Sep 202015
 
Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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ATLANTA FALCONS 24 – NEW YORK GIANTS 20…
The New York Giants squandered another 10-point fourth-quarter lead and fell to the Atlanta Falcons 24-20 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Giants fell to 0-2. It’s the first time in team history that the Giants have started three seasons in a row 0-2. It is also the first time in NFL history that a team has lost its first two games after leading by 10 points or more in the fourth quarter. The Giants have lost their last four home openers.

Each team moved the football to start the game but was forced to punt. The Falcons then went up 7-0 after a 13-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter. The Giants responded with a 10-play, 45-yard drive early in the second quarter that resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Josh Brown. Falcons 7 – Giants 3.

The Falcons immediately followed that field goal drive with one of their own as Atlanta went 56 yards in 11 plays to set up a 42-yard effort. The Giants quickly tied the game on a short slant pass from quarterback Eli Manning to wide out Odell Beckham who turned on the burners en route to a 67-yard touchdown play. The game was tied 10-10.

Neither team was able to move the football for the rest of the half until the Giants last possession before intermission. The Giants drove the ball 30 yards in six plays to set up a 44-yard field goal that gave New York the lead at halftime 13-10.

The Giants received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved the ball 69 yards in nine plays to go up 20-10. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard pass to running back Shane Vereen on 3rd-and-5. Three plays later, Manning hit tight end Larry Donnell for a 10-yard score on 3rd-and-4.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 20, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants defense forced a three-and-out and the Giants offense then let a golden opportunity to put the Falcons away slip through their fingers. After a 35-yard run by running back Andre Williams and a 12-yard run by Vereen on 3rd-and-7, the Giants were able to drive deep into Atlanta territory. But on 3rd-and-2 from the 8-yard line, Manning was sacked and fumbled the ball away to the Falcons. Instead of being up 27-10 or 23-10, the score remained 20-10. Worse for New York, after this mistake with less than five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Giants offense basically shut down for the remainder of the game.

The Falcons immediately took advantage by driving 91 yards in 12 plays to cut the Giants lead to 20-17 with under 13 minutes to play. The 10-yard touchdown pass to wideout Leonard Hankerson came on 3rd-and-9. The Giants did reach the Falcons 38-yard line on the ensuing drive but running back Rashad Jennings’ 3rd-and-2 run was stuffed for a loss and the Giants punted.

The Giants defense held after giving up a couple of first downs and the Giants received the ball back with 4:24 to play. But New York could not pick up one first down and was forced to punt. Worse, on this series, the Giants were called for delay of game after an Atlanta timeout.

The Falcons then quickly drove 70 yards in seven plays for the game-winning touchdown with 1:14 left to play. The Giants had a glimmer of hope after a 30-yard defensive pass interference penalty against Beckham gave them the ball at midfield with 1:02 to play. But the game ended after four straight Manning incompletions, including two drops by tight end Larry Donnell and wide receiver Preston Parker.

Offensively, the Giants accrued 19 first downs and 388 total net yards (97 rushing, 291 passing). The Giants were 10-of-17 (59 percent) on 3rd down conversions. Manning finished 27-of-40 for 292 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. But his fumble on the goal line was very costly. Beckham caught seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown while Vereen caught eight passes for 76 yards. Williams was the leading rusher with six rushes for 43 yards. Jennings was limited to 12 yards on nine carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 25 first downs and 402 total net yards (56 rushing, 346 passing). The Falcons were 11-of-17 (65 percent) on 3rd down conversions. New York did not force a turnover. Defensive end Robert Ayers and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins each had sacks and the Giants were credited with eight quarterback hits.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a burner early in the game, later returned, but then suffered a concussion that ended his game. Left tackle Ereck Flowers re-injured his ankle and did not return. “(Rodgers-Cromartie) has to go through the protocol,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Flowers, I hope it’s not going to be a continuous thing that bothers him all year long.”

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

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Daniel Fells (foot), LB Jon Beason (knee), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), S Cooper Taylor, and OT Bobby Hart.

QB Eli Manning increased his career passing yards total to 40,240, which moved him one yard in front of Johnny Unitas (40,239) and into 14th place on the NFL’s career list. Manning is the 15th player in history to pass for at least 40,000 yards.

WR Odell Beckham increased his career reception total to 103, which is an NFL record for the first 16 games (a full season) in a career. Beckham set the mark in only 14 games.  It was the fifth time in his last six games dating back to last season that Beckham totaled at least 130 receiving yards.

ARTICLES….

Sep 182015
 


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VICTOR CRUZ DISCUSSES HIS CALF INJURY…
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has not practiced since August 17 due to a left calf injury. The injury was originally termed a “strain” and downplayed by the team but it has kept him out of practice for more than a month, the entire preseason, and at least the first two regular-season games. For the last few weeks, when questioned by the media about Cruz, Head Coach Tom Coughlin has simply said there has been no change in his status. On Friday, Cruz talked to the press for the first time since late August at a commercial promotion in Manhattan.

