Oct 312012
 

Stevie Brown Named “NFC Defensive Player of the Week”: S Stevie Brown has been named the “NFC Defensive Player of the Week” for his performance against the Dallas Cowboys. In the game, Brown was credited with two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and six tackles.

Giants on WFAN Radio: Audio clips of yesterday’s WFAN Radio interviews with the following players are available at CBSNewYork.com:

Oct 312012
 
New York Giants 29 (6-2) – Dallas Cowboys 24 (3-4)

By rnargi for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary:

The New York Giants outlasted a desperate Dallas Cowboys comeback attempt on Sunday to hold on and win a thrilling contest, 29-24. New York looked to be on the verge of a blowout at Cowboys Stadium when they roared to a 23-0 lead in the second period as Dallas continually self-destructed with the ball. The Cowboys, however, came all the way back and took the lead 24-23 heading into the final quarter. Finally, two more fourth quarter Cowboys turnovers and two more Lawrence Tynes field goals put the Giants ahead for good.

Despite leading the division and knowing that the Eagles and Redskins had already lost, the Giants needed this game to avoid surrendering an NFC East tie breaker to the rival Cowboys. As it turns out, the Giants have distanced themselves from the East and have once again finished the first half of the season with a record of 6-2. This is the third straight year and sixth time under HC Tom Coughlin that the Giants have ended the first half at 6-2. As we all well know, that guarantees nothing. The Giants have been known for second half swoons, including a 3-5 finish last season.

As for this game, the best word to describe it was “crazy.” New York had no drive over eight plays for the entire game, and had no drive take more than 4:26 off the clock. In fact, every drive but the one noted was of 3:09 or less in terms of time of possession. They simply couldn’t sustain drives. Dallas didn’t fare much better, turning the ball over four times in the first half with three interceptions and a fumbled punt. The Giants turned those miscues into 20 points and the 23 point lead. Dallas got going late in the second half and scored on four straight possessions spanning into the third quarter (not including the kneel down before half) to take the lead.

With the Giants settling for three field goals including two from inside the green zone early, the Giants only had 23 points despite scoring five times (once on defense). When they got the ball back at their own 40 yard line following a Dallas punt with 11:37 to go in the first half, New York seemed poised to deliver a knockout punch. Instead, HB Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled the on the first play of the possession, which seemed to change the momentum. New York held Dallas on that drive, but the Cowboys defense continued to stymie the Giants offense and when they got the ball back on their next possession, the comeback began.

By the time the Cowboys had taken the lead, the air seemed to be completely out of the Giants balloon and fans had to wonder if they could come back and take this game. On the series following the Cowboys touchdown to take the lead, Eli Manning was picked off when Victor Cruz was hit as he was making a catch for a first down. The ball took a fluky bounce off the legs/butt of Dallas CB Gerald Sensabaugh and reserve safety Danny McCray made a heads up play to corral the ball before it hit the ground. All the momentum had shifted to Dallas, and they were looking to deliver a knockout punch of their own.

Well momentum is a funny thing, because the Giants got some of it back on the next play as DT Chris Canty planted QB Tony Romo for a sack and 12 yard loss. Dallas couldn’t recover their footing on that drive and had to punt the ball away. QB Eli Manning, the reigning fourth quarter comeback king of the NFL, then marched the Giants into field goal range even after a holding call put them in a first and 20 hole. Though he didn’t convert it into a first down, the 18 yards he was able to recapture allowed K Lawrence Tynes to kick from 43 yards out instead of longer or not at all.

On their next drive, Dallas again began marching down the field until RB Felix Jones fumbled on a first and 10 play from the Giants 48 yard line. New York recovered the ball with just 6:40 left in the game. The Giants ran Bradshaw four straight times, and on a third and eight play, Manning hit Domenik Hixon with a short pass on a crossing pattern that didn’t result in a first down. Manning’s pass seemed a bit off, giving Hixon no chance to get to the sticks. Tyne’s fifth field goal of the game gave the Giants a 5 point lead with just 3:22 left after the ensuing kickoff.

Dallas got two more cracks at retaking the lead and winning the game. Dallas was able to drive deep into Giants territory, thanks to continuous passes to TE Jason Witten and a costly penalty on Jayron Hosley that nullified a nine yard sack by Justin Tuck that would have left Dallas in a third and 19 hole at their own 46 yard line. The defensive holding call was horrid. First, Hosley never held WR Kevin Ogletree and second, all contact came within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Later in the drive, from the Giants 19 yard line on second and one and three time outs remaining, Dallas elected to keep throwing. On second down, Romo missed a wide open Witten in the flat near the sidelines as he threw it out of his reach. On third down, Romo tried to hit Ogletree in the corner of the end zone and the refs originally threw a flag on CB Prince Amukamara for pass interference, but the flag was picked up after a conference. There was no interference on the play, though Ogletree did push off. Then on fourth and one, under heavy pressure, Romo threw the ball up for grabs and S Stevie Brown came down with another interception at the Giants 17 yard line.

Following the interception, the Giants ran three times with Bradshaw, inducing Dallas to exhaust their time outs. On third and three, it appeared that Bradshaw got a horrible spot. The ball was placed at least a half a yard short of what he actually gained, but there are no challenges allowed with less than two minutes remaining and the booth didn’t intervene to re-spot the ball. To me, it was unclear whether he got the yardage or not, but it’s clear that he was closer than where the refs spotted the ball. The Giants punted, giving Dallas one more shot at pulling the game out of the fire.

Tony Romo drove the Cowboys into Giants territory, and on second and six from the 37 yard line, heaved up a prayer that was almost answered. The Giants appeared to have bracket coverage on WR Dez Bryant with S Tyler Sash underneath and Webster over the top with safety help from Michael Coe if needed. Webster bit on the out and go route, falling into a trail position. Coe had perfect position and read the play correctly, but somehow was unable to defend the pass and Bryant went up and came down with the apparent touchdown. It turned out, however, that when he came down his right hand hit first, with his fingers just out of bounds. Pass incomplete. The Giants had dodged a bullet. Romo then got off three more plays in just 10 seconds with two going to the end zone. A miracle if I’ve ever seen one. Following the 400th (seemingly, it was really 18) catch by Witten for 10 yards and a first down at the Giants’ 27 yard line, Romo tried to hit Austin at the five yard line, which would have ended the game had he caught it. Under pressure on the last play of the game with just 1 second left, Romo heaved the ball out of the end zone and the Giants had their victory.

The Giants had just 293 net yards on the day, gaining 103 on the ground and a net of 190 (192 gross) through the air. Amazingly, New York made just 11 first downs all day including a horrific 3-15 on third down. Dallas gained 434 net yards, with just 19 coming on the ground. Dallas grossed 437 through the air. The Cowboys went 7-14 converting third downs and were 1-2 on fourth down. Two other telling stats: the Cowboys ran 83 offensive plays to New York’s 58 and Dallas converted three of four trips into the green zone into touchdowns while the Giants converted just one of four. The time of possession was closer than one would think, with Dallas holding a 4:36 advantage. To show just how inept the teams were at sustaining drives, Dallas had the ball on 15 occasions and the Giants 14.

The statistic that mattered most, however, was turnovers. The Giants forced six and the Cowboys forced two. New York turned five of the Cowboys turnover into points, 23 overall. The Cowboys didn’t turn either Giants turnover into points.

