New York Giants: Josh Brown

Josh Brown ready to punt if necessary

September, 10, 2014
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Josh Brown hasn't punted in an NFL game since 2004, but the New York Giants' placekicker was practicing it Wednesday just in case he needs to do it Sunday.

Giants punter Steve Weatherford sprained his ankle in Monday's game. An MRI taken Tuesday showed torn ligaments, but Weatherford was told he didn't need surgery. He spent Giants practice in the weight room (shocker, right?) and said he was still hopeful he could return soon -- possibly as early as Sunday.

"The diagnosis wasn't great, but it could have been a lot worse," Weatherford said. "It could have been a knee. It could have been season-ending. I would like to see a lot more progress between now and Sunday, but I have confidence that our training staff can get me where I need to be."

Weatherford was able to stay in the game and continue punting, but he said the key to determining whether he can play Sunday will not be whether he can "just get the ball off," but rather confidence that he can punt to his standards. However, assuming they don't want to put him on season-ending injured reserve, the Giants aren't likely to use a second roster spot on a punter they bring in off the street. So if Weatherford has to miss a week, Brown is the likely replacement option.

"It's not part of my normal serious drills, but it's not something that's going to be overwhelming," Brown said. "I have no issues catching the snap and getting it off in time."

Weatherford is also the holder on field goals -- a chore he could certainly handle with a sprained ankle but which would fall to backup quarterback Ryan Nassib if Weatherford were inactive Sunday. Brown said Nassib didn't hold in college and has been getting a crash course in it the past few weeks. "He's doing real well," Brown said.
All this week, we took a position-by-position look at the New York Giants' offense as it heads into training camp. The week of July 14, we'll do the same with the defense. Today, though, as a Saturday special, we'll take a look at the way the Giants' special teams stack up with a couple of weeks still left before camp.

Kickers: Josh Brown, Brandon McManus

Punter: Steve Weatherford

Long snapper: Zak DeOssie

Kick returners: Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, Odell Beckham Jr.

Punt returners: Holliday, Beckham, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan

Gunners: Zack Bowman, Bennett Jackson, Charles James et al.

Special teams coach Tom Quinn said in June that he saw the placekicker position as a competition between Brown, who was the Giants' kicker last year, and McManus, a rookie out of Temple. That's a battle to watch in camp.

Demps was signed for kickoff returns, but the suspension and release of Will Hill has left the Giants thin at safety, and Demps likely will have to play more there than they originally planned. That could open the door for Holliday or rookie Beckham to get more kick-return chances, assuming they're not afraid to use this year's first-round pick there and expose him to injury that could limit him on offense. David Wilson, who was brilliant as a kick returner in his 2012 rookie season, is unlikely to find himself back in the mix even if he's cleared for contact following neck surgery. Michael Cox, if he makes the team at running back, could factor here as well.

Holliday should be the primary punt returner, though Beckham can likely do the job there too. Randle and Jernigan are holdovers from last year's punt-return unit, which was one of the worst in the league.

Bowman gets mentioned here because his ability to get down the field on special teams is a primary reason the Giants signed him. James and Jackson could use strong performances on the coverage teams in camp as a means of making the team in a crowded field of cornerbacks.

Weatherford's and DeOssie's spots are as secure as Eli Manning's is.
For about an hour and a half Thursday afternoon, the New York Giants made all of their coordinators and assistant coaches available to speak to the media. It was a high-concentration information-gathering exercise during which we learned a lot. For example, someone asked special teams coordinator Tom Quinn how kicker Josh Brown has looked so far, and Quinn responded by saying that Brown and fellow kicker Brandon McManus, a rookie out of Temple, have looked very good. Quinn said he sees a training camp competition for the job between Brown and McManus.

"I see everything as a competition," Quinn said. "I really like McManus. I liked him coming out. I thought he was a really good kicker coming out of Temple. He's kicked in the Northeast at a high level, and I think he's got a lot of upside."

Brown kicked just fine for the Giants last year, but there's never any harm in finding out if you can upgrade at a spot like that. Quinn said both guys have been practicing the extra points from the 15-yard line, which the NFL will use on an experimental basis this preseason (the Giants and Bills in their first three preseason games because they have the extra one, everyone else in their first two), and that they've "handled that very well." Sounds as though kicker could be something to watch once camp starts next month.

