Dec 152015
 
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NEW YORK GIANTS 31 – MIAMI DOLPHINS 24…
The New York Giants ended their three-game losing streak on Monday night by defeating the Miami Dolphins 31-24 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Garden, Florida. With the win, the Giants improved their overall record to 6-7, keeping pace with the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

In a wild game that featured five lead changes, the stars of the contest for New York were quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham. Manning only missed on four passes, completing 27-of-31 attempts for 337 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Beckham caught 7-of-9 passes thrown in his direction for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Dolphins received the ball to start the game, but quickly turned it over on the third offensive snap. Safety Landon Collins forced tight end Dion Sims to fumble the ball, which was recovered by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul at the Miami 36-yard line. The Giants gained 19 yards to set up a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

On their second possession, the Dolphins responded with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that culminated with a 14-yard touchdown run by running back Lamar Miller. Miami now led 7-3. After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants regained the lead 10-7 with a 9-play, 70-yard effort that ended with 6-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Rueben Randle on 3rd down.

Back came the Dolphins as they quickly went back on top after a 7-play, 67-yard drive. Miller scored his second touchdown of the game, this one an impressive, tackle-breaking 38-yard run. Miami 14 – Giants 10.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants turned the ball over at their own 25-yard line when running back Andre Williams botched a hand-off from Manning. The Dolphins were forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal, however, and extended their advantage to 17-10. With just 1:52 to go before halftime, the Giants drove the length of the field in 68 seconds to tie the game. The big play was a 45-yard strike from Manning to Beckham. Two plays later, Manning hit tight end Will Tye for a 5-yard touchdown.

At the half, the game was tied 17-17.

After the Giants went three-and-out to start the second half, the Dolphins scored their last points by driving 61 yards in just six plays to go ahead 24-17. Wide receiver Kenny Stills beat cornerback Prince Amukamara for a 47-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-7.

The Giants tied the game 24-24 on their second possession of the half with a 9-play, 80-yard affair that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Beckham. The play was originally ruled incomplete but overturned as Beckham did a marvelous job of keeping his feet in bounds.

Miami struggled to move the ball the rest of the contest. The Dolphins’ final four possessions of the second half only gained 55 yards and three first downs, as each drive ended with a Miami punt.

The Giants had a chance to go up by a field goal late in the 3rd quarter after a 51-yard drive, but Brown missed his 48-yard field goal attempt and the game remained tied. Nevertheless, on New York’s ensuing possession which began at their own 4-yard line, the Giants scored their game-winning points. On first down, running back Rashad Jennings gained 12 yards. On the very next snap, Manning found a wide open Beckham for an 84-yard score and a 31-24 lead that would hold up as the final score.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 15, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Miami’s last serious scoring thread came on the following possession. The Dolphins gained two first downs and reached the New York 31-yard line. But a holding penalty and three incomplete passes stalled the drive.

Both teams then went three-and-out. With 4:39 left in the game, the Giants were able to successfully run out the clock by gaining 35 yards and three first downs.

Offensively, the Giants gained 429 total net yards (92 rushing, 337 passing), were 5-of-11 on 3rd down (45 percent), and were 3-of-4 (75 percent) in the red zone. Aside from Beckham’s big night, Randle, wide receiver Dwayne Harris, and Tye had five catches each. Jennings carried the ball 22 times for 81 yards.

Defensively, the Dolphins gained 363 total net yards (128 rushing, 235 passing), were 7-of-16 on 3rd down (44 percent), and 1-of-2 (50 percent) in the red zone. Defensive end Robert Ayers had the Giants’ only sack of the game.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Left tackle Ereck Flowers re-injured his high ankle sprain in the 4th quarter and did not return. Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn suffered a knee injury in the 3rd quarter and did not return. Left guard Justin Pugh and right guard John Jerry suffered burners in the 2nd quarter but returned. Wide receiver Odell Beckham missed the first drive of the second half with cramps, needing an IV, but returned. LB J.T. Thomas tweaked his ankle but returned. Defensive end George Selvie left the game in the 4th quarter, being evaluated for a concussion.