Quarterback:

Eli Manning had a lackluster day on Sunday, completing just 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards, no touchdowns and one unlucky interception. His passer rating was 58.4 and his Total QBR was 48.2. Statistically, it was Eli’s worst game of the year. That’s not to say that Eli played poorly, as there were a number of drops by the Giants receiving corps.

Dallas played the game much like they did in the opener, playing cover two and double teaming Cruz and Nicks on the outside. Still, Manning tried to get the ball deep outside the numbers but for the most part it just wasn’t there. Manning’s longest completion was on his second pass, a 56 yard hookup with WR Rueben Randle for 56 yards on the Giants’ first drive. Randle looked like he was catching a punt on the play. Manning’s best pass may have been a perfect 29-yard strike on a skinny post to Nicks on the first play of the game-winning field goal drive.

Manning was also victimized by a drop by Martellus Bennett which would have set up a first and goal situation. Additionally, Manning was hurried and hit by the Cowboys quite often. Though he was only sacked once (and it was more or less a slide two yards short of the line of scrimmage to avoid a hit), Manning was hit a half dozen times.

Despite the coverages he was seeing, Manning went to his wide receivers 21 times, his tight end 6 times, and his running backs just twice.

Running Backs:

HB Ahmad Bradshaw once again got the brunt of the work at tail back, carrying 22 times for 78 yards, a 3.5 ypc average. Bradshaw is only practicing sparingly again with foot injury issues, and I believe it’s hurting him. As hard as Bradshaw runs, he seems to have again become impatient. There were holes for him to hit that he simply missed or didn’t trust. It’s a problem that needs to be corrected.

Bradshaw looked like he had a sure touchdown on a direct snap on a third and two play from the Dallas 19 yard line. The call was perfect, as it was away from LB DeMarcus Ware and Bradshaw had RT Sean Locklear, Bennett, Hixon and G Chris Snee in front of him to lead the way. Unfortunately, WR Hakeem Nicks, assigned to crash down on linebacker Anthony Spencer, missed his block. Spencer had no effect on the play, but Nicks turned into the backfield to chase Spencer causing C David Baas to trip over him. As such, Bass was unable to sustain his block on NT Jay Ratliff who stopped the play for no gain.

HB Andre Brown saw his first action since coming back from his concussion and carried three times for 21 yards. Brown was targeted twice in the passing game, one on a designed screen after he set up wide but luckily dropped the pass because he would have lost yardage. Brown did score on a one yard touchdown run, the only offensive touchdown on the day for the Giants.

Rookie HB David Wilson got a couple carries for one yard.

Interestingly, despite the double bracketed coverage on the receivers set up outside (mainly Cruz and Nicks), the running backs weren’t involved in the passing game either on screens or flare outs from the backfield. A surprising strategy since Dallas’ star middle linebacker, Sean Lee, is out for the season with an injury.

FB Henry Hynoski had his hands full all game trying to block for the running backs. It’s my belief that Bradshaw did not follow him often enough, but against the front four of Dallas it wasn’t only Hynoski who had his hands full.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:

WR Victor Cruz had a rough day on Sunday. Despite the double coverages and obvious holds, Manning still threw to him a game-high eight times. Cruz caught just two balls for 23 yards, and dropped at least three passes, not including the one on the big hit from Gerald Sensabaugh.

WR Hakeem Nicks had a little better day than Cruz, catching four of seven passes for 46 yards. Nicks also had a couple of drops, two of which came on third down.

WR Rueben Randle caught two passes, the first was the 56 yarder mentioned above and the other was a nifty 12-yard grab on the game-winning field goal drive on a back shoulder fade from Manning. Randle’s 68 yards led the Giants in receiving.

Domenik Hixon caught all three balls thrown his way, but he may have cost the Giants a first down when he juked back towards the line of scrimmage for no apparent reason instead of immediately turning up field after catching a nice ball over the middle.

TE Martellus Bennett seemed to be underutilized considering the coverages the Giants were seeing. Manning threw to Bennett six times and Bennett caught four but for only 29 yards. As mentioned, Bennett dropped a pass that would have set up a first and goal at the Dallas two yard line.

Offensive Line:

New York’s offensive line was under siege in the passing game, which is one reason Bradshaw didn’t see any action in the passing game. Bradshaw stayed in to block all day. C David Baas had his hands full all day with DT Jay Ratliff, leaving little room for Manning to step up. Ratliff got at least one good hit on Manning. Manning seemed to be outside the pocket much more than usual on Sunday. The Giants tackles, Sean Locklear and Will Beatty, did an good job on both Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware. Ware was credited with a sack, but again it was more a give up play by Manning than a sack by Ware. Spencer wasn’t credited with a QB hit all day. That said, neither played particularly well in the ground game.

The guards seemed to have their hands full with getting to the second level on running plays, but in the end, most of the Giants best runs were through the A gap between the guard and center. The problem was even when the backs got through the line, the linebackers and safeties were there waiting for them.

Defensive Front 7:

The Good: 19 yards allowed on the ground. That’s astounding. The Bad: 437 yards allowed through the air. That’s also astounding.

The Good: Four interceptions and one fumble recovery. The Bad: Forgetting about a guy named Jason Witten, who lit up the Giants with 18 receptions (which is three more completions than Eli had all game to everyone on the team).

The Good: Four sacks and a ton of pressure on Tony Romo. The Bad: Allowing an eye-opening six plays of 20 yards or more and 7 of 14 third down conversions and a fourth and goal conversion.

Face it, it was one step forward and one step back day for the Giants defense and every unit was culpable. For the most part, the Cowboys running game was a non-factor. Despite Romo throwing three interceptions in the first four drives, the Cowboys stuck with the pass and put it on Romo’s shoulders to win it. To emphasize the point, Dallas ran the ball eight times for minus one yard in the second half (Felix Jones 5 for -2, Romo 1 for 1 and Phillip Tanner 2 for 0). Romo dropped back 39 times, passing on 36 and was sacked three times in the second half. He completed 23 passes after the break.

The front seven played well against Romo, recording eight official hits and four sacks, but Romo was definitely hit more than eight times. The Giants did something they rarely do against Romo, and that’s keep him in the pocket. The Giants got tremendous pressure from DT’s Linval Joseph and Chris Canty. Canty was disruptive all day and got his first sack of the season. He was also credited with three QB hits. Joseph had two sacks, was credited with two QB hits, and stuffed Jones behind the line on a running play.

The Giants DEs also played well. Jason Pierre-Paul had a sack and the pick six. On the interception, I still have no idea what Romo was doing. He had Witten literally all alone in front of him for an easy first down, but for some reason went to the check down. Chris Canty finally got a little pressure on him and JPP read the play perfectly and made a great catch. Pierre-Paul also made an outstanding play on a third and 22 play in which he chased down RB Phillip Tanner after a dump off which gained 13 yards. JPP was completely fooled on the play fake by Romo on the fourth and goal play in which Romo rolled out and scored.

Both Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora played well on the ends making sure that Romo stayed in the pocket. That, as much as anything, is what caused Romo to have no way of getting away from the DTs.

LBs Keith Rivers, Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn were among the Giants leaders in tackles on Sunday. That isn’t necessarily a good thing, however, as most of them came against Jason Witten after he caught a ball. Blackburn had a great stuff on a second down goal line play, coming up to drop RB Phillip Tanner for no gain at the one yard line. Early on, it appeared that the Giants were intent on covering Witten with Boley and that was just no contest. New York, for the most part, did not blitz in the first half, and when they did, Romo burned the Giants about two-thirds of the time. When the Giants only sent four in on Romo, Witten released into the pattern. Witten stayed in to block on only seven of Romo’s 66 drop backs on the day. Surprisingly, New York did nothing to try and slow Witten down at the line of scrimmage, instead just giving him a free release. Finally, late in the game, New York tried to change things up by putting S Michael Coe on Witten but there was still no stopping him.

