Gotta love coaches.
An up-and-coming star like Hakeem Nicks has a career-high receiving day, and all they see is the drop.
Well, sort of. Tom Coughlin didn't exactly take off on him after a two-touchdown first half in the Giants' 34-10 win over the Texans, which he ended with a dropped throw that should have gone for a third score. But the coach said that he wasn't happy with it, even as his teammates had a small laugh on the sidelines about it.
"It wasn't a joke," Coughlin said. "It was huge. I simply pointed out all of the good things he did and then I said, "Well, of course there was the drop…" It was a touchdown, but…at the time it wasn't funny. It's not very funny now."
Maybe not. But Nicks provided the offensive coaching staff with plenty to smile about in a 12-catch, 130-yard day that set a franchise single-game receptions record for a wide receiver. There were the two touchdowns, of course – the last of which was so wide open that anyone in the stands could have found him. There was a drive-extending, acrobatic catch on the sidelines.
"Really good catch," Coughlin said. "Really good. A drive sustaining kind of catch."
Nicks' performance was only part of a true, total team effort, the likes of which hasn't really been seen since 2008. Eli Manning had a standout day, and the defense shut down one of the trickiest and most balanced attacks in the NFL. Even special teams contributed with some decent placekicking and punting, as well as Darius Reynaud's returns.
The biggest play on specials, though, was made by Chase Blackburn, who smothered Reynaud's fumbled punt return at the Giants' 15 with the game still scoreless.
It was a game where all three phases came together for the first time this year. But it was also a game where the defense, growing ever more confident, showed its teeth in a total shutdown effort.
That's been the case the past two weeks, however. With combined numbers like 13 sacks, 89 rushing yards, and a 2-for-24 mark on third-down conversions, it wasn't surprising to hear Antrel Rolle's version of what an upcoming opponent like the Lions might think while reviewing the defensive tapes.
"Honestly," Rolle said, "I'd be scared bleep-less."
Probably of Osi Umenyiora as much as anyone else. Umenyiora has recorded five of his team-high six sacks the last two weeks.
It's all an example of how the Giants have come together as a team. The upheaval after the losses to Indianapolis and Tennessee now seem to be in the past.
"I think one of the things, and I'm hoping it continues, is that as a whole we have learned to accept the ‘we' instead of ‘me,' and they've accepted that challenge," Coughlin said. "Adversity makes you stronger, and we have fought through that."
Now, it's a matter of keeping it together.
"As I said, it's as we go along and the development of some confidence. Confidence being difficult to come by, and earning it honestly. As that develops, because of the result, the past couple weeks being very good examples, they get a good feeling about one another. You always have to be able to count on the guy to your right and to your left.
"I like the way I keep referring to our team developing, and I like the way that is taking place in terms of the way we're there for each other and keeping track. If the offense is on the field, the defense and special teams is very much involved in what's going on, and they're the guys out on the field congratulating when the play or series is over. I like that, and that's taking place as a whole with our team, but also with the offense, defense, and special teams."
If they continue to put it together as they did in Houston, the Giants will be a force down the road.