Sep 232009
 
New York Giants 33 (2-0) – Dallas Cowboys 31 (1-1)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: The much heralded and ballyhooed Jerrah World finally opened for business on Sunday night, as the Dallas Cowboys and their ever present side show (some would say freak show) hosted the staid and low key Giants as the Pontiff of Pomposity and Pretence, Jerrah the Great, gazed glowingly down from on high at his denizen of Dallas devotees. From his luxury suite, Jerrah lovingly acknowledged his flock with slight waves, gentle nods of the head, and presumably gave a thumbs down to Head Coach Wade Phillips, indicating his team was want to smite the Giants of New York.

Lots of flash, lots of cash, lots of guild, lots of this, lots of that. Dancers. Video Screens. Moon Roofs. Stars…lots and lots of stars. In the final analysis, however, none of it mattered. And do you know why?? Care to make a guess? You, in The Corner Forum, you know, don’t you?!?! THAT’S RIGHT!!! There was a FOOTBALL game, too! And in the end, Jerrah and his denizens went home bemoaning another loss in a game everyone picked them to win, and win handily. Why? Because the New York Football Giants limited mistakes, capitalized just enough on the mistakes of the Cowboys, battled through injuries and with the game on the line, once again showed the resolve and resiliency that’s defined this team for the better part of the past three years.

The game had the feel of the old Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game. Both teams threw relentless haymakers as the night went on, and though both teams were staggered on occasion, neither team was willing to give in. The momentum swings in this game were, at times, series to series. There were a total of eight lead changes throughout the game, and it was won on the very last play.

In a complete reversal of modus operandi over the past few years, the Giants did not run very effectively (especially in the first half) while the Cowboys ran the ball seemingly at will. To complete this reversal, the Giants passed the ball up and down the field while Dallas’ passing game was largely impotent. Still, it was the Giants who found a way to win despite not doing the three things that they normally must do well to win and those are getting pressure on the QB, stopping the run, and pounding the defensive line for massive rushing yards.

As stated before, this type of win builds confidence. The Giants now know they can win when they don’t have their “A” game on either side of the line of scrimmage. They’re building the confidence to pass at will rather than just when they have to. They know that their secondary, even in its depleted state, can cover up a front seven that allows a ton of rushing yards. Finally, they know they can go into an extremely hostile environment and win.

The Giants are now 2-0 and have won two intra-divisional games and the magnitude of that achievement cannot be overstated. To be the beast in the NFC East, you need to beat the other resident beasts and so far so good.

Tale O’ The Tape: The talking heads would have you believe that if not for a couple errant throws by QB Tony Romo, this game would not have been close at halftime. Actually, though the Giants did score 17 offensive points off turnovers, they still held the ball for a significant amount of time and rolled up nearly the same yards as Dallas. (The Giants offense gained a total of 46 yards on 10 plays resulting in one touchdown and one field goal off the three first-half turnovers. The other 7 points were from a defensive score.) The Giants had trouble converting third downs, and every first down (7) they made was via the pass. They only ran six fewer plays than Dallas. Once again, the real difference was red zone efficiency, in which the Giants were 0-2 while Dallas was 2-2. Not to diminish the fact that the Giants indeed benefited from the three turnovers, they would have been in this game regardless. In the second half, the Giants finally got their running game going a bit, and if the Giants were dominated in the first half, they certainly weren’t in the second. The Giants finished with nearly a 10 minute advantage in time of possession. They rolled up 423 total yards on offense, 330 passing which was nearly triple what the Cowboys managed passing. The Giants came out and had an impressive opening drive in the third quarter, but squandered a sure three points. On the day, the Giants ended up 0-5 in the green zone, while Dallas went 4-4. So dominance is what you make of it. What really happened is the Giants capitalized on just enough opportunities to hold off a powerful offense in a hostile environment that was filled to the brim with excitement and anticipation.

Offense: Once again, the entire Giants starting unit was intact for the start of the game. WR Domenik Hixon got the start over Mario Manningham this week, but was injured early and left the game for good with about 5 minutes gone in the first quarter. On the second play of the game on offense, Hixon came up limping after catching a pass but he stayed in the game for another two series. Apparently, he hurt the knee worse later in the quarter when HB Brandon Jacobs fell on it, bending it at an awkward angle.

The Giants came out passing, and passing often to start the game. The running game never got going in the first half, as they threw 18 times and ran only 11. The second half was somewhat more balanced, as NY rushed the football 15 times and attempted 20 passes.

Once again, the Giants made hay in the middle of the field, but they did take some chances and got the ball deep on a few occasions.

The Quarterbacks: QB Eli Manning had one of his best days as a professional quarterback, finishing the game 25-38 (66%) for 330 yards 2TDs and 0 INTs. Eli had a QB rating of around 110. Currently, Eli is ranked 6th in the league with a QB rating of 103.2. Eli was under very little pressure on the day, and made few errant throws. The ones he did make did not hurt the team. Two passes were close to being intercepted, one on the second drive of the game in which he tried to hit TE Kevin Boss in the flat but threw short. The ball was deflected away by CB Anthony Spencer. It appeared that Spencer could have caught the ball and waltzed into the end zone. The other near interception was on the opening drive of the third quarter, where he tried to check down to Jacobs around the Dallas 5 yard line. Manning tried to hold up but was already committed to the throw and sort of shot putted it in there, but LB Brady James couldn’t make the play on the ball. The only other blatant misses were to a wide open Steve Smith over the middle of the field where either he didn’t get the ball far enough down field or Smith rounded off the route too much, and another when scramble rules were in effect he over threw a wide open Smith near the right sideline.

Now for the good. It’s apparent that Manning is becoming comfortable with his wide outs. Last week, he targeted the WR’s 19 times. This week, he targeted them 30 times out of 39 total passes, completing 22 of them. Manning came out on fire, connecting right off the bat with Smith for a 32 yard gain. That play set the tone, as the Giants never showed any fear of throwing against the Dallas secondary. Both of Manning’s touchdown passes were beautifully thrown balls. With the run struggling, Eli’s passing kept the Giants moving the chains throughout the first half, and won the game in the second half and, specifically, the 4th quarter.

To encapsulate what Eli Manning means to the New York Giants, all one needs to do is watch the 4th quarter of this game again. Eli’s 4th quarter stats were amazing: 10 completions on 12 attempts for 113 yards, a touchdown, and two drives that resulted in field goals, the last being the game winner. Manning had to overcome a 1st and 20 situation on the last drive after LG Rich Seubert got flagged for holding. Manning had completed a 12 yard pass to TE Kevin Boss on the play. No problem, Eli just worked the field and the clock from the 15 instead of the 25 all the way down to the Dallas 19 yard line, calling the time out with 4 seconds left while flat on his back after a QB sneak centered the ball for Tynes.

That’s what separates Eli Manning from other QBs, including Tony Romo. He’s got ice water in his veins. He is not rattled. He comes back for more and more, and it doesn’t matter what the situation is. Eli Manning lives for the game, and thrives when it’s on the line. Eli Manning is an elite quarterback in the National Football League. He may never be flashy, he may never have gaudy stats, but when the game is on the lines and the ball is in his hands, Eli Manning is cash money.

The Running Backs: The Giants went into the game with third HB Gartrell Johnson on the active roster, giving themselves an emergency third back in the continued absence of HB Danny Ware. Johnson played on specials but did not get into the game on offense. Dallas came into this game with the goal of shutting down the Giants running game and dare Manning to beat them. They got half of what they wanted, as the Dallas defense did a fantastic job of plugging the middle and forcing the Giants backs wide where their athletic linebackers could run them down at or near the line of scrimmage. The Giants had four running plays that ended in negative yardage.

HB Brandon Jacobs had extremely tough sledding all night, especially in the first half when he saw the ball 8 times and gained only 8 yards. There was absolutely nowhere to go inside the tackles. The Beast finally got untracked during the first drive of the third quarter, as he gained 40 yards on the first two plays of the half. Jacobs was outstanding in pass protection, as always, as it appears the blitzers want no part of him. Jacobs was not a factor in the passing game, as he only went in to the pattern on a couple of plays and was targeted just once.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw also found the going rough early in the game, carrying just 3 times for 4 yards in the first half. He had more success in the second half as well, rushing for 33 yards on 6 carries. Once again, Bradshaw was Mr. 4th Quarter, and he was in on the final drive. The Giants didn’t attempt to get too many passes to the halfbacks, though they attempted to get a screen to the Little Beast that was snuffed out and gained no yards. The one thing that Bradshaw did very well on Sunday night, however, was the one thing most worrisome about the diminutive back. Bradshaw was outstanding in blitz pickups. Two in particular were noteworthy, the first being on a play action fake where he on a Dallas linebacker straight on which gave Manning enough time to complete a pass. The other was on the final drive where he did the same thing, planting his helmet squarely into the chest of an oncoming blitzer, again enabling Manning to step up and complete a pass. Bradshaw has improved immeasurably since last year and even the pre-season in this aspect of the game.

