WHAT IT MEANS: The New York Giants sleepwalked through the first half as the defense struggled badly early on. The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t a sexy team but they are sound and solid and the Giants looked like they'd rather be back at the dinner table for Thanksgiving than trying to bring down Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard. They did wake up at halftime and came back at the end to pull out a much-needed 24-20 win after trailing 17-9 to start the fourth. Kevin Boss was the hero with numerous big catches and a monster 32-yard catch and run for a touchdown and the defense got one last stop to keep the Giants’ playoff hopes alive. But if the Giants want to be true contenders, they are going to have to play better. Bottom line, the Giants got the job done and it wasn't pretty but they stopped a two-game losing streak.
START ME UP: Brandon Jacobs got the start and ran well early. He gained 35 yards on the first drive. And then he didn’t get a single carry the rest of the first half. The Giants had just four offensive drives in the half as Jacksonville ate up the clock. In the second quarter, Ahmad Bradshaw rushed the ball on their one main drive. They didn’t get the ball back until 15 seconds left in the half. Jacobs continued to run with power in the second half and finished with 87 yards on 14 carries. Bradshaw got nine carries for 49 yards as the Giants were forced to pass more in the second half. D.J. Ware saw limited action as a third-down back on passing downs. The Giants also tried to run behind an offensive line that was without injured left tackle Shawn Andrews, tackle David Diehl and center Shaun O’Hara and still had success at times.
BEATING THEMSELVES: The Giants came into this game stressing how they had to stop beating themselves with ridiculous turnovers and penalties. They had a fumble by Derek Hagan overturned on a Tom Coughlin challenge inside the 10 in the first quarter but a penalty killed them when Boss was flagged for holding that nullified a nine-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham in the second quarter. But in the third quarter, the Giants caught a break when they benefited from a tipped ball off the hands of a receiver and picked off a pass. Aaron Ross was called for a critical defensive holding penalty that gave the Jags an automatic first down on a third-and-10 from the Giants’ 34 on the last drive. But the defense stood tall and stopped the Jaguars to survive.
SUPER MARIO: Mario Manningham may have had a touchdown in the first half taken away by penalty. But he beat a zone defense in the fourth quarter to score a touchdown that helped the Giants tie the game at 17-17 with 13:42 left. With Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks both out due to injuries, Manningham was the lone playmaker left. The Giants started to use Boss more in the second half and it paid off as Boss had two huge catches on the Giants’ scoring drive that tied the game. Travis Beckum also saw some time in the slot. Newly-signed wide receiver Michael Clayton played on a few snaps.
WHERE’S THE BEEF? The Giants' defense entered the game fourth against the run but they couldn’t stop Jacksonville from running all over them in the first half. The Jaguars rushed for 145 yards in the first half alone. The Giants are typically great at plugging gaps but they couldn’t today. And it wasn’t just Jones-Drew who did the damage. Rashad Jennings had 53 yards and a touchdown in the first half and they couldn’t catch Garrard one week after doing a terrific job against Michael Vick. Garrard scored a touchdown in the first half as well. In the second half, the Giants did a much better job and blitzed a bit more. Down 20-17, the Giants needed a stop and aided by a holding call against Jacksonville, Perry Fewell’s unit got a much-needed stop to give the Giants the ball back with under six minutes left. And after the offense scored to go ahead, the Giants needed a game-winning stop and they got it when they pummeled Garrard at the end and forced a fumble. Antrel Rolle recovered to secure the victory.
WHAT’S NEXT: Get your cardiovascular on! Donovan McNabb and the Redskins are in town for their first encounter with the Giants this season. It will be the Giants’ first look at McNabb in burgundy and gold with Mike Shanahan. Several Giants called today’s game against Jacksonville a must-win, and the players feel the same way about next Sunday’s game. The Giants have to beat their NFC East rivals if they are to keep hopes of a division title alive and remain in the thick of the playoff race. A loss at home to the Redskins would be devastating to their playoff chances with a difficult schedule ahead, including road games at Minnesota and Green Bay and a home game against the Eagles.