New York Giants 15 – New York Jets 14
Game Overview: Defensively, this game represented a big step forward for the Giants. The G-Men held the Jets to 109 total net yards and only 6 first downs. Four of those occurred on the first Jets’ possession and the Jets only picked up one first down in the entire second half of the game. There were also three turnovers by the Jets’ starters. Most importantly, the Giants’ defense kept the Jets off the scoreboard. Defense is always what inspires me and when the Giants’ defense is playing well, I am a happy camper.
Equally impressive was PK Jay Feely who was 5-for-5 on field goal attempts, including two 50+ yarders.
The bad news for the Giants was that the backup quarterback and punt return situations are – to put it bluntly – a mess. Tim Hasselbeck had a chance to nail down the #2 backup quarterback job, but played terribly. And punt returners Michael Jennings (2 muffs, 1 other bobbled punt) and Ataveus Cash (1 fumble) did not inspire any confidence.
Comments on the Defense: Things did not look good early as the Jets’ easily moved the football down the field on their first drive, picking up four first downs along the way. Part of their success was due to sloppy defense, but it also had to do with the Jets calling the right play at the right time against the Giants’ defense. For example, HB Curtis Martin picked up 8 yards around left end on his first carry. On this play, DE Osi Umenyiora immediately dropped into coverage at the snap of the ball, vacating a gap in the defense where Martin was heading. WLB Carlos Emmons and DT William Joseph were unable to close that gap by themselves. On the very next play, Martin broke off an 18-yard run around right end. There was no linebacker on this side of the field, and when DE Michael Strahan took a hard charge to his right, the only defenders out there to stop the run were CB Curtis Deloatch and FS Brent Alexander. Both took false steps to the inside and that is all Martin needed to turn the corner. Another Martin run picked up 5 yards when Strahan was obviously held (but the penalty was not called).
After the first drive, the defense was superb. It doesn’t get much better than limiting the opposition to two first downs the rest of the game (keep in mind that the Jets’ starters played into the 3rd quarter. So while you may see a number of negative comments below, keep them in perspective. I’m playing the role of perfectionist here, but the overall defense was outstanding.
Defensive Line: The Jets have a physical ground attack and the Giants did a good job of defending the run, other than the first drive of the game. Strahan got easily pinched inside on the aforementioned 18-yard gain – but this was partly self-induced as he took a hard charge to his inside at the snap of the ball. Strahan (ribs) was not supposed to play, but he did and played well, looking like his old self finally. Strahan had a sack, forced fumble, and an interception in the end zone on a play where he looked as natural as a linebacker in perfectly covering the tight end (the only negative here is that he should have stayed in the end zone and not tried to return the ball). He also made a couple of plays against the run, including stuff one Martin run at the point-of-attack and chasing down another from the backside.
Opposite of Strahan, Osi Umenyiora had a quiet game. He wasn’t bad at all against the run, but just didn’t make any plays of note, especially on the pass rush. The Giants do drop him quite a bit into coverage.
A quiet game was also put in by DT Kendrick Clancy. The Jets did not attempt to rush much up the gut when Clancy was in the game with Joseph. That was a bit odd. Like last week, Joseph vacated a gap in the defense by charging hard to his left at the snap of the ball. This allowed Martin to cut back into that gap for 4 yards and a first down on 3rd-and-1. This is a strange defensive tactic in my mind as in both games there has been no one there to cover the gap. Joseph was also blocked out of the way on the 8-yard gain where Umenyiora dropped into coverage (as was Clancy). There was one play where Clancy was knocked to the ground, but Joseph played down the line to get on the tackle. In the second half, Joseph’s quick penetration on one running play led to a 1-yard loss. Joseph also got a good pass rush in the first half where he knocked QB Chad Pennington to the ground.
One thing to note is that the Giants like to stunt their defensive tackles quite a bit. Often times, they will have Joseph take a hard charge and ask Clancy to loop around him. Sometimes this is disruptive, but there are times when it works poorly. And there are times when the opposition catches the Giants in the middle of this stunt when running the ball, making it easier to block the tackles out of the way.
As for the reserve tackles, Damane Duckett was far more active than Kenderick Allen. Allen got knocked to the ground a couple of times that I spotted. I did not think he played a good game. Duckett pursued pretty well and got in a couple of tackles because of this. Duckett also penetrated on one running play, disrupting the play, and stood his ground on another at the point-of-attack. Fred Robbins got some heat on the quarterback and remains the Giants’ most consistent pass rusher at defensive tackle.
