Oct 082008
 
 October 8, 2008  Posted by  Game Previews and Reviews
New York Giants 44 – Seattle Seahawks 6

By Joey in VA for BigBlueInteractive.com

Summary: Seattle’s famed “12th Man”, the legendary crowd noise which may or may not be 100% organic, would have made no difference against the Giants this past Sunday.  As my not so clever title hints, I don’t think fielding 14 guys on either side of the ball would have helped the hapless Seahawks on Sunday.  Perhaps it was revenge for the Giants humbling 42-30 loss in Seattle two years ago where the Giants were just bludgeoned from the opening whistle, or the 24-21 heart breaker they suffered in 2005 when Jay Feely refused to win the game with several failed field goal attempts.  Whatever the motivation, the Giants are truly becoming a mirror image of their head coach – intense, ruthless, precise, composed and always charging forward regardless of who is in the way.  It was one of those games you usually see other teams cruise in and wonder…”Why can’t the Giants do that?”.  The Giants did, and I don’t think it will be the last time we see that.

Offensively the team scored on its first six possessions, racing out to a 14-3 lead that would swell to 27-6 at that half and end with a 38 point margin of victory.  The game was essentially over at halftime, and the statistical disparity was eye-popping for a Giant team that is playing some of the best offense and defense in the entire NFL.

Total Yards – 523 to 187
Rushing Yards – 254 to 74…read that again kids, 254 to 74!!!!
Time of Possession – 36:28 to 23:32
Scoring Drives – 8 to 2

The most telling numbers to me though, are 8.3 and 7.1, which is what the Giants averaged per offensive play and per rush respectively.  4.5 to 5.0 yards per carry is a very good day in the NFL on the ground, 7.1 borders on just plain mean.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning was in a word, magnificent on Sunday, going 19-25 with 267 yards and 2 TDs.  Despite some perceived angst about it, Manning did it all without his favorite receiver Plaxico Burress and playing most of the game without his replacement Domenik Hixon and steady RT Kareem McKenzie.  While Hixon was still in possession of his wits, Manning began the scoring jamboree with a beautifully arced and perfectly placed corner route throw for a 32 yard TD pass just 4 plays into the Giants offensive day.  Eli then went 3-3 for 55 yards on the Giants next possession, using Amani Toomer as his target choice on all three passes.  Manning stepped up in the pocket twice on the drive and delivered perfect strikes to the Giants’ eldest pass catcher.  Manning’s first incomplete pass didn’t come until the 2nd quarter when a 3rd down pass to Toomer was just a bit high and inside, but thanks to 49 yards passing on his previous two tosses the Giants were in easy field goal range and out to an easy 17-3 edge.

Facing the threat of a second half let down after a flawless first half, Eli once again delivered on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter.  On a 2nd and 3 from the Seattle 23, Manning hit a wide open Sinorice Moss to push the Giants ahead 34-6 and essentially nailing the Seahawks’ coffin shut for the afternoon.  Manning ended his day by engineering a 7 play, 37 yard drive that ended with a 35 yard John Carney field goal.  Everything clicked for Eli: he had a good running attack, plenty of time to throw and plenty of weapons to use.  What Giant fans should take from his performance against the Seahawks is that Eli continues to improve every week and is playing almost flawlessly right now with only 1 interception on his record, and a pace to rack up over 4,000 yards passing.

David Carr got in the game in the 4th quarter, and was perfect on his only attempt, throwing a strike to Sinorice Moss for a  5 yard TD pass.  Nice to have time and weapons to throw to isn’t Mr. Carr?

Running Backs: Brandon Jacobs, take a bow my friend.  No, not for the 136 yards, 2 TDs or 9 yard per carry average, but on the very first pass of the game, YOU CAUGHT THE BALL!!!!!!!  OK maybe that 44 yard sideline rumble was more impressive to most, or maybe the blitz pick ups got some people excited but the hands of stone coming up with the ball just made me smile and much like Grouchy Smurf, I hate smiling.  Jacobs was a wrecking ball on Sunday, running with outstanding pad level and exploding through creases like I haven’t seen him to do yet as a Giant. Big Two-Seven also had a fantastic blitz pickup on MLB Lofa Tatupu, allowing Eli to step up in the pocket and hit Amani Toomer for a 22 yard strike.  Familiarity with an offense takes time and it appears Jacobs is supremely confident in where to go with the ball and is improving his reads each week.

