First off, great game. It was nail-biter from start to finish. The atmosphere was electric and amazing. Giants Stadium gave a tribute to the victims of September 11th. The Giants coaches and players wore the FDNY, NYPD, and Emergency Medical caps to honor those services. The crowd was rabid. The lights, the cameras, the premier of Sunday Night Football on NBC, it was all amazing.
It's games like this that you can point to when some idiot, moron pundit or a bitter, obnoxious fan says "Peyton is a choker." Point to this game (and about 50 others), and then pimp slap the fool!
Peyton Manning DOMINATED the Giants last night, and his play was the main reason his team walked away with a win. How many QBs in this league would win a game like that, on the road, against an improved playoff team, in that atmosphere? Add in the fact that his running game didn't show up, nor did the Colts defense (especially their run defense). Hostile environment, good opponent, prime time game, no running game, no defense... and yet the Colts still won.
And a big reason was Manning, along with several other key players (like da pimp master hisself: Adam V). Here's my recap:
- Remember how I said special teams and field position would be the difference in this game? Field position and special teams wins in Giants stadium. As tenyardfight stated in the game open thread: "Vinatieri is a total pimp." Vinatieri's FGs were money, and his kickoffs consistently had the Giants starting at or near their own 20. You need only look at this opening weekend to see the value of a good kicker. Dallas lost their opener, in part, because of bad kicking. Bad kicking almost cost the Jets their opener. The Giants' Jay Feely missed a gimme 40-yarder that would have been the difference between the G-Men going for a FG at the end to win in regulation as opposed to a TD. Meanwhile, Terrence Wilkins had some good run backs on kickoffs that allowed the Colts to start, consistently, at their own 35 yard line. If you give the Colts starting field position like that all game long, you are dead. Also, Colts special teams coverage was outstanding. As bad as they looked in pre-season, they were money last night. The Giants never saw a lane, and the Colts bottled up an excellent returner in Chad Morton.
- The Colts defense last night was PUTRID! Bad, bad, BAD! If I see another game like last night I want defensive coordinator Ron Meeks' head on a silver plate. For the love of God, TACKLE Tiki Barber. Dwight Freeney had three opportunities to tackle Tiki in the backfield, and whiffed on both of them. That is very rare for Dwight, and maybe his shoulder is still bothering him. The Giants were able to consistently get RBs in the second level. The d-line got very little penetration into the backfield, and when it did they missed tackles. The LBers took bad angles. The safeties whiffed. Horrible night for the defense. I know the Colts were without DT Corey Simon. I know he's as important to Indy's defense as Tedy Bruschi is to New England's. Without them, the defenses doesn't work. However, that's no excuse for the performance the Colts put up last night. This defense is very good, and SHOULD play better. We've seen them play great in the past against teams better than the Giants. Give credit to the Giants' offensive line for coming to play. Eli didn't get sacked, and they nearly ran for 200 total team yards.
- Colts offensive line played good, but not great. Aside from Jake Scott, who was so bad last night I nearly vomited, the line played well. Scott held on a key third down, and on another down had a silly false start. He's right next to the friggin' center! How do you false start when you are right there! Despite Scott's idiocy, the Colts line played well, especially Tarik Glenn. He stoned Osi Umenyiora all night, to the point where Umenyiora had to leave the field because of cramps. Diem did a fine job on Strahan, and the Colts were good at picking up the blitz. Manning was mobile enough to step away from pressure, and the Colts converted several key first downs in the face of all-out blitz warfare. Good job all around by the line (except for Jake Scott, who still stinks).
Boom! I'm a schmuck!
- The running game: Before I start off on this, I'd like to point out that John Madden is, and always will be, a complete idiot. That fact that this boneheaded buffoon is in Canton boggles the mind. Madden could not stop talking about how bad the Colts' running game was last night, about how they couldn't run the ball. What Madden didn't point out (and folks, he is paid to point things like this out), was the Giants were blitzing up the wha-zoo last night. It is really tough to run when people are blitzing. You beat the blitz by making the hot read to the WRs, and using screens and swing passes to the backs. Screens to the Colts RBs generated several key first downs, and the blitzing gave the Colts TEs one-on-one coverage with the Giants' safeties. That's why Clark was able to catch the TD in the first half. The Giants blitzed, Manning bought time, found Clark in the endzone, and the result is an easy 6.
Now, all that said, I agree the Colts running game needs improvement. I was very happy with several short yardage runs by Rhodes, with one resulting in a TD. However, he's doing way to much dancing at the line, and he's not running smart. Addai looked so much better, getting several key first downs near the end on runs. The Giants shifted to a nickel defense in the 4th quarter (5 DBs and two LBers) in an attempt to stop Manning. Peyton responded by running Addai, and he got two first downs. The Giants abandoned their nickel defense, and Peyton started picking them apart again. Addai looks like a much better back right now than Rhodes. He'll start by week 4.
There you have it. I'll make one comment about the pass interference call near the game of the game: The NY press might not like it. Fans might not like it. Heck, even ESPN didn't like it, but Tim Carter was guilty of pass interference. It doesn't matter if it's the first quarter or two minutes left in the fourth. Using your forearm to create space between yourself and a DB after 5 yards IS PASS INTERFERENCE. And it wasn't the call that cost NY the game. It was the dumb INT Eli threw the next play. That's all I'll say regarding the call, which New York fans will moan about for the next six days.
Week one is wrapping up, and football has returned. We had some great games this weekend, with several cross-blogging games that involved many of our SB Nation writers. There's more analysis coming from this game, as well as some other goodies I've got in store. The Colts are 1-0, and football is back!