Oct 172016
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 16, 2016)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 27 – Baltimore Ravens 23

Overview

A New York Giants offense that has struggled to score this year, including scoring only two touchdowns in three games, managed a “breakout” game against the Baltimore Ravens with 27 glorious points. This despite only being 4-of-14 (29 percent) on 3rd down, rushing for a pathetic 38 yards, being 0-for-2 in the red zone, and maintaining possession for only 25 minutes. So how did they do it? The big play finally returned.

Giants on Offense

The Giants ran the ball 17 times and passed 47 times. The Giants are becoming much more pass-centric than they were under Tom Coughlin.

The running game was a joke. The Giants struggled in short-yardage and in the red zone. The Giants were -3 in turnover differential (2 interceptions, 1 fumble). The second-leading receiver had 34 yards. How hell did the Giants score 27 points? The big play returned to the Giants arsenal. Seventeen of the Giants 27 points really came from three pass plays from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham: 75-yard touchdown, 66-yard touchdown, and a 43-yard deep throw that set up a field goal. The team’s fourth longest play was a 24-yard strike from Manning to wideout Roger Lewis, Jr. The bulk of this latter drive and one other field goal drive was earned the old-fashioned way of simply plugging along with smaller chunks of yardage.

Long story short – when the Manning to Beckham connection can combine for big plays, the Giants offense is a vastly different animal.

The offense only had one penalty. And while it struggled on 3rd down, the Giants were 3-for-3 on 4th down conversions.

Quarterback

Eli Manning was 32-of-46 for 403 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Fifty-five percent of his yardage went to Odell Beckham. But Manning didn’t force the ball to Odell, who was targeted 10 times (or just over 20 percent of his throws). Manning spread the ball around to nine different receivers. Manning had no support from his ground game. The big difference was the big play. Four of Manning’s passes accounted for half of the passing offense. Manning was intercepted twice, but one was a deep throw on the last play of the first half and on the other the intended receiver was knocked to the ground.

Running Backs

The running backs were a non-factor on the ground, gaining on 38 yards on 17 carries for a pathetic 2.2 yards-per-carry average. The backs did catch eight passes for 52 yards (6.5 yards per catch). Bobby Rainey dropped a pass.

Wide Receivers

If you had told me the Giants would only rush for 38 yards against the Ravens and that Victor Cruz (3 catches for 31 yards) and Sterling Shepard (4 catches for 25 yards) would only combine for 56 yards, then I would have said there was no way the Giants would have won the game. But Odell Beckham had eight catches for a career-high 222 yards and scored from 75 and 66 yards out, the latter on 4th-and-1. His 43-yard deep reception also set up a field goal. It was a dominating performance. All of this with a painful hip pointer injury. The negatives? He fumbled the ball away after a catch on the first offensive play. This set up the Ravens first touchdown. Taking his helmet off after the game-winning touchdown could have cost the Giants the game. He’s got to stop the immature crap.

The other noteworthy player was rookie Roger Lewis, Jr., who caught a 24-yard touchdown reception. Cruz dropped a pass, but did have key short catches for first downs on the first scoring drive on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-5. Shepard also caught a 10-yard pass on 4th-and-3.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell returned from his concussion and caught six passes for 34 yards. But his bad habit of awkwardly leaving his feet and exposing himself to injury and/or a turnover reared its ugly head again. Worse, with time running out in the game and the Giants down by a field goal, Donnell ran out of bounds just short of the sticks on 3rd down, setting up an unnecessary 4th-and-1 (that fortunately turned out well). He also dropped a pass. Will Tye caught two passes for 15 yards.

Offensive Line

Bad news, good news. The bad news was the Giants couldn’t run the ball worth a lick, generating only 38 measly yards on 17 carries. They were terrible in short yardage and on the goal line. The good news was that a Ravens defense that made the Giants one-dimensional and could pin its ears back and rush the passer only sacked Eli Manning once and hit him twice. Ereck Flowers gave up the sole sack to Terrell Suggs. No penalties this week!

