New York Giants 27 – New England Patriots 3
Game Overview: The game was little more than a glorified scrimmage as the Patriots did not play their starters and the Giants’ regulars only played 2-3 series. The most important thing was the Giants came out of the preseason mostly healthy, other than the elbow injury to QB Eli Manning and the knee injury to CB Will Peterson. But both of those players are expected to play against the Cardinals on Sunday.
Quarterbacks: Tim Hasselbeck (5-of-9 for 60 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) was not terrible, but he certainly was not good. There were a couple of plays where Hasselbeck had time to throw the football, but one got the sense that he was almost afraid to pull the trigger. On the Giants’ third offensive play of the game, Hasselbeck had an eternity in the pocket, but could find no one open and threw the ball away. On the very next play, on 3rd-and-4, he missed WR Amani Toomer on a deeper sideline route for what would have been a first down. On his second series, Hasselbeck helped the Giants overcome a 1st-and-26, but finding TE Jeremy Shockey for 18 yards. However, the drive later bogged down again with Hasselbeck not getting rid of the ball quickly and a sack resulted.
Hasselbeck did do a very good job with his play fakes, one leading to a 21-yard pass to Shockey on the third possession. But that drive ended premature with poor pass protection (not Hasselbeck’s fault this time). On Hasselbeck’s final series, he looked sharp on another play fake. Then he stood in tough in the pocket with defenders pressing in on him to complete an 8-yard pass on 3rd-and-7. Three plays later, he found WR Willie Ponder for a first down on 3rd-and-5. However, this drive ended when the Patriots blitzed their right corner and Hasselbeck did not spot the wide-open Tim Carter to his left, resulting in another sack.
Jared Lorenzen (5-of-13 for 54 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) played quite a bit (6 series). His first pass of the game was a well-thrown deep strike to Carter, but Carter dropped the ball. Lorenzen really flashed his arm strength on this play. Then on 3rd-and-9, Jared showed an ability to move for someone so large by scrambling for the first down right up the middle. Lorenzen hit Carter for 8 yards and then found him again for 7 yards on 3rd-and-7 despite being under pressure. He threw to TE Visanthe Shiancoe for 7 yards, but then badly overthrew WR David Tyree on 2nd-and-8. On the following play, Lorenzen had a lot of time in the pocket, but he stared down Shiancoe (and double-clutched the football), leading the defensive back right to the play where he almost made an interception. The issue with Lorenzen is his elongated delivery. If he is ever going to succeed in the NFL, he has to shorten his windup.
Lorenzen saw the ball on five more series in the second half, but really was only successful on one of these drives. After the Patriots turned the ball over, Lorenzen hit WR Jamaar Taylor for a 26-yard touchdown on a play where the Patriots had a breakdown in their defensive backfield. When Lorenzen got the ball again on the next series, his long windup led to two passes getting batted down at the line of scrimmage on two back-to-back plays where he had a hot read with a free linebacker in his face. On the next possession, he attempted to hit Taylor deep, but badly underthrew him and the pass was intercepted.
Jesse Palmer played for two series but only made one throw – a perfectly thrown deep toss to Taylor on a post pattern off of play-action. The play covered 46 yards and set the Giants up at the Patriots’ 1-yard line. It was the best pass of the night.
Wide Receivers: Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer did not play much and neither caught a pass. Toomer was flagged with offensive pass interference on a screen pass to FB Jim Finn.
Tim Carter caught three passes for 23 yards, including clutch catches for 8 yards on 3rd-and-7 and 7 yards on 3rd-and-7. However, Carter also failed to make an over-the-shoulder catch on a well-thrown deep ball by Lorenzen.
Willie Ponder caught a 5-yard pass in the first half on 3rd-and-5 for a first down. David Tyree did not have a reception and was flagged with a false start.