Anyway, just an example, as I said. Over the coming days and weeks, we will roll out more information gleaned from Thursday's coaches sessions. Just wanted to give you all a heads up that the information pipeline isn't drying up just because the Giants are off for the next month.

Big Blue Morning: Just a fantasy

March, 21, 2014
After a dizzying early portion of the week, things have hit a bit of a lull with New York Giants news over the past couple of days. While perusing our site I happened to notice Christopher Harris has put out a set of fantasy football rankings based off the league-wide free-agent activity so far. Yes, fantasy football six months before the season starts. Anybody who knows me knows I love it.

So here's a look at where various Giants players fall in Christopher's rankings, which I imagine are at least somewhat subject to change between now and September:

QB: Eli Manning, No. 21. Yeah, one spot ahead of the Rams' Sam Bradford and two spots ahead of Michael Vick, who is not even on a team yet. Yet, this is not an ungenerous ranking. Manning finished 21st in quarterback scoring (just behind Geno Smith!) in his 27-interception 2013 season, and his roster currently includes no viable tight end and only one receiver who has ever caught more than 60 passes in a season. He could be easy to get and could represent strong value if he bounces back, as he has before. But he's going to be a tough guy to count on for fantasy numbers.

RB: Rashad Jennings, No. 23. Again, just ahead of a guy (Knowshon Moreno) who is currently unemployed. No respect, right? Jennings finished 22nd in running back scoring in 2013 in Oakland, and he didn't even have the job for the full season. I actually think Jennings could be the back who leads the Giants in carries in 2014. But there is no way to know that from this far out, and as a fantasy player I tend to stay away from Giants running backs anyway because of the unreliable manner in which Tom Coughlin distributes carries. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is a factor here as well, but he comes form Green Bay, where recent history hasn't exactly produced too many star fantasy running backs.

RB: David Wilson, No. 45. If he's healthy and has a big preseason, you're going to hear a lot of the same stuff you heard last summer about his big-play potential and how he can win you matchups by himself with one big run. And that's all true. But like the Giants, you're going to want to see it before you believe it with this guy.

WR: Victor Cruz, No. 19. Yeah, I mean, this is the state of the Giants' offense, right? Cruz finished 28th in wide receiver scoring in 2013, catching only four touchdown passes all season as he played under constant double-teams because of the lack of a threat posed by a loafing Hakeem Nicks. As currently constructed, the Giants' roster offers no other receiving options that would draw the extra coverage away from Cruz. Until they add something exciting on the outside, I don't imagine he's got a chance to rise back to his once-elite fantasy level in anyone's preseason rankings. But if it makes you feel any better, Christopher ranked Nicks, who is now with the Colts, No. 42.

WR: Rueben Randle, No. 36. We'll see. Everybody loved him last year, too, but he didn't break out as a fantasy scorer in spite of six touchdown catches. He's still developing, and he could get a great opportunity. But this seems high to me without seeing any more than we've seen.

WR: Jerrel Jernigan, No. 66. I think he's still best suited as Cruz's backup in the slot, but his strong showing late in the 2013 season could encourage the Giants to give him more chances, and McAdoo could have some cool new plan for him that we don't know about yet.

TE: Adrien Robinson, No. 40. But I'll betcha if they draft that Eric Ebron kid out of North Carolina they throw him into the top 10. I'll betcha.

K: Josh Brown, No. 26. You just can't draft a fantasy kicker on an offense that doesn't score. Brown had some big games last season, but still only finished 27th in kicker scoring.

Team defense/special teams, No. 14. They were No. 16 in fantasy scoring last season and have added two dynamic return men in Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday. But I think what holds them back in a team defense ranking are questions about where the sacks will come from.
In case you haven't been paying attention, the New York Giants are going to look a lot different in 2014. You can make the argument that's a good thing, given how bad they were in 2013, but I'm not sure the extent of the roster overhaul in East Rutherford is being sufficiently understood by outside observers.

