Nov 152017
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (November 12, 2017)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers 31 – New York Giants 21

RECAP

Nine weeks into the season, two of the three worst teams in the NFL took the field in San Francisco. The Niners were expected to be in this position, as they are building their defense year by year via the draft and recently-acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo to be the leader of their offense moving forward. While he is still learning the playbook, the Niners are relying on 2017 3rd rounder C.J. Beathard to move the chains and score points. On the other side is future Hall of Famer in Eli Manning but both support systems are hurting big time. The combined list of players on injured reserve is massive and the talent on the field for this game was one of the lowest we have seen, and will see, all season.

The two teams traded field goals on their respective opening possessions and after a 4th-and-1 stop by Olivier Vernon and the newly signed Kelvin Sheppard, the Giants took advantage of the good field position and Aldrick Rosas put another 40+ yard field goal through the uprights to make it 6-3.

The Giants were in position to take full control of the first half when Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk fumbled the ball as he was falling to the ground near midfield. Three plays later, the Giants were approaching the red zone but pressure from the San Francisco front forced Manning into a rookie-caliber mistake. Instead of tucking the ball and taking a sack, he tried to shovel the ball forward with no target in sight and it ended up resulting in a silly 2nd-down fumble.

What Beathard did three plays later is what the Giants were attempting to do. He took the momentum swing and turned it into a San Francisco score, connecting with speedster Marquise Goodwin who easily beat Janoris Jenkins downfield. It was an 83-yard score, the longest of the season for SF.

The Giants responded with a touchdown of their own, Manning to Engram, taking the lead back at 13-10. With just over 2 minutes remaining the their possession beginning on their own 24-yard line, signs were pointing towards the Giants going into halftime with a lead. However, with ease, Beathard once again drove his team down the field and connected for another touchdown, this time to TE Garrett Celek. The tackling and pursuit angles of the defense were downright pathetic. Tight ends have scored touchdowns in 10 straight games against the Giants and the theme of the coaching regime continues, same mistakes and shortcomings week after week.

NYG took 5 minutes off the clock to open the 3rd quarter, highlighted by explosive runs by Wayne Gallman and arguably the Giants’ catch of the year by Sterling Shepard. Rosas, however, pushed a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right keeping the score stuck at 17-13 Niners. The Niners put together a drive of their own but it was halted by an Olivier Vernon interception. Once again, the momentum was there for the taking but the Giants simply couldn’t step up, once again.

The Niners continued to creep their way up the field and ended up getting in the end zone on the first play of the 4th quarter via a Beathard 11-yard scamper into the end zone. On 3rd-and-2, Jason Pierre Paul was running away from the rolling out quarterback and cornerback Eli Apple made the decision to not try and prevent him from reaching the end zone. It was as pathetic of a play and overall effort I’ve seen all year, nail in the coffin. Within another 3 minutes of game clock, SF scored another touchdown via a Matt Breida 33-yard run and the Giants were down 31-13 to the 0-9 Niners.

The Giants did score a garbage touchdown at the end of the game on a pass to Roger Lewis from Manning, but the game was over as there was only 1:07 left. A failed onside kick attempt later, Giants lose 31-21.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 28/37 – 273 yds – 2 TD/0 INT. Add a fumble to the evaluation of Manning – one of his worst we’ve seen. Manning’s deep throws (20+ yards) were more accurate than we’ve seen in recent weeks. His presence and confidence in the pocket have gone up now that Flowers has really stabilized his play on the left side. Manning made some solid throws into tight windows, showing zip and accuracy. He has never been an athletic mover when scrambling or rolling out, but he seems to be losing a step when he tries to evade pass rushers.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 14 att/70 yards – 2 rec/18 yards. Darwka also ran for a 2-point conversion late in the game. Darkwa has proven that when he gets moving downhill with some space to work with, he can be a consistent tackle breaker who picks up plenty of yards after contact. When the team gets an extra tight end on the field, his success is much greater. He won’t create much on his own via movement, but he is a more than solid bruiser.
  • Wayne Gallman: 3 att/22 yards. Snaps were limited for Gallman, only being on the field for 15% of offensive plays. What I’m seeing with him though is an outstanding job of being efficient with his footwork and decision making. He is very assertive and quick to react.
  • Shane Vereen: 5 att/11 yards, 4 rec/27 yards. Vereen actually led the RB group in plays for the first time this season. He has proven to be the top pass catcher and blocker among the group. Vereen has been underused all year but at this point, youth is going to have to win out.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 11 rec/142 yards. Both were career highs for the second-year receiver. He and Evan Engram are the feature players in this offense and the fact they are so young is a good thing. The rest of the season will be huge for their progression as players in this league. Shepard started to see more double teams towards the end of the game, which is something he has rarely seen to this point in his career. He made one of the toughest catches we’ve seen all season in the 2nd quarter and has proven to be a tough, blue-collar gamer. Shepard fits well with the slot position.
  • Roger Lewis: 3 rec/33 yards – 1 TD. Lewis still struggles to consistently run himself open via quickness and route running, but he showed some toughness in traffic. He got after it and made a nice ball-skill catch TD late in the fourth quarter.
  • Tavarres King: 2 rec/22 yards, 1 rush att/11 yards. King had an impressive run on his reverse during the first drive. He is playing fast and hungry, but there simply isn’t a lot to work with talent wise.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 6 rec/31 yards – 1 TD. Engram saw a lot of attention from the SF defense, something I expect most if not all teams to do from here on out. Again, it will be good for his long term progression. The route he ran on his touchdown catch was a thing of beauty. Eric Reid is a very good cover safety against tight ends, but Engram made him shift his weight with a fake out-cut before darting up the short seam and locating the ball right away and bringing it in as he approached the back of the end zone. His footwork as a route runner is top notch. Engram, however, had his second worst blocking grade of the season as he just couldn’t handle the physical SF edge defenders which resulted in a few runs being stopped short.
  • Rhett Ellison and Jerell Adams: Both were mainly in there to block, Ellison more so than Adams. They both graded out very high and are proving their value despite not being featured in the passing game often. This running game has reached another level since their playing time has increased.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Ereck Flowers continues his hot play. This is by far the best stretch we have seen out of him in his young career. It will be interesting to see how he finishes up with some better pass rushers coming his way. The hand accuracy, footwork, and effort have all been solid. The one thing I see him consistently struggling with however is reaching guys to his inside shoulder on running plays. Not an easy task, but it resulted in a TFL in this game and a no-gain run stop on another. Justin Pugh went down, again, with an injury. The question now has to be asked when trying to decide whether or not to sign him to a long term deal this upcoming offseason, is he too injury prone? He allowed a sack prior to getting hurt. His replacement, Bobby Hart, gave up another horrific sack where he didn’t touch the defender and actually fell to the ground trying to do so. His days have got to be numbered.
  • Interior: John Jerry and D.J. Fluker were inconsistent early on. Fluker was late to recognize lateral movement and Jerry misfired his hands three times in the first quarter. However as the game went on, they both evened out and graded out with positive performances. Brett Jones had a solid, yet unspectacular game at center. His pass blocking, especially on deep drop backs, was below average.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: We can discuss a quality run defense game by Jason Pierre-Paul with his 5 tackles, 2 of which were for a loss. However his lack of impact on the passing game is frightening. I only counted 5 double teams/chip blocks, which means the average-level SF tackles had no issues with him. Olivier Vernon had a solid game. He had a TFL, 2 QB pressures, and a tipped pass that resulted by an interception by himself. His pass rush impact is inconsistent at best, as well.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison was having another solid game, breaking through the line and affecting the SF running game by himself. He is virtually unblockable and the coaching staff has done a nice job watching his snaps to maintain effectiveness. He went down with an injury and left the field on a cart, however. Dalvin Tomlinson and Jay Bromley both had quiet games, but they did a lot of dirty work. Their glaring negative was almost no pressure on passing plays besides one time each.

LINEBACKERS

  • With B.J. Goodson out, Calvin Munson got another start and he finished with 6 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He is getting overwhelmed on inside running plays but has shown range and good angles when moving laterally. Jonathan Casillas struggled, missing 3 tackles and just being burned on a couple others. He looks out of shape and stiff. His 6 tackles make it appear that he had a better game than he really had. Kelvin Sheppard surprisingly had solid presence inside. The newly-signed inside linebacker who is familiar with the team and its defense made quality reads and physical hits. If nothing else, it is good to see a hustler out there who will still lay the wood.

