Ad placed by the New York Giants in The Kansas City Star (September 2011)

Ad placed by the New York Giants in The Kansas City Star

New York Giants 13 – Kansas City Chiefs 3

Game Overview: Give the coaching staff and the players credit for being mentally prepared to win this game given the emotional couple of weeks the team and the City have gone through. The Giants had a built-in excuse for a loss in a place that NFC teams have not been successful. But the Giants put the game away early, then coasted the rest of the way.

Special Teams: As good as they have been in a long, long time. The kicking game was outstanding. Owen Pochman nailed two kick-offs into the endzone with the wind at his back and one to the two-yard line when kicking into the wind. Coverage on the two that were returned was good with Thabiti Davis being active. Morton Andersen was perfect on his two field goal attempts – right down the middle. Rodney Williams’ punting remains strong, though he could have done a better job on two coffin corner attempts – one bounced into the endzone and the other was short to the 17 yard line. His other two punts were boomers with height and distance and he finished with a 43.8 yards-per-punt average. I spotted Dhani Jones and Brandon Short also making a play on one punt return.

Tiki Barber looked much better on punt returns this week and broke a 23 yarder that set up the Giants’ first field goal. The interesting thing is that, unlike the preseason, the Giants have finally started to double the opposition’s gunners. Emmanuel McDaniel and Will Allen had key blocks on the return. Another decent return was brought back due to a block in the back by Clayton White. Ron Dixon was OK on his only return.

Defensive Line: Aside from DT Keith Hamilton, the line was fairly quiet. DE Kenny Holmes should have intercepted the ball on the first offensive play of the game on a zone blitz. He later batted a ball down at the line of scrimmage. But aside from that, LT John Tait pretty much had his way with him. DE Michael Strahan was not much of a factor. He got handled (a rarity for him) on the 19-yard run to his side on the Chiefs’ second drive. Michael did defend a short pass well to the halfback, getting out quickly to make the tackle. He also had one good pass rush on the play where CB Jason Sehorn also blitzed in the 3rd quarter. Strahan later followed this up by tackling the running back for a loss. DT Cornelius Griffin got some quick pressure on the second play of the game, but didn’t make much noise either. He continues to have some problems at the point-of-attack against the double-team. Hamilton picked up the Giants only sack. It came in a huge situation: 4th-and-7 on the Chiefs’ last drive of the first half. Keith overpowered the center on the play. He also gave the interior of the Kansas City offensive line fits at times with his strength.

Linebackers: A much better performance by all three. Keep in mind that the Chiefs like to throw to their backs and tight ends a lot and all three were called upon to be in coverage much of the game. It’s hard to notice someone when they are effectively covering their man and the quarterback isn’t throwing in their direction.

The defensive star of the game for the Giants was Mike Barrow (11 tackles). He and Brandon Short set the tone on the first play with a blitz that almost led to an interception. Barrow did a nice job on the Chiefs’ fourth drive when he shot into the backfield and nailed the ball carrier for a loss. On the very next drive, he clobbered the back coming out of the backfield for a short pass. In the second half, he was very active in pass defense and made a very nice play in the backfield on a running play (Strahan caused a fumble on the play). Jessie Armtead got handled early on a running play by Tony Gonzalez, but he did a good job on two occasions where Trent Green tried to scramble for a first down. On the Chiefs’ second drive, he was the sole defender to sniff out a misdirection toss to the back. Although he missed the tackle, he disrupted the timing of the play and prevented a big gain. He later missed a tackle in the backfield. Jessie almost sacked Trent Green on a blitz; intentional grounding should have been called, but wasn’t.

Brandon Short had me a bit worried early when he got caught up in traffic on the 19-yarder on his side. However, after that, he did a good job of forcing the issue by a couple of times coming up aggressively to take on blockers on runs in his direction. Surprisingly, Short (like Armstead and Barrow) did a good job in coverage, including on Gonzalez.