[+] EnlargeReese
George Gojkovich/Getty ImagesThe Giants and general manager Jerry Reese are in unfamiliar territory in terms of roster turnover.
The Giants project to have new starters at nine positions -- center, left guard, wide receiver, tight end, running back, cornerback, outside linebacker, defensive tackle and defensive end -- plus a new slot cornerback, a new kick returner and a new punt returner. At the present time, there are only 13 players on the Giants' roster who played in their Super Bowl XLVI victory over the Patriots 25 months ago.

That's serious turnover, folks, and while it was inevitable and warranted, it creates a level of uncertainty with which this continuity-based franchise has not been familiar over the past decade.

The Giants have relied in large part on their locker room culture to help them through tough times and elevate them to postseason greatness. But the locker room is going to have more new faces in it in 2014 than it's had in quite some time. Key leaders such as Justin Tuck, Terrell Thomas and David Diehl, have departed, leaving guys like Antrel Rolle, Jon Beason and of course Eli Manning to keep steering the ship in the right direction when it veers off course.

Now, many of the players the Giants have signed look to be upgrades over their predecessors at their individual positions. And from the group of new guys, it's likely a leader or two will emerge. But it's worth noting that the sheer volume of the turnover creates an unfamiliar situation for the people who run the team.

GM Jerry Reese doesn't like to build a roster through free agency. He prefers to use the draft to build and maintain a deep roster and develop players so they're ready to fill in when holes open up. But the past couple of years haven't worked that way, either because of poor drafts, insufficient development or both, and the roster Reese carried into this offseason was in need of widespread repair. He has had no choice but to stock up through free agency, even as he remains well aware of the pitfalls. And while he's maintained some key principles in an effort to minimize the inevitable risk (the only player of the 16 free agents they've signed who's over 30 is kicker Josh Brown), Reese surely knows not every move he's made will work out. His best hope is the majority of them do, and this time next year he's confronted with less than half as many holes.

Tom Coughlin is in for an unusual season as well. The Giants have tremendous faith in their head coach's ability to lead men and shape a team, and Coughlin's task once training camp opens in July will be to get all of the new pieces mixed in smoothly with the old pieces and make sure everyone's rowing in the same direction. This is what Coughlin gets paid to do, and he's very good at it, but some of the things that may have run on autopilot in recent years when the roster wasn't turning over at all aren't going to do that anymore. It's going to be a very different year for Coughlin and his coaching staff, a decent chunk of which is also new, by the way.

If you're a Giants fan, this is an exciting time, because your team is taking shape and you can imagine the great things the exciting new players who are being brought in can do together. It's an exciting time for the people who run the Giants, too. Things will feel fresh and new once this group gets together, and that's always fun. But a lot still rests on the ability of them to bring all of these pieces together and make it all work.

Big Blue Morning: Happy New Year

March, 11, 2014
Yeah, that's right. Free agency begins today at 4 pm ET along with the start of the new NFL league year. That means the New York Giants, who by my count need at least 10 new starters and a whole bunch of depth, are going to get busy figuring out what their 2014 roster is going to look like.

The industry scuttlebutt this morning is the Giants will sign a center quickly, as they did three years ago with David Baas when the market opened. They have decided to release Baas, as you learned Monday, and with nothing behind him on the current roster, center becomes a priority item. The Packers' Evan Dietrich-Smith makes a lot of sense and could be the guy they sign right away, within minutes or hours of the opening of the market. Dietrich-Smith turns 28 in July, and new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo knows him from their work together in Green Bay. The Giants also have spoken with the agents for Saints free-agent center Brian de la Puente and others.

The Giants also are known to be looking at cornerbacks. They are close to an agreement with Trumaine McBride, who became a starter for them last year after Corey Webster and Aaron Ross got hurt. But they see McBride as a valuable reserve or swing corner who can play inside or outside. They'd prefer not to have to rely on him as a starter on the outside if they can help it. Now, obviously, the biggest name on the cornerback market all of a sudden is Darrelle Revis, who is apparently about to get cut by the Buccaneers. If the Giants want to play in the deep end of the cornerback pool, they would have to at least check on Revis. My guess is that he'll cost more than they want to pay, but they'd be crazy not to look into it. The Giants have about $25 million in salary cap space right now, and while they have a lot of needs, that's enough to enable them to afford anyone.