CORNERBACKS

  • One of the reasons many Rams fans and teammates were not upset to see Janoris Jenkins leave in free agency last year was…well…exactly what we saw Sunday. Jenkins, for the most part, has been an outstanding CB for NYG since signing in 2016. However a suspension handed down by Ben McAdoo last week and a horrid 2017 season for the Giants have taken the wind out of his sails and it showed up in San Francisco. Jenkins was torched deep, intermediate, and short all afternoon. He missed three tackles, two of which were I would say a result of less than 30% effort. It was an embarrassment and he should have been benched mid-game.
  • Eli Apple continues to show the lack of “want-to” in his game, as noted above. The lack of effort he showed on the touchdown run by Brethard has become the new norm with him. He did make a couple physical hits earlier, but this stuff is simply inexcusable. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a quiet game, as his assignments were usually covered up or Beathard wasn’t looking their way. On the long touchdown to Goodwin, Cromartie may have blown his deep coverage assignment but I’m not positive what coverage they were in. I’ve watched it a few times from the all-22 and I am 50/50 on what his role was there.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins and Darian Thompson played every defensive snap. After Collins put out his worst performance of the season last week, the defensive play calling had him closer to the point-of-attack where he does his best work. He led the team with 7 tackles but is still showing poor angles towards the ball. The further into space he gets, the worse he looks. And he can’t use the age factor as a reason. It is an alarming trend that we have seen this year considering he is a safety. Darian Thompson finished with 6 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He has been playing a very physical brand but his range in coverage doesn’t give this defense a ton of stability on the back end. Andrew Adams played in certain packages and had an impact early, but was quiet in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 2/3 – Made 47, 42, Missed 34. Rosas has been very inconsistent this season and his long-term status as the Giants kicker is up in the air.
  • P Brad Wing: 3 punts – 41.3 avg.

3 STUDS

  • WR Sterling Shepard, DE Olivier Vernon, QB Eli Manning

3 DUDS

  • CB Janoris Jenkins, RT Bobby Hart, LB Jonathan Casillas

3 THOUGHTS ON SF

  • Another team that is doing it right when it comes to rebuilding their roster with a new, fresh head coach. They have some important pieces in place already and much of their fate will be on the shoulders of Garoppolo moving forward. But I like what they have in their front seven defensively and a couple of the pieces they have at the skill positions offensively. If their secondary and OL can be shored up, I think they can compete as soon as next year.
  • There were a few people I got to talk to during the pre-draft process who were very high on C.J. Beathard. His situation at Iowa was as bad as anyone’s when it came to scheme/offensive line/receivers, thus he was overlooked by many. He does have some of the essentials you need in an NFL QB. He is mature beyond his years, composed under pressure, and tough as nails. The way he took over the game at times with his legs made me think of former SF quarterback Alex Smith.
  • Keep an eye on this Matthew Breida kid, the running back that scored a 33-yard touchdown. While Carlos Hyde has the #1 job locked up for at least another year, there is a through the roof upside with Breida. His speed and burst to that speed are as good as I’ve seen in the entire league and he runs so much bigger than 200 pounds. When he gets some strength added to his game, he has the makings of a big-play back who you can’t keep off the field.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Typically in the NFL, a coach who has had the season McAdoo has had in 2017 would not have made it home with a job after losing to an 0-9 team by 10 points. But it is simply not the Giants way to fire a coach like this in-season. It’s not going to happen.
  • A case could be made that Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh are the two most reliable OL on the team. They are both free agents this upcoming offseason and if this OL is going to need most of the attention in terms of building for 2018, what do you do with these guys? Those spots might be hard to fill via free agency, and the Giants can’t afford to use two of their first three picks on the OL. The issue is both of these guys have had a very hard time staying healthy and their price demands may make it tough to bring them back. The whole situation of building the 2018 OL is going to be very tricky.
  • Creating a culture of winning, hard-working, team-first attitudes would be a top priority of mine if I were ever building a team. Getting a team full of guys who love the game and want to win at all costs. They are out there and it can carry weight into the scouting process. I’m not sure the Giants’ front office has done a good job of this. There are too many guys who don’t get after it, don’t play hard, don’t put the team first. Long term, they shouldn’t be here. That would be priority number one for me this offseason.
Nov 122017
 
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 31 – NEW YORK GIANTS 21…
It keeps getting worse and worse. The shit-show that is your 2017 New York Giants were soundly defeated 31-21 by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in a game that was not as close as the final score. The 49ers were 0-9 coming into the game widely-regarded as vying with the Cleveland Browns for the title of “worst team in football.” That honor may now belong the 1-8 New York Giants.

Entering the game, the 49ers easily had one of the NFL’s most anemic and inept offenses, scoring just 13 touchdowns on the season. The 49ers put 31 points on the scoreboard against Giants with 474 total net yards, including 186 yards rushing. The first 49ers’ punt in the game came with just over five minutes to play in the contest. For the second game in a row, the defense did not sack the quarterback.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ offensive totals look more impressive than they really were, as the Giants had a garbage-time, 15-play, 90-yard drive on their final possession that resulted in a touchdown and 2-point conversion. Up until that point, the Giants’ offense had only generated 13 points, 14 first downs, and 269 net yards.

The 49ers started the game at the Giants’ 40-yard line after place kicker Aldrick Rosas kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds. San Francisco only needed five plays and 35 yards to set up a successful 35-yard field goal. The Giants responded with a 10-play, 46-yard effort that resulted in a 47-yard field goal by Rosas. The Giants then got the ball back when the defense held the 49ers on 4th-and-1 from the Giants’ 36-yard line. New York picked up 40 yards in six plays to set up another field goal by Rosas, this one from 42 yards out. Giants 6 – 49ers 3.

Things got sloppy early in the second quarter. Safety Andrew Adams forced a fumble after a short pass that was recovered by linebacker Curtis Grant at the Giants’ 46-yard line. But three plays later, the Giants gave the ball right back to the 49ers as quarterback Eli Manning was sacked and he fumbled the ball away. Three plays after that, rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard threw a 83-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on 3rd-and-8 as San Francisco went up 10-6.

The Giants responded with their best drive of the game, moving 75 yards in 10 plays as Manning found tight end Evan Engram for a 9-yard score. The Giants were back on top 13-10. That didn’t last long as the 49ers quickly marched 76 yards in six plays, with Beathard connecting with tight end Garrett Celek for a 47-yard catch-and-run for the score with 28 seconds left before halftime. San Francisco was ahead for good, 17-13.

The Giants moved the ball on their opening possession of the 3rd quarter, driving 59 yards in 11 plays. However, that went all for naught when Rosas missed a 34-yard field goal. The Giants got the ball back when defensive end Olivier Vernon intercepted a pass at the New York 25-yard line. But the Giants couldn’t move the ball and punted. The 49ers then pretty much put the game away with an 11-play, 61-yard drive that culminated with an 11-yard touchdown run by Beathard on 3rd-and-2 on the first play of the 4th quarter. The 49ers now led 24-13. The game got out of hand with another New York punt followed by another San Francisco scoring drive with running back Matt Breida running it in from 33 yards out. 49ers 31 – Giants 13.

Both teams exchanged punts before the aforementioned 15-play, 90-yard, garbage-time drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Roger Lewis with just over a minute to play. Running back Orleans Darkwa rushed for the 2-point conversion. The contest was over after the failed onside kick.

Manning finished the game 28-of-37 for 273 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He did fumble the football away once again however. Manning’s leading receiver was wideout Sterling Shepard who caught 11 plays for 142 yards. Darkwa rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries.

While the Giants defense forced two turnovers, they accrued no sacks and barely put any pressure on the rookie quarterback. The defense allowed almost 500 yards of offense, including almost 200 rushing yards.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), linebacker Devon Kennard (quad), linebacker Keenan Robinson (quad), cornerback Donte Deayon (ankle), wide receiver Travis Rudolph, offensive tackle Chad Wheeler, and quarterback Davis Webb.

Right tackle Justin Pugh (back), right guard D.J. Fluker (knee, returned), linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (groin), and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (ankle) all left the game with injuries.

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants signed fullback Shane Smith from the Practice Squad on Saturday. To make room for Smith, the team waived tight end Matt LaCosse.

Although not officially announced, it appears the New York Giants have re-signed defensive end Jordan Williams to the Practice Squad and waived defensive end Nordly “Cap” Capi from Injured Reserve.

Smith began 2017 on the team’s 53-man roster but was waived and signed to the Practice Squad in late September. Smith was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft.

LaCosse was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Giants waived/injured him in August with a hamstring injury and re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November and the 53-man roster in December 2015. He played in two games and finished with three catches for 22 yards. The Giants waived/injured Matt LaCosse in late August 2016 and then placed him on Injured Reserve with a knee injury that required surgery.

Williams began the 2017 season on the Giants Practice Squad and was added to the 53-man roster on November 1st and waived six days later. Williams was originally signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jets (2015) and Miami Dolphins (2015-2016). The Giants signed Williams to the Practice Squad in December 2016.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Ben McAdoo will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Nov 102017
 
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Steve Weatherford, New York Giants (January 22, 2012)

Steve Weatherford – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, November 12, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
It’s hard to believe that we are only halfway through this mess. The Giants have had other hopeless seasons that were over at the midway point, but I’m not sure this level of despair and/or indifference has been reached in decades. And yet, we still have eight more games to play.

How bad are your 2017 New York Giants? 28th in offense. 30th in defense. Special teams that play a role in each mounting loss.

There may not be a better example of how transient the National Football League has become than this match-up. Six years ago, these two teams were on top of the NFC, playing in one of the most memorable conference championship games ever played. It was a hard-hitting slug-fest in the best tradition of the Giants-49ers games from 1981-1990, and it ended dramatically in overtime

The 49ers looked like an up-and-coming team who would be good for a long time under a head coach who was sure to be in San Francisco for years to come. The Giants’ road had been far rockier, but it looked like Eli Manning had truly reached top-tier quarterback level as he dragged a weak running and defensive team to the playoffs by throwing to young targets Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham. (In hindsight, it was Eli’s best season of his career). The Giants even had a new surprising tight end in Jake Ballard. Again, it was anticipated that these players would be around for years to come. Tom Coughin surely had surely permanently cemented his job security in New York – even Bill Parcells said so.