“If it were up to me, I would love to be back at some point within the next two weeks, whether it be (next) Thursday (against the Redskins) or the following game,” Cruz told The New York Post. “But we’ll see, that’s just me speaking. That’s not the training staff or the doctors (saying) things like that, so we’ll see.”

Cruz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in October 2014. He was making what appeared a very rapid recovery from the injury by practicing with the team from the start of camp on July 31 until August 17. Cruz told The Post that the surgically repaired right knee “feels great” and is not the issue.

“(The calf injury) was just a little bit more than I expected,” said Cruz. “They saw a little bit of blood in there and wanted to get it out, and that set me back a little bit. So it’s just a matter of continuing the rehab, continuing to build the muscle back, and continuing to build the strength back and we’ll be good to go.”

“In due time, I’ll be joined back with my teammates and be out there playing again,” said Cruz.

Any discussion of calf injuries and blood is a bit of a red flag to the media and fans since safety Nat Berhe was lost for the season due to a blood clot in one of his calf muscles. That injury was also originally downplayed by the team.

GIANTS ONLINE…
The video of this week’s Giants Online is available at Giants.com.

Sep 182015
 


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INJURY REPORT – VICTOR CRUZ OUT, JON BEASON DOUBTFUL…
The Giants have officially ruled WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Daniel Fells (foot), LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), and DT Markus Kuhn (knee) out of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

“Feeling a little bit better, yeah,” Cruz said. He was also asked when he might return to the practice field. “When I know, you’ll know,” responded Cruz.

LB Jon Beason (knee) is doubtful. “I want to be available to play as much as I can,” Beason said. “A lot of times, just because you feel good coming back from injury, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to play football. God forbid we have to play 80 snaps. I’m not ready for that.”

“Well, (Beason) is feeling better, he’ll tell you that, but we’re going to see,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

LT Ereck Flowers (ankle) and LB Uani’ Unga (knee) are probable for the game.

“I’m here to play,” said Flowers. “I’m here to go out there and try and win. No injury really helps you, so my ankle is getting better. I’ve been getting treatment, so I’m ready to go this Sunday.”

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Transcripts and video of the media sessions with Tom Coughlin are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants will hold a 45-minute, full-speed practice on Saturday that is not open to the media. The team will play its home opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Sep 182015
 
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, September 20, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
The Atlanta Falcons are an odd football team. At times, they can look like world beaters. At other times, they look terrible. They have a new regime under former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and they won their home opener in an impressive performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. Historically speaking, the Falcons don’t play as well on the road as they do at home.

But this game is more about how the Giants respond to their devastating loss to the Cowboys. Have they mentally put that game past them? Can they harness their anger and focus it against the Falcons? Because if they can’t do those things, the match-ups and game plans won’t really matter. The Giants need to win this football game. They need to even their record at 1-1.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Daniel Fells (foot – out)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – probable)
  • DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot – out)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – out)
  • LB Jon Beason (knee – doubtful)
  • LB Uani’ Unga (knee – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Somewhat lost in the drama of this past week is the fact that the highly-touted passing offense of the New York Giants laid a huge egg in Dallas. Eli Manning passed for less than 200 yards and the wide receiving corps had fewer than 100 yards. If that doesn’t change – and fast – the Giants are going to be terrible this year.

Based on what coaches and players are telling us, the opposition is playing a lot of two deep coverage, doubling Odell Beckham, and daring the Giants to beat them by running the football or targeting other receivers. Wouldn’t you? This is the type of defensive game plan the Giants are going to face all year until (1) Victor Cruz comes back and proves he can still play at a high level, and/or (2) the Giants can demonstrate they can consistently run the football.

Picture any opposing defensive coordinator repeating, “We’re not going to let Beckham beat us deep!”

So what should the Giants do? First, I’m a firm believer of coaches putting their best players in position to make plays and win football games. It’s hard to double Beckham if you keep moving him around. Put him in motion. Have him play out of the slot, the backfield, split out wide. Force the defense to adjust. Keep in mind this is a new defensive system for the Falcons too and they may be prone to mental mistakes.

Second, if you were facing the Giants, aside from Beckham, who would scare you the most? Probably not Larry Donnell. Certainly not Preston Parker. “Make them throw to Donnell and Parker to beat us!”  I would get the ball into the hands of my running backs more, both running the football behind Ereck Flowers and Justin Pugh, as well as Shane Vereen in space in the passing game.

Which brings us to Rueben Randle, who exploded in his last two games of 2014 but was practically a non-factor on Sunday night. The Giants need him to be a viable #2 receiver right now – a guy who can put up 100 yards receiving and not just 20 or 30. His game is the vertical game and making big plays down the field, particularly on post routes where he can use his size and athleticism.

