By Christian S. Kohl
Neither David Wilson nor Ray Rice got off to the flying start they wanted last week. The Broncos absolutely flattened the defending Super Bowl champs by a score of 49-27, while the Cowboys edged passed the Giants 36-31 in the opening week of the season. Both lead running backs will look to deliver a more inspired performance this week after games which undoubtedly left very bad tastes in their respective mouths. The question is, who will bounce back more?
In fairness to Rice, his performance was still solid, and his numbers were heavily contained by the situation. The onslaught of Peyton Manning forced Baltimore to be constantly throwing, thereby removing Rice largely from the equation. The star RB still managed 71 APY and a touchdown, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Wilson, however, coughed the ball up twice, which was more than sufficient to permanently fix the color of Tom Coughlin’s face an irate crimson. Much has been made this week of the disastrous performance of Wilson. He has been raked over the coals by the media, and thoroughly embarrassed. His teammates have rallied around him and have come to his defense, while the Giants’ front office scrambles to dredge up backs like Brandon Jacobs and Willis McGahee should Wilson continue to falter.
Both backs will enter week 2 with a chip on their shoulder, but for Rice it will be borne out of his competitive fire as opposed to personal embarrassment. As a leader of his team, he’ll look to assert control over Cleveland and lead his team to a much needed win after a rocky start this past Thursday. Rice will play well. Wilson will play angry.
The Giants draw Denver this week, and as the Mannings duke it out, New York will badly need a strong running presence to hang with the Broncos. The Denver D is depleted to a degree, and New York will look to pound on them even further, all the while peppering them with aerial attacks to Nicks and Cruz. Wilson will enter this game at home with more than a little to prove, and all signs point to him delivering a huge performance. His talent is not in question, nor was it ever. With the spotlight on his team again this week, his competitive fire and pride will burn hot enough that he will turn in a week to be proud of.
Rice gets a favorable match up and will deliver in the same even, consistent fashion he has done for years. That’s what makes him such an invaluable back. But speaking purely in terms of the bounce back, week 2 will belong to Wilson. It may not be enough to overcome Denver, but it’ll give them the fighting chance they need to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. Ignore the front office scrambling. Wilson is a quality runner on a team which enjoys a balanced attack. He’s the man to watch this week.
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Christian S. Kohl is a sports contributor for CBS Local Digital Media.