Giants on Defense

The defense started off poorly and finished shaky, but did a good job in between. A 70-yard field goal drive and a 30-yard touchdown drive after a turnover gave Baltimore an early 10-0 lead. The defense then forced five consecutive punts, held the Ravens to a field goal after another turnover, and made a dramatic goal-line stand. Things got dicey again with a late 56-yard field goal drive, a 75-yard touchdown drive, and an unnecessarily-dramatic finish to close the game.

The problem remains a surprising lack of turnovers being forced (none again) and a disappointing pass rush (the Giants two sacks came from a safety and a defensive tackle).

Defensive Line

The Ravens rushed for 98 yards on 26 carries, but 33 of these yards came on one gain. Not great, but respectable. The Giants gave up two short-yardage touchdowns, but also had a dramatic goal-line stand. The Giants did generate more heat on the quarterback with week. Johnathan Hankins had one sack and Jason Pierre-Paul and Romeo Okwara did register hits on the quarterback. But it was nowhere nearly enough. Olivier Vernon (2 tackles) was very quiet. Hankins had three tackles for a loss and Jay Bromley had one. Owamagbe Odighizuwa has been a non-factor since he was drafted. His roughing-the-passer penalty on a 4th-and-5 incomplete pass that should have ended the game could have proved devastating. JPP was credited with two pass breakups.

Linebackers

Jonathan Casillas (11 tackles) was very active and may have saved the game with his tackle for a loss on 4th-and-goal. Devon Kennard (6 tackles) had his best game of the season, especially against the run where he was physical and aggressive. Keenan Robinson continues to look sharp in pass coverage. Kelvin Sheppard knocked a pass away. Tight end Dennis Pitta caught 6-of-10 passes thrown in his direction for only 36 yards.

Defensive Backs

Like the Giants, much of Baltimore’s yardage came from big plays. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Landon Collins gave up a 41-yard completion on 3rd-and-9 on the Ravens first drive that resulted in 3 points. Janoris Jenkins (2 pass breakups) gave up a 70-yard bomb, but his face-mask penalty may have actually saved a touchdown as the defense held on the goal line. Trevin Wade gave up a 42-yard pass interference penalty that set up a 4th quarter field goal. The late 30-yard pass interference penalty on Rodgers-Cromartie that set up the Ravens late touchdown was completely bogus. DRC had three pass breakups, including the last heave into the end zone. He also tackled very well.

Steve Spagnuolo is using his defensive backs quite a bit on the blitz. Landon Collins sacked Joe Flacco and Andrew Adams and Leon Hall also had hits on Flacco. Collins – once again – was all over the field with 12 tackles, including two tackles for a loss. He did over-run the play on the Ravens’ longest rushing play of 33 yards. Collins also gave up a 22-yard completion on 4th-and-1 on the Ravens final TD drive and could have ended the game before Odighizuwa’s roughing-the-passer penalty with an interception but dropped it.

Giants on Special Teams

Brad Wing was superb, averaging 51.3 yards per punt with a 50.5 yards-per-punt average. The Ravens only returned one punt for three yards. Josh Brown made both his field goal efforts (21 and 31 yards) and five of his six kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The sole kickoff return went for 26 yards.

Dwayne Harris made a number of poor decisions in fielding punts inside the 10. He returned three punts for only 11 yards. The Giants had no kickoff return yardage as every Ravens kickoff resulted in a touchback.

Zak DeOssie was flagged with an illegal use of hands penalty on the Ravens’ one punt return. Jerell Adams was penalized for being offsides on a 4th-and-2 punt, which gave the Ravens a 1st down and kept the drive alive.

(Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants, October 16, 2016)
Oct 162016
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 16, 2016)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 27 – BALTIMORE RAVENS 23…
The New York Giants defeated the Baltimore Ravens 27-23 in a thrilling, often-ugly game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday. With the win, the Giants evened their overall record to 3-3.