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

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • RB Rashad Jennings (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham (Video)
  • WR Rueben Randle (Video)
  • TE Will Tye (Video)
  • LG/LT Justin Pugh (Video)
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Video)

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot), S Brandon Meriweather (knee), WR Geremy Davis, DE Stansly Maponga, OG Adam Gettis, OT Emmett Cleary, and CB Tramain Jacobs.

GIANTS-VIKINGS FLEXED TO SUNDAY NIGHT…
The NFL has flexed the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings game in Minnesota on December 27 from 1:00PM to 8:30PM EST. The game will now be televised on NBC.

DAMONTRE MOORE CLAIMED BY DOLPHINS…
Defensive end Damontre Moore, who was waived by the New York Giants on Friday, has been claimed off of waivers by the Miami Dolphins.

ARTICLES…

Dec 122015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 6, 2015)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Miami Dolphins, December 14, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
A month ago, the New York Giants were 5-4. Now they are 5-7. Forget the division race. Win a game.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – questionable)
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (back – probable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (neck – questionable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot – out)
  • S Brandon Meriweather (knee – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The 4-3 defense of the Miami Dolphins has not played as well as expected this year. They are ranked 27th overall (22nd against the pass and 30th against the run). However, there are moments and games when the Dolphins’ defense has played well. High-priced free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh started off slowly but has been playing much better lately. When motivated, he can be a nightmare to block. Right defensive end Olivier Vernon has caught the eye of the Giants and has 6.5 sacks. The Dolphins will want to isolate Suh on John Jerry and/or Bobby Hart. Vernon will battle either the gimpy Ereck Flowers (high ankle sprain) or Justin Pugh, who may have to shift to left tackle if Flowers can’t play.

Safety Reshad Jones, the team’s leading tackler, and cornerback Brent Grimes, the team’s best coverman, lead the secondary. The Giants’ offense has devolved to the Eli Manning-to-Odell Beckham connection. If either doesn’t play a near-perfect game, the Giants are in trouble.

The questions remain: Can anyone other than Odell Beckham make a play for the Giants? Can New York’ 29th-ranked ground game do any consistent damage against Miami’s 30th-ranked run defense? Can one of the four running backs break a tackle or make a tackler miss to make a big play? Wide receiver Rueben Randle has had one game where he had over 100 yards receiving and that was in Week 3. In the last three games, he has averaged only two catches per contest. That’s not going to get it done. Someone at receiver has to pick up some slack, be it Randle, Hakeem Nicks, or Dwayne Harris. All of the other receivers were an embarrassing non-factor against the Jets.

Not to sound like a broken record, the Giants have got to get back to getting the ball to Shane Vereen as a pass receiver. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the offense’s inconsistency has increased since the decline in his productivity. He has caught only 10 passes for 42 yards in the last three losses. Given the lack of talent at wide receiver outside of Beckham, Vereen should be getting at least 5-6 pass receptions per game and arguably more.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Prevent the big play and finish the game. Miami’s offense has struggled this year (29th overall, 22nd in passing, 23rd rushing). They are also dreadful on 3rd down (31st in the NFL at 28 percent). But the Dolphins are quite capable of making big plays. They are surprisingly tied with the Patriots and Packers with 51 plays of 20 yards or more (42 of those passing plays). The focal point is wide receiver Jarvis Landry (78 catches) but fellow wideouts Rishard Matthews (15.4 yards per catch), Kenny Stills (17.1 yards per catch), and DeVante Parker (17.5 yards per catch) can stretch the field. Matthews has fractured ribs and is not expected to play as the rookie Parker receives more playing time. The Dolphins also surely noted that the Jets had over 100 yards receiving to backs out of the backfield. Running back Lamar Miller has 39 catches this year, including two for touchdowns. Jordan Cameron (26 catches) is the tight end.

Miami’s biggest problem has been the inconsistent quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Tannehill can hurt teams with his feet. In the last two games, the Giants have made mediocre quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick look like world-beaters. Will that trend continue with Tannehill?