The big performance on the night was by Jamaar Taylor who caught two passes for 72 yards and one touchdown. The first was a 26-yarder for a score as there was confusion in the Patriots backfield (Taylor also bobbled the ball). The second was a well-run post route with a nice fake and nice over-the-shoulder catch. The down note on Taylor was the long ball pass intended for him from Lorenzen that was badly underthrown. Taylor seemed to lose track of the ball in flight and did not slow down to try to make a play on the football or knock it away from the defensive back who intercepted it.
Tight Ends: Jeremy Shockey had a productive night in limited action with two receptions for 39 yards. Visanthe Shiancoe caught 3 passes for 21 yards. Both blocked well.
Darius Williams had problems as both a run and pass blocker, including one play where he was blown up in the backfield as fullback on a running play.
Running Backs: Tiki Barber (2 carries for 23 yards) looked sharp. His first carry was his signature cutback run to the left for 17 yards.
I really like the way Derrick Ward (9 carries for 40 yards) runs. As I said last week, he has quick feet for a big back. He takes quick steps, but seems to glide. He also makes sharp cuts. However, he still needs to improve his blitz pick-ups. While I did spot him making a couple of decent efforts, too often he likes to take out the blitzer with a low block that is easier to avoid. As a big back, Ward doesn’t need to do this. He should hit his man straight up. One of these weak efforts did help contribute to a sack of Hasselbeck. There was another play where I thought he should have picked up the blitzer instead of going out for the safety valve pass. Later, there was a play where I felt he simply missed his man.
Brandon Jacobs (9 carries for 40 yards) saw most of his action in the second half. He didn’t seem as dynamic as in earlier games, but continued to flash his immense power. He had two nice powerful runs right up the gut on the final TD drive, including a 1-yard touchdown run where the Patriots couldn’t knock him off his feet.
Mike Cloud (23 yards on nine carries) saw late action when the Giants were running out the clock. He had one really impressive run off right guard where he broke two tackles and squirted ahead for 7 yards. He later reversed his field for a 5-yard gain when the blocking broke down on the left side.
I thought FB Jim Finn blocked very well with the starters but regressed as the second teamers entered the game. Interestingly, the Giants have been using him not only from the traditional fullback, but also as an H-Back in motion behind the line of scrimmage. Both of Tiki’s early runs that picked up 23 combined yards had Finn making good blocks in the area where Barber ran the ball. However, Barber had another 6-yard run called back when Finn was called with holding (though I thought this was a ticky-tack call). Finn’s strong blocking continued on the third series of the game with good blocks on Ward carries of 11 and 8 yards, as well as a Jacobs run of 11 yards. However, in the second quarter, Finn did not play well. He got blown up in the backfield by a linebacker and this disrupted the entire running play. Later, he got stood up at the point-of-attack and Ward was stuffed for a 1-yard gain. On the very next play, he gave a weak effort on an attempted blitz pick-up.
Offensive Line: RT Kareem McKenzie (calf) did not play. Bob Whitfield started in his place and did not play very well. The rest of the starters were fine. LT Luke Petitgout had a very strong game run blocking in limited action. He made at least four key blocks that I spotted. So did LG David Diehl, who stood out on one play where he blocked two Patriot defenders on a 9-yard draw play to Ward on 2nd-and-8. However, there was some confusion on the left side on a Patriots’ stunt where Hasselbeck was forced to unload the ball quickly on 3rd-and-11. On another play, there was simply no one to pick up the blitzing linebacker from the left (everyone was already engaged).
The problem was Whitfield. His pass protection was not real solid. Sometimes Whitfield doesn’t seem to keep his feet moving and gives up on his block too soon. Penalties were also an issue with Whitfield being flagged with a holding penalty and a personal foul penalty. He allowed one sack and a couple of pressures in the first half.
In this game, the second team line had Jason Whittle at right guard and Wayne Lucier at center (the roles had been reversed last week – though they switched again late in the game). Brandon Winey played at left tackle and Whitfield stayed at right tackle (again, roles reversed). Rich Seubert stayed at left guard. I thought Winey outplayed Whitfield and did so at a harder position to play.