Reserve DE Justin Tuck made a big impact. Not only did his back-to-back sacks in the 4th quarter take the Jets out of game-winning field goal position, but he applied quite a bit of legitimate pass pressure earlier in the contest. Once again, the Giants employed Tuck at DT on one passing situation, then stunted him back out to the outside (this was his second sack). His first sack came on an inside move against the out-matched left tackle. Tuck also was not a liability against the run.
DE Adrian Awasom continues to draw praise from Coughlin. He had one good pass rush on play-action boot that did not fool him.
Linebackers: MLB Antonio Pierce played a very strong game. He does a good job of reading draw plays and stopping them in their tracks. Pierce recovered the fumble that Strahan stripped. Pierce pursued the football well, played off blocks, and made sure tackles. Pierce came close to tackling Martin in the end zone for a safety on an outside run that he read and attacked exceptionally well. Two plays later, he forced a fumble near the end of the first half inside the Jets’ 10-yard line, but the Jets recovered. He did give up a 6-yard completion to the tight end.
WLB Carlos Emmons had a decent game. He did get blocked out of the play on the first Jets’ carry of the game. I also find it odd that for the second game in a row the Giants had Emmons attempt to cover the slot receiver. I’m not thrilled about that. However, there was one attempted pass to WR Lavernues Coles on a short crossing pattern that Emmons broke up by hitting Coles just as the ball arrived.
Reggie Torbor was quiet, but that doesn’t mean he played poorly. I would have liked to have seen him make a play on the 9-yard screen pass however.
Nick Greisen continues to play well and looked good in coverage, breaking up three passes with good hits. Jim Maxwell had good coverage on the tight end on one play and dropped him for a 1-yard loss. But Maxwell also missed a tackle on a running play, though he later made a nice play against the run from the backside.
Defensive Backs: QB Chad Pennington was held to 36 yards passing and only completed 5 passes. So the coverage units certainly did a good job, even minus CB Will Peterson (knee).
Will Allen played well. He made a really good hit and sure tackle on a quick pass to Curtis Martin, holding the dangerous running back to a 1-yard gain. Allen’s corner blitz in the second quarter forced a poor pass by Pennington or a first-down completion would have resulted on 3rd-and-6. Allen’s big mistake of the game was his 19-yard pass interference penalty that put the ball on the 1-yard line. Coles had a step on Allen and he mistimed his swat at Coles’ arm.
Curtis Deloatch had a bit of a rough start, but then settled down and played well. Deloatch took a false step to the inside on the 18-yard gain by Curtis Martin and thereby gave up the edge. He was beat by WR Justin McCareins on a smash route (receiver broke the play back outside against man coverage) for a 12-yard gain on 3rd-and-12. Two plays later, he was too far off the receiver and an easy 8-yard completion resulted. Deloatch also got faked out of his jock on an attempted tackle by Coles on a quick pass to the outside. All of this happened on the first drive of the game. But after that Deloatch was solid. There were many plays that I spotted where Deloatch’s man was covered like a blanket.
Corey Webster continues to demonstrate a nose for the football and played well. He had perfect coverage on Coles in the end zone on the game’s first drive for the Jets and intercepted the ball for a touchback, saving sure points. There were a couple of negatives. Webster looked a little uncomfortable to me defending deep passes. There was one deep pass to McCareins where Webster did not turn around to play the football. The Giants were very fortunate that pass interference was not called as Webster did hit the receiver before the ball arrived. Webster also got beat for a 24-yard gain in zone coverage in the third quarter. But for the most part, Webster too had his man completely under wraps.
Frank Walker saw some playing time and forced what I thought was a fumble late in the game (the ball was ruled incomplete due to the hit).
Brent Alexander had another quiet game. He, like Deloatch, took a false step on the 18-yard gain by Martin on the Jets’ first drive. Shaun Williams made a couple of decent hits, but missed his chance to make a play on the football and pick off a pass when he decided to go for the hit instead.
The safety who made a great deal of noise, including some with the first unit was S James Butler. Butler picked up two sacks on safety blitzes, including a vicious blindside hit.
Offensive Line: The Jets play physical run defense, but the Giants were not intimidated and gained 133 yards on the ground (though 25 of these came from Tim Hasselbeck scrambles). There were no big gainers, but the Giants consistently picked up 3-4 yard chunks. Pass protection, aside from a couple of breakdowns by the offensive line, was good.