Until last week against Baltimore, the Ravens’ ground game has struggled in recent weeks. Miller gained 113 yards against the Ravens, but had not surpassed the 50-yard mark since Week 7.

While the Giants’ pass rush has slightly improved, the defense is still not finishing games either by stopping game-winning drives or preventing the other team from running out the clock. Since the Giants appear incapable of blowing out another team, the defense will most likely once again be under the spotlight late in the game on Monday. Will history repeat itself or will the Giants’ 31st-ranked defense finally stop the opposition with the game on the line?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Jarvis Landry is averaging 9.3 yards per punt return and has returned one punt 69 yards for a touchdown. Miami’s kickoff coverage is solid, being 12th in the NFL. In the last two seasons, the Dolphins have blocked four punts and two field goals. Keep in mind that New York has new long snapper this week and that could be a factor on punts and field goals.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on his team: “We will win as soon as we deserve to win. And the deserving to win part of it, obviously it comes from being able to finish on a stronger basis than we have. And as you look around, you can find a million reasons why one play has cost us games, and if that’s the case, then each one of us—coaches, players—examine your own conscience, come up with those things that are necessary for us to make improvement, and let’s get it done now.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Two bad 5-7 football teams battle on Prime Time. Flip a coin as to who will win. A Giants’ loss will end any pretense of possibly winning the atrocious NFC East. A Giants’ win will likely only prolong the torture, but all we can really do is hope for the best.

Dec 072015
 
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New York Jets 23 – New York Giants 20 (OT)

Overview

If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived? – Fox Mulder

We need to take a step back and look at the big picture. The specifics of what transpired in this particular game are not as important as the fact that they keep happening. Structurally, this team is broken. And until those structural problems are rectified, I find it doubtful that this team will achieve the type of status that all fans hope for: perennial playoff contender.

Though technically still alive for the playoffs, we all know this season isn’t going to end well. Five unbelievable, late-game, heart-breaking losses have left this team shell-shocked. They are still fighting and competing (credit the coaching staff and the character of the players) but they are finding novel and painful ways to lose each week (blame the coaching staff and quality of the players). Despite what they say publicly, this team lacks confidence. They expect to lose. It was almost a given that the 4th-and-2 play would fail, that the offense would not run out the clock, that the defense would collapse, and that the kicker who had not missed all year would miss. A culture of losing is very difficult to eradicate. To do so often requires drastic measures.

The Giants are on their way to their third losing season in a row and fourth non-playoff season in a league and division populated with bad and mediocre football teams. With the demise of the Cowboys and Eagles, the Giants were all but handed the NFC East. They refused to take it despite multiple opportunities. In the last four seasons, the Giants are 9-7, 7-9, 6-10, and now 5-7 with four games to play. This team is not getting better. At best, it’s treading water in some areas; but in many ways, it’s getting worse. For a team that has unofficially been “rebuilding” for the last 2-3 years, that’s disturbing.

Look, it’s not a shock that the Giants have a losing record with four games left to play. Before the season, many fans felt this was an 8-8 team at best and many predicted a 6-10 or 7-9 season. Fans recognized the defense was devoid of talent and it would take time to learn the new defensive system. The offensive line was in transition. They knew the offseason injuries to Will Beatty and Jason Pierre-Paul would have an impact. But what fans did not expect was a team that would be among the league’s most injured for the sixth year in a row, a defense that would once again be dead last in the NFL, a running game that would remain among the NFL’s worst, and an offense that would be relegated to the Eli Manning-to-Odell Beckham connection. The fans did not also know what opportunity would be handed to the Giants in the division. Had you told New York fans that the Giants could all but wrap up the NFC East by beating the Redskins at the end of November, they would have gladly signed up for that scenario. Instead the Giants found themselves trailing a mediocre Redskins 20-0 in the 4th quarter.

Something is wrong.