FB Madison Hedgecock had another rough night. Twice, the Giants tried to get the ball to him on passes, but Hedgecock looks like a dancing rhino trying to catch a football. It’s not pretty. In the running game, Madison had a tough time getting to the second level, and leading outside went nowhere as the Cowboys defense seemed to diagnose every run and cover every gap the Giants tried to run to. As such, he was not totally to blame for the lack of running space on Sunday.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Well, well, well, just look at what we have here. The Giants go into Big D and hold a little coming out party for the wide receiver corps. The Giants got bad news nearly instantly when WR Domenik Hixon was injured early in the first period. Not to worry. The rest of the receiving corps got into the act early and often. Before the season began, during his final press conference prior to opening day against Washington, Head Coach Tom Coughlin was asked about the probability of teams loading the box with eight players to stop the run and dare the Giants to try to win with their unknowns at WR. Tom chuckled a bit, and said “You’d have to expect that to a certain level. But that probably would be a good thing if they did that.” When asked to clarify what a good thing meant, Coughlin replied, “I think we’ve had some experience down the field this preseason. Certainly that would be one thing that you could do to answer that.” In other words, Tom Coughlin wasn’t worried about his receiving corps and Sunday night the receivers rewarded his faith in them with not only their first game with a receiver gaining 100 or more yards in 13 tries, they gave him the first WR tandem to record 100 yards or more each in three years. How’s that for payback?

Since the opening night of the preseason, WR Mario Manningham began to set himself apart and make his mark. Last week, he made several big plays. This week, he was one of the team heroes as he caught 10 passes (targeted 13 times) for 150 yards and a touchdown. Manningham made both CB Terence Newman and CB Orlando Scandrick look silly for most of the night. The knock on Manningham has been his perceived poorly timed speed. Timed or not, he sure shows great quickness and speed during the games. Manningham showed great speed on the deep post to get into position behind CB Terrence Newman to make the reception. It’s just two games, but Manningham has the makings of a star and could get the nod over Hixon sooner than later, especially if Hixon’s injury is worse than it seemed on Sunday night. One thing to look forward to is when the Giants finally pull the trigger on a pump and go off one of the screens that Manningham is executing so well.

Not to be outdone, WR Steve Smith also came down with 10 catches (targeted 13 times as well) for 138 yards and a touchdown. He also made CB Orlando Scandrick look like a school boy on several plays, displaying the crisp route running that’s made him invaluable over the past two seasons. Smith is also a tremendous downfield blocker, helping the running game out as often as he can. Smith also shows no fear of going over the middle. Frankly, it’s amazing just how wide open Smith can get. On his touchdown, a quick hook and go left Scandrick covering air while Smith sat wide open at the five yard line for the easy touchdown.

WR Derek Hagan only caught one pass, but it was a key 12 yard play on 2nd and 18 during final drive. That left the Giants in a manageable 3rd down situation.

TE Kevin Boss played the third offensive tackle position for the majority of the game, and didn’t get into the passing game until the final drive (he was targeted on a quick out during the second drive that was nearly intercepted) when he made a key grab to convert a 2nd and 10 into a 1st down on the final drive. Boss’ effort on the offensive line was one of the keys to keeping Manning off the carpet all game. His chips on All World linebacker DeMarcus Ware and double teams against defensive ends Marcus Spears and Igor Olshansky were absolutely critical to the success of the passing game. Backup TE Darcy Johnson also played well along the line during the passing game.

The Offensive Line: A tale of two offensive lines. The Good? Easy…they kept Eli Manning clean on 38 passing plays, allowing very little pressure and consistently gave Manning a pocket he could buy time in. The line only had one penalty called against it, an extremely questionable hold by Rich Seubert on the final drive. One should also acknowledge the fact that the line did not get called for a single false start penalty despite the roar of 105,000 plus fans doing their best to deafen the players. Unfortunately, that was one half of the coin. On the flip side, the line could not do what it prides itself on greatly, and that’s to open up huge holes for the Giants dynamic duo of Jacobs and Bradshaw. To Dallas’ credit, they brought the safeties up often and with NT Jay Ratliff clogging up the middle from “A” gap to “A” gap, the Giants were never able to get their misdirection and pulls going. Most of the time the backs were forced wide where the athletic LBs from Dallas would be laying in wait for them.

Individually, RT Kareem Mckenzie tightened up his game considerably, not allowing a single pressure all night. LT David Diehl played his most impressive game so far against the Cowboys, as he combined with Boss and Jacobs/Bradshaw to make Demarcus Ware a non-factor for the majority of the game. LG Rich Seubert and RG Chris Snee also had great games in the passing game. Rarely did they allow pressure up the middle, keeping the interior of the Dallas line backed up and allowing Eli a place to step into to deliver the ball. Rookie LT William Beatty was in on one play at LT when Diehl lost his shoe. Welcome to the NFL rook…meet DeMarcus Ware! Actually, Beatty did a good job and Ware was a non factor on the play.

So is the glass half full or half empty? After two games into the season, and the Giants have yet to produce anything like the running game that they showed last season when they were the number 1 unit in football. The Giants will need to get this situation resolved if they truly want to be in the class of the contenders. On a full side, however, after 2 weeks the Giants have the 6th highest rated offense in the league thanks to the success in the passing game.

One final note about the offensive line, they didn’t have any opportunities to convert short yardage as there were no situations that warranted the package so the jury will be out on that subject for at least another week.

The Defense: The Giants were still missing a couple key starters in the secondary (CBs Derrick Dockery and Aaron Ross), though they did get WLB Michael Boley back into the fold. Two components of the rotation, however, DT Chris Canty and SLB Chris Sintim were also out. Compound these issues with the fact that both safeties, SS Kenny Phillips and FS Michael Johnson were banged up coming in and this looked like a recipe for disaster.

Just like the offensive line, this was a tale of two games for the defense. On one side, the Giants completely dominated the Dallas passing attack despite not putting any significant pressure on QB Tony Romo. Pressure was certainly applied, but not to the extent that is usually required to rattle the QB. Frankly, Romo looked rattled for the entire game. He threw early, he threw off his back foot, he was high with the ball, he threw with too much mustard. The back seven played well against the pass, but were lost in run support. The same could basically be said for the front seven as well.

The Giants returned to a familiar situation from the preseason, which was the inability of the starting unit to contain the running game. Although the Giants dominated the Dallas passing game, giving up just 127 yards on 13 completions against 29 attempts with 3 interceptions, they allowed the Cowboys to gash them for 251 yards on 29 carries. That’s nearly a 9 yard per carry clip, boys and girls. That ain’t gonna get it done.

It’s easy to speculate on what happened. It could be that the Giants assumed that the Cowboys would go after their depleted and banged up secondary and never adjusted to the run. That would not explain the DL and LBs being constantly out of position and shooting the wrong gaps. It also doesn’t explain away shoddy tackling and poor angles.

Front 7: The only player missing in action this week along the front was DT  Chris Canty, sitting out with a calf strain. Following an impressive game in which they held the Redskins running game in check, these guys spit the bit this week.

Displaying equal opportunity failure, the Giants front 7 used a combination of poor gap discipline, over pursuit, and just plain bad tackling technique to continuously allow HBs Felix Jones and Marion Barber to run through truck sized holes for incredible gains. The Cowboys use the reverse of play action, where Romo pumps outside before handing off to the draw play, leaving the DEs frozen in place and influencing the LBs outside while the big offensive linemen wall off and nullify the interior of the line as well as whatever LB or safety is still somewhat in the play. The entire defensive line, consisting of DEs Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Mathais Kiwanuka, Dave Tollefson, DTs Rocky Bernard, Barry Cofield, and Fred Robbins combined for just 8 tackles. The only real force in the running game was Kiwanuka, who had a couple nice plays behind the line of scrimmage. Other than that, they were really nowhere to be found against the run. Osi and Tuck both had huge drop offs from their previous games. Granted, Tuck missed the entire second half, but he wasn’t much of a factor prior to going out.

MLB Antonio Pierce had a solid game, though his gap discipline was woeful on occasion. On several plays, he shot the wrong gap or over pursued leaving huge gut back lanes for the RB to exploit. Pierce was in on 6 tackles. Pierce was also instrumental in changing the defense from what appeared to be man to man with a blitz on to a zone coverage that Romo never countered and ended up throwing a pick six to rookie CB Bruce Johnson. On the flip side, Romo caught Pierce in the middle of a call change that resulted in a 25 yard run by Barber as the Giants were responding to the call.