The first unit played well, but was hurt with the early loss of Luke Petitgout to a rib injury. Bob Whitfield replaced him and struggled against the Jets’ starters. Whitfield was flagged with a false start and an offensive holding penalty. He missed a run block on an otherwise well-blocked HB Tiki Barber run and gave up a sack when he was beat to the inside by DE Shaun Ellis. Later in the 3rd quarter, he couldn’t make his block on a HB Derrick Ward carry.
The Giants’ starting guards played very well. David Diehl and Chris Snee are two very good players. Diehl is very consistent in both pass and run blocking. Snee just demolishes people and I love his mean streak. Barring injury, the Giants are set here for a long time.
OC Shaun O’Hara also continues to play well, giving the Giants a very solid interior trio. His only mistake in pass protection was that he failed to spot a blitzing linebacker coming on a delayed dog up the gut (this was the same play RT Kareem McKenzie gave up the sack – see below). He also missed one run block on a HB Mike Cloud run that only picked up 1-yard.
McKenzie made one big mental mistake (not physical). For some reason, he failed to pass block the left end on one play and Hasselbeck was sacked, forcing a fumble. This play was inexcusable, but McKenzie was rock solid otherwise.
The second team line had Whitfield still at left tackle, Rich Seubert at left guard, Jason Whittle at center, Wayne Lucier at right guard, and Brandon Winey at right tackle. It was nice to see Lucier in the line-up. He still is a better run blocker than pass protector. He got some good movement in the ground game, but was a bit shaky on one play in pass protection. Rich Seubert continues to look good, especially when pulling (though he did miss Lance Legree on one pulling effort). Jason Whittle was not as sharp this week and had a couple of negative plays (one pass block, one run block), but was mostly solid. Brandon Winey badly missed two run blocks, causing HB Brandon Jacobs to get hit in the backfield twice.
Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey’s blocking was inconsistent again, although he continues to draw some tough assignments. On the Giants’ first play of the game, DE Shaun Ellis beat Shockey badly leading to a 1-yard loss by Barber. He later got a good block on a 7-yard gain by Barber. In the second half, Shockey got Hasselbeck clobbered when Ellis beat him in pass protection. Jeremy caught 3 passes for 18 yards. Shockey did save an interception by deliberately interfering with the defender on an errant Tim Hasselbeck pass on the game’s first drive.
Visanthe Shiancoe blocked well. Chris Luzar was the third tight end in the game and did not really stand out.
Wide Receivers: With the quarterbacking being so poor, it was tough to get a read on the receivers. Plaxico Burress caught a couple of short passes early against CB Ty Law for a total of 23 yards. But Hasselbeck also badly missed Burress a couple of times too.
Amani Toomer did not have a catch. He was flagged with an illegal touching penalty that wiped out a nice 12-yard reception on the first drive.
David Tyree (4 catches for 37 yards) continues to make plays. He caught a 9-yard pass from Hasselbeck on 3rd-and-6. Tyree also had a key 8-yard reception from Jesse Palmer on 3rd-and-7 on the game-winning field goal drive.
Tim Carter (2 catches for 22 yards) caught a 14-yard pass on 3rd-and-9 from Palmer on the 3rd quarter field goal drive.
Jamaar Taylor (hip flexor) did not play, but Ataveus Cash had a key 15-yard completion for a first down on the game-winning field goal drive.
Running Backs: The worst part of the game offensively for the Giants, other than the quarterback play, was the botched blitz pickups by the halfbacks. Tiki Barber, Mike Cloud, and Derrick Ward all badly missed blitz pickups. Barber badly whiffed on his blitz pick-up, forcing Hasselbeck to scramble out of the pocket. It was not a great game for Tiki. While he did pick up 47 yards on 13 carries, he fumbled one handoff and dropped a pass that could have been intercepted.
Cloud (3 carries for 8 yards) inexcusably ran the wrong way on running play coming off the goal line. He ran right into Hasselbeck, causing a fumble that was recovered by the Jets for a touchdown. He later caused Hasselbeck to quickly unload the football when he gave a terrible effort on a blitz pickup (interestingly, he was pulled right after this).