The first instinct among many fans when their team fails is to fire everyone. Fire the coach. Fire the general manager. Dump the players. Usually this is an overreaction and often it is unrealistic. It’s part of the blame culture that we now find ourselves in. If my Sundays are going to suck, heads must roll and damn the real-life human cost. But after four disappointing and at times excruciatingly painful seasons, with the oldest head coach in the league, with injury-riddled rosters year after year, and a talent-acquisition process that appears to be malfunctioning, the time has come to make some sweeping changes. Professional football is entertainment. The product the Giants have put on the field is not remotely entertaining. An Odell Beckham one-handed highlight does not compensate for yet another loss.

Coaching Staff

They all need to be fired. I feel badly for them and their families. But it’s time. Tom Coughlin is easily one of the top three head coaches in franchise history. He won two NFL titles (1/4 of the franchise’s championships) with teams that only had a handful of impact players. Both playoff runs were miraculous. And his talent- and injury-depleted 2015 team has remained competitive in EVERY game this year except one. Six of the team’s seven losses have been by a total of 18 points. Coughlin has no agenda other than making sure the New York Giants are winners. It’s the only thing that drives him. He may end up in the Hall of Fame someday.

But Coughlin turns 70 next year. This team does not appear close. Very questionable game-management decisions have been an issue in almost every one of the team’s close defeats. As cruel as it sounds, one must question if his mental faculties are slipping. His mantra has been “Finish” but he himself has let his team down by not “finishing” the game with smart coaching decisions. With under 9 minutes to play, you kick the field goal. You make Ryan Fitzpatrick score 14 points. Keep in mind the Jets had only managed 10 points on offense at this point. It doesn’t matter if the Giants would have lost too had they kicked the field goal, you have to play the percentages. These type of questionable goal line and running-out-the-clock play calls have plagued New York all season. Even in the opener, Eli took the blame for telling Rashad Jennings not to score. However, it’s incumbent on the coach to remind his quarterback what the situation is and what needs to be done. That didn’t happen.

What about the assistant coaches? First, if you bring in a new head coach, you should allow him to pick his own staff. Everyone. Don’t encumber him with someone else’s assistants. Second, while Ben McAdoo has been a godsend in revitalizing Eli Manning’s career, he doesn’t appear to be a very good offensive coordinator. I expected him to grow and improve as a play caller and he hasn’t. McAdoo has yet to manufacture a viable running game. And the efficiency of his West Coast short passing offense seems to be regressing. Steve Spagnuolo? The Giants are dead last in defense. The fact that started under Perry Fewell and has continued under Spagnuolo suggests an obvious talent issue, but dead last is dead last. And this defense simply cannot stop even mediocre offenses from driving the field late in games. It’s been an issue in every close loss. In the last three Jets’ drives on Sunday, the defense gave up 212 yards of offense. To Ryan Fitzpatrick. To be blunt, these guys aren’t out-coaching anyone. Teams seem to know what the Giants are doing on offense and defense.

Really, the only two strong arguments for not firing this coaching staff are (1) is there anyone out there who is obviously more qualified?, and (2) the clock is ticking on the franchise quarterback. These are both valid concerns. But do they outweigh the other negatives at this point?

Players

Due to quality of the player, draft investment, and/or salary cap considerations, the only ones who are safe are Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Dwayne Harris, Shane Vereen, Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Johnathan Hankins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Landon Collins, and Brad Wing. Even with a new coaching staff, Jay Bromley and Devon Kennard probably get another shot. Maybe Robert Ayers. There is absolutely no guarantee that Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara will be back. The cupboard isn’t bare, but it’s not looking so hot either.

And because player personnel is an issue, this goes hand in hand with the opportunity to change the entire coaching staff. A new coaching staff won’t necessarily be stuck with a lot of players from the past regime. Indeed, on the defensive side of the ball, for the first time in over 20 years, the team can actually consider if it wants to shift back to the 3-4 defense.

