The Baltimore Ravens came to the New York Giants' stadium with a 6-3 record, the number one ranked rushing defense in the league, and ready for a slugfest of two teams that have hopes of battling it out in Tampa at the end of the year. What they got was a show put on by a Giants running game that looked like it was out to prove a point. On the Giants' second offensive snap Brandon Jacobs carried the ball for 36 yards and you could almost feel the Ravens' defense deflate as the drive continued. 8 plays and 52 Brandon Jacobs yards later, the Giants were on top 7-0.
The Ravens' offense came out for the second time and showed an ability to go down field before there drive stalled and they settled for a field goal try by former Giant Matt Stover, the kick was blocked and Baltimore was never able to get back into the game. They were down 20-0 before they could react to what was happening on the field. Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco looked good for the most part, but he did something that he had not done in the four games prior to this one: throw an interception. In fact, Flacco thew two interceptions, both to Aaron Ross, who has been struggling this year. With Baltimore down 20-10 and having there first real chance at a comeback, Flacco hit Derrick Mason on a curl route, but he was immediately blasted and the ball ricocheted up and Aaron Ross had his second interception of the day, which he returned for a game sealing interception.
The real story of this game was the Giants' running game, which steamrolled over the Ravens vaunted defense for 207 yards. The third week in a row that they have reached the 200 yard mark! Jacobs started off the game for the Giants and ran for 73 yards and two touchdowns. After him, in came Derrick Ward who ran for 41 yards on 11 attempts (he added 54 receiving yards). Lastly came Ahmad Bradshaw who carried the ball 9 times for 96 yards including a 77 yard run in the fourth quarter.
There were a few negatives from this game for the Giants. One of them is that Brandon Jacobs got injured; he came back into the game but did not look the same and according to nfl.com will undergo an mri today. Another negative is something I have been worried about all year, the pass rush was not evident and produced only one sack. If you look at the numbers, the Giants' pass rush has been proficient and even prolific at times, but as someone who watches all the games, it will disappear for long stretches. The problem seems to be that Tuck will occasionally get overwhelmed by the double team and the other players on the line will be inconsistent. The other issue with the pass rush seems to stem from players tipping off there blitzes to early so the quarterback can check off and all of the players will be accounted for. A main culprit of this has been rookie safety Kenny Phillips, who is young and will probably get better at this in time. The last and most important issue, the kicking game. For the first time all year Lawrence Tynes was active and handling all kicking duties instead of John Carney. As a Giants fan, this year was the first one I can remember where I have had full trust in our kicker (Carney); he has only missed one field goal (it was blocked on a great play by a 49er, I believe Manny Lawson) all year. Now the Giants have made the switch to Tynes. Do they not remember last year's NFC championship where he missed two game winning field goal attempts before being given a reprieve by Corey Webster? Giants fans have to hold their breath on every kick and extra point that this guy attempts (he almost missed an extra point this week!).
Even with these few negatives this game was a resounding success. The Giants came out and domininated a physically impressive team and showed the NFL that this offense is for real. They improved to 9-1 and with the Washington Redskins losing to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night they now have a full 3 game lead over their division opponents and the inside path at a division title, their first since 2000. Next week, the Giants face Kurt Warner and the high flying Arizona Cardinals. It will be another test for The Giants going against the number one passing offense in the NFL and another chance to prove just how good they really are.