The Giants won the game despite a -3 turnover differential (2 interceptions, 1 fumble), being out-rushed 98 yards to 38, going 0-for-2 in the red zone, and badly losing the time of possession battle (24:56 to 35:04). Both teams were heavily penalized: Ravens 15 penalties for 111 yards and Giants seven penalties for 119 yards.

The Giants started off poorly, quickly falling behind 10-0 as the Ravens drove 70 yards in 10 plays on their opening possession to set up a 23-yard field goal and then drove another 30 yards in six plays for a touchdown on their second drive after a Giants turnover. Meanwhile, the Giants offense sputtered, failing to pick up a first down until well into the 2nd quarter. Wide receiver Odell Beckham also fumbled the ball away on New York’s first offensive play. And the Giants punted the ball away on their next three offensive possessions after the turnover.

The Giants defense settled down after Baltimore’s first two possessions. New York forced four consecutive punts during the remainder of the first half. The Giants finally got on the board late in the first half after driving 80 yards in 13 plays, culminating with a 24-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. At halftime, the Ravens led 10-7.

The Giants tied the game on their first possession of the 3rd quarter as New York marched 72 yards in 15 plays to set up a 21-yard field goal. This result was a bit disappointing, however, as the Giants had the ball at 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. After the Ravens punted the ball away for the fifth time in a row, Manning was intercepted and the Ravens returned the pick to the Giants 27-yard line. Baltimore could not pick up first down but they were close enough for a 39-yard field goal to retake the lead 13-10.

That advantage was short-lived as Manning hit Beckham deep for a 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run on the Giants next offensive snap. This gave New York its first lead of the day, 17-13. The Ravens responded with a 70-yard deep pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Mike Wallace that set up Baltimore at the Giants 3-yard line. But New York’s defense responded with a goal line stand-and the Ravens were unable to score on 4th-and-goal.

Coming off of the goal line, the Giants offense picked up one first down but then New York was forced to punt. The Ravens were able to drive 56 yards in seven plays – aided by a 42-yard pass interference call against cornerback Trevin Wade – to set up a 35-yard field goal to cut the Giants lead to 17-16 with 9:14 left to play. The Giants then extended their lead again after a 43-yard pass from Manning to Beckham helped to set up a 31-yard field goal with just under six minutes to go.

All looked lost when the Ravens drove 75 yards in nine plays to set up a 2-yard touchdown run and take the lead 23-20 with just over two minutes to play. This touchdown was set up by a horrific officiating call when cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was flagged with a 30-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-4.

Facing a 4th-and-1 at their own 34-yard line with 1:36 left to go, Manning hit Beckham over the middle and it was off to the races as Beckham scored from 66 yards out. The Giants now led 27-23.

But the game was not over. With 1:19 left on the clock, the Ravens drove from their own 32-yard line to the Giants 24-yard line. They were aided by Beckham’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taking his helmet off on the field of play after his touchdown. Then on 4th-and-5 from the Giants 39-yard line, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa was flagged with roughing the passer on an incomplete pass that should have ended the game. But Flacco’s last three passes fell incomplete, with the last being defended by Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone.

Offensively, Manning finished the day 32-of-46 for 403 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Beckham caught eight passes for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns. The next leading receiver was tight end Larry Donnell with 6 catches for 34 yards. Running backs Rashad Jennings, Bobby Rainey, and Paul Perkins only generated 38 yards on 17 carries.

Defensively, safety Landon Collins led the team with 12 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and 1 sack. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins had three tackles for a loss and a sack. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas had 11 tackles and stopped the 4th-and-goal play. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was credited with three pass breakups. The Giants did not force a turnover.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were cornerback Eli Apple (groin), free safety Darian Thompson (foot), safety Nat Berhe (concussion), offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse (calf), wide receiver Tavarres King, linebacker Deontae Skinner, and quarterback Josh Johnson.