It must be noted that Giant fan favorite and Wonderlic Maven Julian Peterson didn’t make a peep any of the times he tried to bring Jacobs down.  On Jacobs only reception, Peterson played the role of “First Guy Jacobs Pwns” as BJ doinked off him for a 9 yard gain.  Sure he was in on 3 stops of Jacobs, but each time he did brace for contact and hang on for dear life.  Not what I’d expect out of one of the few big names on Seattle’s defense, but in all fairness, it was the BEAST!

Derrick Ward averaged a paltry 5.7 yards per carry as he ran for 40 yards on 7 carries.  Ward wasn’t used extensively but as usual, was effective inside the tackles in relief of Brandon Jacobs.  Ward did have another big effort play, picking up a check down pass from Eli and diving for a 7 yard gain and a first down as the Giants were driving to a 24-3 lead.  Ward also exploded for a 21 yard gain on a draw play as the first half wound down.  Ward’s value seems to be highest when the Giants are in hurry up mode at the end of each half and when time is a factor.  #34 is at his best running from the spread formation on draws, and using his hands as a checkdown receiver.  Ward is a fantastic luxury for Eli and the offense in those situations and he’s a perfect fit for them skill wise.  For good measure, Ward showed off his pass blocking prowess on the Manning to Moss TD, sending DE Darryl Tapp to the soon to be extinct turf in the Meadowlands.

Ahmad Bradshaw, with the exception of his kick return duties, I firmly believe is locked in a box for 3 quarters and various team employees walk by and poke him with sticks to make him mean.  Bradshaw picked up 65 yards on 11 carries and had another memorable tackle breaking, Tasmanian Devil like run on the Giants’ final scoring drive of the game.  Bradshaw again played like he was shot out of a cannon, and busted through arm tackle after arm tackle en route to a gutty 32 yard run.

Wide Receivers: Domenik Hixon filled in for the non repentant Plaxico Burress (Burress had to take his son to school and got suspended for missing the day’s activities.  No word yet on whether the younger Burress attends Hogwarts, but I’m assuming the school must be REALLY far for him to go AWOL for a whole day) and did so as effectively as we all saw in his preseason effort against Cleveland.  Despite being knocked out with a concussion in the first half, Hixon pulled in 4 grabs for 102 yards and the game’s first TD on a 32 yard pass from Eli Manning.  Hixon nearly nabbed TD #2 on a 41 yard bomb from Manning and was just tripped up and fell short by inches yet again by the goal line.  Hixon displayed an ability to set up CBs with double moves, keep his feet, and track the ball in the air and everything else a very good WR needs to do to be effective in the NFL.  I can’t imagine it will be too long before we see Hixon starting opposite Burress and God help secondaries when that happens.

The venerable one, Amani Toomer, made his mark on the Giants’ second scoring drive of the day hauling in 3 grabs for 55 yards.  Toomer was the only WR targeted on the drive, which is both awesome and confusing at the same time.  It’s like they meant to do it, but maybe not, like who is in charge here man…the colors man…the colors!!!  Steve Smith only pulled in 2 for 27 on Sunday, but once again made an impressive play when he lost his shoe and still managed to pull in a Manning pass, keep his feet in bounds and pick up 19 yards.  Rookie WR Mario Manningham even got into the act, but my DirecTV crapped itself for about 30 seconds and I MISSED IT!  (Sun spots was the explanation from DTV…I will have my revenge Sun Spots, if it’s the last thing I do! – If anyone has a similar hatred of Sun Spots or knows what they are please email me – we got some work to do).

2nd round enigma Sinorice Moss finally made a splash, snatching 4 grabs for 45 yards and 2 TDs on the day.  Moss has been troubled with lower leg injuries and inconsistent hands in practice and camp but his speed and route running have never been questioned.  Those attributes came to the fore on Sunday as Moss was as open as you’ll see a WR in the NFL on his two TD grabs.  Moss’ first grab came on a great play action fake from Manning, but Moss flew right through the coverage and made the grab to put the Giants up 34-6.  Moss capped off his dream day with a nifty TD grab from the ever dreamy David Carr (only my wife and a BBIer that shall remain nameless call him that – that reference is for them only).