As for the Atlanta defense, based on a limited sample size of just one game, they are much more physical and aggressive than they were just a year ago. Their new head coach has brought Seahawks’ defensive scheme with him. Quinn doesn’t have Richard Sherman at cornerback but he does have Desmond Trufant, who is one of the best in the business. Trufant will be looking to make headlines by taking Beckham out of the game. Odell has to elevate his game, like he did against Sherman last year. The other Atlanta corners are not as good or are inexperienced. If Randle and Parker can’t make plays against Robert Alford, it’s time to worry. The Falcons use big safety Will Moore near the line of scrimmage, almost like an extra linebacker. He’s a big hitter and can be a problem in the run game. Fellow safety Ricardo Allen is tiny, but good in coverage. They will likely use him to help out on Beckham.

The Falcons have good defensive line depth. Rookie 1st rounder Vic Beasley is very small, but exceptionally quick and fast. The Falcons like to move him around. Beasley could be a serious match-up problem for the tackles in pass protection. Want to take the edge off of him? Have Flowers maul the shit out him in the run game. The two starting defensive tackles (Ra’Shede Hageman and Paul Soliai) and other starting end (Tyson Jackson) are big and tough against the run. Reserve Jonathan Babineaux is disruptive. The linebackers are probably the weak spot on the defense although O’Brien Schofield can rush the passer.

My game plan would be to run the football, especially to the left. I would try to match-up Shane Vereen and reserve tight end Jerome Cunningham against the linebackers as receivers. Move Beckham around and try to prevent the opposition from doubling him. Take a few deep shots to Randle against the lesser corners. The Giants need their offensive line to have a strong game against an underrated defensive line.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Falcons obviously have some dangerous weapons on offense, headlined by all-world Julio Jones who will be looking to outshine national media darling Odell Beckham. The deal with the Falcons really is this: you don’t know what version of Matt Ryan you’re going to get. Sometimes he looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL; at other times, he looks very ordinary and makes some terrible decisions.

Jones can certainly take over a game, but I like the Giants corners against him provided there is some semblance of a pass rush. Jones has also been dealing with a sore hamstring. The other starting receiver, Roddy White, is super-productive but he has been declining in recent years. Still, you can’t sleep on him. White always seems to get his yardage and keep the chains moving. Ex-Redskin Leonard Hankerson can make plays down the field as well.

Listening to Tom Coughlin this week, it’s pretty apparent that he mostly fears Atlanta’s play-action passing game. Steve Spagnuolo has probably been drilling into the heads of Landon Collins and Brandon Meriweather all week not to come up too quickly against the run and expose the defense to the big play. Of course the best way to defeat the play-action threat is make it moot by stuffing the run. Rookie Tevin Coleman (who BBI Draft expert Sy’56 really likes) is a physical north-south runner with good speed. The Giants need to bottle him up.

The Falcons will throw the ball to reserve running back Devonta Freeman and undersized journeyman tight end Jacob Tamme as ex-Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan does incorporate has a West Coast Offense background. The Falcons may take note of how linebacker Unai’ Unga struggled in coverage last week.

The good news for the Giants is the Atlanta offensive line isn’t the Dallas offensive line. The Giants did alright against the Cowboys ground game, but as Steve Spagnuolo pointed out this week, Dallas still had the advantage of too many very manageable down-and-distance situations because of 4- and 5-yard gains. Stop the run first. Then get after the passer. And we’ll start finding out how good or bad the Giants’ pass rush is this weekend. Tony Romo was barely touched. If the Giants can’t get to Matt Ryan, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. I would like to see the Giants blitz a lot to put the rookie running back on the spot in terms of pass protection.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Except for the return game, the Giants played well against a very good Dallas special teams unit on Sunday night. They had no chance on kickoff returns (all touchbacks). Getting the punt and kickoff return game going this week will be tough as punter Matt Bosher is one of the best punters (both distance and direction) in the business as well as a very good kickoff specialist (seven touchbacks against the Eagles). Former Giant Matt Bryant is very consistent and rarely misses under 50 yards. Devin Hester has been battling a toe injury. If he plays, we all know how dangerous he can be as both a kickoff and punt returner. (Late note, Hester will not play).

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on Atlanta’s defense: “Versus Philadelphia, every snap was single-high (coverage), but that was the way they chose to play Philadelphia. I imagine that they’re going to roll some things at us, some different shells, some different coverage types and probably have a plan for Odell that way. We’ll have to take a look at it and adjust as the game goes on.”

THE FINAL WORD:
This is very, very close to a “must” game. The Giants are a young team and that was an extremely tough loss last weekend. Their confidence could be teetering. It will be interesting to see how the team responds and how mentally tough they are. With the game on the line, players on offense, defense, and special teams need to make plays in the 4th quarter. Not wilt under pressure. The Giants need Eli Manning to regain his mojo.

Sep 172015
 
Eli Manning, New York Giants (September 13, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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NFL ADMITS OFFICIALS BOTCHED TWO CALLS IN DALLAS GAME …
The NFL has acknowledged that officials made two game-altering mistakes during the New York Giants 27-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night. The first was a bogus pass interference call on cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromarties on a 3rd-and-4 incomplete pass that directly led to a Cowboys touchdown in the third quarter. Worse, the officials did not call an obvious holding penalty by a Dallas defensive back against tight end Daniel Fells on the now infamous 3rd-and-goal incomplete pass by quarterback Eli Manning with 1:43 to play. If that flag had been thrown, the Giants could have simply knelt on the ball and run out the clock, winning 26-20.

INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Thursday due to injuries were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Daniel Fells (foot), LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), and DT Markus Kuhn (knee).

“(Cruz has been) working and he’s doing more and more,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “But they’re not even at the stage where they’re really going to bring him out and turn him loose—let him run for a while—before they make a decision on whether he can practice. So that’s all forthcoming.”

Coughlin said Odighizuwa tried to practice on Wednesday and could not go again on Thursday. “He gets going a little bit, then he gets sore and he has to come out,” said Coughlin.

LB Jon Beason (knee) returned to practice and practiced on a limited basis.

LT Ereck Flowers (ankle) and LB Uani’ Unga (knee) fully practiced.

PHOTOS OF JASON PIERRE-PAUL’S HAND…
The New York Daily News has published exclusive photographs of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s right hand that he damaged in a July 4th fireworks accident.

https://twitter.com/UDWJPP/status/644494473221828608

TOM COUGHLIN AND THE COORDINATORS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Instead of practicing, the Giants will hold a “recovery day” on Friday. The players will select two of six recovery stations, based on seniority. Their choices are massage, yoga, FMS (Functional Movement Screen) exercises designed for the individual, air compression boots, contrast bath (between a hot and cold tub), and self-massage with stick rollers and elastic bands.

The Giants will also have a 45-minute, full-speed practice on Saturday that is not open to the media.

Sep 162015
 


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INJURY REPORT…
Not practicing on Wednesday due to injuries were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Daniel Fells (foot), LT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), and LB Jon Beason (knee).

LT Ereck Flowers (ankle) and LB Uani’ Unga (knee) practiced on a limited basis.

ELI MANNING CONTRACT DETAILS…
The New York Daily News provided the following summary on quarterback Eli Manning’s contract extension.

  • Total contract (last year plus 4-year extension): 5 years, $101.5 million
  • Signing Bonus: $31 million
  • Guaranteed Money: $65 million
  • 2015: $5.5 million salary, $500,000 workout bonus, total cap number $14.45 million
  • 2016: $17.5 million salary, $500,000 workout bonus, total cap number $24.2 million
  • 2017: $13 million salary, $500,000 workout bonus, total cap number $19.7 million
  • 2018: $10.5 million salary, $5 million roster bonus, $500,000 workout bonus, total cap number $22.2 million
  • 2019: $11.5 million salary, $5 million roster bonus, $500,000 workout bonus, total cap number $23.2 million

The new contract provides the Giants with $5.25 million in cap savings against the 2015 salary cap. Right now, including DE Jason Pierre-Paul’s Franchise tender, the Giants are $14,127,537 under the cap. They will gain an additional $871,352 for each week Pierre-Paul does not play. Any unspent money can be rolled over to next year’s cap.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
The New York Giants have signed guard Vinston Painter, linebacker James Morris, and cornerback Tramain Jacobs to the Practice Squad.

Painter was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He spent the 2013 regular season on Denver’s Practice Squad and was added to the Practice Squad again in 2014. The Cleveland Browns signed Painter to their active roster in September 2014, but he was only active for three games. The Brown waived him in September 2015. Painter converted to offensive line from defensive tackle and only started one season in college. He has a nice combination of size and athletic ability, but he is still learning the game. Right now, he looks better than he plays.

Morris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2014 NFL Draft. The Patriots placed him on Injured Reserve in August 2014 after tearing an ACL in the final preseason game against the Giants. Morris lacks ideal size and overall athleticism, but he is instinctive, tough, hard working, and competitive.

Jacobs was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in three games as rookie after spending nine weeks on Baltimore’s Practice Squad. Jacobs finished the season on Injured Reserve with a thigh injury. The Ravens waived him in August 2015. Jacobs is an average-sized corner with good speed and quickness. He is also instinctive and competitive.

The team has also terminated the Practice Squad contracts of quarterback G.J. Kinne, linebacker Gerald Rivers, and safety C.J.  Conway.

HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
The transcript of Tom Coughlin’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
The following transcripts and video of player media sessions on Wednesday are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

ARTICLES

GIANTS-COWBOYS: SIGHTS AND SOUNDS…
A sights and sounds video from the Giants’ 27-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys is now available at Giants.com.

NOTES…
QB Eli Manning started his 168th consecutive regular-season game in Dallas. DT Johnathan Hankins has the team’s second-longest starting streak at 17 games.

Manning’s 193 passing yards in Dallas increased his career total to 39,948. He needs 52 yards against Atlanta on Sunday to become the 15th quarterback in NFL history with at least 40,000 passing yards.

Manning threw neither a touchdown pass nor an interception vs. the Cowboys. That’s just the eighth time that’s happened in his 168 starts. The Giants are 4-4 in those games. It was the 29th time he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. The Giants are 9-20 when Manning does not throw for a score.