The Giants also continue to work on a new deal for linebacker Jon Beason, though it seems as if he's interested in finding out what else is out there for him. Remember, because Beason is acting as his own agent, he hasn't yet been able to have the conversations with teams that other agents have had about their players for the past three days. So, assuming everyone's been following the rules, Beason doesn't yet know what his market is. Once he finds out, he could decide the Giants' offer is the best he'll do. But he owes it to himself to find out.

Other than McBride, it seems the only Giants free agents who'll be locked up by 4 pm ET are kicker Josh Brown and possibly running back Peyton Hillis. That means Beason, Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Terrell Thomas, Stevie Brown, Hakeem Nicks and all the rest should be on the market when it opens. Of that list, I'd guess Beason and Brown are the most likely to be back, and I wouldn't rule out Tuck just yet. The others are looking for bigger paydays than the Giants are willing to offer right now.

Stay tuned throughout the day, of course. We'll have plenty of coverage, including a live chat with all of our NFL reporters that runs from 2 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. ET. I'll be popping in and out of there as news warrants, but the chat should be active all day with news from around the league. Stop by at this link right here. Catch up with you later.
The deadline for NFL teams to designate franchise players for 2014 is 4 p.m. ET on Monday. If I had to guess right now, I would say the New York Giants don't use it this year.

It's been clear for a while that the Giants are trying to get linebacker Jon Beason locked up before free agency starts, and is reporting Monday that Beason is priority No. 1 right now. Assuming Beason is indeed their front-burner item right now (and again, that's in line with everything we've heard for the past few weeks), in a vacuum he'd be a guy they'd consider franchising if they couldn't get their deal done by 4 p.m. Monday.

[+] EnlargeJon Beason
AP Photo/Evan PinkusIt's unlikely the Giants use the franchise tag on Jon Beason -- or any of their other players.
But I don't see that as a legitimate fallback plan for the Giants, and the reason is the number. The franchise tag for linebackers this year is $11.455 million, which is a considerably higher salary than the Giants can (or should) pay Beason in 2014. If you were Beason and you were talking with the Giants about, say, a three-year deal worth $3 million or $4 million per year, and all of a sudden they tagged you for one year and $11.455 million, what you'd do is halt negotiations and play for that number. It's simply not realistic.

I predict that the Giants will get something done with Beason at that aforementioned reasonable price. They seem to want him back, he seems to want to stay, and both sides know what the market is for inside linebackers these days. There's no reason to play games, and to those who have asked me on Twitter why it hasn't been done yet if both sides do indeed want it, the answer is as simple as "these things take time." No deadline has yet been missed. And while Monday's franchise-tag deadline does offer the Giants an opportunity to make sure they don't lose Beason to another team, the cost of the tag renders that a non-sensible option for them. They have until 4 p.m. on March 11 to sign Beason before he hits the market.

I also don't see them using a $9.654 million franchise tag on defensive tackle Linval Joseph or a $12.312 million tag on wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. If they were close to a new deal with kicker Josh Brown, it's not insane to think they might tag him for $3.556 million as the Jets did last week with kicker Nick Folk. But while they like Brown and want him back, there doesn't seem to be any reason to use the tag on him. I predict that the 4 p.m. deadline comes and goes with all Giants free agents untagged.

Franchise/transition tags: Giants

February, 17, 2014
Monday is the first day NFL teams can designate franchise or transition tags in an effort to keep players they deem most valuable off the market. (They have until March 3 to decide whether to do it.) Teams don't have to use the designations, and most don't. But if they do, they have the choice to use the exclusive franchise tender, the non-exclusive franchise tender or the transition player designation, which no one uses anymore. A team can pick only one player, at most, on whom to use one of these designations per year. A brief explanation of the differences between the three can be found here.

What we want to figure out here, however, is the likelihood that the New York Giants will use one of these designations this year. We'll ignore the transition tag, because it's outdated and no longer used, and instead focus on the franchise tag. Historically, the Giants have used the franchise player designation as a means of holding a player in place because they believed they were making good progress with that player on a long-term deal and didn't want him to hit the market. Example: Two years ago, nearing completion on a new deal with punter Steve Weatherford, they used the franchise tag on him at the deadline but shortly after announced a long-term deal that superseded it.

