- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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KANSAS CITY -- Not saying they should make parade plans or anything, but the first half of Sunday's game against the Chiefs in Kansas City didn't go as horribly bad for the New York Giants as (a) many people feared it would or (b) the rest of their season has gone to this point. They trail the Chiefs 10-7 after Josh Brown missed a 44-yard field goal attempt with two seconds to go. And yes, 69 of their 182 yards came on a single play -- an Eli Manning touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. But if you're a Giants fan looking for positives as the team tries to avoid an 0-4 start, you're not bereft.
The offensive line is a shambles, with Jim Cordle starting at center and James Brewer at right guard for injured starters David Baas and Chris Snee. And it's not as though the healthy tackles are playing especially well. But it's not as bad as last week in Carolina, when the Panthers' defensive linemen were in the backfield instantaneously on every play, run or pass. Manning has faced significant pressure and been sacked twice, but he's actually been able to complete six passes to Cruz and three to Hakeem Nicks. When compared with last week's passing-game output, this is more or less the 2007 Patriots. And in the run game, they're averaging 4.7 yards per carry on their nine carries.
Defense? Again, nothing award-winning, but some stuff to make you not want to claw out your eyes. The Chiefs are picking on Aaron Ross like crazy, whether it's Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery lined up on him. And they did march an easy-looking 98 yards for their touchdown. But the tackling has been sound on the edge, with especially strong efforts by linebackers Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich. And rookie Damontre Moore has been a disruptive tackling and punt-blocking force on special teams. The Giants even managed to collect the Chiefs' first turnover of the season, off a bad snap.
Oh, and the Giants get the ball back to start the second half.
So yeah, that's about it. I'm not saying it looks as though they'll win and everything will be okay from here on out. The odds are still that the unbeaten Chiefs can control the ball and the clock in the second half and win the game. But Kansas City's not the kind of team that runs away with the game. And the Giants have already shown today that they can hit a big play to keep themselves in it. If you came into this day thinking there was no way for the Giants to win, you now have at least some reason to feel otherwise.
And the way this September has gone, that's about all you can ask.