The combined record of both teams in 2017? 1-16. These two teams are now battling with the Cleveland Browns for the dishonor of being labeled the worst team in the NFL. It’s a comical fight for the #1 spot in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Giants and 49ers have gone from the cream of the crop to laughing stocks in just six years.

The question here for the Giants is this: how low can you get? It is frightening to contemplate that the game against the Los Angeles Rams may not be the nadir of this season. Have the Giants’ players quit? Do they respect and fear the coaching staff? Are they afraid for their own jobs? We’re about to find out.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • OL Justin Pugh (back – probable)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (ankle – questionable)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (knee – questionable)
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson (ankle – probable)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – questionable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (quad – out)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (ankle – out)
  • LB Keenan Robinson (quad – out)
  • LB Calvin Munson (quad – questionable)
  • CB Donte Deayon (ankle – doubtful)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Using the last three games as a guide, we see the only apparent road map for the New York Giants offense to remain respectable for the remainder of the 2017 season: run the football, sprinkle in Eli Manning passes to Evan Engram and anyone else who can get open, protect the football, and try to shorten the game. There were drives here and there against the Broncos and Rams where the Giants looked decent when they could run the ball. When they couldn’t against Seattle, it got ugly. And the problem against the Rams were the two first-half turnovers combined with the game rapidly getting out of hand.

The Giants simply can’t function consistently anymore just throwing the ball. They don’t have the receivers and Eli Manning is misfiring too often now. Regardless of the reasons, Manning’s effectiveness has clearly been trending down for two years in a row. He’ll be 37 in January and the Giants are going to have a shot at perhaps whomever they think is the best quarterback in the draft. This isn’t hard to figure out. There are many dangers for the New York Giants franchise moving forward. Making the wrong decision at General Manager. Making the wrong decision at head coach. Making the wrong decision at quarterback. Those are the three big ones. Change isn’t always good. But neither is loyalty. Not in this business.

Probably the most realistic ideal scenario is for Eli Manning to finish 2017 in respectable fashion, the Giants select the best QB in the draft, and for Eli as a starting quarterback to serve as a mentor for the new guy in 2018. Then Eli would have to decide in 2019 whether to retire as a Giant or keep playing with another team. It’s not the way we wanted it to end. We wanted to see him hoist that third Super Bowl trophy as MVP. But it isn’t going to happen. The Giants as a franchise botched it. They wasted the last six years.

The worst scenario would be to see Eli continue his shell-shocked play, get hurt, and watch Geno Smith finish the season. The Giants pass on the franchise quarterback and try it again with the same Reese-McAdoo-Manning formula in 2018.

I keep sounding like a broken record here, but the best thing the Giants can do on moving forward on this side of the ball is to finally determine what they have in Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Sterling Shepard. Orleans Darkwa is the team’s best back right now, but he’s not the future. Evan Engram is clearly a keeper. The offensive line is a mess. In their contract years, Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh were supposed take a step forward in 2017 but Richburg clearly hasn’t improved and is already on IR with a serious concussion. Pugh has missed time with injuries AGAIN. Bobby Hart has been a disaster. Ereck Flowers started off playing like crap but has settled down a bit. Are there ANY keepers on this line? Any at all? The Giants have spent three very high draft picks on this shit show! It is ridiculous.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Granted the Los Angeles Rams are one of the better offenses in football, but that was disgusting last week. The Rams had nine scoring drives. The Giants only forced two punts and did not accrue a sack or force a turnover. 3rd-and-33? Some may point to the missing players, but at least guys like Avery Moss were hustling out there. It will be very telling to see what kind of effort Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, and Landon Collins put forward in the secondary. Same with Jason Pierre-Paul, who is looking more and more like another front office re-signing mistake (see John Jerry on the other side of the ball). Olivier Vernon should be back this week. What kind of effort do we get from him after missing more than a month?

It bears repeating. The Giants were the #2 scoring defense in the NFL last year. Most of the same players are still here. Same coaching staff too. Now they are 30th in yards and 29th in scoring defense. DRC and Jenkins each missed one game with a suspension but the secondary has been healthy. Except for Vernon, same story with the defensive line. Now five linebackers are on the injury list with three key ones not playing against the 49ers. The Giants were forced to sign Kelvin Sheppard and Deontae Skinner this week just to have enough bodies. What if the 24th-ranked 49ers offense – with quarterback C.J. Beathard at the helm – move the ball up and down the field on the Giants? Can this defense that came into the season with the goal of being the NFL’s best sink lower? Can anyone on this team cover a a tight end?

Moving forward, the Giants can build around Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. Those interior positions are hard to fill. Janoris Jenkins is a very good player. Landon Collins should rebound. Fingers crossed there. Avery Moss has flashed. But then there are question marks with JPP, Vernon, DRC, B.J. Goodson, Apple, and others. It is looking more and more likely that the constant revolving door at linebacker will continue in 2018 as Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson are not long-term answers.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Tom Quinn’s unit is now a weekly disaster. Each game it is something new. Ironically, Quinn is one of the few remaining connections to the 2011 NFC Championship Game, where his special teams had a huge role in winning that game.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo on Eli Manning: “I think that sometimes I take for granted the type of guy he is and the way he prepares. I say things in press conferences where you have to hold all players accountable. He’s accomplished so many things in this league at a high level, but he still needs to be held accountable. The past is something that we all learn from and we all hold dearly in some instances, and some instances we don’t. I respect everything he’s done and accomplished in this league. But right now, we need to win and we need to play better and I don’t like to grade players in the media or in the public, but everyone needs to be held accountable and he’s going to be held accountable just like everybody else in this building that’s under my watch. Period. Does that mean I don’t have faith and confidence in him? Heck no. I’ve got a ton of faith, a ton of confidence in him. I always have. I always will. Do I say it enough to him? Probably not. I wasn’t raised in a warm and fuzzy environment, but I do have a lot of confidence in Eli and I have confidence that we’re going to right this ship and make a run.”

THE FINAL WORD
This is the game that may determine how significant the offseason house-cleaning will be.

Oct 132015
 
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Forrest_Gump_running_alabama_jenny

New York Giants 30 – San Francisco 49ers 27

Superstitious Beginnings

Schmucks like Deion Sanders and Heath Evans may pick on our beloved doofus from the deep South, but like Forrest Gump, Eli Manning usually comes out on top. And those schmucks can’t stand it. They’d rather celebrate some girlfriend beater or dog killer or rapist than the reserved gentleman from Louisiana. (Yes, Gump was from Alabama, but to us Yankees those deep southern states all seem to run together).

So up by four points with 1:45 left to play, sensing a golden opportunity to pull off the upset and save San Francisco’s season, the still-talented and aggressive 49ers defense seethed to crush our Gump. And the countless Eli Manning doubters across the country were sure our Gump would screw it up. These are the same critics who charge Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI were flukes, as well as the other 30 fourth-quarter comebacks and the two separate 4-0 playoff runs.

Hanging out while our Gump takes the field.

Hanging out while our Gump takes the field.

First-and-10, 82 yards from the end zone with 1:45 left to play. Cruz, Beckham, and Randle moping together on the sideline. Eli takes off.

You could almost hear Abby yelling, “Run Eli, run!”

So the 11-yard run wasn’t as inspiring as Forrest’s 100-yard kickoff return for Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide, but it was New York’s longest of the night, and it was the first play of the 8-play, 82-yard drive that won the game in 84 seconds. It set the tone for that dramatic march. Eli didn’t play it safe. He didn’t slide. Eli meant business. And his teammates took notice.

The point of my somewhat painful opening movie tie-in? Not much other than that I’m very superstitious and I feel the need to continue these cheesy movie references in game reviews as long as the Giants are winning.

Game Overview

Stating the obvious, this was a huge win for the Giants. The team’s three-game winning streak puts the Giants in first place in the NFC East after a very tough 0-2 start to the season. The Giants and quarterback Eli Manning also finally regained some of their seemingly long-lost 4th quarter mojo. That’s important for a young team still probably unsure of itself and seeking confidence. To win in such dramatic fashion, in front of a national television audience, will make this a memorable game for the ages.

That all said, we should not lose sight of some negatives. The Giants came darn close to losing at home to a team they were supposed to beat, and almost did so in horrific fashion by giving up a late touchdown drive for the third time in five games. In addition, the Giants appear to have come out of this game very banged up with potentially nagging injuries to both starting wide receivers, the starting middle linebacker, and starting left guard.

But the Giants are 3-2, in first place, with 11 regular-season games to play. Now comes perhaps the most important two-game stretch with back-to-back games against the Eagles and Cowboys.

Offense

The Giants had the ball for only nine offensive possessions, but had six scoring drives (three long touchdown drives and three long field goal drives) for a total of 30 points. Two drives ended with punts and another long drive ended with an interception.

