Oct 152009
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New York Giants 44 (5-0) – Oakland Raiders 7 (1-4)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Our Giants returned to the Meadowlands after a three game road trip on Sunday and picked up right where they left off, destroying the Oakland Raiders on their way to improving to 5-0. Home cooking must have been good for the boys, as the Giants not only scored four touchdowns on their first four drives, the defense also forced a three and out following each one!

In other words, folks, this one was never in doubt. Over the years, there have been posts in The Corner Forum lamenting the fact that the Giants rarely get a laugher. A game devoid of worry, one in which you can just sit back with a couple beers and relish the beat down you’re watching. Tampa was close to being worry-free. Kansas City was certainly not a nail biter. But this was ‘that game’. From the opening drive, there was no worry or consternation at all regarding the outcome. By halftime, the only thing worth rooting for was to sustain no more injuries.

Both units were completely dominant once again. There was one miscue on special teams.

So it’s 5-0, and the cream puff part of the schedule is now behind the Giants. The previous five opponents have a combined 6-14 record. The next four coming in before the bye week are a combined 11-5 and all four have playoff aspirations.

Tale O’ The Tape: As Tim the Enchanter so eloquently put it, “Just look at the BONES!!” That’s really all that was left on the turf by the time the Giants where through feasting on the Raiders on Sunday. The first half statistics were absolutely mind-boggling, and you have to wonder how bad it could have gotten had Head Coach Tom Coughlin not called off the dogs midway through the third quarter.

At the half, the Giants had 18 first downs, 340 total yards (129 rushing and 211 passing), and went three for four in the green zone on 37 total offensive plays. As mentioned, they scored touchdowns on their first four drives of the game. The Raiders, by contrast, generated just five first downs (one by penalty) and 68 total yards (43 rushing and 25 passing), committed two turnovers, and scored just one gift touchdown that was actually gifted twice, if not three times on just 26 plays. The Raiders had just one ‘sustained’ drive in the half, an 8-play, 30-yard jaunt all the way out to their own 49 yard line where they had to punt. Other than that, Oakland had five drives that went three and out, a drive that went two plays before a fumble and a one play kneel down at the end of the half.

Friends, Oakland never stood a chance.

Offense: Almost all hands on deck. TE Kevin Boss and HB Danny Ware were out. It’s becoming difficult to think of new adjectives to describe the offensive performance from week to week as the team has been on an absolute tear since the Dallas game. For the third consecutive week, the offense got into overdrive early and throttled back to cruise through the second half. It’s almost too much to believe, but the Giants offense had 262 total yards of offense and four touchdowns on their first four drives. The game was barely a quarter old!

Both phases of the offense were clicking, as the Giants ran and passed seemingly at will. If not for a near goal line stand from Oakland on the opening drive, there would be very little to complain about in the first half. On cruise control in the second half, the offense still scored on three of the four drives they mounted before dominating the fourth quarter with two long and time consuming drives.

The Quarterbacks: We have to say it. Five weeks a season doesn’t make, but at this juncture QB Eli Manning is a leading candidate for League MVP. Additionally, he’ll almost assuredly earn his second straight Pro Bowl appearance provided he continues to dominate as he has. Manning’s stat line for just a half was 8 for 10, 173 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Manning wasn’t sacked, and was only hit one time. His passer rating was a perfect 158.3. Currently, Eli Manning stands second to only big brother Peyton with a 111.7 QBR after 5 games.

I think that it’s safe to say that Eli Manning has become the QB everyone thought he could be. Once again he showed incredible fortitude and toughness, playing with an injury that limited him to just one day of practice and a walk through.

Interestingly, it was reported that Eli only threw from the shotgun formation in practice. So what does Eli do during the game? Lines up under center on the very first play from scrimmage and calmly drops back and hits TE Darcy Johnson for a 9 yard gain and the Giants were off.

Manning showed no ill effects at all from his injured heel. In fact, during the Giants’ second drive (a 3-play, 79-yard beauty), he stood in the pocket under heavy pressure and hit WR Steve Smith for 43 yards as he was hit. Eli popped right up and kept on going.

Mercifully for Oakland, and good for the Giants, Manning was pulled midway through the second quarter after the win was all but secured.

Back up QB David Carr executed two mini-, two-minute drills at the end of the first half. The first fizzled after 30 yards when he couldn’t convert on second or third downs. Fortunately, Oakland was in a giving mood and promptly fumbled back to the Giants and Carr got the team in position for a final field goal before the half was complete. Carr finished the day 9 for 14 for 90 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Carr also ran four times for 27 yards and made a nifty 12 yard scramble for the capping touchdown on the Giants’ first drive of the second half.

