It’s the halfway point in the NFL season and quarterback Eli Manning is clearly on a roll. But so are the New York Giants, who toyed with the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday afternoon at QWest Field, 41-7.
After this convincing romp, the Giants have extended their winning streak to five games, and with eight games left on the regular-season schedule, seem to be the class of the NFC.
Once 1-2, New York has every ingredient to make another run at a Super Bowl, and it hopes to ride head coach Tom Coughlin’s tried-and-true formula – running and defense, with a sprinkle of a passing attack.
It was this recipe that subdued then undefeated New England in the title game three seasons ago.
Facing a struggling Seattle team that surrendered 33 points to the Oakland Raiders two weeks ago, Manning threw for 290 yards, while connecting on three first-half scoring passes.
The crowd in Seattle calls itself the “12th Man,” and with good reason. It is without a doubt the loudest stadium in the league.
But the sold-out throng was quiet early when Manning, who hit 21 of 32 passes without an interception, marched his team 52 yards on seven plays, with running back Ahmad Bradshaw scoring on a two-yard run and 5:49 left in the first quarter.
The Giants (6-2) led 7-0, and would continue to score and control the ball for 42 minutes and 34 seconds, while the Seahawks (4-4) had it just over 17 minutes.
Seattle mustered eight first downs, and the Giants 30. The Seahawks were out-rushed 197 yards to 49 yards.
Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was sidelined with an injury, and his replacement, Charlie Whitehurst, made his first NFL start.
Difficult even for a cagey veteran, it wasn’t very pretty for Whitehurst, a one-time Clemson standout, who drilled 12 of 23 passes for 113 yards. Whitehurst had a scoring pass early in the fourth quarter, but was intercepted twice.
It soon became 14-0 when Manning found emerging star wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who finished with a game-high 128 yards and six receptions, with a 46-yard bomb that capped off a 63-yard, four-play drive late in the first quarter.
It ballooned to 21-0 with 2:03 showing in the same quarter after Leon Washington fumbled the ensuing kickoff that gave the Giants (487 total net yards) the football at Seattle’s four-yard line. One play later, Bradshaw (19 carries for 57 yards) was in the end zone.
New York scored two touchdowns in the second quarter, with former USC wide receiver Steve Smith (46 yards on four receptions) hauling in a six-yard toss from Manning and 9:15 showing on the clock.
Manning moved the ball 73 yards, while using 11 plays, which was made possible after Whitehurst was picked off.
At this point, with the Giants ahead 28-0, the crowd grew even more silent, sensing that a comeback was unlikely for the Seahawks (162 total yards)
Manning’s five-yard scoring pass to tight end Kevin Boss (15 yards and two catches) made it 35-0 late in the quarter. This five-touchdown halftime lead was the biggest by the Giants since 1959.
Lawrence Tynes added two field goals in the third quarter. The first attempt was a 25-yard kick and came with 10:05 left, and his second boot was a 20-yard effort as time ran out in the quarter.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.