They could do that this year if they find themselves in a good position in negotiations with one of their many free agents. Linebacker Jon Beason is a player they'd like to bring back and with whom they've discussed a long-term deal. The franchise-tag salary for linebackers is likely to be more than $10 million, though, so they'd have to feel confident about their chances of signing Beason long-term (they'd have until July 15 to do so) if they were to risk paying him that much on a one-year deal.

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph is another pending free agent who's a candidate for the franchise tag, which for his position should be around $9 million. If they're doing a long-term deal with Joseph before the market opens, it likely would be for less than that, but they could conceivably risk carrying him at that number. I do not believe they will use the franchise tag on wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, for whom the tag could be worth more than $11 million.

It's possible that the strongest Giants candidate for the tag could be kicker Josh Brown, since using the tag for kickers and punters is generally a palatable $3 million or so. The Giants like Brown and could try to sign him to a multi-year deal, using the tag in the meantime as they did with Weatherford.

Josh Brown is an NFC Player of the Week

December, 24, 2013
New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, whose 45-yard field goal in overtime delivered a 23-20 victory against the Lions in Detroit on Sunday, has been named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Brown kicked three field goals in the game -- a 52-yarder and a 41-yarder, in addition to the 45-yard winner. He became the first kicker in Giants history to kick three field goals of 40 yards or longer in the same game.

It's the fifth time in his career Brown has won a Special Teams Player of the Week award, and the first time since Week 8 of the 2009 season, when he was with the Rams. He's the first Giants player to win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week since kick returner David Wilson won it in Week 14 of 2012. He's the first Giants kicker to win it since Lawrence Tynes in Week 3 of 2012.

Brown is also the fourth Giant this week to win an NFC Player of the Week award. Cornerback Terrell Thomas was NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 8. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul won the same award in Week 11, and defensive end Justin Tuck won it in Week 13.

Drive of the Game: Giants go for it in OT

December, 23, 2013
DETROIT -- The third-down pass picked up 6 yards, which left the New York Giants facing a fourth-and-7 from the Detroit Lions' 42-yard line with the game tied and 9:24 left in overtime. After Giants coach Tom Coughlin went over the situation in his head and with his coaches and decided they'd go for it, he looked up to see quarterback Eli Manning still in the middle of the field.

"He didn't want to come off the field," Coughlin said. "I'd say that's about as close to 'lobbying' as he gets."

The Giants picked up that fourth down on a 15-yard pass from Manning to Jerrel Jernigan. Four plays later, a 45-yard Josh Brown field goal delivered a 23-20 Giants victory that eliminated the Lions from contention for this year's postseason and gave the Giants something about which to feel positive at the end of their own lost year.

The 11-play game-winning drive started at the Giants' 28-yard line after a 7-yard Rueben Randle punt return. Michael Cox, the only healthy tailback the Giants had after Andre Brown left earlier in overtime with a concussion, picked up a yard on first down. Manning threw incomplete to Bear Pascoe on second, then hit Randle for a 26-yard gain on third down. After an incomplete pass to Jernigan on first, Manning and Jernigan connected for 6 yards, but a holding penalty by left tackle Will Beatty pushed them back to second-and-20 at their 45. Manning hit Brandon Myers for 7 yards and then Randle for 6 to set up Coughlin's fourth-down decision. Then he delivered the 15-yarder to Jernigan that all but assured the win.

Tight end Pascoe was in at halfback on the first-down play that followed, and he picked up 2 yards. Manning then threw incomplete to Randle on second and knelt in the middle of the field on third to set up Brown with a straight-on look at the kick. Brown delivered his third field goal of the game in three tries.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

December, 22, 2013
DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 23-20 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field:

What it means: Anyone wondering whether the Giants have given up on their season or on their coaches has the answer. The Giants are outmanned and overmatched pretty much every week, and Sunday was no exception. But in spite of having their offense choked off after halftime, they pushed the game into overtime, where Josh Brown won it with a 45-yard field goal.

Stoch watch: Will Hill, up. After reportedly being arrested Friday night on charges related to child support, the Giants safety played in and changed Sunday's game. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Hill intercepted Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and ran in from 38 yards for a touchdown. The ensuing extra point tied the game. The Giants were doing absolutely nothing on offense in the second half behind a shredded offensive line, and scoring on defense turned out to be their best option.