When Sam Bradford lined up under center for Philadelphia last night, he became the 29th different quarterback to start for the other three NFC East teams since Manning’s starting debut on Nov. 21, 2004. The Eagles lead the pack with 11 quarterbacks, followed by Washington (10) and Dallas (9). Donovan McNabb started for both Philadelphia and Washington. He counts in each team’s total, but just once in the division total.

Left tackle Ereck Flowers and safety Landon Collins, the Giants’ first two selections in this year’s NFL Draft, each started in Dallas. It was the first time the Giants’ first and second-round draft choices started the season opener as rookies since Aug. 31, 1997, when wide receiver Ike Hilliard (first round) and running back Tiki Barber (second) started in a victory over Philadelphia.

The Cowboys scored the game-winning points on an 11-yard pass from Tony Romo to Jason Witten with seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time a Giants opponent scored a go-ahead, game-winning touchdown with seven or fewer seconds remaining in the Super Bowl era (now in its 50th season).

The Giants had not lost a game with a turnover differential of plus-3 or better since Nov. 29, 1987 at Washington, where four takeaways and just one turnover couldn’t prevent a 23-19 defeat.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The Giants practice on Thursday and hold physical recovery cycles on Friday in advance of Sunday’s home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

Sep 152015
 
Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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JASON PIERRE-PAUL ALSO MISSING PART OF THUMB…
According to ESPN, the injuries that New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered to his right hand from a July 4th fireworks accident are worse than originally reported.

In addition to the right index finger amputated at the knuckle, fractured right thumb, and skin grafts, Pierre-Paul is also missing the tip of his right thumb. He also had surgery on his right middle finger three days before meeting with team officials last week. ESPN says the fractured thumb was surgically repaired on July 8th and that Pierre-Paul has undergone a “myriad surgical procedures” on his hand since the accident.

This report appears to substantiate the FOX Sports report last week that Pierre Paul had damage to three of the fingers on his right hand. FOX Sports also said Pierre-Paul had another skin graft procedure performed recently, and because Pierre-Paul has not been able to lift weights, he has lost significant muscle mass.

Pierre-Paul believes he will return to the playing field this season but there appears to be growing skepticism by team officials that he will be able to do so. The Giants have yet to rescind their 1-year, $14.813 million Franchise tender, but Pierre-Paul is not currently being paid and is losing approximately $870,000 per week now that the season has started.

Both FOX Sports and ESPN report that the Giants have told Pierre-Paul that they will re-evaluate his physical condition in five-six weeks. ESPN says that if his hand is not “healed to their satisfaction,” the Giants will consider rescinding the Franchise tender.

PRINCE AMUKAMARA ON WFAN RADIO…
The audio of Tuesday’s WFAN Radio interview with cornerback Prince Amukamara is available at CBS New York.

Sep 142015
 


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HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media by conference call on Monday afternoon:

Alright, good afternoon. It certainly doesn’t feel any better this morning than it did last night. It’s remorse for opportunity lost, obviously. And again, I feel very badly for our team. I thought they played hard, gave good effort. Certainly the football wasn’t by any means perfect. In many, many categories, we were deficient compared to what Dallas accomplished. However, we were plus-three. Our defense did score one touchdown, and really put us on the one-yard line. You might as well say scored two touchdowns, and did an outstanding job of taking the ball away from a very good Dallas team. And putting us in a position where we had an opportunity to win the game.

I stand by what I said last night. The responsibility for the management of time and the play calling decisions etc. etc. are mine. Therefore the responsibility goes to me and nobody else. And all the other jibber-jabber, whatever is going on out there, simply comes down to the fact that we were within striking distance of being 10 points up. And that’s all I ever wanted—was to get back to the 10 point lead. Dallas has had success driving the ball late in the game against us for a couple years, and scoring late touchdowns to defeat us. By going up 10, that would not have been an issue. When on third and 13 we went to the air and made a first down, that obviously made me ever more the aggressor, in terms of we were thinking about being able to score and to go up 10. And then the clock under two minutes, whether it took a minute or whatever it took there for them to score. If they were, in fact, going to, we would still have the lead and there wouldn’t be any time left on the clock or they would have no timeouts.

So it was very disappointing. The thing I do regret the most for the evening really is that at 5:08, we had a 13 play, 79 yard drive and we came away with field goal rather than a touchdown. That was very disappointing to me. The third and one play, which I again take responsibility for—it should have been a run, it wasn’t. The throwing the ball away created the stoppage of the clock. The clock had been stopped many times along the way for penalties, for refusal to accept penalties, all of those things that take place within the last two minutes. So the clock hadn’t really been running. There were timeouts taken that were given back to the defensive team. The explanation to me this morning is that the referee has the right within whether he thinks it’s a sequential operational play or not, to give the timeout back to the team that has taken the timeout. Even though in the situation we talked about, we did have the personal foul.

So, all these things having been said, as I mentioned, the other thing that was most disappointing was the last two drives that Dallas had. They really didn’t—we didn’t give them much opposition. They had a six-play, 76 yard drive and later a six-play, 72 yard drive. Their final play left seven seconds on the clock. So, most-disappointing for us, and again, I really thought that we played hard, that we gave good effort, that we were physical. Both sides played hard and we were in position to win the game and didn’t win it. I’m very, very disappointed and upset about that. Our players feel very badly today, but we’ll bounce back.