Defensive Backs: Strong game for the most part though it is tough to grade the unit given the Chiefs woes at wide receiver. All four starters in the secondary (and the linebackers) were involved at some point in covering Tony Gonzalez as Defensive Coordinator John Fox came up with a good plan to disrupt his game. Gonzalez had a big 3rd-and-3 catch early, but was held pretty quiet after that.

Williams made the defensive play of the game with his interception in the endzone when it looked like Kansas City was about to score. He did a good job of baiting Trent Green and then coming over to help out Short on Gonzalez on the play. Williams almost came up with a second interception in the first half on a diving attempt. On the negative side, Williams took the wrong angle on the 19-run mentioned earlier. However, his strong run defense prevented a first down on the 3rd-and-3 play right before the Chiefs’ field goal in the third quarter.

Sam Garnes continues to have some problems helping out the corner on deep sideline passes. He just isn’t getting over fast enough. Both Jason Sehorn and Will Allen got beat deep and in both cases Garnes was a step late.

Will Allen did pretty darn well. He had some problems with Gonazlez on one play where the tight end pivoted away from him. He also got beat deep by Chris Thomas when he was caught looking back at the quarterback too early. But he showed great recovery speed on a 3rd-and-6 play earlier where he almost came up with a diving interception. On the play after he got beat deep, he perfectly broke up another deep pass into the endzone. In the 4th quarter, Allen perfectly defended what I think was a skinny post pattern. I liked the way Allen also aggressively attacked the ball carrier on a screen pass and on a run to his side of the field.

Jason Sehorn kept his man quiet except for two plays. He got beat by Chris Thomas on an out pattern for a first down on the Chiefs’ last drive of the first half. He later got beat pretty badly by Snoop Minnis for a big gain on 3rd-and-11. This set up the Chiefs’ only points of the game. On a side note, it was good to see Jason being used on the blitz again and he almost sacked Green. This shows that John Fox has more confidence in his other corners this year.

Will Peterson is the new nickel back. He played well and only appeared to give up one play. Peterson got beat by Chris Thomas on 3rd-and-7 for a first down in the 4th quarter. However, he immediately followed that up by doing a great job defending a deep sideline pass.

Quarterback: If you take away Kerry Collins’ three interceptions (a big “if”), then he played a very efficient game (20-34 for 208 yards) and kept the chains moving – especially in the first half. One of his picks was a bit understandable in that his long pass to an open Amani Toomer was knocked down a bit by a stiff wind. But the other two picks came when he threw into double-coverage. Collins was the first to admit his mistakes after the game. Speaking of turnovers, the old Kerry Collins used to fumble all the time when hit (in 1999 and before he came to the Giants). Fumbling was not a problem for him in 2000 and he did a great job of holding onto the ball when he was crushed from the blind-side in the third quarter.

The other area where Collins has really progressed is that he looking off the safety more and more – that shows that he’s maturing into a real veteran. His favorite target on the day was Joe Jurevicius, but he also found Amani Toomer a few times to keep drives alive. Most impressive was his work on the Giants’ TD drive and the two-minute drill (actually 64 second drill) right before halftime. On the TD drive, he hit Jurevicius twice before finding Tiki Barber on a screen. He then threw to Dan Campbell for 22 yards. On the drive before halftime, he hit Toomer once and Jurevicius twice to set up the field goal with only four seconds left.

On the first drive of the second half, it looked like the Giants were going to mount another successful long drive again. Collins hit Toomer for a first down on 3rd-and-6. He then found Tiki over the middle for a first down on 3rd-and-10. But the drive stalled when Collins rolled out of the pocket and threw the ball away in the next third down situation. It was a bad play by Collins as he was facing no pressure at all.

Wide Receivers: Joe Jurevicius (7 catches for 90 yards) had his best day as a pro. What I liked is that he has finally started to use his big body in coming down with the ball against tight coverage. This happened on the catch over the CB on the Giants’ fifth drive on a deep sideline pass. The only negative I saw on JJ was that he missed a block on WLB Donnie Edwards that led to the halfback getting nailed in the backfield on the second drive of the game.