Much debate reigns of BBI regarding the play of Carr and whether he’s an adequate backup for Manning. The fact is, having a guy like Carr is a luxury that few teams can afford and even fewer have. To put it into perspective, how do you think Oakland, Washington, Tampa, Cleveland, St Louis, or Buffalo would feel about having Carr as their starter over who they have now? Frankly, other than Carr, there isn’t really a backup in the league many teams would consider as a starter.

The Running Backs: HB Danny Ware was once again inactive for the game, but he is practicing fully this week. The Giants used the two-headed monster approach for much of the game, with Jacobs softening up the Oakland defense before Bradshaw came in and shredded it. Rookie Gartrell Johnson also got some carries late in the fourth quarter.

The Giants had their second best rushing game of the year (missing the best by 6 yards), rolling for 220 total yards on 41 attempts. That’s a 5.4 ypc clip. Starting HB Brandon Jacobs had a busy if not spectacular day, gaining 67 yards on 21 carries. The 3.2 ypc clip is a little misleading because on the first drive, although he gained 24 yards on eight carries, he gained one yard or less on four of them. Much was made about the cheering when HB Ahmad Bradshaw entered the game on fourth down, but it seems that the fans lost sight of the fact that Jacobs handled the ball on the previous five plays. He needed a break.

In fact, on the day, there were three separate occasions where Jacobs carried the ball four times in a row. That had not been done before. It’s still the will of the opposing defenses to take Jacobs out of the game. He’s admitted he’s frustrated and expects more out of himself. Despite these issues, and despite giving up about 40% of the carries to two other backs, Jacobs continues to be a top ten back in yardage (he’s currently ninth). It boggles the mind that people actually see this as struggling. I’m certain there are a few teams that wish they’re starting HB was struggling as badly as Brandon Jacobs is struggling. Jacobs also caught a nifty outlet pass from Manning that went for 8 yards and set up the first green zone opportunity for the Giants.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw continues to run like his dog’s just been kicked. It’s never been mentioned, but one has to wonder if he’s not trying to pay back the entire league for passing on him at least six times each during the 2007 NFL Draft. Bradshaw finished the day with 110 yards on 11 carries, and yes that’s a 10 ypc average. It’s staggering to think about, as Bradshaw has climbed the league leaders chart to number 6, with 375 yards and a scintillating 6.5 ypc average. He also netted his first two rushing touchdowns of the season. His two signature plays on the day, however, were his 19 yard touchdown run in which he followed textbook blocking to the outside for an easy trot into the end zone and an unbelievable 3rd and 24 screen reception that he turned into a 55-yard gain.

There’s no denying Bradshaw’s big play ability. On Sunday he had runs of 17, 19 (TD), and 23 yards on his first three carries. He also had the 55-yard reception and another run of 24 yards. Bradshaw left the game for good two-thirds of the way through the third quarter, presumably to rest his ankle.

HB Gartrell Johnson carried the ball five times for 16 yards, helping to run out the clock in the fourth quarter. Johnson has played well when he’s had the opportunity, which may not come again for a while with Ware on the mend and probable for this week. A betting man might say that he stays on the active roster as a healthy scratch, as they probably don’t want to lose him to another team.

FB Madison Hedgecock, for the most part, played well in his role as road grader to Jacobs and Bradshaw. Other than on first and third downs at the goal line, where he didn’t move anyone, Madison did his job well.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: The Giants now have their full complement of WRs back and the only healthy scratch was Ramses Barden. Now, there can’t be ALL good news when it comes to injury, now can it? No way! To offset the full WR corps, the TEs took a blow as starter Kevin Boss sat out with an ankle sprain. TE Darcy Johnson got the start in Boss’ place.

WR Steve Smith continues to lead the league in receptions, receiving yardage, average yards per game and touchdowns. He’s also second in first downs with 26. Smith was part of a much more balance attack that integrated all the receivers into the game. With only 24 passes attempted, Smith was targeted just 4 times this week, catching 3 passes for 70 yards and no touchdowns. Smith didn’t seem to draw more coverage, but after the first quarter not too much came his way.

As is mentioned almost every week, Smith must have been mentored well by previous wide outs Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer in the art of downfield run blocking. His block on the corner during Bradshaw’s 26-yard run on the Giants’ third drive was a thing of beauty and was the final block, allowing Bradshaw the lane to get up the field for the big gain. Smith also got ahead of the screen play and led Bradshaw for his last 10 or 15 yards. Finally, Smith was the man who cleared the path for David Carr to get to the end zone for the final Giants touchdown on the day.

