New York Giants 41 (6-2) – Seattle Seahawks 7 (4-4)
by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com
Game Summary: The New York Giants rolled to their 5th straight win this week by completely dominating the Seattle Seahawks on both sides of the ball. The Giants, alone in first place in the NFC East and tied for the best record in the conference, executed nearly flawlessly in the first half as they ran out to a 35-0 lead.
As always in Seattle, dealing with the cacophony of crowd noise is paramount to having any success on offense. As Head Coach Tom Coughlin preached, it was time to have “poise in the noise.” The Giants shifted their offensive linemen around in order to try to keep cohesive communication, and it worked like a charm until injuries forced them to alter the plan. By then, however, the Giants had stunned, let alone silenced,the crowd and indeed with 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, the only chants to be heard were those of “Let’s Go Giants!”
While the Giants certainly performed well in the first half, it’s difficult to ignore several huge and avoidable mistakes that the Seahawks made that bailed the Giants out on several occasions. First, on the Giants’ second drive, field position was altered by 23 yards because of an illegal man downfield on the Seattle punt and followed by an unnecessary pass interference penalty committed by Marcus Trufant on a 3rd and 9 play.
On the 3rd New York drive, again on a 3rd and long play, Seattle rookie safety Earl Thomas committed an illegal contact penalty that again looked to be unnecessary. On the very next play, Manning forced Thomas into another mistake and found Hakeem Nicks deep for a 46 yard touchdown.
Following the touchdown, Travis Beckum forced a special teams turnover when he tackled KR Leon Washington. The Giants capitalized immediately with a second touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw.
Following a couple mistakes by the Giants (allowing a huge kickoff return by Washington and then Kenny Phillips committing a personal foul) gave the Seahawks a first down just outside the Giants’ 10 yard line, Seahawks WR Mike Williams dropped a sure touchdown pass which ended up being intercepted by CB Terrell Thomas. The Giants turned that mistake into a touchdown.
Finally, later in the half, Seattle QB Charlie Whitehurst made a poor throw that was intercepted by Corey Webster that the Giants once again turned into a touchdown.
Once again, the statistics were overwhelmingly in favor of the Giants. Every week it seems that they set some new standard that hasn’t been seen before. This time, it’s extremely hard to believe but true, the Seahawks had just 10 offensive plays in the second half. The Giants had four drives in the game that were more than 10 plays.
Considering just the first half, the Giants had nearly 300 total yards and 19 first downs compared to just 81 yards and 6 first downs for Seattle. The Giants turned 3 Seahawk turnovers into 21 points, while the Giants suffered just one turnover which amounted to nothing for the Hawks. The Giants scored touchdowns on 5 straight drives. Continuing a theme that has completely changed from last year, the Giants were 4-4 in the Green Zone. Going into the locker room, the Giants had their largest halftime lead since November of 1959.
For the game, the Giants held the ball for 42:32 minutes, and an astounding 13 minutes in the 4th quarter.
Offense: Wow. What else can you say? The Giants pretty much did everything they wanted, nearly at will, all day long. The Giants started the game with a revamped offensive line that no one expected nor even speculated about. Due to noise considerations and wanting to ensure that there was good communication along the line, the Giants moved LG Rich Seubert to center, LT David Diehl to LG, and reserve lineman Shawn Andrews to LT.
Though it took some time to get the running game going (just 15 yards on their first 3 possessions and just over 60 for the first half), by game’s end the Giants were running the football down the Seahawks’ throats. David Diehl did not return for the second half due to injury, and C Adam Koets took over at center while Seubert shifted back to his left guard position. Later, Koets was injured, causing Seubert to move back to center and rookie Mitch Petrus to take over at left guard. Through all these machinations, the Giants continued to batter the Seahawks on the ground to the tune of 131 second half rushing yards (197 overall). No problem with the slow start, as the Giants ended up running 47 rushing plays (10 more plays than the Seahawks ran in total ALL DAY!) for a 4.2 yards per rush average. The Seahawks stopped the Giants for a negative play just once all day.