Tough Tuck: Defensive end Justin Tuck appeared to injure his neck in the third quarter but remained in the game in spite of being in clear discomfort. It's worth pointing out that Tuck, who is free-agent-eligible at the end of the season, wanted to tough it out in a game like this with the Giants already eliminated from postseason contention. It backs up his team-first talk. Tuck's big second half of the season has helped his chances of returning next year.

What's next: The Giants mercifully close out their season with a 1 p.m. ET home game Sunday against Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. They beat the Redskins 24-17 in Washington in Week 13.
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: A lot went on Monday during the Giants' first day back at work after their bye week. The team announced that running back David Wilson's herniated disk was improving but that he still wasn't cleared to resume football activities. Wilson's going to get his neck looked at again in a few weeks, and they haven't put him on season-ending injured reserve yet, but that certainly remains a possibility. ... We spoke with Prince Amukamara about his own experiences with hazing in light of the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito story. Amukamara had a lot to say about the concepts of hazing and bullying in general and the key differences between his case and Martin's. ... Newsday spoke with Giants kicker Josh Brown, who knows Incognito and isn't surprised by his behavior. ... And yes, the Giants did some scoreboard-watching Sunday, and were disappointed with the results of the NFC East games.

Behind enemy lines: Of the two significant offensive players who left Sunday's game with injuries, the Raiders are more concerned with running back Darren McFadden's availability than they are with quarterback Terrelle Pryor's. McFadden has a hamstring injury and a history as a slow healer. Pryor's knee injury is being described by the team as "day to day," and the Raiders said he wouldd have been coming out of the game at that point anyway.

Around the division: How many touchdown passes does a guy have to throw to get named the full-time starting quarterback? Apparently more than the seven Nick Foles threw Sunday against the Raiders. ... The trial of Sean Taylor's shooter is over, and as John Keim writes, it's the latest occasion to reflect on what might have been had Taylor's life and career not ended far too soon.

Around the league: Tim Keown's column on the Martin/Incognito affair knocks it out of the park, addressing a core issue that you're not going to hear players address in their locker-room interviews about this while the story remains in the headlines. There are, plain and simple, a large number of people in the NFL who see Martin as the one in the wrong here. And that's sad. No matter how rough-and-tough your line of work is, there's no excuse for abandoning basic human decency. We're not on this planet very long, folks. No one's final words are ever, "I wish I'd been more horrible to people."

Big Blue Morning: A winning streak

October, 28, 2013
Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants

The news of the day: The Giants won their second game in a row, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 15-7 to head into their bye week with a 2-6 record. For the second game in a row, the defense did not allow any points, as the Eagles' touchdown came when they recovered a botched punt snap in the end zone in the fourth quarter. The Giants' defense got four sacks, which represents two-thirds of its league-low season total from the first seven weeks of the season. It also forced three turnovers, including Will Hill's final-minute interception that sealed the victory. They were upset that they couldn't score touchdowns and instead had to settle for five Josh Brown field goals, but a Giants team that couldn't find a way to win for the first six weeks of the season wasn't complaining about much of anything after this one. Two of the sacks came from defensive backs, and some of the defensive linemen joked that maybe that was the spark the pass rush needed. "It's not the most ideal situation, but you'll take it," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "Especially if they're out there forcing turnovers like they were."

Behind enemy lines: It was pretty apparent that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick should not have been playing on his bad hamstring. Multiple Giants defenders said Vick didn't look like himself, and Justin Tuck said he thought Vick "just tried to will himself to play hurt." Vick declined to say after the game whether or not he thought it was a good idea for him to play, but he did say it was a worse hamstring injury than any he's ever had and that he's going for further tests this week. "I tested it many times, but there's nothing like game simulation when guys are coming at you and they're going to hit you," Vick said.

Around the division: The first-place Cowboys looked poised to improve to 5-3, but they gave their game away late to Calvin Johnson and the Lions, and so they fell to 4-4, which as everyone is pointing out is only two games better than the Giants. (Three, really, since they beat the Giants head-to-head.) Jason Garrett has a good team that hasn't yet learned how to win its big games against tough opponents, and as a result the division race remains up for grabs.