The Giants racked up 30 first downs and 525 total yards of offense, including 441 passing yards. The team was 9-of-14 (64 percent) on 3rd-down conversion attempts and held the football for 31:58. On the downside, the team only rushed for 84 yards (though averaged a respectable 4 yards per rush) and was 3-of-6 (50 percent) in red zone of opportunities, including one bad interception and settling for two very short field goals.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback

What was once believed to be impossible by many, Eli Manning has successfully transitioned from a vertical thrower to one of the best short-game, high-percentage West Coast Offense passers in the NFL. He is no longer “the other Manning.” Against the 49ers, Manning played one of the best games of his career, finishing 41-of-54 (both career highs) for 441 yards (third-highest total in his career), 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Manning completed a career-high 15 consecutive passes over three series spanning the third and fourth quarters. He finished with a QB rating of 110.2. All of this despite a few dropped passes from his receivers. On top of the impressive statistics, fans will long remember how Manning rallied his team late to win a game that looked like another devastating loss with a ragamuffin cast of receiving targets. Manning targeted nine different receivers in the game. Although he was not sacked, Manning did a great job of moving around in the pocket despite some good pressure from the 49ers. Like the 2011 version of Eli, he carried his team to victory. Ironically, the dramatic victory was the 102nd of Manning’s career, setting a new franchise record. The obvious downside was the poorly-thrown ball at the end of the first half that resulted in an interception and three other throws intended for WR Myles White that Eli was lucky that were not picked off.

Running Backs

The Giants running game is not “bad” but we are still waiting for that breakout performance. However, the Giants running backs only carried the ball 19 times (as opposed to the 54 pass attempts). Rashad Jennings gained 46 yards on 11 carries (4.2 yards per carry), Shane Vereen 24 yards on 5 carries (4.8 yards per carry), and Andre Williams 0 yards on three carries (0.0 yards per carry). The longest run of the night was by Eli Manning (11 yards). So much of the ground game now is based out of the shotgun formation, even on 1st and 2nd down. And like a true West Coast Offense, the Giants often appear to be using the short passing game in lieu of the ground game, especially in this contest. Vereen was a far bigger factor in the passing game, catching all eight of the passes thrown in his direction for 88 yards. Not only did he catch a 2-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal, but he was a major component on the game-winning drive with three catches for 51 yards, including a critical 24-yard screen on 3rd-and-10. Jennings also caught all four passes thrown in his direction for 21 yards. Nikita Whitlock only played a couple of snaps at fullback but couldn’t create much movement as a blocker in short yardage.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Before he left the game with a hamstring injury near the end of the third quarter, Odell Beckham had caught 7-of-11 passes thrown in direction for 121 yards and a touchdown. He had critical receptions of 49 yards on the first field goal drive, 31 yards on 3rd-and-7 on the first touchdown drive (out of the slot), and the 17-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Beckham returned to the game at the end of the final game-winning touchdown drive, drawing an 8-yard pass interference penalty. Dwayne Harris was the next most productive wideout, catching 6-of-8 passes thrown his way for 72 yards. He did drop two passes, including on a 3rd-and-4 play and the Giants were forced to settle for a field goal. His most important catch was probably his 9-yard reception despite a big hit on 3rd-and-2 right before Beckham’s touchdown. He also had another 9-yard catch on 3rd-and-2 on the last field goal drive. Rueben Randle, who caught 5-of-6 passes thrown his way for 42 yards, was quieter this week, even before leaving the game late with a hamstring injury too. Three of his five receptions came on the second field goal drive (including a 4-yard reception on 3rd-and-3). His other two catches came on the last field goal drive. Due to injuries, Geremy Davis (23 snaps) and Myles White (13 snaps) played more than anticipated. Davis caught a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-1 during the fourth quarter field goal drive. White was targeted four times but did not have a catch and three of those passes were almost picked off.

Larry Donnell, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

With Daniel Fells done for the season and Jerome Cunningham on the inactive list, the Giants went into the game with only Larry Donnell and Will Tye for the second week in a row. Donnell caught 6-of-7 passes thrown at him for 35 yards, none bigger than his superb 12-yard reception for the game-winning touchdown with 21 seconds left, despite heavy contact from 49er defenders. He also had a hard-fought 5-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 on the first touchdown drive. Tye played 25 snaps and was surprisingly productive by catching all four of his targets for 48 yards. On his first NFL reception, he even showed some nice wiggle after the catch for additional yardage.

Offensive Line

The offensive line did not allow a sack (and Manning has only been sacked four times all year). That said, Manning saw more heat from the edges this week, especially from outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who officially hit Manning five times. Both Ereck Flowers and Marshall Newhouse had serious trouble at times protecting Manning. And Newhouse was flagged with two second-half holding penalties, including one that wiped out a 20-yard reception by Jennings. The run blocking was just OK as running backs gained 70 yards on 19 carries (3.7 yards per carry). The blockers did not create a lot of room even when the 49ers played both their safeties back. In addition, the Giants continue to have problems out of traditional (non-shotgun) running formations in short-yardage situations (see the failed 3rd-and-1 effort from the 3-yard line on the first drive where Newhouse missed a block). Left guard made a nice pulling block on Shane Vereen’s 10-yard run in the second quarter. Center Weston Richburg has an excellent block in space on Shane Vereen’s 24-yard screen pass on the game-winning drive.

One side note complaint on my part, on the play where Manning was almost picked off on the game-winning drive, Eli was hit as he threw when Pugh’s man illegally shoved Pugh’s head back to get to Manning. But no flag was thrown on the obvious penalty. Fortunately the interception was dropped. (You can also see that Flowers gave up pressure on this play).

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 1.43.54 PM

Illegal hands-to-the-face not called leading to hit on Manning.

Defense

Decent in the first half. Terrible in the second half. The 49ers had four drives in the first half. Two ended with punts after picking up one first down on each drive. Two other drives (55 and 76 yards) were of the bend-but-don’t-break variety as they ended with field goals rather than touchdowns. The 49ers gained 34 yards rushing and 115 net yards passing in the first half.

In the second half, not counting the last 3-play drive with 21 seconds left, the 49ers had the ball four times and scored touchdowns after long marches of 88, 80, and 80 yards. The defense failed to hold three different leads, including a 23-20 advantage with 4:29 left to play. The 49ers finished the game with 124 yards rushing. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 23-of-35 passes for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a 107.1 QB rating. The 49ers were 8-of-14 (57 percent) on third down conversion chances and 3-of-4 (75 percent) in red zone opportunities. The defense did not force a turnover.

If not for the offense saving the day, this would have been the third defensive collapse to lose a game in five games this year. The problem? The Giants are missing too many defensive players on an already thin unit, and the team simply can’t rush the passer.

Defensive Line

The Giants entered the game minus starters Robert Ayers (hamstring) and George Selvie (calf) at defensive end. Because of that, Cullen Jenkins (53 snaps, 2 tackles) was moved back to end (right side this time), where he isn’t much of a threat to rush the passer. Jay Bromley (34 snaps, 3 tackles) started next to Johnathan Hankins (47 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss) inside. The guy who saw the heaviest workload was Kerry Wynn (66 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit). Owamagbe Odighizuwa (39 snaps, 1 tackle), Markus Kuhn (19 snaps, 2 tackles), and Damontre Moore (17 snaps, 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumble) all spelled the starters.

The run defense was strong in the first half, holding the 49ers to 34 yards on 12 carries (2.8 yards per rush) with 23 of those yards coming on two scrambles by the quarterback and a kneel down. In other words, the 49ers backs were held to 11 yards on nine carries. That changed after halftime when Carlos Hyde gained 81 yards on 13 carries (6.2 yards per carry) with Jarryd Hayne chipping in with nine more yards on two carries. Early on, the defensive tackles were playing well. Bromley has really improved as a run defender. Kuhn and Hankins did a nice job too. Wynn at defensive end continues to shine in run defense, but he seemed to wear down in the second half.

Hyde’s biggest run of the night came on the 49ers first drive of the second half, which resulted in a touchdown. Hyde picked up 22 yards when Damontre Moore was successfully blocked on the backside by the fullback and safety Landon Collins charged too far up field, leaving a huge hole in the defense.

Big hole left by Moore and Collins.

Big hole left by Moore and Collins.

Odighizuwa made a nice play against Hyde on a cutback run for no gain near the end of the third quarter, but he bit on a play-action fake on the next snap which led to an easy 6-yard completion and was easily blocked by the tight end for an 8-yard gain on the 49ers last TD drive.

The pass rush was virtually non-existent. In limited playing time, Moore made the most noise with two “sacks” and one hit. But those sacks were credited when Moore chased Kaepernick out of bounds. On the first of these, Wynn and Jenkins got decent pressure and forced the QB in Moore’s direction. Wynn was the only other player to officially hit Kaepernick. Nikita Whitlock played only four snaps on defense but got good pressure two plays, including drawing a holding penalty. I spotted Bromley with one good rush.

Linebackers

The Giants were without two of their best linebackers in Devon Kennard (hamstring) and Jonathan Casillas (calf) and quickly lost Jon Beason (concussion). Short-handed, Uani ‘Unga (65 snaps, 7 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss) and J.T. Thomas (64 snaps, 2 tackles) received the most playing time. Mark Herzlich started in Kennard’s place but saw less action (38 snaps, 5 tackles 1 tackle for a loss). Jasper Brinkley saw a handful of plays (5 snaps, 1 tackle).

Again, run defense was fine in the first half but seriously waned in the second half. Herzlich had issues staying with Hyde on one outside run, but did a nice job at the point-of-attack on other occasions. He also pressured Kaepernick on his incomplete 3rd-and-1 pass at the 4-yard line late in the first half.

