and he’s good on the edge and in the open field.

 

And then there’s Ahmad, who flies through holes.  The following comparison only goes so far, but doesn’t Ahmad display an aptitude similar to that of Tiki’s when it comes to timing his cuts through holes?

 

The other piece of our running game, the O-line, has been getting its due on this blog and the mainstream media as the best in the game.  The other week, I used Football Outsiders stats to support this point, and I’ll do it again: The Giants line ranks first in the league in Adjusted Line Yards (run blocking) and seventh in Adjusted Sack Rate (pass blocking).  Only Denver (third and sixth, respectively) is close to being excellent in both categories.

 

(The only not-so-great area in terms of our running game is short-yardage and goal-line situations, what Football Outsiders terms “Power” situations, in which the Giants rank 22nd in the league.  This may be due to their overuse of Jacobs in those situations.  His size notwithstanding, Jacobs is not a great short-yardage runner.  You know who is though, size also notwithstanding?  Ahmad.)

 

II. Eli

 

Thanks to the running game, we were able to dominate on offense on a day when our passing game wasn’t clicking on all cylinders.  Eli’s day was not bad, but less than stellar: he went 13 of 23 for 153 yards (6.7 yards per attempt) with a touchdown and one interception that, save for another smart Coughlin challenge, easily could have been two (I’m not counting the one on that tipped ball to Plax that was nullified by the offsides penalty because that wasn’t Eli’s fault).

 

But really, this game was pretty much over at 20-0.  And during the time where we accumulated the lead, Eli was sharp, going 7 for 10 for 82 yards and a touchdown, an integral part of our awesome offense that put the game away early.  (Another mitigating factor yesterday was the wind, which effected at least a couple of his throws.)

 

Still, we can’t get around the fact that Eli hasn’t been great in recent weeks.  I wouldn’t say he has been bad, only that he can be better.  See?  There’s room for improvement on this team after all, and that should be a scary thought for the rest of the league.

 

One very noticeable thing about Eli this year is how comfortable he is in the pocket, which I think owes to both his experience and our improved pass-blocking.  Where he used to back off and throw off his heels, he now displays great presence of mind in the pocket, deftly stepping up into empty areas to buy himself that extra moment to throw.  This ability was most evident on his first completion of the game, that 21-yard out to Plax near the sideline.

 

So even though he’s not putting up such great numbers, you don’t get the sense that Eli’s confidence is the least the least bit shaken.  He is still inconsistent with his throws and still makes some stupid mistakes, but we’re long removed from the whipped-dog days when you could see in his face that he was rattled and would be useless for the whole game.

 

Ok, lots more to talk about, but I have to cut it off for now…  I’ll be back later in the day with more thoughts.