The inexplicable call that wiped out Victor Cruz’s apparent fumble in the fourth quarter is the biggest headline from Sunday’s 31-27 Giants victory over the Cardinals, but there are other takeaways from a game that came down to the wire.
1. With or without Justin Tuck, the Giants can get after the quarterback. They sacked Kevin Kolb four times on the afternoon, including once on the Cardinals’ last-ditch drive that fell short on a fourth down in Giants territory. There was plenty of other pressure over the course of the game and Osi Umenyiora showed that his hurt feelings did nothing to stop him from being a master of the strip sack when he ripped the ball away from Kolb in the first half.
2. The Giants might miss Tuck in run defense, though. Beanie Wells tore through the Giants for 138 yards on 27 carries and scored three touchdowns. It was the best Wells has looked in his NFL career and a reminder of what the Cardinals saw in him when they made him a first-round pick out of Ohio State.
3. Hakeem Nicks is a beast. He had 10 catches for 162 yards and the Cardinals didn’t find an answer for him all day, including on the final touchdown of the game. In the Cards’ slight defense, they still seemed to be in shock over having referee Jerome Boger steal the game from them on a call that Tony Dungy just called a “complete fabrication” on NBC. Based on the previous 57 minutes, Nicks wouldn’t have had any problem making that play if Arizona was covering him.
4. Ken Whisenhunt needs someone better helping him out on challenges. Whisenhunt threw the flag on an Alfonso Smith run that was ruled down on the two-yard-line with a little more than five minutes to play in the game. The play was a first down, which meant the Cards had four shots with Wells, who the Giants could not stop, and the Giants had just called a timeout so he had plenty of time to get a surer look before throwing his flag. The Cards lost the challenge and could have used the timeout on their final drive. They held onto their final timeout and went straight for a frantic fourth down play that failed instead of having a chance to talk things over.
5. Whisenhunt’s play calls on the Cardinals drive that preceded the Cruz play could have used some work, too. He passed twice, including a third down incompletion after the Giants had called their final timeout, instead of going with Wells who, as we’ve mentioned twice, was unstoppable on Sunday. It didn’t help that Dave Zastudil got off an awful punt, but the Cards could have done more to help themselves. We feel bad piling on Whisenhunt after the refs kicked him directly between the wickets, but it bears mentioning.