Secondary:

New York’s secondary had an up and down game. Again, the Cowboys attempted to throw on 66 of their 83 offensive plays. That alone is going to ensure that the secondary gets burned a time or two. The problem was that the Giants got burned a lot. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant had 243 yards receiving, and that’s on top of the monster day from Jason Witten (167 yards). Prince Amukamara, Corey Webster and Jayron Hosley all got burned time and again by both Austin and Bryant.

Webster had an early, physical tackle on Bryant and then an interception which led me to hope that he’d take Bryant out of the game mentally. It didn’t happen, as he was burned three times later in the game by Bryant including the near touchdown in which he bit on the out route.

As for Hosley, he had another rough game, committing three penalties (one, outlined above, was a bad call) and he gave up a number of receptions as well.

Amukamara had an off game against Austin in particular. I mentioned above that on a number of occasions the Giants blitzed Romo and he made them pay. On four straight plays Romo went to Austin over Amukamara on the Cowboys’ first touchdown drive. Austin caught the first three for a total of 39 yards. The fourth was overthrown in the corner of the end zone. Amukamara also started the second half badly by committing a 20 yard pass interference penalty on Dallas’ first play from scrimmage. Later on the drive, Austin again beat Amukamara on an inside post for 15 yards down to the Giants one yard line.

Antrel Rolle also had his problems in coverage, particularly when put on Witten. Rolle was only in on two tackles all day, but more importantly, he didn’t seem to be in position over the top on several plays. The Giants had to use safeties Tyler Sash and Michael Coe late in the game due to Rolle getting injured, and Coe almost made the biggest gaffe in the game when he was unable to locate the ball on the near Bryant touchdown despite being in perfect position to do so.

That leaves us to S Stevie Brown, who is continuing to play in place of injured S Kenny Phillips. Brown has stepped in and again had a huge impact on the game. He got the Giants defense going when he broke on the inside route being run by Dez Bryant, picked off the ball and set the Giants up for their second field goal. In the fourth quarter, he recovered a Felix Jones fumble after he almost missed it in his effort to “scoop and score” and then picked off Romo again with just over a minute remaining to end a Dallas threat. And think about this for a minute. After Rolle went out with a head injury on the second-to-last Dallas drive, Brown was the most experienced safety on the field for the Giants. It will be very interesting to see what happens when Phillips is ready to return.

Special Teams:

The special teams arguably were the difference in this game. First, Lawrence Tynes hit all five of his field goal attempts and the punt return team forced a fumble on Dez Bryant. Mark Herzlich was the man with the hit, and the resulting fumble recovery by Michael Coe led to another Giants field goal.

Both the kickoff and punt return teams had average results, and Wilson hasn’t broken a really good return in a couple of weeks now. It still feels like Rueben Randle is eventually going to break one in the punt game, but so far he’s been unable to get untracked.

Both return teams did allow one decent return each.

P Steve Weatherford’s last punt was critical. He hit it out of bounds with no chance for a return, leaving Dallas with 70 yards to go with just 44 seconds left and no time outs.

Coaching:

I’m not sure why the Giants didn’t try to get the ball to the backs and tight ends more than they did, but I think they should have tried to attack the middle of the field more than they did. Additionally, I felt Bradshaw again left yards on the field and would have given a bigger load to Andre Brown. People clamoring for David Wilson should well remember that in 2007, we didn’t hear or see much from then rookie Ahmad Bradshaw until the last two weeks of the season. It’s the same with Wilson, I assume. He’s still learning and will get his chance when the staff feels he’s earned it.

Speaking of coaching, I am happy that Dallas HC Jason Garrett decided to throw three straight times with one yard to go, more than a minute to play, and three time outs in his pocket from the Giants 19 yard line. If he converts that first down on a running play, they have at least four more shots from no worse than the 18 yards. Thanks, Jason!

Final Thoughts:

As noted, the Giants now have the inside track to the NFC East crown. We are only at the half way point in the season and once again the Giants are 6-2. Inevitably, there will be talk of a second half swoon. If it’s coming, we all know the media will be all over it. I don’t believe it will happen this year. Frankly, I don’t see the schedule as all that dire compared to what others are saying. Looking at the schedule, there isn’t a single team that doesn’t have their own sets of problems and each of them can be beaten by the Giants. Instead of the Giants being afraid of them being on their schedule, teams like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta should be worried that the Giants are on their schedules.

Each of the other NFC East teams have tough schedules as well, particularly since they all have so many NFC East games left.

Pittsburgh is up next, and their defense is ripe for the taking. The Steelers have changed up their strategy and are running more and throwing shorter passes. TE Heath Miller could be a big headache because he plays very much like Witten does. The Giants have a couple more injuries to deal with, including to Rolle (concussion), Rivers (calf) and Blackburn (hamstring). Mark Herzlich has been waiting for his chance and this week he will get it. It looks like Phillips may be back this week which would help greatly if Rolle can’t go. That’s enough for now though. I want to savor another day of beating the Cowboys and Redskins back-to-back before thinking about Big Ben and the Steelers.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, October 28, 2012)
Oct 302012
 

October 29, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report: Head Coach Tom Coughlin was not able to provide much of an update on the players injured in the game against the Cowboys on Sunday: S Antrel Rolle (possible concussion), LB Chase Blackburn (hamstring), LB Keith Rivers (calf), and TE Bear Pascoe (ankle).

“We know Chase left the game with a hamstring,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Bear left the game with an ankle sprain. Antrel could not come back in after hitting his head, taking a tumble and hitting his head on the ground. We’re going to have to wait and see on that stuff.”

“I don’t know (if Rolle has a concussion), we’re not sure about that just yet,” said Coughlin. “He knows that he was a little dizzy when he came off the field. I saw him on the plane and he said he was fine, he didn’t seem to have any issues, and he had no headache. Hopefully he can make…. I’m sure he’ll still have to go through the protocol, but hopefully he’ll be OK.”

Cruz Says There is Progress in Contract Talks: WR Victor Cruz, who is currently scheduled to be a restricted free agent in the offseason, said yesterday on ESPN that there has been progress made in contract talks with the Giants.

“I was excited to hear this weekend that contract talks are moving in the right direction,” said Cruz. “I heard there was some progress on the structure.”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Monday Media Conference Call: The transcript yesterday’s media conference call with Head Coach Tom Coughlin is available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: Transcripts of media conference calls with the following players are available at Giants.com:

QB Eli Manning on WFAN: The audio of yesterday’s WFAN interview with QB Eli Manning is available at CBSNewYork.com.

Article on the Giants’ Fast Start: Veteran Justin Tuck Warns 6-2 Giants Need to Keep Up the Winning in the Season’s Second Half by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Notes: The Giants have won six of their last eight games vs. Dallas. The Giants are 4-0 in the Cowboys’ new stadium. This is the first time since the rivalry began in 1960 that the Giants have won four games in a row in Dallas.

This is the third year in a row and the sixth time in Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s nine seasons that the Giants have been 6-2 at midseason.

With QB Eli Manning starting, the Giants are 27-6 record in October, an .818 winning percentage that is the best of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

S Stevie Brown leads the NFL in takeaways with seven (five interceptions, two fumble recoveries).