Q: There was a report out there that Rashad Jennings was instructed not to score on the first three plays inside the five-yard line. Was that something that was instructed from the sidelines?

A: No. No, that was not instructed from the sidelines. In talking with Eli today, I think that he was confused by the number of timeouts that were remaining. His intention was with one timeout, that we would milk the clock the best we would. However, they had two timeouts left. So, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Q: Was there any consideration on going for it on fourth down on the next play?

A: Was I thinking about that? If we had run the ball, I might’ve. But not in that circumstance, no. What I really didn’t want have to have happen is to—they have an outstanding kicking game, an outstanding kicker capable of 50 plus yards. I did not want to give them the opportunity to tie the game with a field goal. So my mind was in tune to put some points on the board, although as I had explained I think in great depth, my intent was to be up 10.

Q: Going back a second, when you talk about he was confused about the timeouts, were you talking about Rashad or Eli?

A: No, it was Eli.

Q: At the two minute warning, you guys had the third down. If you get a first down there, is the plan at that point to sort of run the clock down and not get in the end zone? Had that been discussed by you guys at any point?

A: Well the thing that is always discussed is we want to get them out of timeouts and then be in a position where we can kneel. That’s wasn’t the case.

Q: On that final drive—the Cowboys game-winning drive, it looked like you were in base defense for most of that drive. Is that correct and if so, what was the thinking behind that?

A: No, we weren’t in base defense, we were in nickel. Trying to match their personnel.

Q: How do you think Uani [Unga] did there? First start, playing middle linebacker.

A: You know what, he played hard, he was aggressive, he made a lot of tackles. He certainly got himself out of position a couple of times. But for a guy put in that position, I thought he responded very well.

Q: Do you have any updates on Jon Beason or Victor Cruz or any of the other injuries?

A: No I don’t. I wish I did, but I don’t.

Q: How about Ereck Flowers? He looked like he hurt his ankle.

A: They’re doing the usual number of MRI’s etc. etc. I don’t have any information in front of me about that. He did injure the ankle early on and he gutted it out and finished the game. But today is a different day.

Q: How’d you think he did playing-wise?

A: He was limited to a certain extent because of the injury, but I thought he battled away, and that’s what we always counted on—that he would battle. And he did.

Q: Was there any point in that final drive by Dallas where you thought about maybe, “I’ll call a timeout and make sure my defense is on the same page.”

A: Just one time, but they stood over the ball long enough for us to settle in. There was one time when the ball was approaching the red zone, that it looked like there was some confusion, but then the ball was not snapped right away and people were in position. And it ended up being an incomplete pass. That’s always a consideration.

Q: Eli is obviously a guy that’s always in control, and the confusion over timeouts is a little out of character for him. When something like that happens, is it easy to dismiss or do you have to change any of the process of communication late in the game because of that?

A: It’s never happened before. I completely trust Eli, I always have. He’s extremely into the game, he’s aware of all the circumstances. As he comes over to the sideline, he relates what he sees and so on and so forth, from his position. To be honest with you, nothing like that has ever happened. His mind was in the right place here, he just didn’t have all the facts right, and unfortunately we didn’t get it corrected.

Q: There was a timeout before that third down play. Is it normal for you not to communicate directly with the quarterback?

A: Well, those are 30-second timeouts. The coordinators on the headset are with the quarterback at the time as well.

Q: He came over to the sideline?

A: He came over to the sideline, I think, prior to those plays. He may have come over to the sideline right there, too.

Q: Do you regret not telling him, “Hey, we got to make sure not to throw the ball away at that point?”

A: Do I regret? If I had a minute and a half, I could have gone down through the litany. But again, it was a third-down call, we were trying to score. That was the whole idea. We were trying to score with the play that was called. Again, hindsight is 20-20. I think Eli would agree this morning that if in fact he was pressured and didn’t have an opportunity, that he would go down and let the clock run. So, that would be my position on that.

Q: You didn’t know that Rashad at the time was not trying to score, though. Is that something that you found out later and when did you find that out?

A: Well, I don’t know if that’s exactly the case. I do know that it came up after the game, which I hadn’t heard that before.

Q: How is your team today? I know it was a crazy trip back and obviously a brutal loss. You always say Monday is rough, but is this one especially rough?

A: Well they were tired. There was not much sleep, nobody got any sleep. The guys were tired, and they were sad, they were disappointed. They were relating to the sequence, as it is, following a game—your Monday, but they were doing it without any sleep. It was a different kind of day, let’s put it that way. And again as I said, we talked about yesterday’s game and about going forward and how I urged them to get to bed early tonight and again tomorrow night. Because sometimes it’s a couple of days before it really hits you. And then come to work Wednesday morning excited about looking forward not backward.

Q: What did you think about your two top picks and how they played in their first NFL game? Flowers and Landon Collins.