Tight Ends: Michael Matthews get the first bolding of the TEs this week for his crushing block on DE Pat Kerney on the game’s first rush.  Lining up at the H-Back, Matthews played with perfect technique, engaged Kerney right at the point of attack and just plowed him out of the way.  Kevin Boss was not to be outdone, sealing the backside pursuit on a beautiful 44 yard counter trey (yep both guards were pulling) by Jacobs on the game’s first big play.  Boss is definitely getting off the snap quicker, which should tell you that his comfort level is improving with his assignments, he’s thinking less and playing more.  Boss also had a great block on Kerney on Jacobs’ first TD run of the game, just stonewalling the former Cavalier at the POA as Jacobs cut inside.  Boss started the second half strong, sealing off DE Lawrence Jackon on a Jacobs run to the left and shoving S Deon Grant back inside on the next play as Jacobs rumbled for 8 yards over the right side.  Boss AGAIN flashed on Jacobs 38 yard scamper as he completely stymied OLB Julian Peterson.  KB also chipped in with 2 grabs for 9 yards.

O-Line: In a way, I almost got mad at the Giants offensive line on Sunday.  Have you ever seen a mouse get snatched up by a hawk on a nature show, or a cute little bunny get throttled by a Coyote?  That’s how I started to feel as this game wore on and the Giants near perfect OL just toyed with the Seahawks in the running and passing game until I almost wanted to yell “THROW IN THE DAMN TOWEL” Apollo Creed’s trainer style – as Drago rained blows upon his puffy head.

OGs Chris Snee and Rich Seubert looked like their pants were on fire on Jacobs 44 yard dash down the left sideline as both pulled on a counter and provided that Vince Lombardi like “alley” for Jacobs to run through.  “You get a seal here…a seal here, and you run it…UP the alley” (God Bless you Vince!)  The original “Old Ball Coach” would have been proud of his old team on that picture perfect run.  The two guards combined again on a tandem pull on Hixon’s 15 yard end around to start the Giants second drive.

That run blocking made Eli’s play action passes all too easy, as evidenced on Domenik Hixon’s 41 yard grab late in the first quarter and Steve Smith’s 19 yard grab early in the 2nd.  Snee and Seubert have been as explosive pulling as I’ve seen any guard tandem in years.  Being perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’ve seen the counter trey yet but if this week is any indication, we may have yet another weapon in our running game.  Good luck NFC!

OL Kevin Boothe had to come in for veteran RT Kareem McKenzie and gave up a sack quickly to LDE Patrick Kerney, but in Boothe’s defense he was able to recover the ensuing fumble and played pretty well for the remainder of the game.  Boothe displayed good feet, good balance and most of all a big fat butt which is really hard to move for defenders.  No I’m not joking, you try it!  Go find a guy you work with who has a huge butt and try to get around him quickly, you can’t do it!

Front 7: Author’s Note: Given the varied fronts and personnel packages the Giants use under Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, I’ll be looking at the front 7 as a whole initially rather than separating the D-line and Linebackers.  Hybrid roles such as LBs playing in a 3 point stance make analyzing the front 7 as one unit more cohesive.  It may change as we move forward or from game to game.

Holding the traditionally potent Seahawks offense to 187 total yards is reason for any defense to be proud of itself.  But what might impressed me the most about the Giants’ defensive effort on Sunday was that once staked to a big lead, the intensity never waned and the G-Men never let their inferior opponent off the mat.  That is one of the hallmarks of not only a good team but one that has the potential to be the other “g” word which I will not utter at this time.  (Hint: It rhymes with hate and its homonym is something you can do with many types of cheese).