Oct 282012
 

Giants Win Wild Game in Dallas, 29-24: It wasn’t pretty. And they almost let it slip away. But the New York Giants won a critical game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas earlier today 29-24. The win improved the Giants’ overall record to 6-2, and 2-2 in the NFC East. The Cowboys dropped to 3-4 on the season.

In many areas, Dallas dominated statistically. The Cowboys held advantages in first downs (28 to 11), third-down efficiency (50% to 20%), total net yards (434 to 293), net yards passing (415 to 190), and time of possession (32:18 to 27:42). But the Giants held a big advantage in net yards rushing (103 to 19) and turnovers. Dallas turned the football over six times while the Giants turned the football over twice.

At one point in the game, it looked like it would be a cakewalk for the Giants. Early in the second quarter, the Giants had taken a 23-0 lead, largely because of three interceptions by QB Tony Romo.

The Giants received the football to start the game. A 56-yard pass from QB Eli Manning to WR Rueben Randle set up a 41-yard field goal by the Giants. On the seventh play of the Cowboys’ first possession, Romo was intercepted by S Stevie Brown at the Giants’ 36-yard line. Brown returned the ball 37 yards to the Dallas 27-yard line. However, the Giants could not pick up a first down and were forced to settle for a 37-yard field goal by PK Lawrence Tynes. Giants 6 – Cowboys 0.

On the Cowboys’ second possession, Romo was intercepted again as CB Corey Webster picked off the pass at the Giants’ 31-yard line and returned it 38 yards to the Dallas 31-yard line. Four plays later, HB Andre Brown scored from one yard out to give the Giants a 13-0 lead.

The Cowboys and Giants then each went three-and-out and punted. However, LB Mark Herzlich forced WR Dez Bryant to fumble on the punt return. The loose ball was recovered by CB Michael Coe at the Dallas 15-yard line. But the Giants once again were forced to settle for a field goal rather than a touchdown as Tynes connected from 26 yards out. Giants 16 – Cowboys 0.

Early in the second quarter, it looked like the game was virtually over when DE Jason Pierre-Paul intercepted Romo’s pass at the Cowboys’ 28-yard line and returned it for a touchdown that gave the Giants a commanding 23-0 advantage.

On Dallas’ fifth possession of the half, they went three-and-out again. But momentum started to shift after HB Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled the ball away on the first play of the Giants’ sixth possession. However, the Giants’ defense forced another three-and-out. At this point in the game, the Cowboys had been held to four first downs in six possessions and having turned the football over four times.

The Giants gained one first down and then punted. The Cowboys then put together an 8-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run by HB Felix Jones. Giants 23 – Cowboys 7.

The Giants punted again on the ensuing drive after picking up one first down. The Cowboys then moved 55 yards in six plays to set up a 51-yard field goal. The Giants could not move the ball on their last possession of the half and punted.

At the half, the Giants led 23-10.

The Cowboys overtook the Giants by dominating the third quarter. The Cowboys drove 86 yards in 11 plays to start the half. The Cowboys were held on three straight plays from the 1-yard line, but on 4th-and-goal, Romo scored from one yard out. Giants 23 – Cowboys 17.

The Giants went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half. The Cowboys then drove 59 yards in eight plays and went ahead 24-23 when Romo hit TE John Phillips for a 1-yard score.

Matters got worse for the Giants as Manning was intercepted by S Danny McCray at the Cowboys’ 35-yard line late in the third quarter. But the Giants defense forced a three-and-out with DT Chris Canty sacking Romo for a 12-yard loss on first down. The Giants then regained the lead for good when they drove 60 yards in eight plays to set up a 43-yard field goal by Tynes. Giants 26 – Cowboys 24.

Dallas drove from their own 22 to the Giants’ 48-yard line on their fourth possession of the half. But Felix Jones fumbled the ball away and Stevie Brown recovered at the Cowboys’ 45-yard line. The Giants were able to move the football 26 yards in six plays to set up another Tynes’ field goal – his fifth of the game – this one from 37 yards out. Giants 29 – Cowboys 24 with 3:31 to play.

The Cowboys then drove from their own 22-yard line to the Giants’ 19-yard line with 1:14 to play. But on 4th-and-1, Stevie Brown intercepted Romo again, this time at the Giants’ 17-yard line. With a little over a minute to play, it looked like the Giants had the game locked up. However, the Giants only gained nine yards on the next three carries by Bradshaw. And with Dallas using up all of their timeouts, the Cowboys got the ball back at their own 30-yard line with 44 seconds in the game.

After an incomplete pass, Romo completed passes of 13, 16, and 4 yards. On 2nd-and-6, from the Giants’ 37-yard line, it looked like the Cowboys won the game when Romo hit Dez Bryant behind Michael Coe for the apparent game-winner with 10 seconds left. However, instant replay overturned the touchdown, showing that Bryant was out-of-bounds on the catch.

With 10 seconds to go, Romo hit TE Jason Witten for 10 yards down to the 27-yard line with six seconds to go. It was Witten’s 18th catch of the game. The Cowboys had two more shots, but both fell incomplete and the Giants won the game.

Manning finished the game 15-of-29 for 192 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception. WR Victor Cruz only caught two passes for 23 yards while WR Hakeem Nicks was limited to four catches for 46 yards. Bradshaw rushed for 78 yards on 22 carries.

Defensively, Stevie Brown accrued six tackles, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery. Jason Pierre-Paul had four tackles, one sack, and one interception for a touchdown. Corey Webster also had an interception. DT Linval Joseph had two sacks and Chris Canty had one.

Highlights/lowlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Injury Update: S Antrel Rolle left the game in the fourth quarter. He is being evaluated for a possible concussion. “I think he hit his head hard on the ground, so we’ll have to see,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

LB Chase Blackburn left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.

LB Keith Rivers left the game with a calf strain.

Bear Pascoe left the game in the first half with an ankle sprain. X-rays taken on his ankle were negative.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference are available at Giants.com.

Post-Game Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of the following player media Q&As after the game are available at Giants.com:

Post-Game Notes: Inactive for the Giants were WR Jerrel Jernigan, TE Adrien Robinson, OT James Brewer, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Rocky Bernard (quadriceps), LB Jacquian Williams (knee), and S Kenny Phillips (knee).

Article on TE Martellus Bennett: Giants’ Martellus Bennett Aspires to Be the Best Tight End in the League by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Oct 272012
 

October 26, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report – Bernard and Phillips Doubtful; Bradshaw Questionable: The only player who did not practice yesterday was LB Jacquian Williams (knee). He has officially been ruled “out” in the game against the Dallas Cowboys this weekend.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), C David Baas (ankle), DT Rocky Bernard (quadriceps), and S Kenny Phillips (knee) practiced on a limited basis. Bernard and Phillips are “doubtful” for the game on Sunday, Bradshaw is “questionable,” and Baas is “probable.”

“I think (Bradshaw will be good for Sunday),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We’ll see how he goes, but based on that type of thing, I’m confident.”

WR Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee) fully practiced. Nicks is “probable” for the game on Sunday.

TE Travis Beckum (knee), who is currently on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List, also continues to practice.

“(Beckum) looked ok,” said Coughlin. “No decision (on activating him).”

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Friday Press Conference: The transcript and video of yesterday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at Giants.com.

