Sure, Umenyiora was going against a rookie, Winston Justice, who was forced into action when William Thomas was unable to play. But Umenyiora did exactly what was expected of him. He dominated. He set an all-time Giants record with six sacks, responding to each with a shoulder shrug, seemingly saying that he didn't know what he was doing.
If only that were the case. Umenyiora was primed from the opening whistle and was by far the main reason the Giants were able to limit a club that had scored 56 points the week before to only three points. On the sideline midway through the fourth period the franchise's all-time leading sacker, Michael Strahan, playfully bowed in homage to Umenyiora.
"My guy Osi Umenyiora put on a show today," Strahan said. "I love that young cat. And I have officially handed him the torch. He is the guy."
Umenyiora's six sacks were only half of the club's NFL record-tying dozen QB bags against the Birds.
"We've had some great players here and to know that I got the single-game sack record is just amazing to me," he said. "Today was just one of those days. It was just an amazing game for me."
Umenyiora was unstoppable when he tried to power his way by Justice. He was equally unstoppable when he used his speed to race right around the poor rookie. So Donovan McNabb and Co. must have thought it was downright unfair when Umenyiora lined up as a linebacker and rushed from right up the middle. Yeah, he posted a sack out of that alignment as well.
Making Umenyiora's effort all the more impressive was the fact that he started cramping up and needed an IV at halftime. Apparently, it worked.
"It was like Superman juice or something," he laughed. "It got me going. It was good."
It sure was.
Yes, the Giants got a major break when they learned shortly before the game that Brian Westbrook would be unable to play. All the Eagles running back had accomplished during the season's first three weeks was to lead the entire league in yards from scrimmage. Westbrook – and his 514 total yards – were on the sideline as the Giants defense suffocated the Birds. But you got the feeling that on this night Westbrook might have made A difference, but not THE difference.
"I'm really not sure that he would have made a difference today," he said. "He's an outstanding football player, don't get me wrong…It was just time for us to step up."
Making THE difference was reserved for Umenyiora. But Umenyiora had some help as well.
Kawika Mitchell was in the right place at the right time, providing the defensive touchdown that essentially salted the game away. But he'll also be having nightmares about the fourth-quarter interception that he dropped that very well could have gone for another touchdown. Mitchell's been as good during the last two games as he was bad during the season's opening two contests. But you could say that about a lot of the defensive players.
On a day when one veteran New York athlete (Tom Glavine) fell flat on his face, 41-year-old Jeff Feagles was superb. In such a low-scoring game, it was obvious that special teams would play a major part in the game's outcome. Fortunately for the Giants, they had Feagles on their side.
And we must give major props to Corey Webster. Despite being yanked from the starting lineup, Webster excelled on special teams, including racing downfield in the third quarter and downing a Feagles punt at the 1-yard line.
Regarding rookie CB Aaron Ross, we're really not into the whole ‘I-told-you-so' business, but if we were… Ross was extremely impressive – in coverage, tackling and he even showed some big-time speed and instincts on a blitz while blasting McNabb as he released the ball.
But with all the superlative defensive efforts, TGI wants to make sure that David Diehl's tremendous effort would not go unnoticed. Diehl totally shut down dangerous Eagles RDE Trent Cole, who entered the game with 4.5 sacks. Under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, Cole never even got close to Eli Manning.
And for the fourth consecutive game, Derrick Ward wasn't flashy, but he did more than enough on the ground to help his club win the ballgame. With Brandon Jacobs due to return next week against the Jets, it'll be interesting to see just how the Giants handle their running backs. Ward has done nothing during the season's first month to prove that he can't handle the job, that's for sure.
You knew there was no way in the world that I'd fail to mention my NL East champion Phillies following that most glorious of Sundays. Boy I cannot wait for next week's installment of Double Coverage. My buddy Paul had better duck. My sincerest congrats go out to the leaderless Mets for completing one of the all-time classic choke jobs. Guess that's what you get when you have a bunch of over-hyped individuals instead of a team. By the way Mets fans, I guess Jimmy Rollins was correct, after all, now wasn't he?
One of the late, great Wellington Mara's favorite things was seeing arrogance humbled, i.e. knocking off Jerry Jones' Cowboys or Daniel Snyder's Redskins. Now I truly understand how he felt…
Six-pack: Osi leads Defensive Assualt
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