Training/Medical Staff

The never-ending debate: Are the Giants’ training/medical personnel partly responsible for the team’s poor run of bad luck on the injury front? On the surface, it sounds like more scapegoating. But the fact remains that the Giants are statistically one of the most injury-prone teams for the sixth year in a row despite radical roster transition. The team has readily admitted publicly that it has a problem. The Giants have changed their practice schedule and adopted new training and monitoring techniques to no avail. Both young and old players are getting hurt at an alarming rate with calf injuries, torn pectoral muscles, hamstrings, and knee and ankle issues. There was a case of staph infection that ended a career of a tight end, and a starter on the offensive line who was lost for the year due to a weight lifting accident. Two players who were said to have minor calf injuries never played due to season-ending surgeries. Is it simply year after year bad luck? The strength and conditioning program? Poor diagnosis and treatment? We keep saying the injury luck is bound to change but it never does.

The Giants are an incredibly loyal operation. But if coaches and players can be fired, why not training and medical staff? They should be evaluated on their performance as well. Time may have passed by Tom Coughlin, but it may also have passed by Senior Vice President of Medical Services Ronnie Barnes who has been with the team for decades.

General Manager, Player Personnel, and Scouting

The Giants have suffered from a lot of bad luck in the injury department. A plethora of career-ending and career-impacting injuries to many of the team’s best young talent has wrecked the roster. But General Manager Jerry Reese, Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Chris Mara, Vice President of Player Evaluation Marc Ross, Director of Pro Personnel Ken Sternfeld, and their staffs have done a horrible job of constructing this roster. There are a bunch of players starting or playing vital roles on this team that wouldn’t even make other teams as backups. There are holes all over the place on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. And the holes seem to be increasing rather than diminishing. The new narrative has been that the Giants are finally drafting better now. Not that much better. Odell Beckham has been the only impact player this team has acquired via the draft in recent years. You can fire coach after coach, but if you don’t acquire and retain good players, you won’t win. Period.

The problem with firing the General Manager and the rest of the player personnel staff is that if you do that in conjunction with firing the coaching staff, there is very little structure and continuity left in place. It would be a monumental organizational and cultural change for the Giants to start from scratch here. It is very unlikely. That said, will the results really change all that much on the playing field if those in charge of acquiring the players are not very good at their job? Also, the Giants have gotten into the nasty habit of making changes a year or two too late. They should have fired Perry Fewell earlier than they did. If Tom Coughlin is let go, they waited too long there as well. What if Jerry Reese’s job performance doesn’t improve, but he is allowed to hire a new coach? Then the next general manager is left with someone else’s coaching staff or having to fire that staff. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on a 35+ year old quarterback who you can’t trade.

Conclusion

The bye was supposed to be the panacea for the 6-game sprint to the finish. A win over the Redskins would have all but given the Giants the division. Now, barring a miracle finish, it’s hard to see the team retaining a 70-year old coach who has missed the playoffs four years in a row and who has suddenly turned into one of the poorest game managers in the game. Public relations plays a role here too. The mob is seeking blood and the easiest head to serve up is the head coach. They’ve already fired the offensive and defensive coordinators in recent years. There are no more scapegoats. But – to be blunt – despite the great job Coughlin has done to keep this team competitive, he has dug his own grave this year. It’s a bottom line business and he’s made the wrong decision time and time again.

It’s very doubtful the Giants will make any changes to their training/medical and player acquisition staffs. But they should. They have failed miserably. If you are going to hold coaches and players accountable, then you should hold front office staff members accountable as well. The problems in both of these areas has been ongoing for most of this decade.

Quarterback

Not good enough. Eli Manning was out-played by another mediocre quarterback for the second week in a row. The offense only really generated 10 points on the last two drives of the second quarter. That was it. For all intents and purposes, the Giants offense amounted to a 72-yard pass to Odell Beckham and a 45-yard pass to Will Tye. It may be unfair that Eli has to carry this team, but he has to. The Giants were 0-for-3 in the red zone and 4-of-15 on 3rd down.

Running Back

Not good enough. The head coach and offensive coordinator continue to insist on getting everyone involved yet no one stands out. It is beyond comprehension why this team has stopped trying to get the ball more to Shane Vereen (4 rushes for 13 yards, 2 catches for 7 yards).