The Seahawks only bright spot was a 10 play 56 yard drive on their 2nd possession, which was helped by two Giant penalties.  I can honestly say the only play that really bugged me was Julius Jones’ 5 yard run over right tackle where DE Justin Tuck, MLB Antonio Pierce and CB Aaron Ross all read the FB leading the dive as Jones bounced outside before being tripped up by James Butler and DT Barry Cofield who flattened out well and pursued from the backside. Cofield was all over the field, racking up 7 total stops and making plays up and down the line of scrimmage.  Antonio Pierce only racked up 4 tackles, but had a very strong game, that didn’t show up on the stat sheet.  Numerous times, Pierce was able to read run before the snap, occupy a blocker and allow someone else to flow to the ball and make a stop, in addition to getting his teammates lined up on numerous occasions and flustering Matt Hasselbeck

Shockingly, Justin Tuck forced Matt Hasselbeck to make a bad throw on 3rd and 6 from the Giants 12.  So strange, that Tuck making a play, maybe he’s going to be ok after all!  Tuck once again drew the most attention, being double teamed on nearly every play, but still managed 4 stops and helped snuff out Hasselbeck and co. on their only meaningful drive.  DT Fred Robbins was fairly quiet with only 2 stops, but did stuff the Seahawks on a 3rd and 2 early in the 3rd quarter to squash yet another failed Seattle drive.  Mathias Kiwanuka did manage to beat Walter Jones on a speed rush for a sack, but was fairly quiet in the pass rush department.  In his and the other defenders’ defense though, the Seahawks only held the ball for just over 23 minutes and their offense was never really a factor.  I keep hearing that we have other LBs, but until they show up, I’m not mentioning them.

Film Room Rewind: Early in the 2nd quarter the Seahawks were faced with a 3rd and 4, down 17-3 to a surging Giants team.  Seeing how the Bengals were able to use the edges two weeks ago, the Seahawks tried to get Julius Jones on the edge to keep the chains moving and have some hope to climb back into the game.  On first down, Jones was able to manage 6 yards following LT Walter Jones, and on 3rd down, Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren went behind is stalwart LT once again.  This time though, the Giants were ready and showed what a team defense truly means.

Lining with only 4 down linemen, 1 LB and 6 DBs, the Giants were clearly expecting the pass happy Seahawks to throw for the first down.  MLB Antonio Pierce however, read the play from the get go as he was sliding down parallel to the LOS to attack the OL trying to seal the cutback lanes and make a hole for RB Julius Jones.  As Pierce was running to meet the OL, Justin Tuck who was lined up at RDT engaged a double team from Seattle’s center and LG Mike Wahle, and gave no ground, flattening out and “screwing down” the line of scrimmage to string the play out wide and prevent Jones from cutting back inside his gap.

Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice (I can’t help the Superfiends reference), RDE Mathias Kiwanuka manhandled TE John Carlson, and working with Pierce and Tuck was able to completely nullify any cutback opportunity that Jones had despite running against a 6 DB formation. All that was left for the Seahawks was for All World LT Walter Jones to nudge CB Corey Webster out of the way on the edge, but Webster dove across Jones’ feet, leveling him and forcing Jones to continue to the sideline, where CB Aaron Ross and S Kenny Phillips flew in to prevent the first down.

Against a run formation on 3rd and 4, the Giants were able to shut down a run to Walter Jones’ side, force a talented RB to keep moving laterally and snuff out any hope the Seahawks had of getting back into the game.  It took Tuck, Kiwi and Pierce fighting through OL and TEs, recognizing the play and giving themselves up to allow their teammates in the secondary to clean up the play and come up what may have been the Giants’ most impressive stop of the day.  My hat is off to Corey Webster for giving up his body, Aaron Ross and Kenny Phillips for flying to the play and to the big guys up front for battling for every inch they could to snuff out the Seahawks.  It was truly, a total defensive team effort, one worth re-watching if you get the chance.

Defensive Backs: The Seahawks opened up quickly, looking to negate the Giants attacking front, with newly returned WR Deion Branch hauling in a 17 yard play to open the game.  That success was short lived as CB Aaron Ross had air tight coverage on 3rd down in the slot to swat away a would be conversion on the Seahawks’ opening drive.  Ross’ speed is something I’m not sure everyone is aware of, but he seems to be in two places at once at times.  On the Seahawks only professional grade drive, Ross lined up in the slot, followed his man to the hook zone, then zipped outside and got a hand on WR Deion Branch after a 6 yard gain.  Ross also had perfect coverage on a 3rd down in the red zone that forced the Seahawks to settle for 3.  Ross racked up 6 total stops, and was everywhere in the secondary.