In the second half, Herzlich couldn’t bring down Hyde after penetrating into the backfield and Hyde reversed his field to pick up four yards. But he latter successfully strung out another play. On the next snap, both Wynn and Mark Herzlich got handled at the point-of-attack and ‘Unga failed to make a play in the hole on an 8-yard run by the back-up running back down to the 4-yard line. Hyde picked up 13 yards down to the 2-yard line in the 4th quarter when the 49ers ran at Odighizuwa and Herzlich, and Amukamara failed to recognize the run and come up in time. Thomas was largely invisible in run defense and missed a couple of tackles. Both ‘Unga and Thomas (along with Jenkins and Hankins) couldn’t make the play on Hyde’s 19-yard run down to the 2-yard line late in the game.

Jenkins, Hankins, 'Unga, and Thomas couldn't make play.

Jenkins, Hankins, ‘Unga, and Thomas couldn’t make the play.

Minus Vernon Davis, the productivity of the San Francisco tight ends (6 catches for 41 yards) was limited. Backs caught three passes for 27 yards, with the longest being a 19-yard gain by fullback Bruce Miller. But ‘Unga got faked out badly on tight end Garrett Celek’s 5-yard touchdown catch on 3rd-and-goal.

Defensive Backs

The issue wasn’t so much starting cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but the nickel corners struggled with 35-year old veteran Anquan Boldin (8 catches for 107 yards and one touchdown). The other 49er wide receivers were limited to six catches for 87 yards. However, two of those receptions gained 55 yards off of WR screens, which the Giants played poorly except one time. Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, and Trevin Wade all had issues fighting off of blocks.

In the second quarter, Rodgers-Cromartie (57 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 pass defense, 1 forced fumble) did a nice job of reading a short pass to WR Quinton Patton on 3rd-and-1, but he failed to make the tackle for a loss and a first down was the result. Late in the quarter, he recognized another WR screen and impressively jumped the play to break it up. DRC was flagged with a costly defensive holding penalty on 2nd-and-goal from the 4-yard late in the game. The 49ers scored the go-ahead TD two plays later.

Other than one defensive holding call, Amukamara (63 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 pass defense) did a nice job most of the night except for defending the WR screens.

McBride (13 snaps, 2 tackles) got beat by Boldin for 37 yards on 3rd-and-2 on the 49ers first TD drive. He was later replaced by Wade (12 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 pass defense) who got beat by Boldin deep for 26 yards on the 49ers last TD drive. Wade did make a nice play on a WR sweep in the third quarter. Jayron Hosley, who suffered a concussion against the Bills, surprisingly saw the least amount of action (9 snaps, 0 tackles) despite being cleared to play.

Landon Collins (64 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 pass defense) played mostly well, but was flagged with a borderline 28-yard pass interference on the drive that tied the game at 20-20. He also later dropped a sure interception in the end zone that would have sealed the game. Early in the game, he helped to stuff a Hyde carry with a run blitz. Collins also did a great job of reading a play where the 49ers tried to sneak the tight end out across the formation. He made a sure tackle for only a 3-yard gain. When he reads a play correctly, Collins closes very quickly for a big man.

Brandon Merriweather (57 snaps, 6 tackles) injured his knee, but returned and made a nice play for 3-yard loss on the goal line in the fourth quarter. Craig Dahl (19 snaps, 2 tackles) saw more playing time when Merriweather came out.

Special Teams

Place kicker Josh Brown was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts (22, 41, and 24 yards). Not counting his squib kick at the end of the game, 5-of-6 of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The 49ers returned one kickoff for 22 yards.

Brad Wing only punted twice with one punt traveling 55 yards and the other 35 yards, being fair caught at the 12-yard line. The 55-yard punt was returned for 16 yards however.

Four of San Francisco’s six kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Shane Vereen returned the other two kickoffs, one for 24 yards and the other for 20. Dwayne Harris returned three punts for 31 yards, averaging a respectable 10.3 yards per return. Geremy Davis was flagged with an illegal block on a punt return.

(San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, October 11, 2015)
Oct 122015
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 27…
The New York Giants rallied late in the fourth quarter to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 30-27 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night. The victory improved New York’s overall record to 3-2 and first place in the NFC East.

All looked lost when the 49ers drove 80 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown with just 1:45 left in the game. At this point, San Fransisco led 27-23. But quarterback Eli Manning orchestrated an 8-play, 82-yard drive that culminated with a dramatic, game-winning 12-yard touchdown throw to tight end Larry Donnell with 21 second to play.

The 49ers received the football to start the game and moved 55 yards in eight plays to set up a successful 43-yard field goal. The Giants tied the game on their first possession by traveling 76 yards in nine plays to set up a 22-yard field goal as the drive stalled inside the 10-yard line. Manning found wide receiver Odell Beckham for a 49-yard gain on this initial possession.

Shane Vereen, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

After forcing San Francisco to punt on their second possession, the Giants put together a 14-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Manning to running back Shane Vereen on 3rd-and-goal. The big play on the drive was a 31-yard pass to Beckham on 3rd-and-7. Giants 10 – 49ers 3.

After another San Fransisco punt, the Giants moved the ball 43 yards in 10 plays to set up place kicker Josh Brown’s second successful field goal, this one from 41 yards out. Giants 13 – 49ers 3. However, the 49ers cut into that lead by driving 76 yards in 11 plays and kicking a 22-yard field goal late in the first half.

The Giants blew an opportunity for more points before intermission as New York drove 66 yards in less than a minute to reach the 49er 14-yard line. But Manning was picked off in the end zone on an ill-advised pass with five seconds to play. At the half, the Giants led 13-6.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half but punted after picking up one first down. The 49ers then tied the game on their initial possession of the second half by driving 88 yards in 10 plays. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick found wideout Anquan Boldin for a 3-yard score. Giants 13 – 49ers 13.

After the Giants and 49ers exchanged punts, New York drove the ball 61 yards in seven plays near the end of the third quarter and Manning found Beckham for a 17-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Giants 20 – 49ers 13. However, the Giants defense could not hold the advantage as San Fransisco responded with another long touchdown drive, this time 80 yards in 11 plays with Kaepernick hitting tight end Garrett Celek for a 5-yard score on 3rd-and-goal.

The Giants responded with a long scoring drive of their own, marching 74 yards in 14 plays. However, the Giants had to settle for another short field goal, this time from 24 yards out as the Giants went ahead 23-20 with 4:29 to play.

New York’s defense fell apart again, as the 49ers scored their third long touchdown drive of the second half. In just seven plays, San Fransisco went 80 yards with running back Carlos Hyde scoring from two yards out to put the 49ers up 27-23 with 1:45 to play.

Then came the dramatic game-winning drive. Manning scrambled for 11 yards and then threw to Vereen for 11 and 16 yards. Disaster almost struck on 1st-and-10 from the 49er 44-yard line when Manning’s deep pass initially appeared to be intercepted, but replay overruled the pick as the ball hit the ground. Two plays later, on 3rd-and-10, Manning hit Vereen for a 24-yard gain. After an 8-yard pass interference penalty was called on the 49ers against Beckham, Manning found Donnell for the game winner from 12 yards out with 21 seconds to play.

Offensively, the Giants accrued 30 first downs and 525 total yards (84 rushing, 441 passing). The team was 9-of-14 (64 percent) on third down, but only 3-of-6 (50 percent) in red zone opportunities. Manning finished the game 41-of-54 for 441 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. His leading receivers were Vereen (8 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown), Beckham (7 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown), wide receiver Dwayne Harris (6 catches for 72 yards), and Donnell (6 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown). Running back Rashad Jennings carried the ball 11 times for 46 yards and Vereen five times for 24 yards.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 22 first downs and 380 total yards (124 rushing, 256 passing). The 49ers were 8-of-14 (57 percent) on third down and 3-of-4 (75 percent) in the red zone. Defensive end Damontre Moore had both of New York’s sacks, but the Giants rarely pressured Kaepernick. The Giants did not force a turnover.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com. A video of the locker room celebration is also available.

INJURY REPORT…
WR Odell Beckham (hamstring), WR Rueben Randle (hamstring), LG Justin Pugh (ankle), LB Jon Beason (concussion), CB Trumaine McBride (possible aggravation of groin injury) all left the game with injuries. Beckham returned to the game.

“Sure, I was (reluctant to put Beckham back in the game),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We were trying to win a game. He wanted to go. The medical people said let him go. I let him go. We’ll see what he is like tomorrow.”

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Jerome Cunningham (knee), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), DE George Selvie (calf), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), LB Jonathan Casillas (calf), and OT Bobby Hart.

The Giants broke a three-game losing streak on Sunday Night Football and improved their Sunday night record to 20-26-1, including 10-12 at home.

QB Eli Manning’s 41 completions and 54 pass attempts were career highs. Manning’s 41 completions were a franchise record. His 441 yards were the third-highest total of his career. Manning completed a career-high 15 consecutive passes over three series spanning the third and fourth quarters.

The victory was the 102nd of Manning’s career (94 regular season, eight postseason). That is a franchise record. Manning had been tied with Phil Simms (95 regular season, six postseason).

This was the 27th time that Manning has rallied the Giants from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie to win a regular-season game. He’s also done it five times in the postseason, including two Super Bowls. It was Manning’s first game-winning drive since October 5, 2014 vs. Atlanta.