I was impressed with Derrick Ward when he carried (9 carries for 41 yards) or caught the football (1 catch for 26 yards). But he also blew a blitz pickup, causing the quarterback to get sacked. And while Jesse Palmer’s pitch was too high and right at his head, it could have been caught (this was the other turnover in the end zone resulting in points for the Jets). But Ward impresses me as a runner. He is a big back with some power. In addition, he is a good cutback runner with active feet for his size. Ward also flashed a stiff arm. Ward looks natural catching the football and had a nice 26 gain by weaving around a defender and breaking a tackle.
Brandon Jacobs (7 carries for 13 yards) only saw time late. He impressed with his strength by running through an attempted tackle behind the scrimmage and still managing to pick up a first down on 3rd-and-1. He also broke off an 11-yard run late by beating the defense to the corner with his speed.
FB Jim Finn blocked decently, but dropped a pass and could handle another tougher effort.
Quarterbacks: Tim Hasselbeck (9-of-17 for 85 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, 1 fumble) was just dreadful. He started the game out OK by completing passes to Burress for 13 and 10 yards. However, he badly threw behind Shockey on a deep pass where Shockey was forced to come back and interfere with the defender, thus stalling the drive. At the end of this drive, Hasselbeck scrambled out of the pocket when I didn’t think he needed to do so (he did this a few times). I never got the sense he was comfortable in the pocket.
On the next possession, he threw an inaccurate pass in the direction of Burress into double coverage. Later in the 2nd quarter, he threw badly behind an open Burress in the middle of the field. Hasselbeck also threw behind Shockey (who made the catch but couldn’t do so in stride). Hasselbeck then overthrew an open Toomer along the sideline on what should have been a first down. In the 3rd quarter, Hasselbeck’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted. His final pass of the night was a badly underthrown ball intended for an open Tyree on 3rd-and-6. Yuck!
The positive side of Hasselbeck was his mobility (25 yards on 5 carries) and scrambling away from pressure.
Jesse Palmer (7-of-12 for 84 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 1 fumble) played better than Hasselbeck but made too many mistakes. On his first play of the game, he audiblized out of a play (which Coughlin said was a mistake) and then pitched the ball right at Ward’s head, resulting in a fumble that was recovered in the end zone. Palmer did lead the Giants on a field goal drive on the next possession with a key pass to Tim Carter for a first down on 3rd-and-9 and then dumped the ball off to Ward for a 26-yard catch-and-run. However, his pass intended for Carter in the end zone was thrown out-of-bounds and his subsequent pass to an open Tyree in the end zone for what should have been a touchdown was thrown too late – nearly resulting in an interception.
On the Giants’ game-winning field goal drive, Carter had a step deep for a touchdown, but Palmer’s pass was thrown too far to the inside. But Palmer did hit Tyree for a first down on 3rd-and-7 and Ataveus Cash for 15 yards on 3rd-and-9.
Special Teams: The story of the special teams was PK Jay Feely. Feely was a perfect 5-for-5 with field goals of 52, 21, 54, 35, and 33 yards. Indeed, he was the difference in the ball game. In addition, his kickoffs remain strong with kicks being fielded one yard deep in the end zone, the 5-yard line, six yards deep in the end zone, the goal line, and three yards deep in the end zone. Feely also kicked a perfect onsides kick at the end of the half that was recovered by David Tyree.
Kickoff coverage was good with Jets’ returns picking up 22 (Chase Blackburn on the tackle), 21 (Feely himself with a strong tackle – Corey Webster and James Butler missed earlier chances), 19 (Ataveus Cash), and 26 yards (Frank Walker).
Jeff Feagles punted four times for a 39.5 yards-per-punt average. Punt returns went for 1 (David Tyree on the tackle), ball downed at the 3-yard line by Willie Ponder, fair catch (Ponder down in a hurry), and 6 yards (big hit by Derrick Ward). The negatives here were that Reggie Torbor was flagged with a false start and Antonio Pierce was flagged with holding.
The Giants were not able to break a good kick return this week. Willie Ponder managed returns of 23 and 18 yards. Mike Cloud return one kickoff for 22 yards.
A nice surprise was that the Giants came very close to blocking two punts, with Raheem Orr and James Butler nearly getting a hand on the football.
The problem in the punt return game was securing the football. Michael Jennings had a disastrous evening with two muffed punts (both recovered) and another one that was bobbled. Ataveus Cash then fumbled away the football after successfully fielding a punt, but being stripped by the tackler. The Giants had better pray Mark Jones gets healthy soon or they find someone on the waiver wire.