The Chiefs seemed to focusing more attention on Amani Toomer (5 catches for 51 yards), as they should have. Still, Toomer came up with several short- to intermediate-range catches to pick up first downs. Toomer did drop one ball on 3rd-and-9. Ron Dixon and Thabiti Davis did not make an impact in the passing game. I get the sense that the Giants are setting something up for a later opponent when they had Dixon carry the ball out of the backfield.

Tight Ends: Fairly strong game for the tight ends, especially in the run blocking department. It’s interesting that the Giants like to pull Dan Campbell quite a bit now – almost like a guard. They seem to like the play where he and Glenn Parker pull to the right. Another interesting twist is what the Giants did with Greg Comella on one play and Dan Campbell on another. On different plays, one of these two was lined up in a down position a step off of the line of scrimmage between the tackle and tight end. On one of these occasions, Comella pulled and actually got a great block on the defensive lineman that Glenn Parker also made contact with.

I spent a lot of time watching Dan Campbell blocking this week and came away impressed. Campbell didn’t start of the game blocking well as he missed his block on a pull to the right and Ron Dayne got nailed at the line. He also couldn’t come up with an errant pass from Collins on the first drive. But after that, he played well and did a good job of not only sustaining his blocks, but also getting movement. He combined with Greg Comella to lead the way for Barber on a six yard run on the third drive. On the next drive, the big play on the TD march was his 22 yard catch-and-run where he showed pretty good speed for a big man. He had a very good block on Dayne’s ensuing touchdown run. So did Howard Cross. There was an interesting play that was a bit of a role reversal for Campbell and Cross. Campbell remained in the down position as Cross become the move tight end. Cross then stopped in front of the back and became the de facto lead fullback and got a good block. I really like the way Payton is mixing up his use of the tight ends and Comella.

Running Backs: Greg Comella’s blocking keeps improving and improving. He also had three catches for 15 yards. One catch went for a first down on 3rd-and-5.

What impressed me a lot about Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber this week was their blitz pick-ups. Both did a great job of providing Kerry Collins with extra time. Tiki Barber (12 carries for 33 yards; 4 catches for 30 yards) is getting more into the flow of things, but he still isn’t quite there yet. He had two big plays on the TD drive: a screen pass that picked up 11 yards and a 13 yard counter to the left. Tiki also picked up 9 yards on the delay handoff on the last drive before halftime. Barber did drop a pass and a pitch.

Ron Dayne (16 carries for 46 yards) continues to run well. The times when he gets nailed for no gain are times now when inevitably the blocking broke down on the play – in other words, it wasn’t his fault. Contrary to last year, he is also showing better vision and moves in short yardage situations. And, as I have emphasized before, he is keeping his feet moving upon contact now. There were many times when he dragged tacklers and extra yard or two on Sunday. His right-side touchdown was a thing of beauty as he exploded through the hole with solid vision and power.

Offensive Line: Pass protection was very strong as Kerry Collins generally had good time to throw. The only exception came on some confusion/miscommunication when the left side of the line did not adjust to pick up a linebacker blitz and Collins was nailed. The run blocking was a bit up-and-down, but the Chiefs were playing a lot of men up at the line of scrimmage and they have a very active linebackers and safeties (sometimes you have to give the opponent credit too fellas). I was impressed with the game Luke Petitgout had. Not only did he keep his man quiet in the pass rush department, but when I watched him, he was getting very good movement in his run blocks. He did have one false start penalty however. Ron Stone had to leave the game for a couple of series with a shoulder injury, but returned. He played pretty well too, except for one play where his man shot into the backfield and tackled Tiki Barber for a loss in the third quarter. I even saw Stone get out on the middle linebacker and make a very good block, leading to a five-yard gain by Dayne. While he was out, Jason Whittle came in and did a great job. Whittle, Petitgout, and Zeigler blasted the center of the Chiefs’ line on Dayne’s 10-yard run in the second quarter. Petitgout and Glenn Parker combined with Campbell and Cross to blow up the left side of the Chiefs’ defense on Dayne’s 7-yard touchdown run. On a 2nd-and-4 play in the second quarter, Parker, Lomas Brown, and Comella created the space for Dayne to pick-up another first down. Parker and Brown did likewise make strong straight-ahead blocks on a 4-yard carry on the first offensive play of the second half.