A: Well I thought that they both played hard, and they both handled the situation very well. To be starting and playing in a game in the NFC East division, in Dallas, in their first regular season game—I thought they handled it very well.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and audio of Monday’s media sessions with the following players:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off Tuesday before returning to practice on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Sep 142015
 

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Dallas Cowboys 27 – New York Giants 26

Game Overview

In 20 years of writing or editing game reviews, I’ve noted that Giants fans don’t have much patience or desire to read lengthy reviews after a painful loss, so I will keep this one short and sweet.

Giants fans (and the coaches and players) need to get over this “woe is me” crap right now. Every week in the NFL you see a game that another team screws up badly, and fans will gather around the water cooler on Monday morning and say, “Did you see that game? Man, did that team blow it or what?” Well, Giants fans, this week it was unfortunately our team. It happens. Get over it. Move on. The Giants are only 0-1, losing a close game that most didn’t give them a chance to win. That’s all. They didn’t get knocked out of the playoffs.

But before we totally close the books on this one, let’s look at this game in a broader context instead of discussing the painful final two minutes.

In many ways, the Giants were lucky to be in this game. Consider the following:

  • If you told me before the game that the Cowboys would out-gain the Giants in first downs 27 to 18, total net yards 436 to 289, and net passing yards 356 to 193, I would have told you that the Giants got badly beaten.
  • If you told me that Dallas would dominate the time of possession 37:10 to 22:50, New York must have gotten killed.
  • The Giants were 25 percent (1-of-4) in the red zone while the Cowboys were 60 percent (3-of-5). Sayonara.
  • The Cowboys were 6-of-11 (55 percent) on third down. Must have been a blowout.
  • Tony Romo wasn’t sacked only once and only officially hit once? Yikes.
  • If you told me that Eli Manning passed for less than 200 yards, Odell Beckham only caught 44 yards, and the offense never really had a touchdown drive, then the Giants must have lost by 30.

This game was only close because of three Cowboys turnovers that directly resulted in 17 of New York’s 26 points. The Giants did not have one turnover. That said, the Giants offense really only generated nine points off of three of their ten possessions. The Cowboys all but handed this game to the Giants. New York refused to take it. Too bad. But the better team on this night ultimately won. Now it’s time to move on and get better.

Quarterback

Eli was not helped by dropped passes, but he was clearly out-played by Tony Romo who is now the comeback king in this rivalry. Obviously, Manning should have taken a sack on the final play. Another bone-headed decision from a veteran quarterback who should know better. I love ya Eli, but c’mon.

Running Backs

The Giants only had 33 rushing yards by halftime but finished with 99 yards (80 from the running backs). One third of those 80 yards came on a 27-yard run by Rashad Jennings on the final field goal drive. The Giants obviously need more consistent productivity out their run game. Andre Williams continues to under-perform and the Giants may want to consider promoting Orleans Darkwa in his place.

If true, the real gut-wrenching issue was supposedly Jennings was told not to score on at least 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line in order to run more time off of the clock. “As a running back, it’s really tough when they tell you not to score,” Jennings said. (Late note: Manning said he was confused about the timeout situation and that he mistaken told Jennings not to score).

Wide Receivers

A major disappointment. “Superstar” Odell Beckham caught five passes for 44 yards (8.8 yards per catch). That’s not going to get it done. Neither is Preston Parker (2 catches for 26 yards) dropping three passes on third down or Rueben Randle only catching three passes for 23 yards. Dwayne Harris wasn’t even targeted. The wide receivers were a major reason why the team lost the game. Want some optimism moving forward? My guess is that this is the worst game this group will play all season.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells caught six passes for 54 yards. The Giants would have won the game had the officials called the beyond obvious holding penalty on Fells on 3rd-and-goal. Shame on the NFL.

Offensive Line

Not bad, but not great. More optimism? This is a unit that should continue to grow and improve with more playing time. The Giants rushed for nearly 100 yards but need greater consistency in the ground game. Eli Manning was sacked once and officially hit only four times.

Defensive Line

The Giants did a better job of stopping Darren McFadden (6 carries for 16 yards) than they did Joseph Randle (16 carries for 65 yards). The ends still need to hold their ground better. But the Giants did a reasonable job of defending a very good run-blocking offensive line by holding the Cowboys to 81 rushing yards. The pass rush was virtually non-existent except for a few pressures by Robert Ayers. Cullen Jenkins may improve the run defense at end, but he can’t rush the passer from that position.

Linebackers

The problem was pass coverage. 22 of Tony Romo’s 36 completions went to running backs and tight ends for 199 yards. Unai’ Unga was put in a tough situation given his inexperience. I would have preferred Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas – both supposedly strong in coverage – being on the field together on the final two drives. Strange decision by the defensive staff.

Defensive Backs

While the secondary deserves some of the blame for the productive night of the Dallas tight ends (i.e., Landon Collins on Jason Witten) and backs, the defensive backs played fairly well. Dallas’ longest pass of the night to a wideout was only 21 yards and Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley were held to 14 catches and 157 yards total. More importantly, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trumaine McBride, and Brandon Meriweather were responsible for 14 of the Giants 26 points. The pass interference penalty on DRC on 3rd-and-4 was bullshit.

