The news of Eli Manning’s benching (and his emotional reaction) had me thinking of a lot of different ways Manning has direct and indirect ties to the Cardinals over the years.
— Tangibly, the Giants play in Arizona on Christmas Eve. Once it was supposed to be Eli versus Carson Palmer and possibly for playoff positioning. Now, we’re looking at a likely matchup of Blaine Gabbert against — if reports from New York pan out — rookie Davis Webb by then. Maybe Geno Smith. Probably not Eli though.
— The 2004 draft was pretty good for some big-name talents, but the years are starting to whittle at the list. Manning was the top pick, and now, what happens with him? Is it possible he is done for good? Just done as a Giant? Already, Larry Fitzgerald (No. 3 overall pick) and Ben Roethlisberger (No. 11) have talked about retirement being an option. No. 4 pick Philip Rivers once talked retirement instead of moving from San Diego to L.A., but then he re-thought things and shredded the Cowboys for 400-plus on Thanksgiving. (It was also the 10-year anniversary of the death of No. 5 overall pick Sean Taylor a couple of days ago.)
— Manning won an amazing Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium, when David Tyree pinned that ball to his helmet and then Manning made the perfect TD pass to Plaxico Burress — who was a Cardinals’ coaching intern this past training camp.
— And then, of course, it was Manning’s “role” in the Cardinals’ lone trip to the Super Bowl. If it wasn’t for Eli, Kurt Warner may never have come to the Cardinals. Warner signed with the Giants the same year Manning was drafted and everyone knew what was going to happen. (“We had a great understanding when he came, we were basically going to try and use each other,” then-Giants GM Ernie Accorsi told me the following offseason, after Warner signed with the Cards.) But it was the Cardinals who sped up the process.
It was the struggling Cardinals who sacked Warner six times at Sun Devil Stadium — four by Bertrand Berry, pictured — and had Giants coaches in the press box screaming “Throw the ball!” as Warner held on to it when he was taken down. The Giants had been 5-2, fell to 5-4 with the loss and were still in the playoff hunt — but the next game, Manning was in the lineup to begin the 210-consecutive-game starting streak that looks like it will end Sunday.
Warner came to Arizona the next year and eventually wrote the back half of his Hall of Fame career. Manning won two Super Bowls, so the Giants made out well. And today? Today we’re seeing the truth of all truths: Whether the Giants are making the right call or not to close out 2017, time is undefeated.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Blaine Gabbert, Davis Webb, Eli Manning, Giants, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Plaxico Burress, Sean Taylor
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Was it a fumble? Does it even matter?
This is the reality – Giants receiver Victor Cruz did an amazing job keep his feet after an initial hit by cornerback Michael Adams. He made a couple of moves back and forth. Then he “gave himself up” and then dropped the ball. The Cards picked it up. “I thought it was a fumble,” safety Kerry Rhodes said, and honestly, as I stood down on the sideline some 20 yards away, it looked that way to me. Giants quarterback Eli Manning admitted the Giants caught a break.
To me, I get the idea of being able to give yourself up, OK. But to me, you’ve got to catch and drop down immediately. If you’re not a QB, once you are running down the field, you should have to be touched down. If Cruz ended up pulling a Plaxico, so be it. It seems – based on reaction by NFL analysts around the league – the Cards indeed should have gotten the ball.
Watching the replay seems to make the call even more egregious than I originally thought.
Of course, as Larry Fitzgerald said, it shouldn’t have come to that and that’s completely true. The Cards aren’t the only team melting down with a lead Sunday. I was listening on the radio on the ride home about all the big lost leads and it was Dallas blowing one against Detroit and Philly choking against San Francisco. It doesn’t make it OK, but it happens.
The emotional swing from the time Beanie rumbled in for his third TD to the last incompletion to Fitz on fourth down was simply giant (pun intended). To be 2-2 going to winless Minnesota, compared to 1-3 …
Some thoughts about today:
— Beanie Wells said he isn’t even completely healthy. He sure looked healthy. He gets 138 yards and three touchdowns. He finally gets a big-carry game – 27 when it was all over. It was enough. It really should have been enough (although I won’t lie, I was hoping for the shotgun-quick draw to him on that final fourth down just to pick up the first down).
— The heave-it-up-to-Fitz-and-let-him-make-a-play worked giveth – on the 47-yard bomb to set up a TD – and it taketh away – on the Antrel Rolle interception. Although it did look like if Kevin Kolb had a little less air under the pass, I’m not sure Rolle would have gotten there. It was a very athletic play by Rolle. (Although Rolle said he “knew” that’s where he’d be headed the whole time.)
— Eli Manning has had some pretty good luck throwing into that one end zone at University of Phoenix Stadium.
— As usual, Jeremy Bridges brought a little bit of nasty to the field when he replaced Brandon Keith at right tackle. Keith hurt his right knee, but it will be interesting to see, even if/when Keith is OK if Bridges gets a chance to play more.
— The last sack Kolb took was on a screen, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said it was simply a four-man rush (which makes sense, because on a screen the linemen basically let the rushers go). “We should have gotten rid of it,” Whisenhunt said. To take a 10-yard sack there was a killer.
— Many people think Hakeem Nicks is one of the top receivers in the game. His numbers – 10 catches for 162 yards – seemed to show that. I know there is frustration with the cornerbacks, like Patrick Peterson on the last play, but Nicks made some Pro Bowl-esque plays.
— A.J. Jefferson was still returning kickoffs. I would guess that has more to do with LaRod Stephens-Howlings coming off the hand injury rather than feeling the Hyphen isn’t the best kick return man anymore.
— The vaunted running duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 57 yards rushing on 21 carries. It’s hollow somewhat because of the Giants’ comeback, but it was a nice effort by the Cards’ rush defense.
— I thought Darnell Dockett played really well. Officially Dockett had two tackles for loss among his four tackles, but he drew a few holding penalties and was in the backfield most of the day (and another hold could have been called on the infamous non-fumble play. I thought Dockett was going to reach Manning on that play).
Well, everyone was talking about moving on. That sounds like a good idea. I still have a little Sunday left to not think about football.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Beanie Wells, Brandon Keith, Darnell Dockett, Eli Manning, Giants, Jeremy Bridges, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Adams, Patrick Peterson, Plaxico Burress, Victor Cruz
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Second-round pick Ryan Williams agreed to his rookie contract today, a four-year deal for the running back that gets all the rookies finally signed. I would guess running back Tim Hightower is going to sign his tender offer sooner rather than later too.
— Multiple reports have put the name of WR Braylon Edwards back on the radar screen for the Cards. His name has surfaced and resurfaced a couple of times. He definitely isn’t going back to the Jets after Plaxico Burress signed. Edwards has former teammates like Jay Feely, Kerry Rhodes and Ben Graham here, he’s got a stud receiver in Larry Fitzgerald to take the heat off him, and, let’s face it, the market clearly hasn’t been what he thought it would be for him. To sign Edwards would continue the drastic revamping of the offense in just a matter of days (although let’s be clear — Edwards-to-Arizona is no sure thing).
— We are unveiling part of the camp coverage video-wise today with “Camp Unfiltered.” Here’s how the concept was explained to me: “A ‘raw’ inside look at different aspects of practice and the team.” The first installment puts the spotlight on catching punts.
— A happy birthday to owner Bill Bidwill, who turned 80 today. And while we are on the subject of birthdays — indulge me for a moment — I wanted to note my grandfather, Ray Urban, turned 100 yesterday, and I was lucky enough to be there.
Tags: Ben Graham, Bill Bidwill, Jay Feely, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Plaxico Burress
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