DANIEL FELLS MRSA UPDATE…
According to an NFL.com report on Sunday, tight end Daniel Fells’ health situation had become far more serious. Fells, who has been hospitalized with a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) staph infection since last weekend, was moved to the Intensive Care Unit on Friday. He has undergone five surgeries to treat the infection with additional surgeries planned. There is a chance that Fells’ foot may need to be amputated.

However, NJ.com is reporting that Fells has responded better this weekend to a new antibiotic and FOXSports is reporting is reporting that his fever has dipped.

“We dedicated the game to Daniel Fells and his family, and thank God we were able to give him the game ball,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin after the Giants’ 30-27 victory over the 49ers. “Fells has had two very good days in a row…His MRI came back without any issues. Thank God and hopefully he will just continue in that direction and have this cleared up so he can go home and see his kids.”

ARTICLES…

Oct 092015
 
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Artwork by Chris in Philly

Artwork by Chris in Philly

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, October 11, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
We are already 1/4 through the 2015 regular season. And through four games, the division is at a virtual dead heat with 12 games to go. The marathon hasn’t yet become a sprint, but the pace is about to pick up. The Giants have two absolutely critical games against the Eagles and Cowboys in October. But the San Fransisco 49ers come first and the Giants can ill-afford to drop what many consider a very winnable game before the two back-to-back games against division rivals.

In case you haven’t noticed it, the New York Giants are in the midst of a fairly dramatic personality transformation. The 2012-14 “finesse” Giants are dead. The 2015 Giants will hurt you. They are tough, physical, relentless, and selfless. Despite the continued wussification of the League by Roger Goodell & Associates, this game is still about physical violence. The 2015 Giants have their holes. But they are not getting pushed around anymore. And they are beating people up. Keep your nickel. They’ll fight you for free in the parking lot.

Now comes an interesting test for the young pups. Can they handle their recent success and maintain their focus and intensity against a supposedly lesser opponent? Can they compartmentalize the MRSA distraction? The defense will be short-handed due to injuries. This is a must game for the desperate 49ers. The Giants are not good enough to take anyone lightly. This contest will be a good litmus test for the team’s maturity.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham (knee – probable)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – probable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (hamstring – out)
  • DE George Selvie (calf – out)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – probable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (hamstring – out)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (calf – questionable)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (concussion – questionable)
  • CB Trumaine McBride (groin – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Despite their 23rd ranking and the departure of some key components in the offseason, the 49ers 3-4 defense is still the strength of the team and a tough, physical group. But they have struggled at times against both the run and the pass. The defensive line is pretty non-descript although nose tackle Ian Williams has caught Coach Coughlin’s eye. “He’s very quick, very evasive,” said Coughlin. The job of the down linemen is to keep the still-strong linebacking corps free. However, the 49ers will be missing one of their best players, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (death of his sister). (Late Note: The 49ers have officially listed Brooks as “doubtful” so there is a chance that he might play). He will be replaced by a rookie 3rd rounder Eli Harold. The other outside linebacker, Aaron Lynch, is coming off of a 2-sack performance against the Green Bay Packers and could give LT Ereck Flowers trouble on the pass rush. Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman is coming off an ACL injury but one of the best in the game when healthy.

The strength of the secondary are the safeties – Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid – who are very good. And 2014 1st round safety/nickelback Jimmie Ward is coming off of a good game against WR Randall Cobb. Starting corners Tramaine Brock and Kenneth Acker are more suspect however. This could be a game where Odell Beckham puts up some big numbers. If the 49ers focus the bulk of their attention on Beckham, then hopefully Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris will make the 49ers pay just like they did against the Bills.

The 49ers do have one advantage in this game. They just played the Packers who run a very similar offense to what the Giants run. And the 49ers defense kept the game close last week against a very explosive offense. Turnovers can be a great equalizer. The Giants need to keep protecting the football (only two turnovers in four games).

I’d like to see the Giants get on top of the 49ers early with some shots down the field to the wideouts, and then come back to a heavier dose of the run once the G-Men have sucked the life out of San Francisco.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The advantage the Giants have on defense is they are also playing a very similar team this week. Like the Bills, the 49ers are a run-first team with a mobile quarterback. The game plan is the same. Stuff the run. Keep the mobile quarterback (Colin Kaepernick) in the pocket at the expense of the pass rush. He usually can do more harm with his legs than arm. And like last week, the opponent has a dangerous tight end (Vernon Davis) who can hurt you. (Late Note: Vernon Davis will not play due to his knee injury).

The downside for the Giants are the injuries. The team will be without Robert Ayers again. That is exacerbated by the loss of George Selvie, who had been starting at RDE, this week too. The Giants could expand the role of Owamagbe Odighizuwa, but don’t be surprised if they move Cullen Jenkins back to defensive end and start Markus Kuhn, who has been out since the opener, inside again at defensive tackle. The Giants will also be missing one of their best young defenders and pass rushers in Devon Kennard. He will be replaced by a committee that will depend on what defensive package the Giants have in the game. We might see more of Mark Herzlich or even Jasper Brinkley. Keep in mind that Jonathan Casillas is also ailing.

For years, the 49ers have been rock solid up front on the offensive line, but this year they are struggling. And their two best players – left tackle Joe Staley (knee) and left guard Alex Boone (shoulder and ankle) are battling injury issues. The key is stopping San Francisco’s best offensive player: running back Carlos Hyde, who is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Hyde is a big, physical, cutback runner. Reggie Bush is back from injury and he can do damage as a receiver. But the ground game is basically Hyde (62 carries for 282 yards) and Kaepernick (33 carries for 195 yards). Run defense discipline – including against the read option – is critical.

Vernon Davis (knee) returns this week. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago but the Giants always seem to have issues covering the tight end. The ageless Anquan Boldin leads the 49ers in receptions (15), followed by tight end Garrett Celek (11), and deep threat wide receiver Torey Smith (9).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
For the second week in a row, don’t expect much out of the kickoff return game. 85 percent of Bradley Pinion’s kickoffs are not returned (12 touchbacks total already). The 49ers are very good at punt and kickoff coverage to boot. It may be a better strategy for the Giants to come after the punter with a heavy punt block rush.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on the San Francisco 49ers Offense: “They want to run the ball, they want to play action pass, they want to put the quarterback on the perimeter.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning remain the thread of continuity, but this is a different New York Giants team. The warriors of 2007 and 2011 are virtually all gone. And the weak-kneed players who populated the roster of the last few years have been weeded out. But with change comes the unknown. How will this team respond to success and being heavy favorites? This season can still go in two different directions. We’re about to find out another piece of their psychological makeup.

Nov 172014
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Larry Donnell Almost Comes Down with Game-Winner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

San Francisco 49ers 16 – New York Giants 10

Game Overview

It was a tight game and the Giants came very close to pulling off the upset, but this team finds new ways to lose every week.

The 32nd-ranked and now injury-depleted defense played much better this week, good enough to win. Special teams even made plays. But Eli Manning – who came into this contest with only six interceptions – almost doubled that total in a single game with five. And the offensive line was outright dreadful, directly impacting the Giants’ ability to run or throw the football.

Offensive Overview

The Giants scored on their first possession – the first time they have done that in 21 games. It was an impressive 5-play, 63-yard effort that ended with a touchdown.

After that? The Giants had 11 more possessions:

  • Five interceptions.
  • Three Punts.
  • Two turnovers on downs.
  • One field goal.

In a game decided by less than a touchdown, the interceptions proved decisive. One handed the 49ers three points. Three others occurred in San Francisco territory, including the 17- and and 4-yard lines. That’s a 9-point swing right there.

Quarterback

By far, Eli Manning played his worst game of the season, finishing 22-of-45 for 280 yards, 1 touchdown, and 5 interceptions (36.6 quarterback rating).

Was Eli hampered by no running game? Yes. Was he hampered by terrible pass protection? Yes, far worse than the official stats indicate. But this was “bad” Eli at his worst, falling back to some bad habits. He was taking chances with the football instead of taking the sack or throwing the ball away.

Manning made some excellent plays under duress. None better than his 17-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 in the 4th quarter on a play where he should have been sacked as the right side of the line collapsed. Manning also made a superb throw to Rueben Randle on 3rd-and-12 as not one, but two, free blitzers smashed into him. Manning never lost confidence in himself to the bitter end. But he was one of the major reasons – if not THE reason – why the Giants lost the game.

On the first pick, Eli stared down Beckham but you also have to give credit to ILB Chris Borland for making a great jump on the ball. “I thought I could get it in there, the guy jumped it pretty well, the linebacker,” said Manning.

The second pick was bad. The Giants were in field goal range. Manning was focused on Rueben Randle but the corner had him well covered. Eli should have come off that throw and looked for another target. “I had a little quick out, the corner jumped it, tried to pull it back and couldn’t pull it back in time and it went to another defender,” said Manning. In other words, it sounds like Manning decided at the last second to not make the throw but unleashed the football regardless. You can’t do that.

The third pick was a bad overthrow in the direction of Randle. Eli was under immediate pressure and rushed his throw. “I tried to hit a corner route to Rueben, I don’t know if I just overthrew it,” said Manning. “I was on the ground, I didn’t see how it all finished up.”