Corey Webster was called for a ticky-tack defensive holding early on during the Seahawks only viable drive, but was again all over his man in coverage.  Webster stoned WR Billy McMullen on a 3rd down when the game was still within distance for the Seahawks.  Webster’s ability to diagnose routes, close on the ball and make the pass break up is as good any CB in the league right now.  ANY CB, period, whether he gets the recognition or not.  Nickel CB Kevin Dockery had a solid game along with the rest of his mates and had perhaps the most impressive of the run day on an afternoon chock full of run good runs.  Dockery picked off a Hasselbeck pass and twisted, turned, tumbled and contorted for a 44 yard return.

Kenny Phillips continues to see time in the Giants “Big Nickel” package, and answered the bell again with 5 stops and a big force out on a key 3rd down when the game was still in doubt.  Phillips did almost get Elvis Pattersoned by WR Bobby Engram, but the ball was slightly overthrown.  You got lucky Bud!  Fellow S James Butler again made his presence known with 4 stops.  The more you watch Three-Seven, the more you will enjoy him.

Special Teams: Ahmad Bradshaw hates kickoff returns; there is no other way about it.  He averaged 12 yards per return, which would be awesome if it was punt return yardage.  K John Carney’s kicks can only be compared to Katsumoto’s death in “The Last Sumarai”…”perrrrfect”.  Carney is now 12 for 12 as a Giant, and as automatic as old folks showing up at the Early Bird Special at Denny’s.  All in all, solid KOR and PR coverage by the G-men but the return units are just as bland which with the way this offense and defense play, is fine by me.

Coaching: Kevin Gilbride, welcome to the marquee!  By marquee I mean first guy I hit CTRL+B on, which is high praise coming from me.  Gilbride’s play calling and game planning bordered on perfection on Sunday, as the Giants seemed to be playing 11 on 7 for most of the game.  Gilbride has been criticized in fan circles for being too pass happy, (which is a silly grudge most hold for him not clobbering Buddy Ryan back in his “Chuck-n-Duck” days) but 36 carries for 254 yards, a counter trey for 44 yards and Eli’s jersey being neater than Jimmy Johnson’s hair all up to a damn good day.  Steve Spagnuolo’s boys were as usual ready to rock, holding the Seahawks and their full complement of healthy receivers and backs to 187 total  yards.  3rd downs were a nightmare for Seattle, which means Spags did his homework after the Bengals were able to push his unit to overtime with some key 3rd down conversions.

JPog (Joey’s Player of the Game) – So many choices, so little time.  It’s like I’m at a vending machine with pizza, steak, burritos and beer and I have 50 bucks in change!!!  What to do, what to do.  Given that I gave Brandon Jacobs the JBoG last time we played, I have to give the big guy the edge.  He’d be the beer by the way: you think you can tackle a few pitchers, you step up to the plate and before too long you’re woozy and you have to pee.  Jacobs’ played with speed, power and intelligence, reading his blocks, picking up blitzes and just dominating the game from the word go.  The fear in the Seahawks’ defenders was clear every time Jacobs touched the ball.  It was very evident that they wanted no part of tackling a 264lb truck.  You even caught a pass Big Jake and I’ve been hard on you since the pre-season began so enjoy it big fella.  Your reward for such a dominating effort is a “Webster” T-shirt to wear proudly under your pads.  See, he’s tiny and you’re not, so that’s funny.  Laugh, laugh I say!

JBog (Joey’s Bum of the Game) – Seattle.  The city, the fans, the people, the weather, the indescribable blueish green of the uniforms.  All of it.  Starbucks, the Space Needle, “Grunge”, Sasquatch, Ichiro, Jim Zorn, Sleepless in…the list goes on.  After two humiliating defeats to the Seahawks in the past 3 years and an unfortunate group of fans making fun of New York and the 9/11 tragedy, Seattle deserved this carnage.  Matt Hasselbeck stinks, Holmgren is really Craig Stadler, Julian Peterson IS stupid and your stadium pumps in crowd noise.  I HATE SEATTLE and I LOVE NEW YORK.

(Box Score – Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants, October 5, 2008)
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