Giants.com Q&A With Head Coach Tom Coughlin: The Coughlin Corner: NFC East Rivals by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Article on FB Henry Hynoski: Giants’ Henry Hynoski a Good Fit at Fullback by Art Stapleton of The Bergen Record

Article on LB Chase Blackburn: Giants LB Chase Blackburn is Back Where He Always Belonged – On the Team by Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger

Article on LB Mark Herzlich: Mark Herzlich is Honored to Back Up Chase Blackburn at Linebacker by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on S Stevie Brown: Brown Impresses Giants as Fill-In Starter by Mark Hale of The New York Post

Oct 262012
 

October 25, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were HB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and LB Jacquian Williams (knee).

“(Bradshaw) didn’t work, maybe tomorrow,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I don’t think there’s any setback.”

OC David Baas (ankle), DT Rocky Bernard (quadriceps), and S Kenny Phillips (knee) practiced on a limited basis.

“(Phillips) worked today,” said Coughlin. “He did a little something and he’s going to work back into it very gradually. We’ll see how he does each day.”

“I think (Baas will) go (this Sunday),” said Coughlin.

WR Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee) fully practiced.

TE Travis Beckum (knee), who is currently on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List, also continues to practice.

Coach Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of yesterday’s media sessions with the following coaches are available at Giants.com:

Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Giants Online: The video of this week’s edition of Giants Online is available at Giants.com.

Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Your Guide to Speaking Fluent Coughlinese by Joshua Robinson of The Wall Street Journal

Article on HB Ahmad Bradshaw: Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw Agreed to Dial Down His Emotions, But He Still Wants the Ball by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the Giants’ Offensive Line:

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Loving Life in N.Y., JPP Brings the Fear by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on LB Chase Blackburn: Blackburn Makes Most of Second Chance by Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com

Article on S Stevie Brown: Stevie Brown Feels He Fits With Giants by Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com

Article on the Giants and QB Tony Romo: Romo Has Been a Giant vs. Coughlin’s Crew by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on the Giants and Cowboys: Two Giants Explain the Differences With Dallas by Sam Borden of The New York Times

Oct 252012
 

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, October 28, 2012: The Giants are almost to the midway point of the season. Their initial primary goal remains intact: make the playoffs. The surest way to do that is to win the NFC East. Thus, the most important regular-season games left are the three games left against the Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles.

The game on Sunday is crucial for both teams. If Dallas loses, they fall to 3-4 while the Giants improve to 6-2. If the Giants lose, the Cowboys will be right behind them at 4-3 and having swept the season series. Plus, New York will have fallen to 1-3 in the division.

So expect the Cowboys to pull out all of the stops and expect their best effort. Don’t underestimate Dallas. The Cowboys are 10th in the NFL in yards per game (7th in passing) and 4th in total defense (3rd against the pass).

Giants on Offense: The Giants’ offense did not play well in the opener against the Cowboys. The Giants were held to 17 points, 15 first downs, and 269 yards of offense. The Giants’ offense in the first half was dreadful with only 3 points (set up by a turnover), 5 first downs, and 85 yards of offense (23 yards rushing).

But there are several key differences for the Giants in the upcoming game. For one, the offensive line has a completely different look. In the first game, Sean Locklear was playing left tackle and David Diehl was playing right tackle. Diehl had a really rough game against DeMarcus Ware. Moreover, WR Victor Cruz had a bad night, dropping three passes and WR Hakeem Nicks was very gimpy and rusty having hardly practiced all preseason. Though Nicks is still nowhere near 100 percent, he has been feeling better lately and is starting to round into form.

Another big difference is that the Cowboys will be without standout ILB Sean Lee, who has given the Giants a lot of problems in the past. Lee was placed on IR earlier this week.

On the downside, for the Giants, is the health and potential availability of OC David Baas (ankle). If Baas can’t go, Kevin Boothe will move to center and David Diehl will start at left guard.

For the Giants to win this game, they have to score more than 17 points. And in order to do that, stating the obvious, they have to run and pass the ball better than they did in the first contest. The first key is for the Giants to be able to pass protect, especially against outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. And the wide receivers have to do a much better job of getting open against aggressive coverage by cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.

It will be interesting to see if the Giants can run the ball against Dallas. Ahmad Bradshaw’s numbers in the first game (78 yards on 17 carries) were inflated by one 33-yard run. The Giants need more consistent productivity out of him and Andre Brown in this game (Brown did not have a carry in the first game). The loss of Lee should hurt Dallas, but the Giants’ offensive line may be a bit out of sync if Baas can’t go.

My gut tells me that this game will come down to the play of the quarterbacks. In the first game, Tony Romo made more plays and the Cowboys won. The Giants need a very strong performance from Eli Manning. The Giants need him to out-play Romo. The good news for the Giants is that Eli tends to play very well in Texas.

Giants on Defense: In the first game, Dallas put up 433 yards of offense, including 143 yards rushing. Tony Romo was able 22-of-29 passes (only seven incompletions) for 307 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. HB DeMarco Murray ran for 131 yards on 20 carries. None of that is good.

But again, there are some key differences this time around. For one, Murray (foot) is not likely to play. The Cowboys’ center Phil Costa (ankle) is ailing and may be a game-time decision. But probably most important for the Giants is the situation at cornerback. Prince Amukamara missed the first game with a foot injury. Michael Coe replaced him but left the game with a hamstring injury. With Jayron Hosley coming off a toe injury, Justin Tryon was pressed into service and got burned frequently in the second half of the game.

In the first game, the Giants played too soft in coverage and were repeatedly burned on the slant. And Corey Webster may have had his worst game of the season, getting burned badly by Kevin Ogletree, including for a 40-yard touchdown. Webster needs to play better and he knows it. “We weren’t aggressive,” said Webster. “We weren’t putting our hands on them as a team. I didn’t do it myself, but as a team, we were just kind of passive, kind of letting them dictate what they wanted to do to us and that’s not how we’ve been successful around here.”

Webster also gave a pretty good scouting report on the Cowboys’ passing game: “I just think the quarterback does a great job of getting them the ball and letting them make plays with it in open space. I think Ogletree is a good guy; he’s a double move guy. He’s a little more detailed and crisp in and out of his routes. I think Dez is a little more of a big play receiver type guy. He goes up and gets the ball at the highest point. They like throwing the deep balls and Miles Austin is the same way. He’s a good deep ball guy, but he can work the slot and find the open zones. So in knowing all of those things, we have to be cognizant of where they’re at and hopefully stay tight in coverage and we can’t forget about the great tight end over there as well. We’ll do the same thing knowing where he’s at all the time and hopefully we can stop him from making big plays.”

To me, the tight end – Jason Witten – is the key. He’s Romo’s security blanket. He’s the guy who they go to in the clutch. Take him away and Romo is more uncomfortable. Speaking of making Romo uncomfortable, the Giants have to do a better job of getting heat on him, but most importantly, not allowing him to scramble around and improvise like he does so well. That hurt the Giants quite a bit in the first game.

I think the guy on the spot in this game will be S Stevie Brown. The Giants haven’t faced a top passing attack yet with Kenny Phillips out. And while Brown has had some big moments (three interceptions), he also has been missing in action on some deep coverage responsibilities. Don’t think the Cowboys have missed that fact. My big worry defensively in this game is Brown getting burned deep. Dez Bryant has had his issues this year, but he can still hurt you deep. And Miles Austin has done the same against the Giants too.

With Murray out and Felix Jones (knee) a little banged up, the natural impulse would be to not be as worried about the Dallas running game. But the Giants must make the Cowboys one dimensional. They did that in the first half of the first game, but fell apart in the second half of the game. Don’t let Jones get going and don’t make a hero out of his back ups Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar. Also watch out for Jones as a receiver out of the backfield.