Speaking of Michael Boley, he was very active early but fell off as the game went on yet still tied for the team lead in tackles with 7. He is exceptionally fast in relation to the other LBs on the squad. He looked very good in pass coverage and was in on several tackles early in the running game. There is no doubt that Boley is not in complete game shape after missing all of camp and most of the preseason. It showed later when he began to tackle high and even took an unnecessary face mask penalty on a critical drive late in the game. Fatigue was also evident by the poor angles he was taking late that resulted in longer than usual gains.

OLBs Chase Blackburn and Danny Clark were at a loss for almost the entire game. Someone has to explain to me how your weakside linebacker ends up with only 1 tackle on the entire night. Clark got the donut. Both played well last week, but there was a precipitous drop off this week. Clark looked slow and did not react well at all to the cut back running that Dallas employed. On a positive note, the linebackers did a good job containing dangerous TE Jason Witten.

Defensive Backs: Once again with  CBs Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery out, Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster were the starters with CB Bruce Johnson coming in for the nickel and dime packages. Once again, all three played extremely well, shutting down the potent Dallas passing attack along with SS Kenny Phillips and FS Michael Johnson. The unit locked up three interceptions, one a pick six for the rookie Johnson and two from Phillips.

The first interception by Phillips was just a heads up play on his part to not give up on a ball that appeared to hit the ground but in reality hit off Witten’s foot. Phillips should have had a touchdown on the play, but the whistle had blown. Phillips also had a tremendous tackle (one of 7, tied for the team lead) on a third down and long play where Tashard Choice had just broken through the line on what looked for the world would be another long run for a first down. Phillips came out of nowhere to wrap him up by the lower leg and bring him down, forcing a punt and preserving field position. Later, on another long run by Barber, Phillips took a horrible angle allowing what should have been a 7-9 yard gain go for nearly 50 yards.

FS Michael Johnson was in on 5 tackles, but was not very effective in the running game. Johnson was also a culprit in the bad angle/wrong gap crowd. Frankly, it was so bad that it appeared that the Giants simply thought the Cowboys were going to be elsewhere on every running play.

Special Teams: P Jeff Feagles had a full day of punting, and alas, he didn’t hit the Jerrahtron. Of his five punts, three were placed inside the 20 and only one was returned for a mere 4 yards.

What can you say about K Lawrence Tynes? First, starting from a 7 step drop, he kicks some kind of knuckler to the 15 yard line but gets away with it due to good coverage. Later, he starts his kickoffs from a near standstill and puts the ball in the end zone. As for his field goals, he hit four but infuriatingly missed a chip shot 29 yarder following a promising drive to open the third quarter that could have killed all momentum had Dallas been able to mount a decent drive to follow it. Then of course, even while being iced, he calmly kicks the game winner. Twice. So how does one stay angry at him?

For the second week in a row, the Giants lost a man in the return game when Hixon had to leave the game. Sinorice Moss was adequate as the kick off returner, though he did nothing spectacular again. Ahmad Bradshaw took over the punt return duties, and also did nothing spectacular.

The kick coverage team was very good, allowing Felix Jones just one decent return. Bryan Kehl forced and recovered the Felix Jones fumble that resulted in the second Giants field goal. It was a nice play by Kehl to stay with the play after Sinorice Moss missed his opportunity to recover the ball.

Coaching: Much discussion on BBI over the past two days was centered on the play calling of Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride, specifically within the green zone. The Giants are now 0-8 in such situations on the year. It’s difficult to pin the play calling on Gilbride, as Manning has audible authority and audibles on 30-40% of all plays. Looking at the five opportunities in the green zone, the Giants threw from the shotgun on five occasions, threw from behind center on one occasion, and ran on six occasions. That’s six passes and six runs. They converted only one first down inside the green zone. According to Eli, the blame for their failures are execution. Several people are calling for WR Ramses Barden (who only played on specials) to have a package at the goal line. It appears the coaches do not trust Barden enough yet to give him consideration. Considering the Giants have the #6 offense in the league, combined with fact that they were in the top of the league in scoring averaging 27 points a game last year, it seems safe to say that Gilbride and Manning are working quite well together and are simply going to have to find a way to get out of this green zone slump.

Great clock management by Head Coach Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning on the final drive.

Offensive Player of the Game: Another fourth quarter comeback, a stellar line score, and icy demeanor under pressure, Eli Manning is this week’s OPOG. Once again, Easy E proves to the world that no stage is too big and no task is too great for him to take on.

Defensive Player of the Game: Although no one on the defense really deserves this honor, Kenny Phillips did have three extremely important plays (2 ints, 1 open field tackle that saved a big gainer) that helped turn the game around. His first interception should have resulted in a pick six.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 20, 2009)
Sep 222009
 

September 21, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report – No Word Yet on Tuck and Hixon: Head Coach Tom Coughlin was not able to provide an update yesterday afternoon on the injury status of DE Justin Tuck (shoulder) and WR Domenik Hixon (knee). Both were injured in the game against Dallas.

The bad news on Tuck was that after the game, he had problems dressing and admitted he was in so much pain he could not get into a three-point stance.

“I really don’t have much,” said Coughlin. “They are going through all of the tests today and we will have to wait and see what the tests say to see where these guys are. I think a big factor will be Wednesday. When we do get the information, how do they feel on Wednesday?…Anytime you have a player of (Tuck’s) caliber that can’t finish a game, I would think that something is going on there that is preventing him from continuing. And as I said, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Coughlin was also asked about DT Chris Canty (calf), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), and CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring) – all three of whom did not play against Dallas. “I couldn’t say,” replied Coughlin. “The early prognosis is not that different from what we finished last week with. And so again, we’ll see. I think it ends up being, hopefully, a day to day thing. But we will have to find out.”

Articles on WRs Steve Smith and Mario Manningham:

Articles on WR Mario Manningham:

Article on the Giants’ New Stadium: New Meadowlands For Jets, Giants Likely Won’t Compare To Cowboys’ New Stadium by Filip Bondy of The Daily News

Notes and Quotes: Sunday night’s Giants-Cowboys game had the best overnight rating ever for Sunday Night Football broadcast on NBC.

The Giants gained 427 yards against Dallas, their fourth 400-yard plus outing in their last 15 regular season games.

All eight of QB Eli Manning’s 300-yard plus games have been on the road.

Cowboys’ LT Flozell Adams on charges by DE Justin Tuck that Adams’ tripping penalty on Tuck was “bush league”: “Bush? What does that mean. I’ve never ever heard that term. It’s not my fault. I don’t know what happened with that. (Tuck) said he hurt his shoulder. I’m like, ‘well, stay up.’ That’s all I know. He fell down. Stay up.” Tuck suffered his shoulder injury on the play in question.

Sep 212009
 

Giants Defeat Dallas 33-31: Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones should have been more careful about what he wished for. On a Dallas radio station last Friday, Jones was asked if he hand-picked the Giants for the team he wanted to face for the grand opening of his new $1.2 billion stadium. “I did,” replied Jones. “I got to basically have real input into who we’d be playing.”

Big mistake Jerry. Big mistake.

The Giants clearly ruined the party, defeating the Dallas Cowboys on a last-second field goal to give New York a stunning 33-31 victory. The win will go down as one of the most memorable in Giants’ team history and one of the most painful in Cowboys’ team history. A record crowd of over 105,000 people, including former President George W. Bush, watched the game.

“It was the ugliest homecoming they’ve ever asked to come,” said LB Antonio Pierce after the game. “We appreciate the welcoming. We appreciate the 100,000 people cheering us on. And it was good watching ourselves on TV (the Cowboys’ new jumbo video screen).”

“This is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of, just coming in here and ruining this whole thing for them,” said HB Brandon Jacobs. “I love it.”

The Giants are now 2-0 overall, and 2-0 and in first place in the tough NFC East. “I tip my hat to the Giants players,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “This was a great team effort.”

In a crazy, back-and-forth game, the Giants prevailed despite giving up 251 net yards rushing and going 0-of-5 in red zone scoring opportunities. The Giants won because they were +4 in the turnover ratio and QB Eli Manning dramatically out-played QB Tony Romo. Wide receivers Mario Manningham and Steve Smith also had a memorable night, the two combining for 20 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns. PK Lawrence Tynes was 4-of-5 on field goal attempts, including the 37-yard game winner.

The biggest negative on the night was that DE Justin Tuck was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury and WR Domenik Hixon suffered a knee injury. Coughlin said he had no updates on the severity of either injury after the game.