Wide Receiver

Not good enough. It’s the Odell Beckham show and nothing else. Yet despite his 6 catches for 149 yards, Beckham could have done more against a secondary that was missing two of its top corners. He dropped two potentially game-deciding catches. They would have been tough, but like Manning, the team needs him to make those plays. Even Tom Coughlin admitted on Monday he has no idea what is going on with Rueben Randle (2 catches for 22 yards), who messed up on the poorly-executed 4th-and-2 play. The other three receiver had 3 catches for 20 yards.

Tight End

Not good enough. Undrafted rookie free agent Will Tye (3 catches for 70 yards) is progressing and his 45-yarder late in the 2nd quarter led to the Giants’ last offensive points of the day. He also had a 25-yarder early in the 3rd quarter, but that was the end of his productivity for the game as a receiver.

Offensive Line

Not good enough. Cohesion is a problem as players keep leaving the line-up due to injury. Marshall Newhouse missed the game and Ereck Flowers was forced out due to a high ankle sprain. He had issues in pass protection before he left. Justin Pugh, who just returned from a concussion, had to shift to left tackle and Dallas Reynolds came off of the bench to play left guard. Rookie Bobby Hart started at right tackle, John Jerry at right guard, and the still-gimpy Weston Richburg (high ankle sprain) at center. The interior trio struggled run blocking, and the pressure Reynolds allowed on the 4th-and-2 play was a big factor in the play’s failure. Hart and Pugh were OK given the circumstances and the quality of the opposition.

Defensive Line

Not good enough. While Jason Pierre-Paul (6 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 QB hits, 1 pass defense, and 1 fumble recovery) and Robert Ayers (5 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 QB hits, and 1 pass defense) had their best games of the season, the line and the entire defense failed to rise to the occasion on each of the last three drives. Cullen Jenkins also had a sack. The 15-yard scramble by Fitzpatrick on 4th-and-6 was a killer.

Linebackers

Not good enough. The Jets killed the Giants with passes to the running backs out of the backfield with 13 receptions for 113 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-15. Jasper Brinkley did force the only turnover of the day for the Giants. But Chris Ivory also gained 47 rushing yards on just 10 carries.

Defensive Backs

Not good enough. The Giants were counting on cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara to shut down the Jets’ only two consistent receiving threats: Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Instead, Marshall and Decker caught 20-of-25 passes thrown in their direction for 232 yards. Amukamara, who seemed to be pointing fingers at others after the game, should have looked at himself for dropping a sure interception and then giving up the game-tying touchdown with 27 seconds left in regulation.

Special Teams

Not good enough. Tragically. Despite Dwayne Harris’ 80-yard punt return for a touchdown and 43-yard kickoff return in overtime, what will be remembered is place kicker Josh Brown missing his only field goal attempt of the season to date in overtime.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

I love the man, but it’s got to be Tom Coughlin. Your offense has possessed the ball for 11 minutes and 21 seconds. There is less than 9 minutes in the game. The opposition only has generated 10 points. You kick the field goal and go up 13 points. He also sent the wrong message to his defense that had been doing alright up to that point.

(New York Jets at New York Giants, December 6, 2015)
Dec 062015
 
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Josh Brown, New York Giants (December 6, 2015)

Josh Brown Misses Game-Tying Kick in OT – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK JETS 23 – NEW YORK GIANTS 20 (OT)…
In pattern far too commonplace this season, the New York Giants lost a heart-breaker, 23-20 in overtime, to the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. Once again, there was a questionable late-game coaching decision and the team surrendered another double-digit 4th quarter lead. The Giants had a chance to tie the game in overtime but place kicker Josh Brown, who had been perfect all season on field goal attempts, missed from 48 yards out.

With the defeat, the Giants fell to 5-7 overall. It was the fifth time this season the Giants have lost a game in the final two minutes – tying a single-season NFL record.

Statistically, the Jets out-gained the Giants in first downs (28 to 14), total net yards (463 to 355), net yards rushing (90 to 74), net yards passing (373 to 281), and time of possession (38:31 to 29:56). The Giants were 0-for-3 in red zone opportunities  and 4-of-15 (27 percent) on third down opportunities.

Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (December 6, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

After both teams went three-and-out and exchanged punts on their first possessions, the Jets went up 3-0 after an 11-play, 78-yard drive that set up a 24-yard field goal. Both teams then gained one first down before having to punt. The Giants went ahead 7-3 when wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown.

The Jets and Giants exchanged punts again. The Giants got the ball back when linebacker Jasper Brinkley forced a fumble that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul recovered. Despite beginning the possession at the Jets’ 10-yard line, the Giants were forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Brown to go up 10-3. Running back Andre Williams was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (December 6, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Jets then proceeded to tie the game by driving 79 yards in nine plays, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hitting running back Bilal Powell for a 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown on 3rd-and-15. However, the Giants regained the lead on the third snap of their ensuing possession when wide receiver Odell Beckham sprinted for a 72-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-2. Giants were now up 17-10.

The Giants’ defense forced three-and-out with 1:42 left in the half. The Giants were able gain 50 yards in six pays, primarily on tight end Will Tye’s 45-yard catch-and-run, to set up a successful 35-yard field goal with 30 seconds left.

At the half, the Giants led 20-10.

Neither team scored in the 3rd quarter. After both teams punted, the Giants began a marathon, 17-play drive that continued midway into the 4th quarter and took an astounding 11 minutes and 21 seconds off of the clock. The turning point in the game came at this moment. Facing a 4th-and-2 from the Jets’ 4-yard line with 8:50 left in the game, Head Coach Tom Coughlin decided to go for it instead of attempting a short field goal that would have put the Giants up by 13 points. Manning’s pass intended for wide receiver Rueben Randle was intercepted and returned to the Jets’ 14-yard line.

The Jets then proceeded to cut the score to 20-13 by driving 80 yards in 12 plays to set up a 24-yard field goal with 4:24 left to play. Needing to run some time off of the clock, the Giants could not and were forced to punt after a three-and-out.

The Jets started their final drive in regulation at their own 29-yard line with 2:40 left to play. Just like the other five late-game collapses, the defense could not hold. The Jets drove 71 yards in 10 plays to tie the game 20-20. On this drive, the Jets converted on 4th-and-6 when Fitzpatrick scrambled for 15 yards. The game-tying touchdown was a 9-yard pass from to wide receiver Brandon Marshall with 27 seconds left.

The Jets won the toss in overtime and drove 61 yards in 13 plays to set up what would be the game-winning 31-yard field goal. Per the new overtime rules, the Giants were given one opportunity to tie or win the game. After a 43-yard kickoff return by Harris, the Giants could only pick up one first down on a 4th-and-6 pass to Beckham that gave the Giants the ball at the Jets’ 34-yard line. But the Giants could only gain four more yards before Brown’s 48-yard game-tying field goal attempt. That kick went wide left.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 18-of-34 for 297 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Beckham caught 6 passes for 149 yards and 1 touchdown. No other receiver caught more than three passes and no running back rushed for more than 23 yards.

Defensively, while the Giants accrued 3 sacks and 9 quarterback hits, Fitzpatrick completed 36-of-50 passes for 390 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Both wide receiver Brandon Marshall (12 catches for 131 yards) and Eric Decker (8 catches for 101 yards) had over 100 yards receiving. Powell also caught 8 passes for 91 yards at running back for the Jets.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Left tackle Ereck Flowers was carted off of the field with a left ankle injury in the 3rd quarter and did not return. He was spotted in a boot and on crutches after the game.

Quarterback Eli Manning had x-rays after the game on an undisclosed body part but claimed he was OK. “Everything’s good,” said Manning. “Just to see if anything was broken, but all good. You can ask Coach about it.”

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 TE Larry Donnell (neck), RT Marshall Newhouse (back), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot), S Brandon Meriweather (knee), DE George Selvie, WR Geremy Davis, and OT Emmett Cleary.

Rookie Bobby Hart started at right tackle.