Giants on Special Teams: I just have a gut feeling that David Wilson is going to make up for his fumble in the first game in a big way in this game. This may be the game where he finally breaks a return for a TD. The Giants need to do a better job of blocking for Rueben Randle. He has the ability to make a difference in the return game too.

At the same time, the Giants need to be careful with Dez Bryant on punt returns.

Oct 252012
 

October 24, 2012 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were HB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), OC David Baas (ankle), DT Rocky Bernard (quadriceps), LB Jacquian Williams (knee), and S Kenny Phillips (knee).

WR Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee) fully practiced.

TE Travis Beckum (knee), who is currently on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List, has begun practicing for the first time since before the Super Bowl in February. The team now has three weeks to activate him, place him on Injured Reserve, or release him.

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Wednesday Press Conference: The transcript and video of yesterday’s press conference with Head Coach Tom Coughlin are available at Giants.com.

Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video clips of media Q&As with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Giants on ESPN Radio: Audio clips of yesterday’s ESPN Radio interviews with the following players are available at ESPN.com:

  • HB Ahmad Bradshaw (Audio)
  • DT Chris Canty (Audio)

Articles on QB Eli Manning:

Article on WR Hakeem Nicks: WR Hakeem Nicks Impresses in Practice by Michael Eisen of Giants.com

Oct 242012
 
New York Giants 27 (5-2) – Washington Redskins 23 (3-4)

By rnargi for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary:

Coming off of a resounding whitewash of the San Francisco 49ers, the team many people believe is the best team in the NFC, New York had their first clash with ultra-rookie QB Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. Griffin proved that he is everything he has been advertised to be and gave the Giants all they could handle on defense. In the end, however, QB Eli Manning proved once again who the current elite QB in the NFC East is. Two plays from scrimmage after Griffin delivered what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown, Manning dropped a perfect pass into the arms of Victor Cruz who did the rest on his way to a 77-yard game-winning touchdown. New York escaped, in the words of DE Osi Umenyiora, with a thrilling 27-23 win in the critical NFC East showdown.

The fact is New York won this game despite not bringing their “A” game. New York could not get their running game untracked and for most of the game could do little to slow down Washington’s. On offense, New York uncharacteristically made several unforced errors and also seemed to make some dubious play calls late in the game. Special teams did very little to assert themselves in this game as well. Still, both the offense and defense were opportunistic at certain times, giving them just enough to hold off the Redskins.

The statistics were overwhelmingly in the favor of the Redskins, who out rushed the Giants 248 – 64, gained more first downs (11 on the ground), outgained the Giants in total yards 480 – 393, and in time of possession by more than five minutes. Additionally, New York allowed six of 13 third-down conversion attempts by Washington as well as all three fourth-down conversions they attempted. The Giants were very good on third down offensively, converting eight of 12.

With stats like that, you’d think this was a Washington blow out, but there were three equalizers that pulled the Giants out of the fire. First, the Giants were able to get to Griffin and sack him three times for 26 yards lost. Second, penalties absolutely killed the Redskins, taking points off the board for them and extending Giants drives. Third, the Giants won the turnover battle, causing four in seven drives in the second half. On three of those Redskins possessions, they gave up the ball at the Giants 39, the Giants 35, and the Giants 29. In plus territory like that, it’s almost guaranteed that points were lost, potentially on all three drives.

Then there’s the dagger stat. The one we see over and over again from Eli Manning and these New York Giants. New York scored a game-tying field goal by driving from its own 20 yard line to the Redskins 21 with only 1:49 left on the clock. Then, with just 1:32 to go in the game and down by three points from his own 23 yard line, it took Eli just 14 seconds and two plays to hit Cruz for the 77 yard game winning touchdown. It’s uncanny how often and how consistently the Giants score at the end of the halves.

As mentioned, the Giants made their own share of unforced errors that kept the game close early on:

  1. On the opening drive of the game, the Giants were poised to attempt a fourth and one conversion from the Washington 36 yard line when RT Sean Locklear moved early. The penalty resulted in the Giants having to punt.
  2. On Washington’s first drive, the Redskins were looking at a potential 2nd-and-10 from the Giants 35 yard line but LB Michael Boley got called for a retaliation unnecessary roughness penalty when he slapped LT Trent Williams after he was antagonized by a finger poke inside of his face mask. That play came after Washington had a touchdown nullified by a questionable illegal shift penalty. Boley’s penalty put the Redskins at the Giants 20 yard line and Washington eventually scored a field goal.
  3. On Washington’s second drive, they allowed perennial Giants killer WR Santana Moss take a WR screen on a 3rd-and-7 play 26 yards completely untouched despite having eight players in proximity of the play. The Giants were completely fooled on the play as three Redskin offensive linemen got out in front along with RB Alfred Morris to lead the convoy.
  4. On the Giants third drive, Manning missed a wide open Victor Cruz who had beat his man like a drum at the goal line on a 3rd-and-1 play. Manning threw about three yards behind Cruz and the Giants had to settle for a field goal.
  5. During the Giants second drive of the third quarter following a Redskins fumble, the Giants faced a 2nd-and-8 from the Redskins 26 yard line. TE Martellus Bennett broke off his route early for the second time resulting in a Josh Wilson interception inside the Washington 10 yard line.
  6. After recovering another Washington fumble at the Giants 29 yard line and just 7:01 to go up by a touchdown, Eli Manning inexplicably threw the ball right to LB Rob Jackson who had settled into the flat in coverage. It appeared that Manning never saw Jackson.
  7. After holding the Redskins to a field goal, the Giants got the ball back at their own 17 yard line with 5:14 to go. Again on first down, Manning dropped back to pass and was sacked all the way back on the nine yard line. Later in the drive, the Giants attempted to throw a back shoulder fade to Hakeem Nick on a 3rd-and-1 play with only 3:15 left in the game. Had the Giants converted the first down, they would have forced Washington to use their final time out, leaving just three minutes and the two minute warning. Instead of running the ball, Manning threw just out of the reach of Nicks and Washington got the ball back with 2:59, a time out and the two minute warning.

It was an odd game, filled with mistakes, turnovers, questionable play calls, and tons of excitement every time Griffin got the ball into his hands. The Redskins came into this game off a big win over a good Minnesota team. Their defense is beaten up something fierce, and they are starting two rookies, Griffin and RB Alfred Morris, at key positions. Add to the problems the fact that their best receiver, Pierre Garcon was out and then TE Fred Davis left early with an Achilles injury and you have just got to take your hats off to how well they played. I’ve watched nearly every game that each NFC East team has played and it’s the Redskins I worry most about for the future. Not this year, yet, but this team is dangerous and Griffin is going to be a superstar, provided he can stay healthy, and will be a thorn in the Giants’ side for a decade or more.

Quarterback:

When watching the game live, I came away with the conclusion that Eli Manning didn’t play a very good game. I questioned the two interceptions, the missed touchdown to Cruz, and several other throws that just seemed errant. After re-watching however, I have to amend my thoughts. TE Martellus Bennett stopped two routes, one resulting in what appeared to be on Manning as an overthrow and the other which resulted in the first interception. Manning was also victimized by a couple of drops by his receivers. The three throws I believe that Manning would like to have back were the missed TD to Cruz, his second interception, and possibly the back shoulder throw to Nicks. I’m not convinced that the throw to Nicks was all that bad. Remember, Nicks is slowed by injury and it appeared on that play that Nicks was not aware that he had more room to work with than he seemed to think he had against the sideline. Nicks had at least a foot more room but still used just his arms to reach out for the ball, never moving his feet closer to the sideline. Overall, Manning’s performance was solid after re-evaluating the game.