Dallas received the football to start the game but the Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out. New York then drove the ball 71 yards in nine plays to set up a 30-yard field goal by Tynes. The big plays on the drive were 32- and 26-yard passes from Manning to Smith, the latter coming on 3rd-and-11.

Dallas roared right back with a 9-play, 62-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard rushing touchdown by HB Marion Barber. Cowboys 7 – Giants 3. The Giants went three-and-out on their next possession. But the Giants took the lead when rookie CB Bruce Johnson, playing for injured CB Kevin Dockery, intercepted Romo and returned the pick 34 yards for a touchdown. Giants 10 – Cowboys 7.

The Cowboys gave the Giants another gift when they fumbled away the ensuing kickoff. LB Bryan Kehl recovered at the Cowboys’ 27-yard line. However, the Giants’ offense stalled at the Dallas 5-yard line and New York was forced to settle for another short Tynes’ field goal. Giants 13 – Cowboys 7.

Dallas quickly regained the lead once again by driving 73 yards in eight plays, with Romo hitting TE Jason Witten for a 1-yard score on 3rd-and-goal. Cowboys 14 – Giants 13. On their next two drives of the first half, the Giants were forced to punt; and the Cowboys also punted once. On Dallas’ seventh possession, S Kenny Phillips intercepted Romo on a play where the ball first appeared to hit the turf, but actually bounced off the leg of Witten. Phillips would have scored had the officials not blown the play dead. Instant Replay overturned the mistake, but the Giants were given the ball at the Cowboys’ 28-yard line instead of the defensive touchdown. It was no matter as Manning hit Manningham for a 22-yard score three plays later on 3rd-and-4. Manningham made a juggling catch while on the ground for the incredible touchdown. Giants 20 – Cowboys 14.

Unfortunately, the defense failed to hold again as Dallas drove 37 yards in six plays and 45 seconds to set up a 47-yard field goal right before halftime. At the half, the Giants led 20-17.

The Giants received the football to start the second half and drove 71 yards in eight plays. However, Tynes, on his only miscue of the night, missed the 29-yard field goal. The Giants’ defense forced Dallas to punt after one first down. The Giants were then able to drive from their 6-yard line to the Dallas 45, but then the drive stalled and New York punted.

The Cowboys regained the lead again when they drove 83 yards on seven plays, the possession culminating with a 3-yard quarterback draw by Romo. Cowboys 24 – Giants 20. The Giants went three-and-out. Near midfield, Romo threw the ball deep but was picked off by Phillips at the Giants’ 5-yard line. It was Phillips’ second interception of the game and  he returned it to the Giants’ 27.

On the first play after the turnover, Manning hit Manningham deep over the middle for a 49-yard gain. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-8, Manning found Smith for the 22-yard score and a 27-24 advantage.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out and New York then moved 40 yards in seven plays to set up Tynes from 36 yards out. Giants 30 – Cowboys 24.

All looked lost however when Dallas drove 71 yards in 7 plays to take a 31-30 lead late in the 4th quarter. HB Felix Jones of the Cowboys scored from seven yards out.

On their ensuing and last possession of the game, the Giants were backed up to the 15-yard line after a holding penalty on their first play. Manning threw to HB Ahmad Bradshaw for 2 yards and WR Derek Hagan for 12 yards. The Giants were able to convert on 3rd-and-6 with an 11-yard pass from Manning to Smith. Manning then threw to TE Kevin Boss for 13 yards and Smith for 6 yards. After an incompletion, Manning found Manningham for 8 yards on 3rd-and-4 and Smith again for 12 yards. After Manning gained 2 yards, Tynes trotted out and kicked what appeared to be the game winner with no time left. But the officials granted the Cowboys a timeout just before the ball was snapped. Dallas’ attempt to ice Tynes failed as Tynes coolly kicked the game winner, for a second time, for the dramatic victory.

“That’s when (Eli’s) the best,” said Pierce. “When we go no-huddle or up-tempo, you don’t want it in the hands of nobody else but No.10. He finds a way.”

“A division opponent on the road, the biggest crowd ever, Sunday night football, and a two-minute drive — it doesn’t get any better than that,” Manning said.

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were WR HB Danny Ware (elbow), Hakeem Nicks (foot), OT Guy Whimper, OC Adam Koets (ankle), DT Chris Canty (calf), LB Clint Sintim (groin), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), and CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring).

Offensively, while the Giants accrued 330 net yards passing, the just were held to 97 net yards rushing. Jacobs carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards while Bradshaw carried the ball nine times for 37 yards. In 13 offensive possessions, the Giants scored two touchdowns and four field goals. New York scored on each of their last three possessions.

The Giants defense gave up 251 yards rushing and did not sack Romo. However, the Giants did intercept Romo three times and hold Dallas to 127 net yards passing. Dallas did score four touchdowns and one interception in 13 offensive possessions.

NY Post Q&A With WR Steve Smith: Serby’s Sunday Q&A With…Steve Smith by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Sep 192009
 

September 18, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: Safety Michael Johnson (shoulder) returned to practice yesterday, but CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring), S Kenny Phillips (knee), and LB Clint Sintim suffered setbacks and did not practice. Dockery and Sintim had practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday; Phillips had practiced on a limited basis on Thursday.

Both Dockery and Phillips are officially listed as “questionable” for the game against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Sintim has been officially ruled out of the game. Johnson is “probable.”

“Hopefully (Phillips and Dockery) will make it,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “(Dockery) had done a good job for about a day and a half. He got sore. So we are holding out that he will feel better.”

“It’s up the air right now (whether I play),” Phillips said. “Twenty-four hours later, things change…That’s what we’re trying to avoid by me sitting out practice. I want to make sure that if I do play, I’m 100%.”

“I just don’t want to overwork it before the game Sunday,” Dockery said. “Just being cautious. I had two good days of work. I don’t want to work it three days and have it be sore on Saturday.”

Also not  practicing yesterday were DT Chris Canty (calf), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), HB Danny Ware (elbow), and OC Adam Koets (ankle). In addition to Sintim, all five of these players will not play against Dallas.

WLB Michael Boley (hip) fully practiced for the second day in a row and is “probable” for the game.

Article on the Giants-Cowboys Game: Giants-Cowboys: All You Need Is Hate by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on the Giants’ Defensive Tackles: Short Tackle Rotation Faces Big Task In Big D by Mark Hale of The New York Post

Article on CB Corey Webster: Hits, But No Punches, In Webster’s Game Plan for Dallas by Joe LaPointe of The New York Times

Article on S Kenny Phillips: Giants Safety Kenny Phillips Expected To Remain Weak In The Knee All Season by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on S C.C. Brown: Injuries Opening Door For Increased Role For NY Giants Safety C.C. Brown by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Sep 182009
 

September 17, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were DT Chris Canty (calf), S Michael Johnson (shoulder), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), HB Danny Ware (elbow), OC Adam Koets (ankle).

According to various press reports, Canty will not play against the Cowboys on Sunday night. According to Newsday, Canty’s calf was heavily wrapped yesterday and he was moving “gingerly” in the locker room. An unidentified “NFL source” told Newsday that the injury “is not a big deal” but that Canty could miss 2-3 games. “It’s just a strain,” the source said. “There’s no tear, no operation. It will heal itself with rest.”

When asked about Canty, Head Coach Tom Coughlin responded, “He strained his calf…We’ll see…It is pretty much day to day. We will see…He took a second step and had an issue.”

Ross did do some running on the side. “He seems to be doing pretty well,” said Coughlin.

Nicks said he was feeling better. “It feels good right now,” said Nicks. “The way it’s feeling right now, we’ll just continue to take it one day at a time and I feel like we’ll make the right decision on whether or not I’ll come back and play.”

Practicing on a limited basis were S Kenny Phillips (knee), LB Clint Sintim (groin), and CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring). The Star-Ledger is reporting that Phillips does not have torn ligaments, but suggested surgery could be an option if the knee does not respond well to treatment.

“(Phillips) seemed to move well,” said Coughlin. “(His knee injury) is a maintenance thing; it really is. So we are going to have to deal with that.”

LB Michael Boley (hip) practiced fully. “He has done well,” said Coughlin. “He has done everything that we have asked him to do and then some, to be honest with you.”

Article on the Giants-Cowboys Game: Containing Dallas QB Giant Task by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on the Offensive Line: Giants Offensive Line Looks For Redemption After Allowing 8 Sacks In Dallas Last Year by Ohm Youngmisuk of The Daily News

Article on LB Michael Boley: Boley Eager To Make His Giants Debut Sunday by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on P Jeff Feagles: For Jeff Feagles, Directional Punting Becomes A Fine Science by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Notes and Quotes: The Cowboys are 34-14-1 (.708) in home openers, the best mark among NFC teams.

