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The Good, Bad and Ugly of the Giants Win

The running game's return was the best part of the day

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Oct 8, 2012  |  Updated 10:22 AM EDT
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Rock Stars: Then and Now

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Wilson's run was one of the day's brightest moments.

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 You can't blame Tom Coughlin for not trying to get his team into the right frame of mind for games against bad teams. 

All last week, Coughlin made himself sound detached from reality by talking about the Browns as if they were the second coming of the undefeated Dolphins instead of a team with one win in the first four weeks and plenty of holes for a decent opponent to exploit on the field.

The problem is that his team continues to refuse to hit the ground running when faced with such opposition. 

The Giants fell behind 14-0 on Sunday before everyone even filed into MetLife Stadium and conjured up plenty of unwelcome memories from past games against weak foes that were allowed to hang around far too long because the Giants played with all the urgency of a hibernating bear.

Things turned around quickly, as evidenced by the 41-27 final score, but the Giants' habit of making life more difficult than it needs to be remains in full effect. 

Frustrating as this habit might be, it isn't one that you can get too worked up about after seeing it play out so often. The Giants play down to their opposition because they're confident enough to believe that playing 60 minutes isn't something that they need to do in order to win football games. 

It obviously doesn't always work that way, as evidenced by their 3-2 record, but a far better test of what this Giants team might be will come in San Francisco next weekend when the Giants face a 49ers team that has outscored their opponents 79-3 over the last two weeks.

If the Giants can't muster up enough effort to actually go from the first whistle to the last, there's a good chance they'll lose and that would give them losses to the three best teams they've played before to go with two closer than they need to be games against teams that will be drafting early next April. 

In the past, the Giants have risen to such occasions. We'll see if this year's team has the same ability. 

Until then, though, have a look at the good, bad and ugly from Sunday's win. 

GOOD: Ahmad Bradshaw gets the love for running for 200 yards, but the return of the run game was all about the offensive line blowing the Browns off the ball over and over again in the second half to make Bradshaw's life easy. It helped that the Browns lost two key run stoppers to injury during the game, but you don't look such gift horses in the mouth regardless of other circumstances. 

BAD: The run defense, on the other hand, still stinks. Trent Richardson made the first guy miss or broke tackles far too often on Sunday and his ability to grind out yards makes this game play out very differently if his teammates don't turn the ball over twice in the final minutes of the first half to give the Giants a lead they barely earned. 

GOOD: All three of Victor Cruz's touchdowns were welcome, but the best one was the first which came after Cruz sold a hard inside route before breaking wide open on an out pattern. It's a progression in Cruz's game that promises even better days ahead. 

BAD: It's just about time to break out the milk cartons with the faces of the Giants pass rushers on them. Brandon Weeden was rarely pressured on Sunday, which helped keep the Browns in the game much longer than their play really warranted. 

GOOD: David Wilson had a 40-yard touchdown run and Rueben Randle had an effective game as the latest receiver to benefit from playing with Eli Manning, a double-dip that makes the 2012 draft look a lot better all of a sudden. If both can build on these performances, the Giants offense will be scary indeed. 

UGLY: The 62-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon came on a play when the Giants thought Chase Blackburn could cover a speedy wide receiver long enough for a safety to help him out. That might work with a pass rush, but it's a mystifying call when JPP, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora remain on strike. 

GOOD: We gave props to the offensive line up top, but Bradshaw deserves a little recognition as well. He ran with purpose after fumbling on the first play of the game, something the Giants obviously hope will continue without the need to hurt the team with a turnover. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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