The following Giants were injured in the game against the Ravens, but they all returned to the playing field: long snapper Zak DeOssie (ankle), wide receiver Odell Beckham (hip pointer), cornerback Trevin Wade (ankle), and linebacker Keenan Robinson (knee). DeOssie and Beckham were spotted limping pretty good after the game.

“Whatever (the hip injury) is, it was bad. It was bothering me all game,” said Beckham after the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants became the third NFL franchise with 700 combined regular-season and postseason victories. They are 700-593-33 in their 92-year history. The Chicago Bears are 759-577-42 after their loss Sunday to Jacksonville. The Green Bay Packers were 754-569-37 entering their late-afternoon game vs. Dallas.

QB Eli Manning played in his 191st regular-season game in a Giants uniform. That broke a tie with former wide receiver Amani Toomer, whose 13-year career ended in 2008. Manning is fourth on the franchise’s career list for games played. George Martin is third with 201.

Manning’s record as a starter is 100-89. He is the 14th quarterback in NFL history with at least 100 regular-season victories.

Manning is the sixth quarterback with at least 100 victories and two Super Bowl triumphs with the same team, joining Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady, John Elway, Joe Montana and Ben Roethlisberger.

Manning threw the game-winning pass to WR Odell Beckham with 1:24 remaining. It was the 31st time in the regular-season that Manning has led the Giants from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie to a victory.

Manning today started his 200th game for the Giants (189 regular season, 11 postseason). He is the sixth quarterback in NFL history to start at least 200 games for one franchise, joining Elway (Denver), Brett Favre (Green Bay), Peyton Manning (Indianapolis), Dan Marino (Miami) and Brady (New England).

Manning threw three touchdown passes. The first was the 300th of Manning’s splendid 13-year career; he became the eighth quarterback in history to throw for at least 300 scores. The second broke a tie with Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway and moved Manning into sole possession of seventh place on the league’s career list.

Beckham gained a career-high 222 yards.  The 222 yards was the second-highest total in Giants history. It is exceeded only by Del Shofner’s 269 yards vs. Washington on October 28, 1962.

Beckham has eight touchdown receptions of 50 or more yards, the NFL’s highest total since he entered the league in 2014.

Beckham now has 17 career 100-yard games. That ties him with Homer Jones for third on the team’s career list, behind Toomer (22) and Victor Cruz (18).

ARTICLES…

Oct 142016
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (September 18, 2016)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants, October 16, 2016

THE STORYLINE:
Once again, we find the Giants in a must-win game before October is even over. This has been disturbing recurrence for the team the last few seasons. But if the Giants fall to 2-4, they have to pray that the Cowboys and Eagles lose or they are in deep trouble.

The Giants have lost three in a row; the Ravens have lost two in a row. Both teams are beat up and desperate for a win.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Rashad Jennings (thumb) – questionable
  • WR Dwayne Harris (toe) – questionable
  • TE Larry Donnell (concussion) – probable
  • TE Jerell Adams (ear) – probable
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (calf) – out
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (groin) – questionable
  • DE Olivier Vernon (wrist) – probable
  • LB Devon Kennard (concussion) – questionable
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) – questionable
  • CB Eli Apple (groin) – questionable
  • FS Darian Thompson (foot) – out
  • SS Nat Berhe (concussion) – out

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Baltimore’s base defense is the 3-4, something New York struggled against last week. The Ravens have the #3 ranked defense in the NFL (5th against the pass, 4th against the run). Those statistics are a bit skewed in that the Ravens have not played a murder’s row of offensive juggernauts (Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Raiders, Redskins). And Baltmore will likely be missing some key defenders such as linebackers C.J. Mosley and Elvis Dumervil. But this is tough, physical, and well-coached unit. They will hit you in the mouth. The finesse Giants offense hasn’t responded well to this kind of challenge in recent years.