WR Patrick Crayton on the Giants: “We kind of don’t respect the Giants.”

Sep 172009
 

9/17/2009

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 20, 2009: Jerry Jones is playing with fire. The proud papa of a brand new $1.2 billion stadium, he can’t wait to show it and his team to the country.  It’s no accident that the first team to visit the stadium is the New York Giants.  The Giants are the reigning NFC East Division Champions.  Two years ago, the Giants caused one of the most painful losses in Cowboys’ history by eliminating the heavily-favored, #1-seeded Cowboys in the playoffs.  And Jones, always with an eye on the marketing side of the business, knows that the Giants equal high ratings.  In his world view, this game represents the christening of the new stadium.  The stadium and his beloved Dallas Cowboys, America’s Team, are to be the main story line.  The Giants and their big city elitist fans from New York and New Jersey are the victims.

Ahem…Jerry…the Giants are not going to cooperate.

These are not the Giants of the 1970’s or 1990’s.  The Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning Giant have never been afraid of hostile environments.  This group of players has never been intimidated playing in Dallas.  100,000 screaming fans?  Big deal!  Much, much more was on the line in January 2007.  These Giants don’t scare.  You’re playing with fire Jerry.

Giants on Offense: I see a lot of threads in “The Corner Forum” about how the Giants should pass more or run more or do this or that.  As long as Tom Coughlin is coaching this team, the Giants will always be what they have been under him: balanced.  They will run, they will pass.  Unless they fall way behind in a game, they are not going to get terribly lopsided one way or the other.

The real question is how and when the Giants run or pass.  Dallas struggled against the run last week against Tampa Bay.  You know that is something the Cowboys have been working on all week.  The past two seasons, Dallas has had a very solid run defense so last week may have been aberration.  Do the Giants test their run defense early and often?  Or do the Giants cross up the Cowboys, like they did a bit with the Redskins, and throw the football?

I’d be tempted to throw early.  I think the Giants are going to need a lot of points if they are going to win on Sunday night.  A quick score also helps to settle down what will be a very loud stadium.  I’m not sold on their linebackers and safeties in coverage.  You can do some damage against Dallas by throwing over the middle.  Passes to the backs and Kevin Boss underneath or even a deep post shot to Manningham or Hixon early might be what the doctor ordered.  We may even see a bit of the no-huddle (not hurry-up) in this game early.

But the rub is it will indeed be loud.  The receivers, backs, tight ends, and offensive line will have trouble hearing Eli.  The Giants will likely have to go on a silent snap count and that will only aid the dangerous outside pass rushers.  Eli has to do a better job of getting the play off before the play clock expires.  A 5-yard penalty could kill a drive, and it will only get the crowd even more worked up.

Eli has to play well for the Giants to win.  The good news is that he usually does play well in Dallas.  The reason the offense stumbled badly in Dallas last year was the offensive line played its worst game of the year.  The line needs to rebound strongly and give Eli time.  The tackles in particular will be on the spot.  In the Dallas 3-4 defense, ROLB DeMarcus Ware is the playmaker.  Most of the time, he will face LT David Diehl, who has played well at times against Ware, and other times has struggled.  But the Cowboys will also move Ware around and RT Kareem McKenzie has had his issues with Ware in the past as well.  Even if they don’t, LOLB Anthony Spencer is a former first round who can rush the passer.  The Cowboys dumped Greg Ellis so Spencer could start.  If Diehl or McKenzie need help, that takes out one less option for Manning and makes the Giants easier to defend.

The other quality defender Dallas has is NT Jay Ratliff.  OC Shaun O’Hara will be on the spot with him.  If he needs help, again, that makes things easier for Dallas’ defense.

So my game plan would be to pass early and attack the middle of the field in doing so.  I might be tempted to use some no-huddle and try to get up quickly early.  If successful, and the Cowboys start to back off a bit, I would then hit them hard with Jacobs and Bradshaw.  I would also take a shot or two deep down the field off of play action.

Much depends on the play of the offensive line.

Giants on Defense: The Cowboys are not the Redskins.  The Redskins have an anemic passing attack.  Tony Romo is 4-1 against the New York Giants as a starter.  Minus Terrell Owens, I have been impressed with his ability to accurately deliver the ball in short- to-intermediate ranges.  The Cowboys have All-World Jason Witten at tight end, a guy who gives the Giants fits.  But they also have a second tight end who is very dangerous in Martellus Bennett.  The Cowboys will use a lot of two-tight end formations and throw out of these formations.  So Giants’ fans not only have to worry about the linebackers’ ability to cover Witten, but also Bennett.

To me, this is a game where there will be a lot of pressure on the Giants’ linebackers to perform.  The undercoverage on the tight ends and backs will be huge.  Romo will throw to halfbacks Marion Barber and Felix Jones.  Witten, Bennett, Barber, Jones…that’s a lot of talent.  If I’m Dallas, I try to isolate Jones on a Giants’ linebacker down the field.  Making matters worse is that Barber and Jones are very dangerous runners.  Barber is Dallas’ version of Brandon Jacobs and Jones is their version of Bradshaw.  Playaction for the Cowboys could prove deadly for the Giants as well.

Dallas has talked a great deal about running the ball more this year.  I didn’t see it in the preseason.  But obviously, you have to stop the run and make the Cowboys one dimensional.  If Barber and Jones get going, the Giants are going to have a very hard time winning this game.  The Dallas offensive line is huge and powerful.  The smaller but more athletic Giants’ defensive line needs to play with great passion, hustle, technique, leverage, and discipline.  The linebackers and defensive backs also must be physical and aggressive against the run, without making themselves vulnerable to play fakes. Barber will run over you; Jones will run away from you. Gang tackle!

Tony Romo is overrated by some, underrated by others.  He is certainly dangerous.  While he will force the ball at times and make bad turnovers, especially fumbles, he is very elusive, accurate, and an excellent improviser.  Just when you think you have him, he scrambles away from you and hits the big play, often in a very unorthodox fashion.  Obviously, the more heat you get on him the better.  But I wouldn’t blitz a ton.  Make him work the ball down the field.  Don’t give up the cheap score.

Terrell Owens is gone.  But like the Giants, Dallas may have put together a group of largely unsung targets who can hurt teams with greater speed.  Roy Williams is an enigma and receives much of the attention.  Patrick Crayton has a big mouth, but often comes up small.  The guys who could cause problems are the reserves Miles Austin and Sam Hurd.

Stop the run first and foremost.  But realize that the Giants’ linebackers and safeties are going to be under tremendous stress from Witten, Bennett, and the backs.  That’s what worries me more than anything.  You’ve got to figure that Dallas is just looking for match-up problems with Felix Jones and Bennett.

Giants on Special Teams: Kickoff return coverage will be under pressure from Felix Jones and Miles Austin.  Lawrence Tynes needs to get good height on his kickoffs in order to allow his coverage men an opportunity to make a play inside the 30-yard line.

Patrick Crayton and Terrence Newman are the punt returners.

With Danny Ware (elbow) not playing and the Giants probably not wanting to risk Ahmad Bradshaw while Ware is out, it will be interesting to see who returns kickoffs.  Domenik Hixon?

Sep 172009
 

One More Practice Squad Move: The Giants have signed OT/OG Jacob Bender to the Practice Squad. Bender was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The Jets waived him before the 2008 season and the New England Patriots signed him to their Practice Squad. The San Francisco 49ers signed Bender off of the Patriots’ Practice Squad in November 2008. The 49ers waived him before the 2009 season.

September 16, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were S Kenny Phillips (knee), S Michael Johnson (shoulder), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), HB Danny Ware (elbow), OC Adam Koets (ankle).

Practicing on a limited basis were DT Chris Canty (calf), LB Michael Boley (hip), LB Clint Sintim (groin), and CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring). Canty left practice early with the calf strain.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll play,” Phillips said. “I’m not too worried about it right now. I’m practicing (on Thursday), I’m going to go out there at full speed and whatever happens, happens. The coaches and the training staff, they’re doing a pretty good job with maintaining it. We’ll do whatever it takes to get through the season.”

When asked if there was anything new on Ross, Head Coach Tom Coughlin responded, “No. We are going to obviously continue to see where he is at. There is some strength gained there, which is a positive thing.”

When asked about Dockery before practice, Coughlin responded, “They are going to kind of push him along (on Wednesday) and see exactly where he is at. Hopefully he is (closer to being ready). The training room feels pretty good about his progress.”

“I was able to make it through the whole practice without encountering any problems,” said Dockery. “I feel good and I should be able to go.”