The passing game was just as robust as the running game, putting up 290 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Giants continue to show new wrinkles on offense, as they rarely went with a double TE set in the first half, most likely due to the decision to start Andrews at LT. One of the most interesting plays of the day was the pass play to Kevin Boss that was eventually fumbled. The Giants lined up in a one man route with Boss covering up TE Bear Pascoe, Adam Koets as another TE on the outside of Andrews, Diehl at LG, Seubert at C with Snee and McKenzie down the right side. Boss came in motion to the right across the formation against the grain of the play action to Jacobs that went to the left. Boss came off his wall block of the DE and slipped out for the easy completion. Unfortunately, Boss fumbled but it was otherwise a brilliantly conceived play and executed perfectly by a majorly revamped offensive line.
The Giants rarely went to a double TE set, including the first touchdown run to Bradshaw from the 4 yard line (a standard single TE 2 back set).
The Quarterback: QB Eli Manning had one of his best days in the NFL on Sunday as he shredded the Seahawks defense for 290 yards on 21-33 (66% completion rate) passing and 3 touchdowns against no interceptions. Eli’s 125.8 QBR was his highest of the year. Eli worked just over 3 quarters, giving way to Sage Rosenfels (who didn’t attempt a pass) with 13 minutes left in the game.
Manning was not sacked and in fact, Seattle managed not a single QB hit on the day.
Manning started the game off hot and pretty much stayed that way throughout. While the Giants struggled rushing early, Manning hit 8 of his first 10 passes. Manning hit 6 different receivers, and though he was looking for his wideouts most of the day (24 of 32 passes went their way), Eli did take the check down to Ahmad Bradshaw on 3 occasions. Corner Forum Contributor jnoble noted:
“Not a lot of talk about Eli this morning. What does it mean when a 21/32 290 day with 3 TDs elicits little reaction from the fan base? That the QB regularly plays at an All Pro level and everyone is used to it?
“ I just wanted to highlight a play that I thought was absolutely beautiful football, the 2nd quarter TD pass to Boss. Boss waved to signal he was open the moment he saw his coverage guy take a step forward. Eli had to throw over a defender into the back of the end zone where Boss made an actually pretty difficult grab. Eli & Boss made it seem like pitch and catch. Wow. This offense is just operating at a very, very high level right now to make a play like that look easy.”
Eli is quietly having an MVP type season. Currently his QBR of 92.7 is fourth in the league for QB’s that have thrown more than 150 passes (14 QBs have thrown more than 150 passes). Manning is 4th in the NFL with a 65.7 completion percentage and 2nd amongst QBs who have thrown more than 150 passes. Eli owns a higher completion percentage rate than big brother Peyton at this point in the season. Though he’s still near the top in interceptions, Eli is also 3rd in the league with 17 touchdowns.
The Running Backs: HB Ahmad Bradshaw (also known as “Chicken Gristle”) had a very productive day after starting out somewhat slowly. In somewhat of an anomaly, Bradshaw had a long run of just 7 yards on Sunday. Even though he didn’t play much after the middle of the 3rd quarter, Bradshaw had 19 carries for 57 yards (a season low 3.0 ypc average). Bradshaw did his part in the passing game on two fronts, where he was effective in blitz pick up though he did miss one that resulted in a hurried incomplete throw from Manning. He also caught 4 passes for 35 yards, 3 of which were check downs. The 4th was a screen pass that rally wasn’t blocked very well but Bradshaw ran right by the first defender on the scene and picked up 13 yards.
Brandon Jacobs is healthy, happy, and productive. Jacobs led the Giants in rushing on Sunday with 78 yards on 11 carries. His 38 yarder on the second drive in second half for the Giants really salted this game completely away. On the final 13 minute drive in the 4th quarter, Jacobs ran 3 times for 13 yards helping to run out the clock.