Around the league: Top of my head, I'm thinking the Saints, 49ers and Bengals get serious looks at improved standing on my Power Rankings ballot as I put that thing together today. The Bengals' victory over a Jets team that just took out the Patriots a week earlier was something of a serious statement.

Special teams units step up, minus one play

October, 27, 2013
PHILADELPHIA -- The New York Giants’ special-teams unit was nearly perfect in Sunday’s 15-7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The only blemish was a bad snap late in the fourth quarter by long-snapper Zak DeOssie, which turned into the Eagles' only touchdown.

That was it.

Kicker Josh Brown connected on a career-high five field goals and had five touchbacks, while punter Steve Weatherford hit three of his five punts inside the 20-yard line.

[+] EnlargeJosh Brown
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsJosh Brown accounted for all 15 of the Giants' points on Sunday.
Weatherford’s best punt of the day was a 68-yarder that landed at the Eagles' 3. Speedy return man DeSean Jackson, who has terrorized the Giants before, wasn’t able to do so this time.

“I’ve never hit a punt that long out of bounds in my life,” Weatherford said. “For me it was huge because it was a field-position game. We knew going into this game that it would be that type of game. We haven’t put up a ton of points this year, so field position’s been huge for us. That was the first punt that DeSean Jackson was back there, so I knew I needed to hit a good one.

“It landed at the 3-yard line, so obviously that was a huge momentum-changer for us.”

Said Weatherford of Brown, who went 5-for-5 and connected from 40, 44, 33, 46 and 27 yards out: “I can’t say enough about him. I thought special teams was a huge weapon for us today.”

The Giants were in the process of pitching a shutout when DeOssie’s snap sailed over Weatherford’s head with 4:11 remaining in the game. Weatherford tried to kick the ball out of the end zone for a safety, but linebacker Najee Goode landed on it for a touchdown.

“I kind of looked back so I’d have enough time to do it [kick it out of bounds], and when I drew [my leg] back, the ball kind of bounced toward me and to the side, and I was like ‘Oh [crud],’ so then I just tried to pick it up and obviously the guy was right on top of me,” Weatherford said. “But our defense was amazing today, and that was a nonfactor at the end of the day.”

Said DeOssie of his error: “It’s unacceptable and I totally bear that burden, but I know that my teammates have my back.”

They did.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

October, 27, 2013

PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 15-7 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles:

What it means: The Giants have won two games in a row for the first time since Weeks 7 and 8 of last season. This was their first road win since Oct. 28, 2012, in Dallas. Their defense hasn't allowed a touchdown since Week 6 in Chicago. And Eli Manning has played two full games without throwing an interception after throwing 15 in his first six. The Giants also picked up four sacks of Eagles quarterbacks Sunday, a stunning number considering they had a league-low six sacks as a team coming into the game and only nine sacks in their past 12 games dating back to last season. They have played teams the past two weeks that have major quarterback issues, but give the Giants' defense credit for taking advantage of their opponents' problems.

Stock Watch: Peyton Hillis: up. With Brandon Jacobs inactive again, Hillis got the bulk of the workload at running back for the second week in a row. Hillis isn't a very dynamic runner, but he's an asset in the passing game as a receiver out of the backfield and as a blocker in pass protection. With Andre Brown due back after the bye, it'll be interesting to see how things get divided in the backfield.

Turning it over: Another thing with which the Giants' defense has struggled this season is forcing turnovers. But the first two they forced Sunday -- an Antrel Rolle interception of Michael Vick and Jacquian Williams' recovery of Terrell Thomas' strip-sack of Matt Barkley -- were critical. And the third -- Will Hill's interception with 13 seconds to go -- sealed the game.

Eventful day: Rolle had a sack and an interception and recovered an onside kick in the fourth quarter after the Eagles cut the lead to 15-7. A big enough all-around contribution to mitigate the incredibly stupid group celebration he led after the interception that cost the Giants 15 yards in the first quarter.

Getting his kicks: Josh Brown's five field goals tied his career high and came one short of the Giants' team record set by Joe Danelo in 1981.

What's next: The Giants have a bye next week. They'll gather in East Rutherford for their regular Monday meetings and film sessions, but then they're off again until they return to practice next Monday. Their next game is Nov. 10 at home against the Oakland Raiders.