Coughlin was also asked about Boley before practice. “He is going to work,” said Coughlin. “He will get probably 50% of the work (on Wednesday). We will assess that as we go along.”

“I feel real good, I’m going to do as much as they let me do,” Boley said. “I basically did everything. It feels like the first day of practice for me.”

Article on HB Brandon Jacobs: Running Back Brandon Jacobs Says He Hates The Cowboys As Much As Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware Hates The NY Giants by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on the Giants’ Offensive Line: NY Giants Offensive Line Determined To Keep Eli Manning Off His Back This Time by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Article On The Giants’ Secondary: Giants’ Depleted Secondary Wary Of Cowboys by Tom Rock of Newsday

Notes and Quotes: The Giants-Redskins game was the most-watched Week 1 Sunday game on record with 25.1 million viewers.

HB Brandon Jacobs on the Dallas Cowboys: “Dallas doesn’t like us and a couple of guys on their team made that pretty clear earlier in the week. We have guys in this locker room who are going to make that clear as well. We don’t like each other, it’s a rivalry that has been going for a long time and I am really excited to be a part of it and take it up to another level this Sunday.”

Sep 162009
 
New York Giants 23 (1-0) – Washington Redskins 17 (0-1)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: The New York Football Giants opened the 2009 regular season, their final season at the old Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, in fine fashion against hated division rival Washington for the second straight year.  The game and results were eerily similar to last year, as the Giants jumped on the Redskins early and held them off the rest of the way.  Though the final score seems to indicate that this was a close game, really, it wasn’t.  The Giants completely dominated the Redskins for the first half and should have already put the game out of reach.  Although they let Washington hang around through most of the second half, when they needed it, they got a sustained clock eating drive that resulted in points to put it out of reach for good.

There was a lot to be happy about from the fans perspective.  First and foremost, any win over a division opponent is a huge accomplishment.  Second, many lingering questions from the preseason concerning the passing game, the defensive front, and the changes on the coaching staff were answered, though none emphatically.  Third, and possibly most important, this begins the sense of confidence the Giants will need to develop after losing Plaxico Burress on offense and Steve Spagnoulo as their defensive coordinator.

As in any sport, consistency and confidence are as important as conditioning, preparation, and in some cases talent.  The Giants now know they can defeat a very good defense with the players they have to put on the field.  They also know that they can subdue opponents in the same manner as before.  They will look to build this confidence and much needed momentum next Sunday night against Dallas.

Tale O’ The Tape: The first half numbers were unbelievable.  The Giants held the ball for more than 20 minutes.  They rolled up 213 total yards and 12 first downs on 36 plays.  Eli was 12 – 16 passing.  They clicked on 63% of their third down conversion attempts (5-8).  On defense, they held Washington to just 22 plays on offense, allowing only one 3rd down conversion (out of 4 attempts).  Though the Skins netted 145 total yards and 54 on the ground, 34 of them came on the very first play from scrimmage. Another 77 came in the last two minutes of the half, when the Giants fell victim to the hurry up offense, and to add insult to injury a fake field goal, which kept the game marginally close.  If not for that breakdown, along with the Giants going 0-2 and settling for just 3 points inside the green zone, this game would have been over.

The second half numbers were not as good as the first for the Giants offense, but the team took over again in the fourth quarter.  The Redskins dominated the time of possession and ran 19 plays in the third quarter and the Giants looked ready to swoon when their offense gave the Skins a gift turnover deep in Giants territory.  Just the opposite happened.  The defense took over, holding them to a short field goal, and over the next 17:47 of the game, the Skins had the ball for just 5:19.  Granted, they scored on their final drive, but it was too little too late.  In fact, if you take out the two hurry up drives that ended both halves and the very first play of the game, the Giants defense held the Skins to just 89 total yards over the other 57:45 of the game.  You read that right.  After the first play, which took five seconds or so, the Skins’ only two sustained drives went for a collective 149 yard over a span of 2:10, both during the hurry up and in the last two minutes of the halves.

Offense: The Giants had their entire starting offense on the field at the same time for the first time this year to open the game.  In an unexpected move, the Giants started WR Mario Manningham and not WR Steve Smith.  The conventional wisdom had Smith starting opposite WR Domenik Hixon.

New York mixed it up early, dropping back to throw 17 times in the first half against 19 runs.  In the second half, they dropped back 10 times and rushed the ball on 10 occasions (there were also 3 kneel downs not included in the break down).  It was obvious from the start that they were going to run HB Brandon Jacobs away from mammoth DT Albert Haynesworth, but interestingly enough they went towards him on several runs with HB Ahmad Bradshaw.  Part of the Giants’ third down strategy was scuttled when HB Danny Ware was lost to a dislocated elbow, which he suffered while returning the opening kickoff.

Though the Giants did attempt to get the ball deep on a couple of occasions, they seemed content to attack the Skins in front of the safetys and in over the linebackers for much of the day.  The middle of the field was open often, and the Giants capitalized on it.

The Quarterbacks: By the numbers, QB Eli Manning had a good day.  He finished 20-29 for 256 yards (69% completion rate) 1 TD 1 INT and 2 fumbles (1 lost).  Frankly, the lost fumble was not his fault.  RT Kareem McKenzie completely whiffed on DE Andre Carter who facemasked Eli to the ground, resulting in the fumble.  What should have been a 15 yard penalty and automatic first down around the Washington 15 yard line instead was a turnover charged to Eli.

Manning, despite published reports, did not start out quite as sharply as people believe.  A botched exchange between Manning and center Shaun O’Hara was nearly disastrous on just the second play of the game.  Then following a 3rd down completion on the next play for a first down, he threw into triple coverage and was nearly intercepted.  On the play, the Giants went five wide with Bradshaw split to the top of the formation with Hixon inside.  The Skins dropped everyone into coverage, sending only two men in on Manning.  With no pressure at all, Manning inexplicably threw to Hixon, who ran an out while Bradshaw cut in and under him, but DB Carlos Rogers jumped the route and should have had an easy pick six.  Fortunately for Manning, the ball clanged off his hands and fell just out of the reach of CB Chris Horton.  Following those two early miscues, Manning was nearly perfect for the rest of the half.  He showed poise and confidence in the pocket, and spread the ball all over the field and to seven different receivers.  He checked down to his halfbacks on six occasions, as well, showing that he wasn’t going to force the issue (well, MOST of the time) if he didn’t have to.  On the touchdown play, it’s been reported that Manning checked to a play that was not in the game plan, and that it just popped into his head when he realized the coverage he was facing.

In the second half, Manning threw a very bad interception moving to his right while facing moderate pressure.  The most damning thing about the interception was the fact that it came at a time when the Giants were on their heels and deep in their own territory.  The play was fairly innocuous.  Single back, two wide, 1 slot receiver to the left and one TE to the right.  On the snap and off play action Jacobs released to the left flat.  LT David Diehl immediately lost contain on DT Andre Carter who pressured Eli to his right.  With only one WR in the pattern to that side (the TE stayed in on max protect), Eli should have just sprinted to the sideline and thrown the ball out of bounds.  Instead he threw somewhat across his body on the move and got very little on the ball.  S LaRron Landry closed, tipped the ball away from WR Steve Smith, and it ended up in the waiting arms of CB DeAngelo Hall.  It’s these questionable, and at this stage of his career, inexplicable decisions which drive people batshit crazy when discussing Eli Manning.  This was the only blemish, however, on Manning in the second half.  Check that.  It would not be prudent to leave out the obligatory “Delay of Game” penalty he took on the drive following the interception.  Manning did, however, get the five yards back by inducing Haynesworth to jump offsides later in the drive.  (One of two offsides Eli got the Skins to fall victim of.)  Overall, following the interception, Manning rebounded nicely and led the Giants on two more drives resulting in the winning points.  So Manning was mostly up, with a couple downs.  He looks already to be comfortable with his receiving corps, and he’s showing that he will look for his TE and also check down to his safety valve when necessary.