It’s safe to say that WR Mario Manningham had a bounce back game, as he got the start over incumbent WR Domenik Hixon who returned from injury. Manningham caught 2 passes for only 36 yards, but his 30 yard touchdown catch was amazing, as he was running out of room in the end zone but managed to keep his feet in. On the same note as above, Manningham was a force downfield blocking, and had a hand in clearing the way for Bradshaw on his screen play.

During the preseason, David Carr said of Hakeem Nicks, “He’s special. When I’m out there, I’m just going to throw it up to him and let him catch it.” Well, Nicks was targeted 6 times, catching 4 balls for 49 yards and a beautiful 9 yard TD pass. On that play, the Giants had an empty backfield formation and Oakland dropped seven men into coverage and sent only the four down linemen. Nicks split over the corner, under and short of the safety and far enough beyond the linebacker for Manning to place the timing pass right where it needed to be for the touchdown.

H-Back Travis Beckum stepped up for the absent Boss, catching 2 passes for 12 yards. More importantly, Beckum was not the huge liability in the running game most thought he’d be. In fact, on the three plays from the 1-yard line, Oakland Raiders CB Tyvone Branch had to be sick and tired of Beckum plowing into him off the motion. Beckum did his part on all three plays, and did it convincingly well.

TE Darcy Johnson, the lost receiver in the Giants’ arsenal, got into the act catching 3 balls for 26 yards. Johnson had a whale of a game on the line of scrimmage as a blocker, as he played on both sides and was instrumental in helping them spring the backs for 220 total yards.

The Offensive Line: Extra motivation played an important role for this unit this week, as they were bound and determined not to allow Eli Manning to get hit. The entire unit was intact again, and they played with a vengeance. Mission accomplished, as he was only hit one time and it was not that big a deal as it was after the throw. The unit allowed no sacks on the day, and paved the way for 220 rushing yards.

Last week, it was mentioned that the interior of the line didn’t seem to be playing very well. This week, they dominated the Oakland defensive line. The only time the line seemed to falter was on the near goal line stand by the Raiders on the Giants’ first drive. Fortunately, they got it right on the fourth attempt.

The Giants showed some different looks, including an unbalanced line, moving Kareem McKenzie and William Beatty around and using them as tight ends. Corner Forum contributor M.S. pointed this out on a thread that summed up one of the plays that this formation was used on.

Diagnosis of Bradshaw’s 24 yard run in third quarter…

…interesting formation… I’m assuming as compensation for Boss being out.

Kareem McKenzie is playing TE on left side next to David Diehl.

At the snap, Diehl blocks down on defensive tackle… while the defensive end attacks McKenzie’s inside shoulder. All McKenzie had to do was push DE to inside.

In the meantime Seubert pulls left behind Diehl’s and McKenzie’s blocks and seals LB, thus breaking Bradshaw free around left end on a 24-yard scamper untouched until he was tackled.

To compound Oakland’s problem… their SAM LB, Sam Alston, keyed on Madison Hedgecock and thus took a false step to the inside. It was their MIKE, Kirk Morrison, who diagnosed the play correctly… but had to flow to the outside and was thus easily sealed by Seubert.

After so many games of being together, this Giants offensive line could fill an entire text book with their blocking schemes/execution.

Corner Forum contributor Dorgan, a noted and respected coach, responded with the following:

If you described it accurately, it’s not a true unbalanced line. I call it a jumbo set, I’m not sure what the Giants call it. You swap the TE for the opposite side tackle to get a physical mismatch.

Since the Giants were down a TE on the day (and their best blocking TE, to boot), it made sense to see this formation a few times. McKenzie is a premiere run blocker and without Boss, the Giants employed this technique a few times on the day. It was simply another example of the coaching staff getting the maximum out of all available players and overcoming obstacles.

The Defense: Last week, on Monday afternoon after the Giants destroyed Kansas City, Head Coach Tom Coughlin had the defense running wind sprints on the day they normally have off following a win. Seems absurd, you say? Well Coughlin was upset with the poor fourth quarter the Giants turned in the day before and was letting them know it. This week against Oakland, there was no such let down or coasting, as the Giants dominated the entire game, right through to the end. It’s probably a good bet that no wind sprints were being run this past Monday.

On the day, the Giants recorded 6 sacks (and 5 other QB hits), 5 other plays that went for negative yards, forced three fumbles and recovered them all. For the past three weeks, this unit has been unstoppable. Currently, the Giants have the #1 ranked overall defense in the NFL (#1 vs the pass, #15 vs the rush).