Manning finished 26 of 40 for 337 yards to go along with his two interceptions and the lone touchdown. Manning also had a key 5 yard scramble that kept a drive alive that resulted in a field goal.

Manning’s passer rating on the day was just 78.9, which is misleading. His Total QBR was a robust 80.2. Manning is second in the league with a 76.9 QBR. Manning also leads the NFL in passing yardage with 2,109 yards. Another thing that Manning should get credit for is his knack for not taking sacks. Manning is the least sacked QB of any starter in the league with just five, including one on Sunday. Manning was under pressure and absorbed six QB hits including three from former teammate Barry Cofield.

Manning continues to be head-shaking, mind-bogglingly, uncanny good at the end of the first half and games. Once again, Manning engineered two drives with less than two minutes remaining to score points. On the final drive of the first half, Manning completed six of nine passes to get the Giants into field goal position. On 2nd-and-10 from the Washington 48 yard line and only 31 seconds to go and one time out, Manning calmly hit Cruz for a first down at the Washington 35. He got the Giants back to the line of scrimmage and snapped the ball with 14 seconds to go and again calmly hit Cruz over the middle with room to run and Cruz took the ball to the 21 yard line. Time out Giants with 7 seconds to go, bring on the field goal team, Tynes hits the 39 yard field goal. Tie game going into the half. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

If that’s all Manning did at the end of a half in a game, you’d usually be happy. But after an emotional, tense, frustrating drive led by Griffin put the Skins up by three with less than a minute and a half remaining in the game, Manning did it again. Manning had three time outs to work with and after he threw his first attempt away, Eli stood in the pocket until he had a good read on whether Victor Cruz was running the go route then let it go just before he got rocked. The ball landed in Cruz’s hands in perfect stride at the Redskins 41 yard line and Cruz did the rest. Simply amazing, truly elite.

Running Backs:

The Giants never really got their running game going on Sunday and Ahmad Bradshaw was none too happy about it. The Giants threw on first down on 19 of 28 plays, which seems like an inordinate amount and maybe that’s what was making Bradshaw upset. In the third quarter, Bradshaw finally broke a run outside and gained 15 yards but could have potentially scored if WR Victor Cruz had engaged his defender. Ahmad seemed to take umbrage with that situation as well. When he popped up, he slapped Cruz’s helmet, and yelled something. I don’t think it had to do with what they had for dinner the night before. The Bradshaw dust-ups got a lot of play in The Corner Forum and in several media outlets, but I think it was fine. Bradshaw has carried the load for two consecutive games and apparently wanted it to continue. I like his fire and prefer it to the alternative.

On the day, Bradshaw gained 43 yards on 12 carries (3.6 ypc) with the long of 15. Bradshaw also scored on a burrowing one-yard run that I’ve watched a half a dozen times and still have no idea how he got in. Bradshaw was targeted five times in the passing game, catching four for 22 yards. The Giants’ screen game is looking better, but one that looked like it had legs was stopped for just a short gain because it appeared Bradshaw didn’t set up his blocking very well.

Andre Brown got into the action sparingly, but he was productive. Brown scored the first Giants touchdown on a one-yard leap into the end zone. On the day, Brown carried five times for 17 yards (3.4 ypc). Brown executed a perfect screen pass that converted a 3rd-and-15 when he gained 17 yards. On that screen, Brown did a phenomenal job of setting up his blocking and then using his speed to pick up what looked like the critical first down in the game.

David Wilson didn’t see action at tailback all game.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:

The Giants receiving corps was active and productive, led by Victor Cruz. Cruz caught 7 balls for 131 yards, including the 77-yard touchdown to put the Giants ahead for good. Cruz was crucial on the final drive of the second half, catching the two passes that put the Giants into field goal range. Before the final touchdown catch by Cruz, Hakeem Nicks had just one less catch and one less yard than Cruz. Eli attempted to get to the ball to the tandem 21 times. Nicks ended up with 5 catches for 53 yards. He did have a drop that didn’t come back to haunt the Giants on their first touchdown drive. Nicks obviously doesn’t have his straight line speed back just yet, but he’s says that he’s feeling better. He did look rusty on the back shoulder fade attempt late in the game, as described above.

Domenik Hixon only had four targets all day but made three catches for 32 yards.

TE Martellus Bennett had an eventful day. Bennett was targeted seven times and caught five balls for 79 yards, on the face a solid game. However that’s not the entire story as he is on record saying he let Manning out to dry a couple times, one on an early overthrow that didn’t hurt the Giants because they scored later on the drive, and then on Manning’s first interception. After eleven games and countless practices, one would expect that these tendencies to stop his routes would end. It’s been an ongoing issue.

Offensive Line:

New York’s offensive line had a tough day trying to open up holes for Bradshaw on Sunday. After the last two games, I suppose there had to be some urgency from the Redskins to sell out and stop the run and they did a good job of it. Washington deployed an extra safety in the box most of the day and the Giants must have thought their chances were better to go at the Washington defense through the air.

On one note, T David Diehl appears to be the third TE as he’s the guy who’s reporting eligible on short-yardage situations. No matter how you look at it, the line is keeping Eli upright, giving up just one sack that came through the middle where Barry Cofield nailed Eli late in the fourth quarter.

Defensive Front 7:

First, before going any further, without a doubt the Giants defensive ends did an overall fantastic job of staying in their lanes and limiting the areas that Griffin could exploit. New York, early on, had a difficult time dealing with the zone blocking scheme that HC Mike Shanahan likes to employ. For years, the Redskins have suffered mightily due to their woes on the offensive line and they didn’t do a whole lot to make it any better personnel wise this offseason. The schematic design to their run blocking game combined with a mercurial QB who can run the read-option possibly better than any other QB in the league right now has done wonders for the Redskin offense.

In his game preview, Eric from BBI warned of the dangerous Washington running attack and proffered that the Giants should focus on stopping it first:

“But the early focus for the Giants MUST be stopping an underappreciated Redskins’ running attack. Rookie HB Alfred Morris is one of the best kept secrets thus far in the season. He’s not tall, but he is a very strong, powerful, and determined runner who can be difficult to bring down. Morris seems particularly well suited to Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme up front. Morris has already rushed for 538 yards on 116 carries (4.6 yards per carry average). Morris – not Griffin – is the early key. The zone blocking scheme puts a lot of pressure on defenders to maintain their gap responsibility as the back will stretch the play out and then look for the open gap on the cutback.”

Everything about Eric’s assessment was spot on, and the Giants were unable to stop Morris in the first half. Morris ran for 94 yards on 13 carries for a 7.2 ypc average. Many of Morris’ yards came after first contact. The man has unbelievable power and a low center of gravity, making it hard to bring him down with the first hit.

The offshoot of the successful running game was that Griffin was able to use the read-run option to open up the middle of the field where he hit unheralded tight ends who were wide open due to the linebackers being caught in no man’s land due to the play action. It worked repeatedly.

The Giants were able, for the most part, to limit Griffin when he had to scramble for yards, particularly because the ends played it honest on the outside. Griffin did exploit the Giants for a couple of big gainers on what appeared to be designed runs.