The Running Backs: The halfback situation was immediately thrown into chaos when HB Danny Ware dislocated his elbow returning the opening kickoff.  The plan was to use Ware in obvious third down passing situations due to his superior ability in blitz pick up and sure hands out of the backfield.  Due to his loss, HB Brandon Jacobs saw more time on third downs than probably expected.  Jacobs carried 16 times for just 46 yards, registering a dismal 2.9 yards per carry.  If you take out his longest run of 15 yards, his average plummets to just 2 ypc.  Part of the problem for Jacobs was he could not find a hole in short yardage situations.  On four different occasions of less than 2 to go for a first down, Jacobs was stopped short.  In fact, he managed to lose 4 yards in the process.  Jacobs was his usual stout self in pass protection.  He also caught 2 passes for 17 yards.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw had one of his best all around games as a New York Giant.  Bradshaw knows that this is his opportunity to prove he’s capable of spelling Jacobs for long stretches at a time.  Other than his seeming timidity at attacking the blitz, he’s got the talent to be an every down back.  On Sunday, Bradshaw led the Giants with 60 yards on 12 carries for a 5 ypc average.  On another note, Bradshaw converted two of his short yardage opportunities and failed on one.  Bradshaw was targeted four times by Manning, catching three passes for 11 yards.  The thing to note about Bradshaw is that his number was called six times in the 4th quarter, three runs and three passes.  There can be no doubt that with the game on the line Bradshaw is trusted by Manning and Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride to carry the ball.  Another note is that Bradshaw was split wide on two occasions when the Giants went with a 5-WR set, and they did attempt a bubble screen that went nowhere with him.  Bradshaw also showed a ton of heart by taking Albert Hanesworth on twice.  The first was a clear loss, but on the second Bradshaw used his unbelievable power and leverage to push the big man for a couple extra yards.

FB Madison Hedgecock had a seemingly off day.  On the first drive, on the 2nd and 2 pitch to the left, Hedgecock chipped the DE, and could not get to the CB who brought Jacobs down for a short gain.  On the next play, a toss to the right, Hedgecock turned up into the gap between the center and right guard while Bradshaw took it outside and got stuffed by Landry.  If Hedgecock leads out and walls off Landry, it’s an easy first down.  It may be that Bradshaw was supposed to read Hedgecock’s lead and follow him, but it looked like Hedgecock shot the wrong gap.  Those two instances notwithstanding, the Giants were essentially unsuccessful all game in short yardage and part of that has to be on the fullback.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Last week we saw the first real glimpses of the makeup of the receivers that the Giants have on their team.  All told, Manning targeted the WRs on 19 of his 29 passes, completing 12 of them and drawing an illegal contact on a 13th that probably would have been a touchdown to Hixon.

In a surprise start, WR Mario Manningham got into the action early and often, catching two balls on the opening drive and of course making the play of the day on his amazing 30 yard TD reception where he turned what was essentially a 2 yard pass into an unbelievable catch and run down the sideline, avoiding three Redskin tacklers to get into the end zone.  Manningham also had a huge 25 yard reception on the opening drive on a 3rd and 7 play.  Also of note was his blocking downfield.  Manningham isn’t afraid to mix it up with cornerbacks in the running game.  This was seen in all the receivers.  These reviews have been touting Manningham pretty regularly since camp, and it would seem that it’s simply a matter of time before he is number 2 on the depth chart, replacing either Hixon or Smith.

WR Steve Smith has already established himself as Manning’s go to guy, finishing with 80 yards on  6 receptions (targeted 8 times).  Smith didn’t start, and he did most of his damage in the slot which really seems to be the best position for him.  He has great vision and finds the open spot in the zone quickly, settling in as a nice target for Manning.  Four times, and three on 3rd down, a Steve Smith reception resulted in a first down.  The most important was a 3rd and 5 in the critical part of the 4th quarter when the Giants offense had been struggling.  His 25 yard catch over CB DeAngelo Hall kept the drive alive in which the Giants scored the 3 points to make it a two-score game.

On the other side of Manningham, WR Domenik Hixon was only targeted three times and caught just one pass.  Hixon did draw an illegal contact penalty on a sluggo route where Eli threw a perfect pass that he still almost came down with.  If Hixon hadn’t been interfered with, that play would have been an easy touchdown.

Rookie WR Hakeem Nicks entered the game for the first time early in the first quarter, catching 2 passes 18 yards. He was targeted four times, one a pass behind him while he was all alone crossing the middle about 15 yards downfield, the other was an overthrow on a long ball where he was open behind the defense but Eli threw under heavy pressure.  Nicks also demonstrated superb blocking skill downfield, and nearly sprung Brandon Jacobs for a big gainer in the 3rd quarter.  Had backup DT Lorenzo Alexander not gotten a hand on Jacobs’ foot, Nicks had his man walled off along the sideline and would have allowed Jacobs another 10 – 20 yards on the play.  Unfortunately, Nicks suffered a sprained foot in the fourth quarter and could not return.  It’s been reported that he will be out for at least two weeks, but it could be longer.

WR Sinorice Moss was not targeted in the game, but he did lift Manningham in celebration following his touchdown.

TE Kevin Boss had a great day in the passing department, catching 3 balls for 62 yards.  Boss’ best play was when he kept flowing with Eli as he was forced out of the pocket and looked like he was about to tuck and run.  Boss got Eli’s attention and the two executed a perfect pitch, catch, and run for 27 yards to set up the final field goal of the day.  Boss and TE Darcy Johnson both were counted on to help the offensive line in the running game and did yeomen’s work at the position.

The Offensive Line: The offensive line is where it all starts and will ultimately end for the New York Giants this year.  After injuries disrupted the continuity of the group during the preseason, the first team once again started and played for predominantly the entire game.  While the Giants enjoyed success up and down the field for most of the first half and the entire fourth quarter, this unit stalled repeatedly on short distance situations.  The Giants ran for more than 100 yards, but managed a paltry 3.3 yards per carry.  That’s not Giants smash mouth football, but frankly they were playing a very stout running defense.

In the passing game, the line kept Eli clean for the most part, allowing only one sack (which should not have been a sack but instead a 15 yard personal foul on DE Andre Carter).

Individually, RT Kareem Mckenzie allowed the pressure that caused the “fumble,” LT David Diehl allowed the pressure that resulted in Eli’s poor decision to throw the pass that was intercepted.  Other than those two plays, the line as a whole was dominant for most of the game in pass protection.  LG Rich Seubert had the awesome assignment to contain Haynesworth, and although he got knocked around a couple of times, he did a terrific job of keeping the big man off Eli and, for the most part, out of the running game.  He got a LOT of help from C Shaun O’Hara who chipped and doubled on Albert a number of times.  RG Chris Snee played a good game as well, pulling and leading Jacobs and Bradshaw on several successful runs.  Rookie LT William Beatty was in on short yardage on the 4th and 1 play in which his assignment was to pull down and double on Haynesworth, but he didn’t get there, leaving Seubert alone on him and Albert made the play.

All told, the unit played a solid game against a very strong defensive line with very active and physical linebackers.  Rookie OLB Brian Orakpo was a non-factor the entire game on the pass rush.  Again, this is where it all starts.  As this unit goes, so go the Giants.  Kinks on short yardage require straightening out, but most of the other areas seem to be well under control.

The Defense: The Giants were missing three starters for this game: OLB Michael Boley, CB Grandpa Ross, and nickel back Kevin Dockery.  The main concerns on BBI for the week were the depth in the defensive backfield as well as the ability to create a workable rotation along the defensive line.  Even with these concerns, for the vast majority of the game, the Giants defense dominated Jason Campbell and the Washington offense.  As noted earlier, other than the opening play of the game plus two end-of-the-half two-minute drills, they allowed a mere 80 plus yards to the Redskins.  On six drives, the defense held Washington to four plays or less.  The longest drive of the day for the Redskins was nine plays.  Three other drives went for six plays twice and seven plays.  Contrast that with the Giants who had five drives of eight plays or more, and three of 10 or more.  Washington didn’t have a drive over four plays until the final drive of the first half.  And when the game was on the line, up 17 – 7 late in the 3rd quarter and following a turnover deep in their own territory, the defense rose up and stoned the Redskins, allowing only a field goal and then a 3 and out on the next series.  This was critical to the outcome of the game.  The defense put unrelenting pressure on the entire Redskins offense all day, and not just on the QB, forcing 2 turnovers, 3 fumbles, (1 recovered), 3 sacks, and numerous QB hits or hurries.  Another impressive fact:  the Redskins had just four offensive snaps in the first quarter.

Front 7: The only player missing in action this week along the front was OLB Michael Boley, sitting out a 1-game suspension.  All other front-seven personnel (with the exception of the IR’d Jay Alford) were present and accounted for.  For the first time this year we got to see the famed and feared defensive line rotation.  They did not disappoint, as the front held the HB Clinton Portis to just 62 yards on just 16 carries.  Take away the 34 yard run that began the game, and Portis had just 28 yards on 15 carries.  All told, the Skins had a total of 85 yards on the ground, and that includes 8 from their punter and 16 on a scramble by QB Jason Campbell.  Impressive.  Stopping the run is where it all starts on defense, and stopping the run all starts with the defensive line.