HB D.J. Ware finally got into the act in the 4th quarter, and he had an extremely productive quarter. Ware finished with 66 yards on 13 carries, all of which came on the final NY drive that covered 19 plays and 13:00 minutes. Ward picked up 6 first downs on the drive (four on 2nd down, one on 3rd down, and one on 4th down).
FB/TE Bear Pascoe continued to play well in the absence of Madison Hedgecock, setting a couple of key blocks on the day. His best was on Jacobs’ first big gainer.
The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Once again, with Eli Manning emphasizing getting the ball down the field to his wide receivers, the Big Three of Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham dominated the competition. Nicks was thrown to 13 times, catching 6 for 128 yards and 1 touchdown. Nicks had a couple opportunities for more but Seattle did a good job of keeping him under wraps other than the big 48 yarder that went for the touchdown. More worrisome, however, was that it appeared Nicks tweaked an ankle late in the third quarter when the Giants were going for their 6th touchdown. Word is that he’s fine, but he’s been dealing with a lower leg injury for what seems like all season.
Steve Smith caught 4 of 7 passes thrown his way, one for a touchdown. He nearly had a second TD early in the third quarter but was unable to find the handle on a ball thrown somewhat off target. Smith had a tremendous block on the CB during Jacobs’ 38 yard run, but on the quick screen to Hakeem Nicks in which he got hurt, Smith got to the CB way too late and the play was blown up. Smith ran four steps forward before coming across to get the CB and was out of the play before he knew it.
Manningham is once again integrated into the offense and had 4 receptions for 56 yards.
Kevin Boss played a lot on the line, probably because of the lack of double TE sets, and did an excellent job helping to open up holes for the backs. Boss caught 2 passes, 1 for a touchdown, and did have a turnover that turned out to be a non-factor.
Offensive Line: As noted above, the offensive line did a phenomenal job, especially when you consider all the shuffling that occurred. Eli Manning wasn’t hit one time in this game. Manning, for the most part, had all day to throw the ball. In the running game, only one time did a play result in negative yardage. It’s impossible to overstate how crucial it has become that the Giants signed Shawn Andrews. He’s been a jack of all trades along the offensive line, and as long as David Diehl is out, he’ll anchor the LT position. Funny, but he did seem to start slowly on Sunday. It could have been the noise, but he was very slow getting out of his stance. Luckily for Andrews on the very first play of the game Bradshaw was able to pick up his man.
Defense: New York defense is once again the stout, run stuffing, hard hitting, take no prisoners defense Giants fans have come to know and love. Through week 9 of the regular season, the Giants have the #1 ranked defense in the NFL. It was apparent from the outset that the Giants decided that they were going to stop the run, play a variety of zone defenses, and force the young QB to beat them.
On the day, the Giants defense only had to line up against the Seattle offense 37 times. Seattle rushed just 14 times for 48 yards, and 26 of those came on 1 Marshaun Lynch run in the 4th quarter. New York nearly shut out the opposition on 3rd down again, giving up just 1 in 8 chances (though they did allow a 4th down conversion late in the 1st half).
The Giants only got one hit on the greenhorn QB Charlie Whitehurst, but they rarely blitzed him. In fact, the only hit came on what originally appeared to be a running play when Rocky Bernard knocked him down on the failed flea flicker play.
The defense held Seattle to just three drives over 3 plays. One was 4 plays long, one was 5 plays long, and one was 9 plays long. All other drives, 8 in total, were 3 plays or less.
Front 7: The Giants again relied primarily on their front four to get pressure on the Seattle QB. They rarely sent 5, and when they showed that look, they usually dropped someone into coverage and still sent four. Though the Giants did not have a sack, it didn’t appear that it was a priority to get after the QB, and instead it looked like they were trying to confuse Whitehurst and it did indeed lead to two interceptions.
What the front 7 did do was completely dominate the line of scrimmage and never let the Seahawks get a rushing game going. The Seahawks had just 5 total yards on 3 drives in the first period. Though they had help from the secondary, where the safeties crowded the line to ensure stopping the run, the majority of the tackles made in this game came from the front 7. That’s relatively unheard of for the Giants, where the safeties and corners generally make up the majority of the tackles.