Pocket collapsing on Manning as he rushes his throw

Pocket collapsing on Manning as he rushes his throw

The pass rush also directly contributed to the fourth interception as RT Charles Brown completely whiffed on the rookie defensive end and Manning was hit as he threw.

Pocket collapses again on Eli on 4th interception

Pocket collapses again on Eli on 4th interception

Running Backs

With Rashad Jennings back after missing four games, it’s pretty safe to say we know where the major problem lies with the running game. It’s the offensive line. Jennings, who surprisingly played 59 snaps, finished the game with 59 yards on 18 carries (3.3 yards per carry). Andre Williams only played nine snaps and had two carries for a total of two yards. Henry Hynoski had one carry for four yards on 3rd-and-1.

Wide Receivers

Rueben Randle had seven catches for a career-high 112 yards. Those are impressive numbers, but also keep in mind that he had 15 passes thrown in his direction. Randle was very sharp early, catching two passes on crossing routes for a total of 38 yards on the team’s lone TD drive. My biggest problem with Randle in the game was his inability to make the game-winning TD catch on 2nd-and-goal from the 4-yard line. There was contact with the defender, but he could have made the play.

So close to winning the game

So close to winning the game

Odell Beckham was largely quiet for three quarters but came on late. He finished with six catches for 93 yards. But like Randle, seven other passes thrown in his direction fell incomplete (including two drops) or were picked off. The highlight of the game was obviously his 37-yard circus catch down to the 4-yard line on what very well could have been the game-winning touchdown drive.

Fans and the media have criticized the play calling on the goal line, but the 49ers loaded up in the box, daring the Giants to make plays on the outside, something New York has done well all year (the Giants are actually one of the NFL’s best red zone teams this year). Two of the fade passes hit the receivers in the hands. They didn’t make the play.

Preston Parker was a non-factor, catching only one pass for nine yards. Corey Washington was on the field for nine offensive snaps but was not thrown to.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell started off strong, catching three passes for 54 yards in the first half, including a 19-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive. He also made a spectacular 30-yard reception on 3rd-and-4 in the 2nd quarter despite being mugged on the play. But he was held without a catch in the second half. And while it would have been a difficult catch, he had both hands on the 3rd-and-goal potential game-winning touchdown throw with just under five minutes to play. (Though, I personally thought he was also mugged on this play).

A lot of contact by the safety before the ball arrives

A lot of contact by the safety before the ball arrives

Offensive Line

Just dreadful, especially after RT Justin Pugh left the game with a strained quad muscle after only playing eight snaps. His replacement Charles Brown was atrocious, both as a run blocker and pass blocker. Coughin was asked how Brown did. “Not very well,” responded Coughlin. That said, some of Brown’s problems in pass protection were also caused by RG John Jerry’s poor game. Both VETERAN linemen played like they had never seen a stunt before and got in each others way. “We didn’t initially stop the first rusher in order that we could then switch it off,” said Coughlin. “We had too much penetration.”

Once again – for the fifth game in a row – the Giants were out-muscled and out-played up front. The Giants averaged 3.1 yards per carry and the Giants had problems running the ball even when the Niners were playing nickel defense. Rookie ILB Chris Borland gave the Giants fits, not only with his two picks, but his run defense. It’s like he had an invisible cloak as Giants blockers just let him run right by them a number of times, including FB Henry Hynoski and Jerry.

Eli Manning was under constant duress, far worse than the official two sacks and seven quarterback hits indicate. This is especially troublesome when you consider the 49ers were 25th in sack production coming into the game. “There was pressure, sometimes to the point where (Eli) wasn’t going to be able to function if he didn’t release the ball when he did,” said Coughlin a day after reviewing the tape.

Look at these two back-to-back plays on the Giants’ second possession which ended in a three-and-out. Extremely poor blocks by Jerry at right guard led directly to 2nd and 3rd down incompletions.

John Jerry gets beat on incomplete 2nd down pass

John Jerry gets beat on incomplete 2nd down pass (3-man rush on play)

John Jerry gets beat on incomplete 3rd down pass

John Jerry gets beat again on incomplete 3rd down pass

The left side of the offensive line had issues at times as well. On the play before Eli’s second interception, Manning had no time as Weston Richburg failed to pick up the end stunt.

Weston Richburg beaten on stunt by Aldon Smith

Weston Richburg beaten on stunt by Aldon Smith

But the big problem was the right side. Charles Brown and John Jerry were the worst players on the field. Late in the second quarter, rookie linebacker Aaron Lynch literally knocked Brown on his ass and sacked Eli, fortunately the play was wiped out by an illegal holding penalty. At the start of the 3rd quarter, Jerry got beat for a sack/forced fumble. On the very next snap, Brown and Jerry failed to properly pick up a stunt and Eli was sacked again.

Charles Brown and John Jerry fail to pick up stunt and Eli is sacked again

Charles Brown and John Jerry fail to pick up stunt and Eli is sacked again

These are just a few snapshots of the problems. Brown’s play actually deteriorated as the game progressed. By the 4th quarter, the 49ers were simply toying with him. And the offensive line – as an entire unit – just collapsed on New York’s final drive with 1:09 to play. Eli never had a chance.

Center J.D. Walton continues to struggle with big, physical tackles. He was also flagged with a holding penalty, helping to halt the Giants’ last drive right before halftime.

To me, the dreadfulness of this line is encapsulated by its inability to gain an inch of space for Rashad Jennings on the 4th-and-an-inch play in the third quarter. In fact, Jennings actually lost ground on this play. 4th-and-an-inch – perhaps even less than that! The result didn’t shock any of us because we know how bad this line is.

Jennings never had a chance

Jennings never had a chance

Simply too much penetration by safety and defensive lineman

Simply too much penetration by safety and defensive lineman

The screen game was not good either. On one middle screen late in the game, Jerry not only did not blocking anyone, he literally tackled Rashad Jennings.

Defensive Overview

When compared to the terribly poor defensive performance the previous four games (over 400 yards of offense allowed), the Giants defense improved this week by allowing “only” 333 yards (148 yards rushing, 185 yards passing). The more impressive stat was only allowing 16 points (really 13 when you consider that one interception set up the 49ers at the Giants’ 29-yard line).

The 49ers only scored three points off of five New York Giants turnovers.

Not counting the kneel downs, the 49ers had 10 legitimate possessions. They scored nine points on three drives in the first half with another drive ending with an unforced fumble and another with a punt. In the second half, they scored on their opening possession, turned the ball over on downs off a botched field goal, and punted three times.

The one play that really hurt was the 48-yard touchdown catch-and-run by WR Michael Crabtree early in the 3rd quarter.

That said, there issues with the defensive schemes that continue to bug me. On a key 3rd-and-5 play on the 49ers’ first scoring drive, Fewell sent two blitzers (Jameel McClain and Spencer Paysinger) off of the left side and dropped DL Mathias Kiwanuka (playing DT on this snap) into coverage against TE Vernon Davis. As is usually the case, the opposing offense easily recognized and blocked the blitz. Kiwanuka, who should not be called upon to cover a receiver the caliber of Davis, was caught in a chase position. An easy first down was the result.

Giants send two blitzers and drop Kiwanuka

Giants send two blitzers and drop Kiwanuka

Blitz is easily blocked and Kiwanuka is in no position to defend pass

Blitz is easily blocked and Kiwanuka is in no position to defend pass

Defensive Line/Linebackers

The 49ers rushed for 148 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. They controlled the clock for almost 35 minutes and were a decent 6-of-14 on third down (43 percent). With those numbers, you would expect the 49ers to have generated more points. Not counting the drive where the 49ers started on the Giants 29-yard line (49ers only gained three yards on three plays on this possession), the defense really only allowed three scoring drives: two field goal drives and one touchdown drive.

On these three drives:

  1. First field-goal drive: 49ers running backs gained 29 yards on four carries, the biggest being RB Frank Gore’s 17-yard gain (to the right) – the longest on the day for San Francisco. QB Colin Kaepernick also lost seven yards on a QB run.
  2. Second field-goal drive: The 49ers ran the ball four times for 23 yards with the longest run by a 16 yarder by Gore (to the right). But the Giants’ defense also caused two -1 yard runs on this drive.
  3. Touchdown drive: The 49ers only ran the ball once on this three-play drive, an 11-yard gain by Gore (to the right).

The 49ers did move the ball well on their opening possession, including gaining 47 yards six runs (16 coming on a QB scramble). But the drive ended with an unforced fumble by Gore.

So overall, the 49er running game, though very productive, did not help the 49ers generate a lot of points.

That said, there were some worrisome breakdowns. On the 17-yard gain by Gore on the first scoring drive, the left-side of the defense was nowhere to be found.

Robert Ayers, Mike Patterson, and Mark Herzlich easily washed inside...

Robert Ayers, Mike Patterson, and Mark Herzlich easily washed inside…

opening up the entire left-side of the defense

opening up the entire left-side of the defense

This drive stalled however when Jason Pierre-Paul and Devon Kennard blew up a read option play to the right side of the defense, with Kennard tackling the quarterback for a 7-yard loss. It was a nice play by Pierre-Paul who originally took the bait inside but was athletic enough to re-direct and force Kaepernick into Kennard’s path.

