It takes a real team effort to be as thoroughly dominated as the Giants were by the Colts last night. The defense, especially, was unprepared for the Colts to run the ball as much as they did, but the offense struggled plenty itself. Peyton Manning outplayed Eli, and as much as we could dream of the Giants pulling off an upset and making some sort of early-season statement, the better team won last night. Handily.
Not that one player didn’t earn a disproportionate amount of attention. It’s not so much the bizarre incident in which Brandon Jacobs threw his helmet into the stands. (As he tells it, he intended to throw his helmet at the bench in frustration, but instead threw it higher because of his sticky hands.) It’s that Jacobs, who gained eight yards on four carries, had been benched before Tom Coughlin apparently even knew of his helmet-throwing.
He’s gone from a featured back to a second-stringer whose own coach criticized him for “too much of that East-West stuff.” (Coughlin was particularly upset about Jacobs’s inability to find a hole on the third-quarter play before Eli Manning connected with Mario Manningham for a too-little-too-late touchdown. The big running back cut back rather than attempting to break through the line, gaining no yards.)
Jacobs’s displeasure with a reduced role has been well documented, but he’s giving the Giants little reason to use him more. (Needless to say, throwing helmets into the stands won’t earn him any points with the coaches … or the equipment manager.) The Giants offense is at its best when Eli Manning can spread the ball around: to Manningham or Steve Smith or Hakeem Nicks, set up by a running game that two years ago featured three reliable running backs. Right now, that number is down to one.