Defensive Backs: The only blemish on a near perfect day from the Giants’ secondary was an apparent mix up between CB Corey Webster and S Kenny Phillips on the lone touchdown of the day by Seattle. Webster must have thought he had over the top help as he seemed to pass the receiver off to the deep man, who never came over to cover. Webster did stop a drive deep in Giants territory with a timely interception in the second quarter. On the play, Whitehurst attempted to get the ball outside to WR Mike Williams but threw it a bit behind the big receiver. Webster drove on the ball and made a great play to take the ball right out of Williams’ hands.
Terrell Thomas had a shut down day. On the opening few drives, it appeared that the Seahawks were targeting Thomas and he was up to the task, defensing 2 passes and getting just a bit lucky to intercept a sure TD pass that was dropped by Williams.
Safeties Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips did a lot of dirty work near the line of scrimmage on Sunday, as the Giants clamped down on the receivers outside and committed to stop the run. Antel Rolle, who usually leads or is at the top of the tackles category, had just 1 tackle on Sunday. Again, Seattle ran just 37 plays, so statistics won’t be large for anyone, and frankly they weren’t.
Special Teams: The Giants had a perfect game plan to keep kickoffs to super returner Leon Washington under wraps. The Seahawks never knew what kind of kickoff they were going to see, and Lawrence Tynes brilliantly pooched, squibbed, and drilled his kickoffs all day. Washington got free just once, and had LB Phillip Dillard been able to make his play, Washington would’ve been corralled all day.
Tynes was also able to convert on both his field goal attempts.
The Seahawks’ average starting field position following kickoffs was their own 34, but again, only 1 time out of 7 did Washington get the Hawks good position. Kick coverage was generally good, and even on the long return excellent pursuit by Duke Calhoun and Aaron Ross saved a possible touchdown. Calhoun is a fast man. Special props go out to H-Back/TE Travis Beckum for making a solid hit and forcing a fumble that was recovered by LB Jonathan Goff. Following the second Giants touchdown, this recovery set up a quick Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown that took all the remaining wind out of the normally loud crowd.
On this incredible offensive day, P Matt Dodge only had to make 1 punt, and it was a good one: 50 yards with a 4 yard return.
The Giants’ return teams played a good game on Sunday, in part due to the infusion of energy newcomer Will Blackmon gave them. Blackmon only made 1 kickoff return for 17 yards, but looked quite good returning punts. His nearly broke his first return for a big gainer, and did eventually return one for 22 yards. He also nearly lost a ball as he flubbed a catch.
Coaching: Coaching was key in this game. Tom Coughlin spoke about having to play with “poise in the noise” and did everything he could to get the team in position to make that happen by throwing the dice and deciding to juggle his offensive line in order to keep the most experienced players on the field. Brilliance, and it worked. By the time the injuries hit the line, there was no problem with noise.
Additionally, DC Perry Fewell deserves high praise for resisting the urge to attack an inexperienced quarterback and instead take the quick hitters away and commit to completely stopping the run. The Giants blanketed the Seahawks receivers and never allowed any rhythm whatsoever get established on the Seattle offensive side of the ball.
Special Teams Coach Tom Quinn installed a masterful plan to stop returner Leon Washington by having Tynes pooch and squib kick when necessary. The strategy worked extremely well and the Giants bottled Washington up for the most part, including forcing a fumble.
Offensive Player of the Game: For the second game in a row, Eli Manning gets the nod. Manning made very few mistakes on the day, and had a nearly perfect first half. Special recognition goes to G Rich Seubert for his incredible versatility along the offensive line, where he stepped in wherever he was needed and had a terrific game.
Defensive Player of the Game: It’s tough to call, but I’m going to give the award to CB Terrell Thomas for his excellent play early that kept the Seahawks going 3 and out. Although his interception should have been a Seattle touchdown, sticking with the play and making the catch cost the Hawks gaining any momentum and at least 3 points at that time.