|David Wilson had a Giants' record 327 all-purpose yards in Sunday's win over the Saints. (US Presswire)|
Coach Tom Coughlin sounded like someone who had received an early Christmas present on the Monday after the Giants' 52-27 win over the Saints.
“The timing is great for David to come to the front and he'll hopefully provide us with that spark we need right now,” Coughlin said of rookie RB/KR David Wilson, who finished the game with three touchdowns and a team-record 327 all-purpose yards.
Sunday’s game was all about field position and thanks to 287 kick return yards and S Stevie Brown’s 91 interception return yards, the Giants started all but one drive beyond their own 30-yard line.
For the Giants, who struggled to get out of its own end zone in a Week 13 loss to the Redskins, Sunday’s performance was the perfect response. New York is 8-5 with a one-game lead over Washington and Dallas for the NFC East crown, so they haven’t accomplished anything yet. Still, Wilson reinvigorated the Giants, who suddenly possess one of the league’s true big-play threats.
The excitement over Wilson’s record-breaking performance may have pulled the spotlight away from the Giants other hero, WR Victor Cruz. In addition to receiving one of QB Eli Manning’s four touchdown passes, Cruz finished with 121 yards on nine targets (eight catches). TE Martellus Bennett was sold again (five catches, eight targets, one touchdown), and WR Domenik Hixon made a brilliant touchdown reception on a fade pass from Manning just before the half.
The running game looks good on the stat sheet -- thanks largely to Wilson’s 52-yard touchdown run -- but the ground game was dormant for the majority of the game. New York entered the half with just 13 rushing yards, but things eventually opened up at the end of the game as the Saints defense began to break down.
If there was one concern, it was Manning, who made several risky tosses during the win. Yes, he had four touchdowns, but he was lucky to get out of the game with only two interceptions. In the end, a 22-for-35, 259-yard performance isn’t too bad. Previous game's grade: B-
The defense gave up nearly 500 yards, which precludes them from getting an "A," but that’s where the negatives end. The Saints also had a big field to work with throughout the game, thanks to lousy field position.
Given the Saints’ own defensive issues, the fact the Giants held them to 27 points -- only 20 of which were the result of the offense -- was more than enough for the win. Obviously that wouldn’t have happened without the turnovers. Brown (two interceptions, one forced fumble), S Antrel Rolle (one fumble recovery, one forced fumble) and DT Linval Joseph (fumble recovery) were the heroes on defense, but Brown and LB Jacquian Williams deserve credit for the way they handled Saints TE Jimmy Graham (10 targets, five catches, 56 yards). Previous game's grade: D
Special teams: A
K Lawrence Tynes missed a field goal, but it’s hard to imagine any Giants fan remembering that after everything else that happened on special teams. Not only did Wilson return four kicks for 227 yards and touchdown, but returner Jerrel Jernigan got into the act, taking one kick back 60 yards to set up a field goal for Tynes.
P Steve Weatherford dropped all three punts inside the 20-yard line -- he had good field position to work with -- and LS Zak DeOssie made a nice tackle on Saints PR Darren Sproles. As for their own kick coverage, the Giants didn’t yield a return longer than 26 yards. Previous game's grade: C-
The Giants were ready, which is the best compliment anyone can give a coaching staff. Even when the running game sputtered in the first half, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s unit still managed to pick up first downs. Don’t pay too much attention to the Giants' 394 yards -- that’s largely the result of the good field position provided by the return game and the defensive takeaways.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell failed to get the pass rush going and there were obviously issues with the run defense, but the big win was the Giants confused the Saints' offense with their coverage. New York gave up some big plays, but the secondary held it’s own when it mattered most.
Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn deserves a lot of credit. The Giants had two costly penalties on kick returns in the Week 13 loss to Redskins, so Quinn changed the directional approach to a more downhill one -- and it worked. Previous game's grade: C-
Follow the Giants and Alex Raskin @CBSGiants and @AlexRaskinNYC.