Two weeks ago, linebacker Michael Boley said that Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan still hadn’t shown his hand as to all the blitz packages the Giants planned to employ this season. That changed on Sunday, as several new packages, primarily based on overloads, were showcased. On several occasions, the Giants sent two players through the same gap, causing a ‘pick your poison’ scenario for either the lineman or halfback to choose from. Two in particular were very effective, including the Terrell Thomas sack and forced fumble.

Front 7: Once again, the front was still missing DT Chris Canty and OLB Michael Boley.

For the third straight week, the DEs (Osi Umenyiora, Mathais Kiwanuka, Justin Tuck and even Dave Tollefson) dominated the game. Tuck built on his breakout game from last week, recording 6 solo tackles, 2 sacks, another QB hit, a forced fumble, and a recovered fumble. Not to be outdone, Mathais Kiwanuka continues to get better each week. The man just never stops coming at the QB. He registered 5 tackles (2 for a loss), had a sack and another QB hit, and also forced a fumble. Not too shabby for the #3 defensive end! Umenyiora was the odd man out of the sack party, as Dave Tollefson registered a sack in garbage time.

Chase Blackburn made the most of his return to the lineup, as he teamed up with Antonio Pierce to lead the team with 8 tackles. Blackburn is still a huge drop off in coverage from Michael Boley, and Raiders TE Zach Miller did have moderate success in the middle of the field (to be fair, a couple of his catches came with Blackburn out and Jonathan Goff/Gerris Wilkinson out there).

The Giants emptied the bench late in the game, allowing Goff (1 tackle), Chris Sintim (2 tackles), and Wilkinson (1 tackle) to get some playing time.

Defensive Backs: The last man missing from the secondary is Aaron Ross, who again missed the game and all of the weeks’ practice. CBs Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster were again the starters with SS C.C. Brown and FS Michael Johnson manning the middle. CB Bruce Johnson saw time at corner and in the nickel and dime packages, and Terrell Thomas was used all over the field. Thomas had a beautiful blitz for a sack and forced fumble, and also made a terrific recovery to bat a ball away on a deep pass that looked for the world like it was going to go for a touchdown.

Special Teams: P Jeff Feagles punted only three times on the day (maybe the Giants knew that Feagles wasn’t going to punt much during the regular season and that’s why they weren’t worried about burning him out in preseason by making him the only punter on the roster!) and all three of them were dropped inside the 20. Only one was returned, and it went for -2 yards.

K Lawrence Tynes had a good day, hitting on all three field goal attempts (25, 33, and 37 yards) as well as doing a very solid job on all nine kickoffs, even recording a touchback.

Once again, the return teams did very little with Sinorice Moss averaging just 9 yards on kickoffs and a paltry 6.9 yards on punt returns. Worse, he muffed a punt that lead directly to Oakland’s only points on the day. Hixon should be back there next week.

Kickoff coverage was outstanding with Jonathan Goff (3 tackles), Gerris Wilkinson (2 tackles), and Dave Tollefson (one crushing hit) standing out.

Coaching: The Giants are taking care of business. They opened up the season against two bitter division rivals, and beat them both. Then they had to continue on the road for two more weeks after their extremely emotional victory in Dallas and took care of two teams that were inferior and did it with conviction and ease. Finally back home, the Giants didn’t miss a beat and once again took care of business by destroying an inferior team and never allowing them hope that they’d have any type of chance.

What’s this got to do with coaching? Everything. Week in and week out, despite the injuries, despite the road, despite the opportunity to ‘take a week off’ and play easy against weak opponents, this team is prepared. Completely, 100% ready to take the field and take care of business. Head Coach Tom Coughlin and staff have made a science of forgetting the last game and moving on to the next with urgency, attention to detail, and maybe even fear of failure. As BBI contributor slefrak posted late on Sunday after the game:

ok i’m tired and enjoyed the vine, but do you all understand

what this sunday night is like compared to all the sunday nights from 1964 till ???? i am enjoying gianthood. i am enjoying the comments on this board which so frequently are well frankly ridiculous. i don’t care.

now next week i will be anxious etc, but who knows what the comments by then will be like.

enjoy giant fans, just enjoy it all. thank the world and the Lord that we have had an opportunity to be fans in the 21st century.

it is amazing

That’s it in a nutshell, everyone, and it’s all thanks to Head Coach Tom Coughlin for keeping this team focused and ready to play week after week after week.

Offensive Player of the Game: Ahmad Bradshaw, on just 12 touches through two and a half quarters, provided 165 total yards and two touchdowns. He gets the nod over Eli Manning this week.

Defensive Player of the Game: Justin Tuck was an absolute beast on the field Sunday and is making a case as an early candidate for defensive player of the year.

(Box Score – Oakland Raiders at New York Giants, October 11, 2009)
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