EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Five things we learned from the New York Giants' mind-blowing 34-28 overtime win [
On Sunday night, Coughlin got back to basics. On the second drive of the game, trailing 7-3, he called on his backs on 10 of 13 plays and was rewarded with 50 hard-fought yards from Jacobs and
And it wouldn't end there. Coughlin called for 41 running plays against 27 passes and got seven runs of 14 yards or more on a night where Giants backs combined for a whopping 301 yards, making it the NFL's third-best team rushing performance of the year and the best by the Giants in the modern era.
Afterward, Giants safety
But that all went out the window when their starting left defensive tackle, Kemoeatu (pronounced key-moy-AH-too), rolled his ankle against Denver last Sunday, making him Carolina's first defensive casualty of the season. He didn't practice all week and on Sunday he was listed as questionable. Sure enough, come kickoff the 345-pounder was sporting XXXL sweatpants, a gray parka and a knit cap on the sideline.
Before Sunday no one could have imagined how dearly the native of Pule'anga Fakatu'i'o, Tonga would be missed. He'd accumulated just 36 tackles this season and he'd gone 41 straight starts without a sack, dating back to the last game of '05. But when Jacobs bowled into the end zone for his overtime-ending third touchdown of the game, one thing was clear: Carolina's defense was missing some teeth. That void extended to defensive tackle
Instead of their regular 14-game starters, the Panthers played the majority of the second half with two reserves, including pass rusher extraordinaire
Carolina entered Week 15 having allowed 111.5 yards per game on the ground before, 18th in the league. And on Sunday night, without their top two guys in the middle, they gave up 194 in the second half alone. With power running teams like Minnesota and Atlanta lurking ahead in the playoffs, there's suddenly reason for concern on what has been a steady Carolina defense.
Those defensive deficiencies got lost in the lovefest that was the Giants' press conference. Coughlin explained that
Two particular plays showed just how much the Giants don't miss Burress: On the fifth play of the game Hixon had determination in coming back on an under-thrown ball for a 40 yard gain that set up the Giants' first points of the night. Later,
In the locker room, Coughlin and Manning also credited the receivers' downfield blocking for breaking some of the night's longer runs. And I'll point it out again: not a Plaxico staple.