To win, the Giants tackles need to play better than they did last week. Both Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart struggled with pass-rushing linebackers that are the trademark of a 3-4 defense. It gets worse this week for Flowers as he faces Terrell Suggs, who leads the Ravens in sacks. DE Timmy Jernigan has also been very disruptive. The secondary is a veteran, experienced group that also plays a physical game.

It’s hard to believe the Giants will make a living running the ball against the Ravens. They certainly didn’t last week against an equally tough and stout run defense. If I was Ben McAdoo, I would be very tempted to throw caution to the wind and give Paul Perkins a heavy dose of playing time. This is risky as rookie running backs usually need a lot of work in pass protection, and 3-4 defenses like to blitz from all angles. But Perkins appears to be the only back on the team who can create on his own, and once he gets pass the line, he’s a home-run threat.

Ultimately on offense, the Giants are going to live or die with Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz. Eli has to get out of his funk. And the Giants have to do a better job of adjusting to what teams are doing to them defensively. If teams are going to double- or even triple-team Beckham, then Shepard and Cruz have to make them pay. I love what I see from Perkins in the screen game – another reason why I want him to have more snaps.

“Teams want to make us go the long way,” said McAdoo. “It’s probably pretty smart. They don’t want to let Odell wreck the game. That’s been their focus. He’s had a lot of man coverage underneath and a safety over the top. Sometimes another safety leaning that way. They want to force you to go elsewhere, force you to run the ball and be patient. A lot of that has to do with if teams make you go the long way, you’re going to make a mistake and it’s going to kill the drive. A penalty or a mental error. That can certainly happen. Where we are in the season, we should be very confident in our ability to minimize the penalties. Hone in on the mental part of the game so we don’t make those types of mistakes, so we can go the long way.”

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Giants secondary is still a mess. Safeties Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe are out again. Eli Apple is officially “questionable” but he didn’t practice all week. Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie is hobbled once again. The pass rush has been anemic and now Jason Pierre-Paul joins Olivier Vernon on the injury list. Against this backdrop, the Giants face the NFL’s 22nd-ranked offense (22nd passing, 16th rushing). Like on defense, the Ravens have some key cogs missing on offense: WR Steve Smith, RG Marshal Yanda, and LT Ronnie Staley. RT Rick Wagner is also ailing but probably will play. The fly in the ointment is that the Ravens changed offensive coordinators this week – so there will be a different flavor that Steve Spagnuolo will have to adjust to. The good news is that Spagnuolo is familiar with the Ravens’ personnel, having served as an assistant coach there in 2013-14.

Terrance West has received the bulk of the touches at running back and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Tight end Dennis Pitta is the leading receiver on the team. Wide receiver Mike Wallace is the deep threat. With Smith out, look for Kamar Aiken (who started 14 games in 2015) and Breshad Perriman to see more action. Both are big receivers. Of course, the heart of the offensive team is Joe Flacco, who has been up-and-down, prompting the offensive coordinator switch.

With the injury issues on the Ravens offensive line, the Giants defensive line needs to step up. Those guys need to start earning their paychecks. The run defense was shoddy last week. Stop the run and make the Ravens one-dimensional. The focus in the secondary should be on Pitta. My guess is the Giants keep Janoris Jenkins on Wallace. Like last week, much depends on how long Rodgers-Cromartie can play. When he leaves the field, without Apple and the safeties, the secondary is woefully undermanned.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
John Harbaugh’s background is special teams, and year in and year out the Ravens field one of the very best units in the NFL. The are particularly adept at blocking kicks. And their returners are dangerous. The Giants catch a break with Devin Hester out.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on the Giants offense: “I need to do a better job staying committed to the run. I believe in our run game. I believe we’re making strides upfront and our backs are making progress. We need to stick with it and continue to chip away so we’re in a position to win the battle of the hitting game in the fourth quarter.”

THE FINAL WORD:
I hate making grandiose statements about one regular-season game, but if the Giants lose this one, we may be looking at another year where the season is effectively over by November. My guess is this game will come down to which quarterback plays better. I have no idea who that will be.