DT/DE Justin Tuck led the line with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks, and took over the game late in the third quarter with the Giants on the ropes.  Following Eli’s interception, Tuck nailed Clinton Portis for a 6 yard loss.  Two plays later, Tuck finished off the hopes of the Redskins by sacking Campbell on 3rd and 6 at the 10 yard line.  Tuck lined up about 55% of the time at DE, the other 45% of the time he was at DT.  The results of his day won him the “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” for Week 1.

Not to be outdone, the return of DE Osi Umenyiora is like getting a free first round draft choice.  Osi ended up with 4 tackles, and got his second Trifecta, as he sacked and stripped Campbell of the football, made the recovery, and ran it in for a touchdown.  Osi hadn’t done too much this preseason as he worked his way back from his reconstructive knee surgery from last year, but he sure showed up on Sunday.  Word has it that it was his mistake which led to the 34 yard run by Portis, but apparently they talked about it and made adjustments to ensure it didn’t happen again.

Third DE Mathias Kiwanuka played primarily on third downs, and was in on two tackles.  DE Dave Tollefson didn’t see a lot of action and made just 1 special teams tackle.

The DT rotation consisted of Barry Cofield, Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, and Fred Robbins.  All saw significant action, and split the snaps almost equally between them.  Chris Canty lined up nearly exclusively at DT, but was in at DE on at least one occasion.  The interior of the line did a great job of keeping Campbell deep in the pocket and clogging up the running lanes.  The gave the team exactly what they were looking for.

MLB Antonio Pierce had a great game, firing up the team and countering all of Campbell’s calls emphatically and enthusiastically.  It would be interesting to hear from the opponents point of view what it’s like to know that Pierce has diagnosed your play and you know he’s going to unleash something you can’t control.  Pierce was second on the team with 6 tackles.  One thing you can sometimes say about Pierce is that he gets too excited and runs himself out of the play.  For instance, during the first touchdown drive by the Redskins, Campbell fumbled the snap on the opening play of the drive and recovered it rather quickly.  Pierce came in all alone on a blitz and had Campbell lined up for a sure sack but went right by him, missing him almost completely and allowing Campbell to scramble to his left, complete a dump off to Ladell Betts that went for 23 yards and set them up for the drive.  If Pierce had nailed Campbell for a 6 or 8 yard loss, it’s quite probable they don’t score in the first half.

OLBs Chase Blackburn and Danny Clark also played very well.  Due to the lack of speed at the position, it was expected they’d be exploited by TE Chris Cooley in the middle and they were…a bit.  Blackburn was in on 5 tackles, 1 for a loss, and also was credited with a QB hit.  Blackburn is playing like a man on a mission.  He’s like Frankie Ferrara…great motor, but he’s got some skills, too.  OLBs Bryan Kehl, Jonathan Goff, and Gerris Wilkinson played on specials.

Defensive Backs: With CBs Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery out, Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster were the starters with CB Bruce Johnson coming in for the nickel and dime packages.  All three played extremely well, with Webster continuing to define himself as a shut down corner.  He got into a scrap, started by Santana Moss, and frankly kicked his ass.  Later, Webster victimized Moss by jumping a route he had no business jumping and making a spectacular interception that will be talked about for years.  While Johnson was singled out by Head Coach Tom Coughlin after the game for his contributions, his play did not stand out on the field.  That’s actually a positive.  Not seeing or hearing his name means he was doing his job.  On the scoresheet, he was credited with 3 tackles.

As for the safeties, SS Kenny Phillips was active and around the ball often, both in the running game and in the secondary.  He recorded 6 tackles, and no deep passes were attempted anywhere near him.  Welcome back, FS Michael Johnson!  It looked as though MJ had taken a step back from last season, but it appears he was just biding his time until the season started.  In on 8 tackles (leading the team), Johnson was a force in the running game as well as on the TE in the middle of the field.  His best play was blowing up a WR screen to Santana Moss that he sniffed out and buried for a 2 yard loss.  It appeared that he missed only one tackle on the day.  S C.C. Brown also played a hell of a lot better than he showed in the last couple of preseason games, saving a touchdown (temporarily) by making a lunging tackle of WR Randel El at the 8 yard line.

Special Teams: P Jeff Feagles only had one punt which went for 48 yards and got another 10 tacked on because gunner Derek Hagan drew an illegal block in the back penalty.

K Lawrence Tynes was a bit of an enigma on Sunday.  Apparently, he’s got a hook to his FGs now, as all three appeared to be going wide but drew back in and ended up good.  He ended up hitting from 28, 45 and 28.  Then there were the kickoffs, which I don’t quite understand.  Of the 6, he reached the end zone on three occasions, one resulting in a touchback.  The problem was that four of them were line drives that hardly got more than 15 yards off the ground.  Was this by design?  Despite this, the kickoffs were relatively successful, as the coverage team didn’t allow a return beyond the 30 yard line except for one time.

The kickoff return team took a severe blow when HB Danny Ware (paired with Ahmad Bradshaw at the goal line) dislocated his elbow on the opening kickoff.  For the rest of the returns Sinorice Moss, Hakeem Nicks and Madison Hedgecock were all back to take kicks.  None did anything spectacular.  In the punt return game, Domenik Hixon returned one punt for no yards and made three fair catches.  Rumor has it he was told not to take any chances with the loss of return man Danny Ware and WR Hakeem Nicks.

Coaching: While you can’t argue with the results of the game, there were several head scratchers when it came to the coaching staff this week.  First, why did the Giants have an all out field goal block on when they were up by 17 just before the half?  It was a short FG attempt, why not just concede the 3 points, go in up 14, and work from there?  Another questionable call was the 2nd and 1 long ball shortly into the 3rd quarter.  Why do you do that when you already know you haven’t converted a short third down all game?

Congratulations to Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan for his first win in his new position.  It was good to see Osi involved in his Gatorade bath!

Offensive Player of the Game: This week’s player of the week goes to Mario Manningham for stepping up and seizing his role as a primary WR on this team.  Manningham’s touchdown run was nearly completely an individual effort, with an assist from WR Steve Smith at the end with a nice block.

Defensive Player of the Game: This one was not easy, but it has to be Defensive Player of the Week, Justin Tuck.  Tuck beat out Trifecta Man Osi Umenyiora and the Amazing Corey Webster.  If not for Tuck’s great individual efforts on the drive following Eli’s interception, this would have gone to Webster for totally shutting down star receiver Santana Moss and his incredible interception.

(Box Score – Washington Redskins at New York Giants, September 13, 2009)
Sep 162009
 

BBI Online Live is an internet radio show dedicated exclusively to coverage of the New York Giants. The show is co-hosted by Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) and John McDevitt of Side Kick Productions. This week’s guest was New York Giants linebacker Danny Clark. John and Eric also discussed the New York Giants opening day 23-17 victory against the Washington Redskins and the upcoming game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Sep 162009
 

Giants Add Two, Waive Two from 53-Man Roster: The Giants added two players to their 53-man roster yesterday. LB Michael Boley was officially reinstated from the Reserve/Suspended List. Boley had been suspended for the first game of the season by the NFL for off-the-field issues last year.

The Giants also claimed HB Gartrell Johnson off of waivers from the San Diego Chargers. Johnson was drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Chargers. Before claiming Johnson, The Star-Ledger is reporting that the Giants worked out veteran free agent halfbacks T.J. Duckett, Lorenzo Booker, and Dominic Rhodes.

To make room for Boley and Johnson, the Giants waived OG/OC Tutan Reyes and DT Leger Douzable.

Practice Squad Moves: The Giants have terminated the Practice Squad contracts of three players: CB DeAndre Wright (2009 6th round draft pick), HB Allen Patrick, and TE Kareem Brown.

The Giants filled two of the three spots by signing TE Bear Pascoe and CB Michael Coe to the Practice Squad. Pascoe was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 6th round of the 2009 NFL Draft; the 49ers waived him on September 5th. Coe was drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts; the Colts waived him on September 4th.

Justin Tuck Named “NFC Defensive Player of the Week”: DE Justin Tuck has been named “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” for his performance against the Washington Redskins last Sunday. Tuck was credited with 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 tackles for losses, 3 quarterback hits, and 1 pass defensed in the game. This is Tuck’s first “Player of the Week” award.

Article on the Giants’ Defensive Line: Giants Line’s Drive Is Greatness by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Articles on DT Chris Canty:

Notes: DE Osi Umenyiora is the first player in Giants’ history with three touchdowns on fumble returns.

The Giants’ defense has not allowed an opposing receiver to gain 100 yards in 12 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the NFL. The Redskins are first with 14 games.

The Giants have not had a 100-yard receiver in 13 consecutive games, the third-longest current streak. Oakland is first with 23 and Chicago second with 14.

WR Hakeem Nicks, who doesn’t turn 21 until November 14, is the youngest player currently on an NFL roster.