Xs and O's

Here is a break down, position by position, of how the Giants performed against the Bengals.

QUARTERBACKS

About to be blasted by RDE Antwan Odom, Eli Manning stood strong in the pocket and fired a perfect strike to WR Steve Smith, a 15-yard gain on third-and-10 from Cincinnati's 32 late in the fourth quarter. The Giants scored a go-ahead touchdown four plays later. Manning was fortunate to avoid an interception by LCB David Jones, who batted away a second-and-14 pass intended for WR Amani Toomer near the Bengals' 30 early in the fourth quarter. That allowed John Carney's 26-yard FG to put the Giants in front, 16-13, with 11:32 to play in the game. Bottom Line: Manning was unflappable leading them late.

RUNNING BACKS

RB Derrick Ward recorded runs of 13, 22 and 14 yards on two of the Giants' three second-half scoring drives. Ward also broke two tackles for a 22-yard gain up the middle that got the Giants to Cincinnati's 7 late in the first half. The Giants tied the game 10-10 four plays later, on Carney's 24-yard FG. RB Brandon Jacobs barely broke the plane, but he made sure to protect the ball tightly with both arms as he leaped atop a pile for a 1-yard touchdown run that helped give the Giants a 7-3 lead at the 10:36 mark of the second quarter. Bottom Line: Ward was largely responsible for this win.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Out-stretched WR Amani Toomer's amazing footwork won them this game. His 31-yard catch at Cincinnati's sideline set up Carney's game-winning, 22-yard FG in overtime. In addition to his 4-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, TE Kevin Boss' two other catches went for 21 and 26 yards, both on drives that led to scores in the first half. Bottom Line: They made an impact on a day when Plaxico Burress was ordinary.

OFFENSIVE LINE

LT David Diehl and LG Rich Seubert helped open a huge hole on the left side that Ward ran through for a 22-yard gain that set up a go-ahead touchdown at the 1:50 mark of the fourth quarter. The five starters combined to prevent Cincinnati from recording a single sack. Bottom Line: They were very effective.

DEFENSIVE LINE

RDE Mathias Kiwanuka blew by LT Levi Jones for a critical 8-yard sack at the Giants' 12, a play that forced Cincinnati to settle for a 30-yard FG and a 13-10 advantage just 32 seconds before halftime. Barry Cofield showed speed for a DT when he ran down Palmer from behind for a 6-yard sack at Cincinnati's 26, just before the two-minute warning in the first half. Bottom Line: They pressured Palmer plenty for much of the game, though not much late.

LINEBACKERS

MLB Antonio Pierce noticed the Giants had just 10 players on the field as rookie OLB Bryan Kehl was running toward the sideline, so he intentionally went across the line of scrimmage near the midway mark of the fourth quarter. The 5-yard penalty was worth avoiding what could have happened had they gone with 10 defenders. Bottom Line: They didn't do much.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

This group allowed pass plays of 20, 8, 12, 16, 9 and 11 yards on the Bengals' game-tying drive at the end of regulation. Nickel back Kevin Dockery got turned around and was out of position, which allowed WR Antonio Chatman to catch a short pass near the Giants' sideline and turn it into a 25-yard gain two plays before Perry's touchdown run in the second quarter. RCB Aaron Ross' textbook leg tackle on TE Reggie Kelly at Cincinnati's 4 accounted for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-goal play from the Giants' 3. The Bengals had to settle for a 22-yard FG by Shayne Graham, with 38 seconds to go in the first quarter. Bottom Line: They were decent, except for the end of the fourth quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K John Carney connected on all four FG attempts and is now 9-for-9 for the season. PR Domenik Hixon was able to trip up PR Antonio Chatman, which prevented Chatman from racing down Cincinnati's sideline midway through the first quarter. An illegal block in the back by backup TE Darcy Johnson negated Hixon's 30-yard punt return early in the first quarter and cost the Giants 38 yards of field position. Bottom Line: Lawrence who?

COACHING

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride recognized early that this was Ward's day, so he used Jacobs' backup perfectly. Tom Coughlin should've challenged the official ruling that Burress didn't get both feet down in the back of the end zone at the 3:59 mark of the second quarter. Coughlin instead settled for a 24-yard FG by Carney and a 10-10 tie, when it looked like there was at least a possibility the call could've been reversed. Bottom Line: This win was ugly, but they're 3-0.


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