Take a deep breath Giants fans, cause it wasn’t all that bad last night in Dallas.
Despite falling to the rival Cowboys 36-31 on opening night in Dallas, in a game in which the Giants had a cringe worthy 6 turnovers, there were some good signs out Big Blue, that should make even the most pessimistic of fans hopeful for what’s to come.
Here’s a look at what you should be feeling good about as the Giants look to pick up the pieces in week 2 against the Denver Broncos:
Heading into the season one of the prime areas of concern for the Giants was the back end of their defense. With Corey Webster coming off of a brutal season in 2012, and the talented Prince Amukamara still getting his feet wet in the NFL, there were plenty of reasons to be skeptical when it came to the Giants crop of defensive backs.
Now it’s only one game, but despite all of the Giants woes in Dallas last night, the secondary clearly was not one of them.
Despite being on the field way too much, and playing most of the game with a short field due to turnovers, the Giants secondary performed well in Dallas. The Giants gave a lot of attention to pro-bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant, and the tactic paid off, as the Giants limited Bryant to just four receptions for 22 yards on the night. Terrell Thomas, who had not played in a game for over 2 years also performed well in the slot against Miles Austin, a difficult task, considering the Giants weak linebacking core did not offer the veteran corner much help against Austin.
If Big Blue’s secondary can play at this level for the rest of the year, it will provide a huge boost towards getting the Giants where they want to be this year.
Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, & Rueben Randle
The only reason Eli Manning and the New York Giants were able to avoid a blowout at the hands of the Cowboys last night was because of the exceptional play of the Giants receiving core. Hakeem Nicks looked healthy, making a big 59 yard catch early in the first quarter before the drive was derailed by the first of David Wilson’s two lost fumbles. Victor Cruz looked like the Giants got a bargain when signing him to a new contract this offseason, as the talented slot receiver hauled in three touchdowns and finished the game with five catches for 118 yards. Second year man Reuben Randle also turned some heads, getting out of his breaks with incredible speed on the way to a five catch 101 yard performance.
If the Giants continue to struggle in the run game the depth at wide receiver should be able to keep Big Blue in games all year.
Let’s just hope that’s not the case.
While the Giants offensive line struggled to protect Eli Manning at times, first round pick Justin Pugh, looked at home in his first NFL start. With the exception of one play in the third quarter, where Pugh was beat on the edge by Cowboys defensive end George Selvie, the rookie held up well and did a good job at keeping the Cowboys defenders in front of him. With an offensive line that is very much in transition the Giants will rely on Pugh to continue his strong performance going forward.
JPP & Tuck
Justin Tuck, a player many thought was standing on his last NFL leg, reminded his critics just how valuable he can be for this Giants defensive line last night. After playing most of the past 2 years through injuries, a healthy Tuck looked like the player who used to create nightmare’s for opposing offenses on a weekly basis. Tuck finished the game with 8 tackles (3 solo), .5 sack, and 2 quarterbacks hits.
Jason Pierre-Paul, who is returning from offseason back surgery, also looked good after getting off to a slow start in his return. JPP broke though the line late in the 4th quarter and sacked Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo for a big loss, in what at the time, was a huge play for the Giants defense. Besides some early troubles getting off the line, Pierre-Paul looked healthy, and should be primes for a big season on the Giants defensive line.