Special Teams

This was supposed to be a big advantage for the Cowboys but the Giants held their own. New punter Brad Wing punted well, averaging 45.5 net yards per punt. The coverage teams were solid. The Giants never had a chance to return six kickoffs (all touchbacks). Dwayne Harris only gained three yards on two punt returns. Josh Brown was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts and 2-for-2 on extra points.

Coaching Staff

Obviously there were some questionable decisions made, particularly late in the game on both sides of the football. Contrary to most, I don’t fault the staff for kicking the field goal on 4th down. Dallas has a great kicker and a field goal still could have sent the game into overtime. But passing the ball on 3rd down backfired. Uani’ Unga was put in a really tough spot.

(New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, September 13, 2015)
Sep 142015
 
Uani' Unga, New York Giants (September 13, 2015)

Jason Witten Scores Game-Winning TD – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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DALLAS COWBOYS 27 – NEW YORK GIANTS 26…
The New York Giants had the Dallas Cowboys on the ropes but they let the game slip away in the final seconds as Dallas quarterback Tony Romo hit tight end Jason Witten for an 11-yard touchdown with seven seconds in the game to win 27-26. The touchdown catch culminated a far-too-easy 6-play, 72-yard drive in 87 seconds.

Making matters worse was the Giants had a chance to put the game away before the drive. Leading 23-20, the Giants had successfully driven from their own 20-yard line to the Dallas 4-yard line with 1:54 to play. After two runs by running back Rashad Jennings had picked up three yards and caused the Cowboys to spend their last timeouts, the Giants faced 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The Giants chose not to run the ball. Quarterback Eli Manning threw the ball away instead of taking a sack, causing the clock to stop. Declining to go for it on 4th-and-goal, Head Coach Tom Coughlin called for the field goal and the Giants only went up by six points.

Now a young Giants team will have to quickly recover emotionally from a devastating loss as the team will face the potentially dangerous Atlanta Falcons next Sunday at home.

In a game where the Giants defense was supposed to struggle and the offense was supposed to excel, the roles were reversed until the end of the contest. Not only did New York’s defense hold the Cowboys to only six first-half points, but the defense scored a touchdown after cornerback Trumaine McBride forced wide receiver Cole Beasley to fumble and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned the loose ball 57 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing drive, linebacker Uani’ Unga intercepted Romo at the Dallas 22-yard line, setting up a 40-yard field goal right before halftime.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense puttered for most of the first half, accruing only six first downs and 86 total yards (33 rushing and 53 passing). At the half, the Giants led 13-6.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half and went up 16-6 after a 12-play, 68-yard drive set up a 30-yard field goal. However, the Cowboys responded with a 9-play, 80-yard effort that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass to cut the New York advantage to 16-13. This drive was aided by a very questionable Rodgers-Cromartie pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-4 incomplete pass.

The score stayed that way until midway through the fourth quarter. Safety Brandon Meriweather’s hard hit on a receiver caused an interception that was returned by McBride to the Cowboys 1-yard line. One play later, Jennings scored and the Giants had a 10-point lead with just over eight minutes to play.

But alas it was not to be as New York’s defense collapsed late. The Cowboys drove 76 yards in six plays to cut the score to 23-20 with five minutes to play. Then came the long drive by the Giants that almost sealed the deal until the red zone failure.

The Cowboys out-gained the Giants in first downs (27-18), total net yards (436 to 289), and net passing yards (356 to 190). The Giants slightly out-gained the Cowboys in rushing yards (99 to 80). The equalizer was the Cowboys turned the football over three times while the Giants did not turn it over at all.

Manning finished the game 20-of-36 for 193 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Wide receiver Odell Beckham only caught five passes for 44 yards. Running back Shane Vereen caught four passes for 46 yards. The leading rusher was Jennings who had 52 yards on 13 carries with a 27-yarder on New York’s last field goal drive.

While the New York defense did force three turnovers, they rarely touched Romo who was not sacked and only officially hit once.

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

INJURY REPORT…
DT Markus Kuhn left the game in the second half with a knee sprain and did not return. LT Ereck Flowers injured his ankle but returned to the game.

POST-GAME REACTIONS…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and various players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Rueben Randle (Video)
  • LB J.T. Thomas (Video)
  • CB Trumaine McBride (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), LB Jon Beason (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), S Cooper Taylor, TE Jerome Cunningham, OT Bobby Hart, and DT Louis Nix.

The Cowboys are 8-0 against the Giants in season openers.

The Cowboys have won five games in a row over the Giants.

MORE BAD NEWS ON JASON PIERRE-PAUL…
According to FOX Sports, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has damage to three of the fingers on his right hand and Pierre-Paul had another skin graft procedure performed recently. In addition, because Pierre-Paul has not been able to lift weights, he has lost significant muscle mass. The Giants reportedly have told Pierre-Paul that they will re-evaluate his physical condition in six weeks.

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