Lucier did not look very good. To be honest, he looked out-of-shape, slow, and he did not create much movement at all as a run blocker. There was one running play where Lucier got stood up and then allowed his man to make the tackle. I also thought this was Jason Whittle’s weakest game of the preseason. He missed a block on a pull to the left in the third quarter and missed another block from center late in the game. The only play I didn’t care for from Winey was that he missed spotting a blitz from his side and the result was that Lorenzen was sacked for a 10-yard loss. I love Rich Seubert’s feistiness (he goes after defenders until the whistle – and sometimes after). However, Seubert was flagged with a false start.
Defensive Line: The starters did not play much. Two or three series at the most. The Patriots went three-and-out their first two series. The Giants gave up a lengthy drive on the third series, but that possession ended in a turnover. Michael Strahan saw limited action and did not make any plays. Osi Umenyiora made a real nice play in run defense where held his ground and stuffed the runner for a 1-yard loss. On the next drive, Umenyiora got immediate pressure on QB Doug Flutie as he beat the left tackle to the inside. But on the third series, Umenyiora did get pinched inside on one outside run.
Starting defensive tackles William Joseph and Kenderick Clancy did not play long, but both looked quick and active. Joseph really looks the part – now if he can only deliver when it counts. Clancy got excellent penetration on a 3rd-and-1 running play that barely picked up the first down. Interestingly, Fred Robbins came on the field on the first series on 3rd-and-3 and immediately got pressure on Flutie, forcing an incompletion. However, later in the second half, there was one running play where Robbins got easily pushed off the line of scrimmage (though there was another running play that he helped to stuff). In the second half, Robbins appeared to be going through the motions and did not impress.
The Patriots were able to generate some yardage in the direction of Justin Tuck, but the one thing you notice about Tuck is that he doesn’t stay blocked for very long. He disengages well and still gets in on the tackle. Tuck got good pressure on Flutie on a 2nd-and-8 pass in the second quarter. Tuck also got a good rush on QB Matt Cassel in the third quarter. Adrian Awasom had some issues at the point-of-attack on strongside running plays. Too often, he was effectively blocked or knocked backwards. He did have one nice pass rush against a double-team on the play where CB Frank Walker sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble (Awasom recovered the football).
Reserve tackles Damane Duckett and Kenderick Allen played a little in the first half and seemed to hold their ground pretty well. However, I was really unimpressed with their play in the second half. Both seemed to be merely going through the motions. To be honest, I really expected more of Duckett and Allen this preseason and haven’t seen it. Neither gets much of pass rush and neither really made many plays in the preseason against the run that caught your eye.
Jonas Seawright probably played his best game thus far. He was pretty stout at the point-of-attack and hit the quarterback hard on one pass rush just as he was releasing the ball.
Linebackers: Reggie Torbor combined with Umenyiora on the Patriots’ first possession to stuff a run for 1-yard loss. It was the type of aggressive play that you love to see from a linebacker at the line of scrimmage. Torbor was in the area of a 12-yard completion near the start of the second quarter in zone coverage.
Carlos Emmons did not play much and was quiet. Antonio Pierce flashed an aggressive, hard-charging style for the second game in a row during the limited snaps that he received.
I think one of the stars of the preseason has been Nick Greisen. Greisen has been very physical and aggressive this preseason and has improved his overall game against both the run and the pass. However, he did give up a key 14-yard completion to the tight end on 3rd-and-10 in the third quarter. It was good to see Barrett Green back on the field and he flashed a couple of times on the blitz where he got good pressure on Flutie, including helping to cause an errant pass that was intercepted in the end zone.
Kevin Lewis gave up a short completion on 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter. But on the very next play, he made a nice play by aggressively tackling a big back in the hole for a minimal gain. But Lewis played quite a bit in the second half and was invisible. He really isn’t very athletic.
Jim Maxwell had a decent game and was pretty active against the run. He also batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage. T.J. Hollowell stood out in pass coverage on a couple of plays, including one play where he made an excellent break on the football, picked it off, and returned it for a 22-yard score. He also made a nice play against a run up the gut where he limited the gain to 2 yards. Hollowell flashed on one blitz too.
