A terrible decision by the coaching staff to call a passing play with only 33 seconds to play in the first half was compounded by Eli Manning's awful decision to throw the ball right into the breadbasket of Jonathan Vilma. That all but handed the Jets a 10-pont halftime cushion. Then after the Giants cut into Gang Green's lead in the third quarter, Big Blue responded by allowing Leon Washington a 98-yard kickoff return for a TD.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a crushing defeat that would have had all the Giants fans and the New York media declaring that it was the ‘same ol' Giants.' They won.
The defense, buoyed by the reinsertion of rookie CB Aaron Ross, totally turned the tide. After allowing the Jets to gain close to 200 first-half yards, New York clamped down and limited them to only 87 yards after intermission.
"We played better in the second half," Coughlin said. "Our whole thing was to try to put all three phases together today, which we didn't really do, we had spots where it looked good so we keep working. Again, our theme was improvement last week. We made some improvement."
Even more so on the offensive side of the ball.
Eli Manning's QB rating at halftime was 0.0. You don't have to be an NFL expert to know that that's not all that good. He completed only three-of-10 passes for 22 yards and the ill-fated interception. However, after the break the Giants got their old Manning back. He rebounded to finish with 13 completions in 25 attempts for 186 yards and two scores. His QB rating of 86.4 was his second-highest of the season.
"The second half I thought we played really well," Manning said. "We did an outstanding job. First half, we played about as poorly as we could. That shows we don't get our heads down, we don't get frustrated, we still have confidence that we can move the ball and score points. It is a matter of going out there and guys stepping up and making plays. The second half we were able to do that, the offensive line did a great job running the ball, controlling the line of scrimmage. Sometimes you've got to win some of these ugly ones, and step up to have a great second half. That's why you have two halves in every game. It was a big win for us."
Speaking of stepping up and having a great second half, for the second time in three weeks, Plaxico Burress was the man to do just that. He was invisible before halftime in Washington, then exploded in the second half and led New York to victory. Against the Jets, Burress pulled off the same impressive feat.
Severely limited in practice during the week due to an ankle injury, Burress just goes out and does his best every Sunday. His best was certainly good enough on this day. Burress did not catch a pass in the first half, but finished with five receptions for 124 yards, including the game-winning 53-yard touchdown. Burress has scored at least one touchdown in every game this season. He has seven scores this season, just three fewer than he had in the entire 2006 season.
"He is trying to get as many catches as he can because he doesn't get any during the week," Coughlin said. "That is something that he is trying to do without practicing. There is some rust out there, there is no question about that, but obviously you see the big play potential that he has and what a great time for him to launch himself down the sideline."
Just like it was a great time for the Giants to launch themselves to a 3-2 record and right back into the playoff picture.
"It's great. We're on a three-game streak," reserve CB Kevin Dockery said.
"Three and two is a heck of a lot better than two and three," DT Barry Cofield added.
Especially considering at halftime just about everyone in Giants Stadium was already prepared for Big Blue to fall to 2-3. Fortunately, though these new-and-improved Giants wouldn't let it happen.
The Giants last week acquired wide receiver/returner Domenik Hixon via waivers from Denver. However, instead of being asked during his first interview with New York reporters about his upcoming special teams role on the team, Hixon was queried about the play in the season opener when he collided with the Bills' Kevin Everett on the second half kickoff in Buffalo. Everett suffered a fracture dislocation between the third and fourth cervical vertebra. It was originally feared he would never walk again. But Everett has been moved to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston and doctors are hopeful he will regain the use of his legs.
"It has been a blessing that he is getting better," Hixon said. "All I care about is that he is getting better. I believe he moved to Houston to be closer to his family. I know he is progressing."
Hixon returned the kickoff 20 yards before he collided at full speed with Everett.
"That was a real hard hit," Hixon said. "After that, (I remember) me just getting up slow and seeing him down. I just hoped he was alright, that he would just kind of get up. We had a similar incident with one of our teammates. He didn't get up and they put him on a stretcher. I was just hoping that it was just precautionary.
"That was the first time in my whole life that I had ever seen something like that actually happen, you know, someone who was paralyzed from the hit. It is tough. It is part of football and that is kind of the price you pay for playing football, that you might get injured. It is something that we all know; you just try to shy away from it."
Now Hixon, who replaced Anthony Mix on the roster, has to carry on, fully knowledgeable that there was nothing he could have or should have done differently before colliding with Everett. Bet that must be easier said than done.
These Giants Refused to Lose
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