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When Sunday started, there were still serious questions about which of the two faces the Giants have shown this season was their real one. By halftime of their game with the Texans we had some answers and they were all good.
The Giants took a 24-3 lead into the locker room en route to their eventual 34 -10 victory in Houston and it was much more impressive than the performance that got them a win against the Bears last Sunday. It was more impressive because the Texans have proven to be a better team than the Bears, it was more impressive because it came on the road and it was more impressive because the offense matched the defense's effort for the first time this season.
Three straight first half possessions ended with touchdowns and the Giants would have added a fourth if Hakeem Nicks hadn't dropped a deep pass behind the Texans secondary. Don't hate on 88 too much, though. He was unguardable all day and wound up tying the record for most receptions by a wide receiver in Giants history with 12. In 2009, it seemed like Steve Smith would become Eli Manning's preferred target which was fine but not particularly dynamic as Smith is a possession receiver. Nicks is an everything receiver and that makes the Giants a much better team.
Much of that production had to do with an offensive line that actually did its job for the first time. They opened holes big enough that Brandon Jacobs was actually able to move forward and they gave Manning eons to find receivers. Things slipped a bit in the second half, but there were some necessary steps forward from the blockers.
Defensively, we're about ready to concede that the unit is at a level that backs up the volume of talk about how good they are. Matt Schaub was pressured on the majority of his drops, Arian Foster was completely stuffed and Andre Johnson looked about as frustrated as the pre-trade Randy Moss as the Giants found ways to limit his effectiveness. The numbers aren't as gaudy as they were against the Bears, but make no mistake: This was a better performance all around and one that tells us much more about their fitness for battle going forward.
We'd be remiss if we didn't point out that there are still some problems in Giantsland. There are too many penalties and the special teams broken record just keeps on playing. Darius Reynaud -- one fumble and several bad decisions -- shouldn't be on this football team and Matt Dodge isn't consistent enough to justify the amount of rope he's been given by Tom Coughlin.
Worse than that was the fact that the turnover bug started biting again in the second half. Manning threw two interceptions under pressure, continuing an alarming trend of abandoning all sense and simply flinging the ball wildly down the field whenever the heat is on. The line bears some responsibility for this, but Manning has to be smarter and that's especially true when you've got a three-touchdown lead and absolutely no reason to take risks.
You can also wonder why the Giants felt they needed to throw so often when they were up by so much, but if you're not familiar with Kevin Gilbride's madness by now then you simply haven't been paying attention.
They've bought some time to fix those issues over the last two weeks, though. The Giants team we hoped to see this season has finally arrived.