After an up-and-down preseason, Lomas Brown has really settled down and is playing well at left tackle. Parker had his ups-and-downs in the run blocking department. When he gets out quick enough on his pulls, he can be very effective. But if he doesn’t, the play gets disrupted in the backfield pretty easily. The Giants have to be careful that their opponents now know that New York loves these right-side pulls.

The Giants’ line finished the game with a great drive where they ran off the final 7 minutes and 21 seconds of the clock. The drive started off with a great block from Ron Stone. Dayne did a good job of moving his feet on 3rd-and-1 to pick up the first. The drive was kept alive by a big-time play from Collins where he stepped up into the pocket despite some intense pressure to hit Toomer for a first down on 3rd-and-7. Kerry followed that up with a naked bootleg for a first down on 2nd-and-9. Then twice the line afforded Dayne more room to run against a defense stacked against it. Barber’s swing pass for a first down on 4th-and-2 allowed the Giants to kneel on the ball.

Goin To Kansas City…

by David Oliver

Reading Montreal Man’s thread yesterday made me feel better. I thought I was stuck in gear and couldn’t get out, and I felt guilty because the rest of the Country seemed to be moving forward. The events of the last two weeks are akin to a very personal loss, the loss of a family member. Losing anywhere from 6 to 10,000 fellow citizens, many of them Giants fans, is horrifying – it is difficult to comprehend slaughter of that magnitude. The loss of a cultural icon is like the taste of dirt in the mouth after a nasty tackle. So it was morbid habit that led me to the TV. And the people of Kansas City responded as most mid-Westerners, with a sense of humanity. Sure, they are different than New Yorkers but I have never failed to be overwhelmed by their friendliness and kindness on my visits to the area. Watching the Giants during the Anthem was difficult. Thabiti Davis stood in a salute, Dan Campbell openly shed tears. The hats, the solemnity, made me ashamed for not going.

So how harshly should we judge this team, or grade it’s performance. They have been through more than most of us these past 2 weeks, and that is saying quite a bit. And they are young men, most in their 20s, many in their early 20s.This thing about getting back to business, it’s darn tough. The bottom line is this: the Giants won the game. Was it electrifying as the Vikings Championship rout? No. Did the team look like a well-oiled, precision instrument, ready to return to the Super Bowl? In truth, No. Did the team look like a bunch of stumblebum, no account losers? Hell No. The Giants played for pride, they played for NY and New Yorkers, they played for us. They carried the burden and they didn’t let down. That says tons about the character of these young men, and their coaches, so I am willing to cut them quite a bit of slack on this one.

I read in The Post today where some news agency is prohibiting their reporters from wearing the American Flag – they are doing this in the name of journalistic objectivity. Beats me as to what they are talking about. We all watched that game yesterday, and being a patriot and a Giants fan, is not impeding my objectivity, well, at least until someone tells me what true objectivity in journalism is really. So, after cutting the team all that slack, I should point that there were some warts on the beauty and all the makeup of the day’s events couldn’t hide them.

Coaching: Offense – for all the confusion over Sean Payton’s play calling, it is getting better. There was a ton of movement and deception, without any fumbling, guys running into each other or time penalties. What this tells me is that the work in progress is nearing some final stage. It worked well in the first half. Greg Robinson (KC defensive coordinator) is a smart coach, who utilizes an aggressive strategy. This is not a bogus defense; it is quite good. Review the tape again. It’s not that the motion didn’t work in the second half; there wasn’t as much motion. The Giants did adjust. They realized that going into the wind, the passes weren’t getting there. And they realized that there was an opportunity to establish a run game. The Giants don’t lose many games when they run 26 times or more. They did that. The two backs accounted for about 90 yards. The use of Dixon in the backfield may have been mystifying, but I thought there was a good opportunity for a reverse as the KC guys were over pursuing. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was competent.

