New York Giants 20 – Philadelphia Eagles 10
Review by David B.
Overview: The game started out really boring. I usually sit upright and watch, however I was tired from a long weekend and was lying on the couch for the first quarter and found myself dozing off. The Giants came out flat as hell after realizing their playoff hopes were over. They looked like the old 3-and-out bunch for much of the 1st quarter. It was only in the second half that they decided they wanted to end the season by beating a team they should beat rather easily.
Quarterbacks: Kent Graham, bless his heart, had a good game typical of his ’98 performances. No flashy numbers, but no big mistakes either. He had little help from his targets who seemed intent on dropping passes all day. His accuracy was pretty good–he was off for a few, but there were certainly no “Wild Thing” over-the-backstop pitches. In fact, but for the drops he would have had better numbers. How many times have I written that over the years? Of note was that Kent certainly did his part in converting 3rd downs even when the receivers did not. Kent was facing a talented Philly secondary that features excellent CBs and very good safeties. They decided to cover the Giants WRs rather than blitz the hell out of Graham, and this strategy forced Graham to “take the underneath stuff” for most of the game. Kent did this, and since the ground game was going with both Brown and Way running well, not going deep didn’t really cost the Giants against this opponent. He used the pocket well, and didn’t face a lot of pressure. He also took off and ran a few times and continually does better at that than you think he’s gonna. But he better stop ending those runs head first.
Some BBIers thought this might have been a good situation to see a little of Mike Cherry, but it didn’t happen. The Giants were more interested in winning the game than doing player evaluations.
Running Backs: Big day for Gary Brown who got his new contract, his 1,000 yard season, and his 4th consecutive 100 yard game. Gary looked like he’s looked of late: powerful, quick in the hole, and finishing off his runs with his pads low. He reminds me of Hampton. He doesn’t have the ideal speed you want in a RB, and his hands appear to be average, but he protects the ball very well and will be an important piece to the puzzle. Signing him when they did, the Giants were able to stash 1/5 of the new contract under the ’98 cap. Nice move! Gary Brown is an excellent edition to this team who will continue to be effective as long as the Giants have some kind of threat to hurt teams with the passing game.
Charles Way had a good game too. He was lead blocking for Brown a lot and that has been very effective. With the ball, he started the game slow. He didn’t get much on his first few carries, and I think he dropped a couple, but then he regained his focus and ran well as a change-up to Brown. At one point, he looked like the Way of ’97, he broke into the open field and made some guys miss. He had one play where he carried a bunch of tacklers like Bavaro.
Tiki Barber wasn’t used much, but when he was, he was OK. I think we can say that Tiki’s head is at least half way out of his ass.
Tyrone Wheatley was inactive (I think) in HIS LAST GAME AS A GIANT.
Receivers: Not a great day for this group. Ike Hilliard’s head was not in the game. He dropped two (or was it three) very catchable balls that were on the money — including a sure TD that Calloway fortunately caught when it bounced off of Ike’s chest. Calloway didn’t look a whole lot better. He too dropped a perfectly-thrown TD pass that he should have caught in his sleep. He also missed a couple of others. Later he snapped out of it and caught a TD pass and bailed out Ike on the other. Amani Toomer had another very good game. He didn’t drop a thing, and he continues to come up big in situations where they need him to “come up big.” Alford was in the game, but I don’t think he had a catch (or a drop). Cross and Hasse had no catches or drops either. I think all three RBs had at least one drop.
Offensive Line: Too many penalties still, but not as many as in a lot of games. Kent Graham’s hard count succeeded in making Ron Stone move early. Scot Gragg decided he couldn’t end the season without at least one more False Start. They pass protected well, and run blocked pretty well.
Defensive Line: A good day for this group. The shut down the run except for one play where Staley broke off a 60+ yard TD. Koy (pond) Detmer doesn’t have his brother’s accuracy, but he gets rid of the ball quickly and doesn’t take many sacks. The Giants didn’t get to him until late in the game. Strahan picked up is 15th sack and played in the Philly backfield all day capping a well-deserved Pro Bowl season. Jones subbed in on occasion and the group didn’t miss a beat.
Linebackers: Quiet day. Armstead made a good play or two and had a nice sack, but Widmer and Buckley were largely invisible.
Secondary: Aside from Irving Fryar lighting up a play or two in his last game, Philly had almost no passing game. Sam Garnes had a pick on a ball that Detmer was trying to throw away, but instead just threw up for grabs. Percy Ellsworth won’t tackle. Hamilton was solid. Gray started in place of Sparks who was injured but I don’t think he’ll be back next year.
Special Teams: Larry McDuff’s job would not be safe if I were coach. The coverage and return teams continue to stink. Allen Rossom — a very good return specialist had 112 yards on three KRs. Their PR got 37 yards on 2 PRs. Toomer got 3 yards on one return. Brad Maynard only punted 4 times. Must have felt like a vacation day to him. Maynard had a terrific year and should only get better. Daluiso hit a 43 and a 33 and made his PATs. However, his kickoffs are no longer anything special. He’s an average kicker.
Coaching: We won, so Fassel must be a genius again. Interesting situation. The team knew they were out of it, but clearly played for the win, not to evaluate guys for next year. It seemed obvious that something got the Giants off their asses at half time and let them finish the game stronger than how they began it. Was it Fassel? He will still be questioned for some personnel decisions and some playcalling. He still likes that damned pitch out on 3rd and short. Will be interesting to see if we run up the gut when/if Brian Williams returns. Regardless, the team is behind Fassel, and so is management. His regaining control of this season and reestablishing a winning attitude at the end of the year was a major achievement, but that kind of thing is not a tangible statistic and is often over-looked by the fans. He has a big off-season ahead of him.