Chase Blackburn made one nice play in the fourth quarter where he played off the block and stopped the running back. However, a few plays later, he missed a tackle.
Defensive Backs: Like most of the Giants’ corners this preseason, Will Allen played a little too soft to open the game and allowed an easy 8-yard completion. The same thing happened later in the game on a quick slant pass to WR David Terrell that Terrell almost broke. But three plays later, Allen made a major hit on the running back on a 3-yard gain to his side of the field.
Curtis Deloatch only gave up one reception, a 14-yarder to the running back in the second quarter. Deloatch saved a touchdown with excellent coverage on a slant pass near the goal line in the third quarter.
As for the starting safeties, Brent Alexander cut in front of a receiver and almost came up with an interception in the first quarter. On the very next play, Gibril Wilson flashed in run support by stringing out an outside run for no gain.
As for the reserves, CB Corey Webster played too soft again this week, giving up a couple of easy completions in front of him (plus another that should have been completed). I really don’t understand why he is playing so far off of the receiver. Webster did have excellent coverage on a deep pass to one of the Patriots’ speed receivers, proving that he can run with the faster players.
Frank Walker made a big play by flashing his very good speed on a corner blitz. He nailed the quarterback from the blindside with a big hit, forcing a fumble and a turnover.
S Shaun Williams played a strong game. He did give up a 13-yard completion on a play that Flutie originally fell down on, but later on the same drive, he intercepted Flutie in the end zone on 2nd-and-8 from the Giants’ 12-yard line. On the next series, he forced an intentional grounding penalty with his blitz. Williams played a lot in the second half and was very aggressive in run defense. He made one big-time hit on a back and was like an extra linebacker on a few running plays.
James Butler continued to shine in blitzing situations. He did a great job of throwing aside the tight end and chasing down Flutie for a 5-yard sack on 3rd-and-16. In the second half, he made a nice play in pass defense, knocking away a pass.
Curry Burns flashed late in the game with a nice hit on the intended receiver running a fly pattern deep down the field. The contact helped to prevent a completion. A couple of plays later, he tipped away a 3rd-and-10 pass near the line of scrimmage. On the Patriots’ next possession, it was his penetration into the backfield that helped to stuff the back for no gain on 4th-and-1 (Ataveus Cash, playing corner at this point of the game, cleaned up on the play).
Special Teams: I thought Mark Jones did well enough to earn a roster spot by securing 6 punts and returning them for a total of 63 yards, including a long of 18 yards and an overall average of 10.5 yards per return. T.J. Hollowell made a nice block on the 18-yard return. Will Allen was erroneously flagged for a block in the back penalty that really should have been called on James Butler.
Raheem Orr came close to blocking a punt for the second week in a row.
Willie Ponder helped to set up the game’s first points with his 48-yard kickoff return to start the game (with some nice blocking from Brandon Jacobs on the play). He has another kickoff for 31 yards, but a penalty on TE Chris Luzar negated much of that return.
PK Jay Feely continues to shine with field goals of 48 and 47 yards. His six kickoffs were fielded at the 3, 6, -1, -2, 1, and 9 yard lines. Returns went for 20 (Nick Greisen and Shaun Williams on the tackle), 20 (Kevin Lewis and Adrian Awasom), 24 (returner ran out of bounds), 34 (Jamaar Taylor), 22 (James Maxwell and Taylor), and 19 yards (Curry Burns and Maxwell). The only poor coverage was obviously the 34 yarder (Mike Cloud and T.J. Hollowell missed tackles on this return).
Jeff Feagles punted 6 times, averaging 40.3 yards per punt, and had three punts inside the 20. Patriot returns went for 9 (Reggie Torbor on the tackle), 2 (Shaun Williams), and 4 yards (James Butler and Chase Blackburn). Two punts went out of bounds and another was fair caught (Blackburn down in a hurry).