Defense – Harder to gauge. John Fox has been forced into some unorthodox formations to hide deficiencies. Rushing a three-man front allowed the Chiefs to get some pretty good ground yardage. But, it stopped TE Tony Gonzalez. The D was dropping people into zone blitz formations, using corners on tight ends and blitzing safeties and Lbs – problem was that KC picked up a lot of them. Bottom line – until I know the Giants front 4 are healthy, Jason Sehorn is back 100 percent and Allen and Short play together for a while, I can’t figure out if the Offensive Coordinators are on to Fox, or whether this line is as good as we all believed it would be.

Kicking Game: Pokemon (Owen Pochman) seems like the real deal on kick offs, Mort (Morten Andersen) is the real deal on FGs and Rodney “BoomBoom” Williams has a very nice foot. Crunch time comes when someone has to go. If the Giants carry 3 kickers all season, it may hurt if someone is injured elsewhere. Just a little review – why do Specials look better? Pokemon kicks off three yards deep – run back to the 16. Pokemon kicks off five yards deep – no return. Pokemon kicks off into the wind to the two, return to 25. Rodney Williams 51 yd punt, bounced into end zone. RW punt – tried for corner – out at the 17. RW booms punt 53 yds into wind – first punt with spotty coverage – 15 yard return. RW punt 48 yds, 4.7 hang time. Anderson, solid on two field goals.

Kerry Collins: Not outstanding, but solid. He hasn’t panicked or withered under the pretty good rush efforts of two teams. He is developing a nice rapport with Joe Jurevicius (JJ). Amani Toomer is the go to guy. KC is trying too hard to make something good happen. KC has a lot of trouble throwing on the roll out – so do a lot of other QBs. The throw to Amani that was picked – as color commentator Bill Maas pointed out it was into the wind and would have had to travel 60 yards in the air. The third INT followed a sack. KC was a little rattled on this possession. All in all, he had some nice fakes was throwing hard and crisply. BB56, you mentioned a play where KC stepped up in the pocket and “found ” his receiver. He was running for his life and spotted a receiver. He fired that ball, on the run, not his strong suite, and it was a very, very nice catch (20 yard gain). Only 1 sack; 4 or 5 hurries.

Running Backs: Very nicely balanced attack. The Great Dayne is running more purposely. He is slamming into the holes. His off tackle TD was a very nice run. Dayne also made the tackle on KC’s first INT and he made a beautiful block on a blitz pick-up on the Giants’ third possession. The game plan is working more straight ahead runs for RD and that is helping as it cuts down the time he needs to get into the hole. Tiki is still rounding into shape. His punt returns were better, he made a few nice runs and caught a few. However, he was shoe-stringed a couple of times, which won’t happen when he is up to full speed. He is getting knocked around, which also says something about conditioning. But he is getting there. Thunder & Lightning are preparing for Broadway. Dixon – not a running back. The nicest drive was the most balanced and it was the TD drive. Tiki off the right side for 5. KC to JJ, w/empty backfield – 1st down; KC to JJ to the 47 (Dayne & Glenn Parker picked up the blitz); Tiki for a couple, KC to Tiki to the Chiefs 37 (KC had a nice fake); Motion penalty. KC to Dan Campbell – amen, a tight end play – very nice; fake left, quick out to Tiki; Tiki away from the blocking, nice gain; Dayne for the TD. Tiki also picked up a blitz. One nice run play was the naked bootleg by KC to keep the final drive going.

The Line: Some very good blocking, some spotty. Considering that KC started with 8 men in the box and finished by blitzing on almost every play, there were some good pick ups by the backs and some nice blocking by Greg Comella and the interior of the line. The rush only got to KC once, the pocket collapsed once and there were 3 or 4 other hurries. There were also some nice holes for the backs, which must be recognized because of the 8 man front. Considering that Parker and Howard Cross are still working into shape and that Stone had a bruised shoulder, the performance wasn’t bad. It wasn’t dominant, but it wasn’t bad.