After gashing the Giants in the first half for a total of 146 yards, the Giants held the Redskins to 102 in the second. The numbers are slightly skewed by the fact that New York gave up runs of 30, 28, 24, 16 and 14 yards. That’s 112 yards alone on five plays.

The Giants, after going to a new look last week that saw LB Mathais Kiwanuka play a ton on the line, went back to their base look with Kiwanuka in more at linebacker and used their NASCAR Package infrequently, mainly in the fourth quarter. The plan worked as far as containment, but the middle of the line was where the Skins hit the Giants repeatedly with the run. As mentioned, the DEs had a good day. Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora all had sacks, and JPP caused a fumble in the backfield by Griffin. Tuck was in on 6 tackles, one tackle for a loss, and one sack.

In his return to the lineup and first game action of the year, DT Chris Canty was in on four stops, all solo. However, he had Morris stopped in his tracks in the backfield on one play and couldn’t get him down. Morris escaped for a four yard gain. DT Linval Joseph forced the first Redskins fumble and later recovered a fumble. DT Marcus Kuhn batted a ball down at the line of scrimmage.

Frankly, the Giants linebackers were guessing all afternoon, and their hesitation was the difference in some of the big runs and most of the catches over the middle to the tight ends. They were not consistently getting to gaps in the running game and, by the same token, they were getting caught flat footed five yards off the line of scrimmage on those quick hitters to the tight ends. As such, the Giants linebackers were in on 29 tackles on the day, mostly downfield.

Chase Blackburn forced two fumbles on the final Redskins drive, the second recovered by the Giants that effectively ended the game.

Secondary:

With the running game going well, Griffin was able to use the run-option play-fake with great success, completing 20 of 28 passes on the day. Griffin was a perfect eight for eight outside the numbers, including a couple each on CBs Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara. That’s not to say either played poorly, as the Giants were only beaten twice deep all day and neither was on the starting corners. The problems were mainly in the middle of the field where the linebackers and safeties were being torn up by back up tight ends. Between the two safeties and three cornerbacks, they made 23 solo tackles. That’s an awful lot from your secondary.

Jayron Hosley is still learning, and it appears no one told him that Santana Moss loves to play against the Giants. Hosley had the best shot at getting to Moss on the WR screen that went for a touchdown and was also burned on the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It’s been reported that Griffin saw the one-on-one coverage Hosley had on Moss and when S Antrel Rolle moves slightly to his left to help with outside leverage, he took the shot. Hosley was in trail position from the word go, never getting a hand on Moss off the line, and couldn’t recover. Fortunately, Eli bailed him out and Hosley has something to look back on for how not to play it the next time.

Speaking of Rolle, he was not at fault on that last touchdown regardless of what’s being bantered about on The Corner Forum. He did the right thing by taking away the outside look. There was little time left on the clock and the Redskins had one time out needing a touchdown to win. It’s the correct assumption that the Redskins would be looking either short or to the sideline on that play. The Redskins played boldly all afternoon, so maybe the Giants should have expected them to take a shot, but that’s 20 20 hindsight.

S Stevie Brown got the Giants rolling in the second half with his third interception of the year. The throw should not have been made by Griffin. Webster had perfect coverage, causing Griffin to double pump, and while under pressure, Griffin decided to let it go anyway. It seems that Brown has a knack for being in position to catch errant throws, as each of his interceptions have looked like they’ve been thrown right to him.

The Giants secondary took some knocks on BBI and the press this week, but I’m not inclined to indict this group because I believe that a lot of the problem was the way the Redskins played offense, confusing the linebackers time and again. New York was fooled by an end around, two designed runs by Griffin, countless times by the run-option pass play, and by a couple of inside misdirection runs to the fullback. It happens. The “wildcat” or whatever you want to call the version that the Redskins run is confusing as hell and I’m sure the defense was hoping that the Redskins would just stop doing it because it worked most of the day.

Special Teams:

The “Special Teams Hit of the Week” (Marvin Austin received the award last week) goes to Mark Herzlich who absolutely leveled a Redskin backup safety on the second kick on the opening kickoff after Washington was offsides on the first. The lane created enabled KR David Wilson to get out to the 30 yard line. Wilson returned four kicks on the day, averaging 26.5 yards per return.

The Giants coverage teams did an excellent job, allowing just one kick return for 17 yards. Touchbacks accounted for each of the rest of Tynes’ six kickoffs. Washington had one decent punt return of 12 yards.

Coaching:

For the fourth straight week, I’ve caught myself questioning some of the Giants coaching decisions, something on the whole I normally don’t do. Even so, I am left to wonder why the Giants didn’t try to establish the run any more than they did, but most importantly why they passed the ball on first down during the two drives late in the second half. The first, with just over seven minutes to go, cost the Giants as the ball was intercepted and set up a critical Redskins field goal that put them in position to win after scoring the late touchdown. The second occurred with just over 5 minutes to go and resulted in an eight yard sack. The Giants temporarily overcame that situation when they executed the 17-yard screen to Andre Brown, but later on the drive in a 3rd-and-1 situation they again threw the ball, incomplete, stopping the clock and preserving the Redskins’ final time out.

As has been mentioned, the Giants are a risk-reward offense, but sometimes discretion could be the better part of valor. Later, on a 2nd-and-10, trailing by three from their own 23 yard line, Eli Manning hit Cruz for the 77 yard touchdown. Again, high risk, high reward. On that play, it paid off and the Giants won. So really, what the hell do I know?

Final Thoughts:

If there ever is a “must win” game for a 4-2 team, it’s playing a divisional game when you’re already 0-2 within that division. The Giants improved their stature in the East and now travel to Giants Stadium West to face the Cowboys, who beat the Giants on opening night. A win there would go a very long way towards winning the division, which is the surest way into the playoffs. The Giants do not want to be a half game up on the Cowboys having lost to them twice.

Frankly, after watching the Redskins all season down here in the greater Washington area along with the other division opponents games, I believe the Redskins will in the end be the biggest threat to the Giants. The Cowboys will lose games they’re supposed to win because they are undisciplined and have no team make up. The Eagles are in disarray and now have canned their defensive coordinator despite the offense turning the ball over about a million times. I have a lot of friends in eastern PA that have already turned on the team and they’re actually hoping that they lose so Andy Reid will be fired. (Seems familiar…weren’t there some BBI’ers hoping the Giants would lose to Washington in the last game of 2006 so Coughlin would get fired??) I stand by my statement that the Giants are the team to beat and now they have a clear shot to the division title, but it must start this weekend at the Cowboys.

(Box Score – Washington Redskins at New York Giants, October 21, 2012)
Oct 242012
 

New York Giants on WFAN Radio: Audio clips of yesterday’s WFAN Radio interviews with the following players are available at CBSNewYork.com:

New York Giants on ESPN Radio: Audio clips of yesterday’s ESPN Radio interviews with the following players are available at ESPN.com:

  • WR Domenik Hixon (Audio)
  • DE Osi Umenyiora (Audio)

Sights and Sounds from Giants-Redskins Game: Check out the sights and sounds video from the Giants-Redskins game at Giants.com.

Articles Reviewing the Giants-Redskins Game: The following media sources have provided in-depth reviews of the Giants-Redskins game:

Articles on QB Eli Manning:

Articles on WR Victor Cruz:

Notes: The Giants have made a league-high 32 trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line (New England is second with 31). The Giants have scored 30 times (93.8 percent), but have scored just 15 touchdowns, a 46.9 percent rate that places them 22nd in the NFL.