Pierre-Paul and Kennard cause 7-yard loss

Pierre-Paul and Kennard cause 7-yard loss

Really, most of the damage in the running game seemed to come against the left side of the defense and away from Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins. Here we see Gore’s 16-yard gain on the second field goal drive. Mathias Kiwanuka is pushed way inside by #71, Herzlich is blocked by #77, and the TE (#89) takes out Antrel Rolle. (Markus Kuhn was also knocked to the ground). Jameel McClain can’t make the play.

Kuhn, Kiwanuka, Herzlich, and Rolle all effectively taken out of the play

Kuhn, Kiwanuka (by #71), Herzlich (by #77), and Rolle (by #89) all effectively taken out of the play

On the very next play, Kiwanuka has the quarterback dead to rights, but can’t make the play and Colin Kaepernick scrambles for nine yards.

Kiwanuka should nail the QB for a big loss but allows him to get around him

Kiwanuka should nail the QB for a big loss but allows him to get away

The leading tacklers for the Giants were the linebackers: McClain (all 68 defensive snaps, 14 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss), Kennard (55 snaps, 9 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss), and Herzlich (48 snaps, 9 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 pass defense). Herzlich was a bit up and down, but he brought some needed emotion to the team. The trio of McClain-Herzlich-Kennard isn’t a very athletic or speedy group and that showed up on the film. Spencer Paysinger played 13 snaps and had three tackles.

Kiwanuka (64 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss) led the defensive line in tackles, but did not play well. Pierre-Paul (64 snaps) only had one tackle but was stouter against the run. DE/DT Robert Ayers (39 snaps) finished with 2 tackles, 1 sack (the only by the Giants), 1 QB hit, and 1 tackle for a loss. DE Damontre Moore (18 snaps) had the Giants only other QB hit as New York only officially hit Kaepernick in the pocket twice. The Giants pass rush was obviously not good on Sunday.

Johnathan Hankins (54 snaps, 2 tackles), Mike Patterson (35 snaps, 3 tackles), and Markus Kuhn (18 snaps, 2 tackles rotated at defensive tackle and did not really stand out. Jay Bromley was available but did not play.

Defensive Backs

The 49ers were limited to 193 yards passing as Colin Kaepernick only completed 15-of-29 passes. 48 of those yards came on their lone touchdown of the game. The 49ers only had two offensive plays over 20 yards.

On the long touchdown throw, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (41 snaps, 2 tackles, 2 pass defenses) was beat by WR Michael Crabtree to the inside for an intermediate gain. But the real problem was S Quintin Demps was caught badly out of position and failed to prevent the long score.

Crabtree beats DRC to the inside but Demps is way out of position, failing to prevent long TD

Crabtree beats DRC to the inside but Demps is way out of position, failing to prevent long TD

The other big negative play was a 35-yard pass interference penalty on 2nd-and-18 by Rodgers-Cromartie, who continues to be plagued by IT band issue that limits his snaps and affects his play. The pass interference penalty helped to set up San Francisco’s first field goal. The announcers felt interference should not have been called, but DRC did not help his case by turning around for the football. Early in the game, Rodgers-Cromartie made a nice play by defeating a block and knocking away a pass on a bubble screen. He also knocked down a 2nd-and-11 pass near the goal line in the 2nd quarter. Late in the 2nd quarter, WR Michael Crabtree beat DRC for a 25-yard gain, the only other long pass play.

Zack Bowman (48 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) played more than any other corner. Newcomer Chykie Brown (30 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 pass defense) saw more action than Jayron Hosley (20 snaps) and actually played pretty well. Brown had nice coverage on a deep shot to TE Vernon Davis after Eli’s first interception and later made an excellent play by diving and knocking away a 3rd-and-11 pass intended for Crabtree.

Antrel Rolle (6 tackles) and Demps (4 tackles) played all 68 snaps. Stevie Brown played 17 snaps but did not show up on the stat sheet. Safety play is killing the Giant this year. Rolle has been just OK and Demps and Brown have been below average.

Special Teams

The Giants special teams performed well in this game.

The Giants surprised everyone in the 3rd quarter with an onside kick that PK Josh Brown made possible by forcing the 49er who was in the process of securing the ball to fumble. Mark Herzlich also deserves credit for ripping the ball away.

Brown had two other kickoffs, one resulting in a touchback and the other returned 26 yards after a holding penalty was enforced.

Brown remains perfect on the season on field goals, hitting from 43 yards out in this contest.

Steve Weatherford punted three times, averaging 43 yards per punt (40.3 net).

Preston Parker returned five kickoffs, with a long of 38 yards. He reached the 22, 25, 29, 22, and 41 on his five returns.

Odell Beckham returned three punts for 39 yards, with the long being a 25 yarder.

Damontre Moore made a dumb play with a late block on a punt return.

The Giants had good coverage on the botched field goal where the holder attempted to complete a pass down field (good awareness by both McClain and Herzlich).

(San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, November 16, 2014)
Nov 162014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Five Interceptions for Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The opportunity was there.

With five minutes to play and the New York Giants trailing the San Francisco 49ers by six, Eli Manning and the offense had a first and goal at the San Francisco four yard line.

In spite of Manning’s then four interceptions, the lack of a running game and continued offensive dysfunctions, the team was still in a position to win. It needed just four yards in four plays.

New York didn’t get a yard before Manning was intercepted on fourth down, all but sealing the deal on the team’s 16-10 loss Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford.

“Four shots from the four yard line,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It’s inexcusable that we didn’t score.”

Throughout the game’s entirety, the calm, cool and collected Manning that had taken the field for New York’s previous nine games was no where to be found. Manning missed passes low, high, inside and out. Coughlin said Manning was dealing with “accuracy issues” and the quarterback’s play made it abundantly clear.

Manning, who entered the game having thrown six interceptions all season, was intercepted five times, three of which when targeting Rueben Randle. He completed just 22-of-45 passes for 280 yards.

“You’re not going to win a game turning the ball over five times,” Coughlin said. “I can guarantee you that.”

Early in the game, it appeared as if the game was headed in the complete opposite direction as what it ended up. On the Giants first possession, Manning marched New York 63 yards in five plays before finding tight end Larry Donnell for a 19-yard touchdown. The drive was set up when Zack Bowman recovered a Frank Gore fumble.

But after New York’s touchdown, the offense went cold. The team’s ensuing drives resulted in  a punt, two interceptions and two more punts before finally getting on the scoreboard with a Josh Brown field goal in the third quarter. With the Giants offense in a rut, San Francisco did just enough to win the game.

Following Gore’s fumble, the 49ers kicked three consecutive field goals to go on top, 9-7. On their first drive of the second half, quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit receiver Michael Crabtree on a slant. The former first-round pick burst through the center of the Giants defense for a 48-yard score.

New York answered with Brown’s field goal, but were unable to put any additional points on the board after. Manning was intercepted for a fourth time at the San Francisco 20, but the most back-breaking pick came with New York deep inside 49er territory.

Starting at their own 35 with 6:18 to play, Manning marched the Giants quickly into San Francisco territory. On second down at the 49er 41, Manning went deep to Odell Beckham Jr. down the right sideline. The rookie made a leaping grab to set New York up at the four. On first down, Manning threw a fade to Beckham that was out of reach. On second down, Manning threw a fade to Randle which fell in complete. On third down, Manning threw a fade to Larry Donnell who landed hard on his shoulder and dropped the ball. On fourth down, Manning forced the ball inside to Preston Parker. As the ball hit Parker’s hands, the receiver was hit and the ball popped up and into the arms of San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland.

“We need to bounce back,” Coughlin said. “Now we’ve had a defensive fiasco, we’ve had an offensive fiasco. Perhaps maybe now we’ll be able to go out and put something together.”

The loss for New York drops its record to 3-7. It faces the Dallas Cowboys at home next Sunday night.

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Quick Hits and Tidbits

  • The Giants lost their fifth consecutive game to fall to 3-7. It is their worst record after 10 games since 1998, when they were also 3-7 and finished 8-8.
  • Inactive for New York were cornerback Mike Harris, linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion), guard Adam Snyder, defensive end Kerry Wynn, offensive tackle James Brewer, offensive guard Brandon Mosley and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf). Mike Patterson started for Jenkins and Mark Herzlich for Williams.
  • Offensive tackle Justin Pugh left the game with a quad injury and did not return. Speaking after the game, Coughlin said Pugh originally hurt his quad in last week’s game against Seattle, but practiced fully all week. It acted up against San Francisco.
  • Receivers Rueben Randle and Preston Parker each left the game at various points in time with ailments. Both returned and were said to be fine after the game.
  • Of Manning’s interceptions, three were intended for Randle. Two were intercepted by Chris Borland, one by Michael Wilhoite, one by Chris Culliver and one by Eric Reid.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. finished with six catches for 93 yards. Rueben Randle caught seven passes for 112.
  • Earlier in the week, Coughlin spoke about how he wanted his “big players” to make “big plays.” The comment was in response to a question about Jason Pierre-Paul. On Sunday, Pierre-Paul had one tackle. Receiver Preston Parker had two.
  • Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. recorded a sack bringing his season total to five. Since the start of last season, Ayers has 10.5 sacks. In his first four seasons, he had 6.5.
  • The San Francisco 49ers rushed for 148 yards on the Giants defense and averaged 4.0 yards per carry.
  • The Giants recovered an onside kick in the third quarter, their first successful onside kick since Nov. 7, 2004 vs. Chicago.

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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 of post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at Giants.com.