Defense: Here I have some worries. Christian Peter and Cedric Jones were journeymen. But no one ran on the right side of the Giants’ D. This year, both opponents have gone around that side at will. Conclusion, Kenny Holmes is still hurt and Grif (Cornelius Griffin) isn’t 100%. Cutting Ryan Hale saved money, but it also has lessened the rotation, which means that Grif in particular can’t rest the ankle. And the rookie corners have been terrible in support. These guys better heal quickly because there is a huge vulnerability on the right which will be exploited. Hammer (Keith Hamilton) is a beast, but with three guys hanging onto him all the time, he isn’t scoring. This emphasizes the weakness everywhere else as with three on Hammer, the other guys are 1-on-1. Strahan had a so-so game. Of the linebackers, Mike Barrow is a dervish. He was smacking guys all over the place. Jessie Armstead has been in absentia (although he almost had an INT and had a nice blitz) and Brandon Short is still learning his position. He made some nice breaks into the backfield, but he gets lost in some coverage schemes. The corners – Will Allen at least stays in the vicinity of his man and makes a play once in a while. But he looks into the backfield too much. The Seahawks have two inexperienced corners and Donovan McNabb made them pay. KC has no legit wide receivers healthy, but Snoop Minnis was beginning to find the seams. Had Sam Garnes not knocked him out, the game would have been closer. These kids have to grow up fast. In a way, it’s good Green Bay will be at the end – frankly, Farve would have eaten our corners alive. Peterson is going to be good, but he didn’t take EMacs’ (Emmanuel McDaniel) job – it has been given to him. The coaching staff has now made the conscious decision to go with youth and it will hurt the Giants badly when the gunners start firing. Fox’s defenses are complicated. The Giants now have a LB, and end, a tackle, and 1 or 2 corners new to the scheme, and none have played a whole game together. Fox is using every trick in the book to hold it together and it’s working, for the time being. New Orleans is another big test as Ricky Williams and Deuce McAllister will be coming at them. The safeties miss one now and then, but Shaun Williams has come up big and Garnes walloped Snoop into next week which saved the game.

Take a look – Kenny Holmes started by dropping into zone blitz formation, with early success. But there was no pass rush early in the game. The KC receivers dropped a few. Gonzo (Tony Gonzalez) caught one over the middle, Richardson went around the right side for 19 – 19 yards on the Giants D. Gonzo and Richardson again had success but Shaun Williams INT in the end zone – probably the biggest single play of the game. Then, Green had all day, but the coverage was excellent, Barrow started exerting, coverage again. Green had all day to stand back there on the 4th possession, but the coverage was great.. Then Priest Holmes went up the middle on a big run and Barrow again exerted making two tackles. Allen had nice coverage on a long incomplete – he was beaten but the pass didn’t get there – very unlike Green against the Giants. The Chiefs repeatedly picked up blitzing Giants, Allen was caught looking into the backfield, Shaun Williams had a very nice defensed pass then Hammer shook off his blockers and made the one handed grab and sack of Green – really showed his strength on this one. That was all in the first half. Then Minnis began making catches – that is until Sam Garnes knocked him out and out of the game. Richardson started pounding the middle until the entire D got angry and gang tackled him. The Giants went back to a four-man line but there were a lot of missed tackles on a screen play. The D then stiffened. Green started missing receivers – actually there weren’t any major league receivers in there for KC Sehorn made a play, then Barrow made a couple of more plays. On the next possession, Jessie blitzed, then Priest Holmes fumbled, then Barrow in again, a big rush by Hammer but Peterson was beaten. However, Peterson had perfect position on the next pass, which was incomplete. Allen had a nice defensed pass, Richardson dropped one and Peterson missed a FG.

That was the game. One of my buddies who was there on the sidelines said it was kind of lackluster. A lot of defense, and a lot of hard play. It wasn’t a photogenic game he told me -basically a lot of asses and elbows. In the end, it was a win and any win is a good win. I can’t tell you about the wind, or the emotion as I wasn’t there. The Giants have a lot more work to do on both sides of the ball. But maybe I’m picking nits – 3 points allowed to a Vermeil team, led by Trent Green, neither of whom the Giants have much such success against, is a pretty good outing. John Fox has earned his salary so far and I’m glad he’s still here.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs, September 23, 2001)