Posted: Sunday October 10, 2010 7:26PM ; Updated: Monday October 11, 2010 3:20AM
Don Banks
Don Banks>INSIDE THE NFL

Giants-Texans featured teams in different directions, more Snaps

Story Highlights

My, how the tables have turned for the Giants and Texans over the past weeks

Michael Spurlock's game-winning TD catch turned heads for the wrong reasons

Todd Haley is taking too many risks for a team with Matt Cassel in control

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Brandon Jacobs rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown for the resurgent Giants.
AP

Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a field-goal filled Week 5 of NFL action ...

• Two short weeks. That's about all it takes in today's NFL to completely flip the script. Two weeks ago, the New York Giants looked like an undisciplined disaster in a penalty-strewn loss at home to the Tennessee Titans, and the buzzards were already starting to circle the head of New York's embattled coach, Tom Coughlin. Some observers even had Bill Cowher measuring the drapes in Coughlin office, and the opinions of one Tiki Barber were again in demand.

But a mere 14 days later, the Giants (3-2) look far more dominant than disastrous. A 17-3, sack-filled win over the visiting Bears last Sunday night got New York headed in the right direction, and on Sunday at Houston's Reliant Stadium, the G-Men fairly well dismantled a Texans (3-2) team that was the toast of the NFL entering Week 3.

(N)ot F(or) L(ong), indeed.

Houston, beaten 34-10 by the Giants, just showed us the other side of how quickly fortunes can change. The Texas were riding high with their 2-0 start, but in Weeks 3 and 5, they dropped a pair of home games against the Cowboys and Giants -- losing by 14 and 24 points -- and now look remarkably similar to the recent Houston teams that never seemed able to either stand prosperity or make the playoffs.

The Giants' refocused defense suddenly looks for real, giving up just 13 points in its past two games. The Texans' once-unstoppable offense suddenly looks fraudulent, having scored just 23 points in the losses to the then-0-2 Cowboys and 2-2 Giants. All that newfound resilience and maturity on display in Houston in its wins over Indianapolis and Washington, that's so September.

Both teams, we should note, are still tied for first place in their divisions. But now it feels like they're hurtling in opposite directions, with the Giants coming off their most complete game of the season, and the Texans coming off their worst showing yet. That could and probably will change again, of course. Let's give it another two weeks and see where the season takes the Texans and Giants. It has been an eventful ride already for both franchises in early 2010.

• Houston quarterback Matt Schaub has seven touchdowns and five interceptions this season. In his last three games, he has thrown for three of each, with a passer rating of 77.7 in the loss against Dallas and 53.1 in the loss to the Giants. I know Schaub's very good, but he won't be great in my book until he can consistently deliver when the pressure's on. He does it sometimes, and other times, not so much.

• I'd love to know what Calvin Johnson thought of that 21-yard, game-deciding catch by Bucs receiver Michael Spurlock in the final seconds of Tampa Bay's 24-21 upset at Cincinnati. Really, NFL, that was a reception? Even though Spurlock clearly used the ground to help secure the ball as he landed, and the ball ended up moving in his arms as he came in contact with the ground anyway?

To repeat myself from Week 1, I'm not sure I know what a legal catch is any more. I was almost positive Spurlock's catch would be reversed by replay, because I thought the cameras clearly showed he failed to maintain possession once he hit the ground. The way I saw it, Johnson's nullified game-winning catch against the Bears in Week 1 was about three times more of a catch than Spurlock's upheld reception against the Bengals.

Why do I think we're in for another four of five days of raging debate about this latest call, and that the NFL's rules for the possession of a reception just got more confusing than ever?

• Just another undisciplined losing effort by the Cowboys, who have kind of specialized in those throughout a good bit of the Wade Phillips era. The talent's there, but I don't think Dallas will ever do the little things that it takes to win big in the NFL. And that should be dawning on even Jerry Jones by now.

• Big, impressive win for the Titans at Dallas, and now the AFC South is my favorite division in the league. Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Indianapolis are all 3-2, tied for first and tied for last. That's the kind of year it has been so far in the NFL.

Kyle Orton kept up the aerial assault for the Broncos, rolling up 314 yards of passing against the Ravens' top-ranked pass defense. But after Baltimore took a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, it felt mostly like Orton was wracking up garbage-time yards.

• Cardinals rookie Max Hall defeating the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in his first NFL start is a tremendous story. But Hall had better learn how to avoid contact better than he did in the first half, when Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove slammed into him on that scramble at the New Orleans 2. There's tough, and then there's dumb. In the NFL, dumb usually gets you a seat on the sideline and a spot on the IR.

• Where exactly has that Cardinals defense been all season? With Arizona's defense putting 14 points on the board courtesy of return touchdowns by defensive backs Kerry Rhodes and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Saints are officially in some trouble. Not to mention undisputed second place in their division for the first time since before the 2009 began.

• Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is bucking for my all-overrated team this season. He was called for three penalties against the Chargers, and that's not a shut-down corner. That's the kind of cornerback at which the other team loves to throw.

Defense, Nicks key for Giants
Source: SI
SI.com's Damon Hack explains why the defense looks impressive for the Giants and how Hakeem Nicks helps their offense.
 
SI.com
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