Six of the New York Giants’ seven losses have been by a total of 18 points.

This was the third time this season the Giants led by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter and were unable to close out their opponent.

Quarterback Eli Manning increased his career yardage total to 43,073. That moved him past Hall of Famer Dan Fouts and into 11th place on the NFL’s career list.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had his fifth consecutive game with at least 100 receiving yards. He is the first Giants receiver in history to do that in a single season. Beckham has 169 career receptions, the highest total in history by an NFL player in his first two seasons. Beckham has scored 10 touchdowns for the second consecutive season.

Wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris is the third player in Giants’ history with kickoff and punt return touchdowns in the same season, and the first to do it in 60 years.

JAMES MORRIS PROMOTED TO 53-MAN ROSTER, LEON McFADDEN CUT…
On Saturday, the New York Giants signed linebacker James Morris to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. To make room for Morris, the team waived cornerback Leon McFadden.

ARTICLES…

Dec 042015
 
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Odell Beckham and Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 29, 2015)

Odell Beckham and Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Jets at New York Giants, December 6, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
I’d like to say the Giants are out of rope and this is a must-win game, but if the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Monday and the Patriots beat the Eagles, New York would still be in first place at 5-7. But I’d prefer not go there at this moment even though that scenario is certainly possible.

For their own self-confidence and well being, the Giants need to win on Sunday and improve their record to 6-6. It will not be easy because the Jets are a tough, physical football team on both sides of the ball. And they are also facing a must-win scenario. That all said, on paper, there are areas where this is good match-up for the G-Men.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Larry Donnell (neck – out)
  • OC Weston Richburg (ankle – questionable)
  • LG Justin Pugh (concussion – probable)
  • RT Marshall Newhouse (back – questionable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot – out)
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand – probable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (toe – probable)
  • S Brandon Meriweather (knee – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The Jets are bit of a throwback 3-4 defense. They are 3rd overall on defense (12th against the pass and 1st against the run). Opposing offenses are only averaging 17.5 first downs per game against the Jets and the Jets’ red zone defense is the best in the NFL (38.5 percent). The Jets also have forced 22 turnovers, 3rd highest in the NFL.

While their linebackers, led by ILB David Harris, are solid, the heart of the defense is their line. Nose tackle Damon Harrison (6’4”, 350lbs) and defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson (6’4”, 315lbs), Sheldon Richardson (6’3”, 294lbs), and Leonard Williams (6’5”, 302lbs) are big, physical, athletic, and a handful for any offensive line. Much of this game’s focus will be the ability or inability of the Giants’ beat up offensive line to deal with these four.

Harrison will be handful for gimpy Weston Richburg (high ankle sprain) or journeyman Dallas Reynolds. Wilkerson is having an outstanding year as a run defender and pass rusher (8 sacks). He will line up over Ereck Flowers and whomever plays left guard. Reserve ex-Giant Leger Douzable is no slouch either. Whomever plays on the right side will have to deal with Richardson and high #1 draft pick Williams. We really don’t know the make-up of the line as right tackle Marshall Newhouse (back) is questionable too. Justin Pugh (concussion) could play at left guard, or right tackle if Newhouse can’t go. Rookie Bobby Hart could make his first NFL start at right tackle or right guard. John Jerry will start at one of the guard spots.

The strength of this group is obviously stopping the run. While they are not as adept at rushing the passer, they can get heat on the quarterback, especially when they know their opponent can’t run the ball. All this week, Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo have talked about offensive balance…that the Giants have to run the ball more than the 13 times than they did against the Redskins. After all, the Giants did have good success on the ground against Washington on their first drive and then got away from it. The question is does running the football with the #28 rushing attack against the NFL’s #1 run defense equal wasted snaps? Or by not running the football are you playing directly into the Jets’ hands? It’s important to note that aside from the Bills, the Jets have played a bunch of teams with statistically poor running attacks.

The Giants should not ignore the run, but when they do, I would suggest doing so in more unconventional ways such as spreading the Jets out with multiple receiver sets and running out of the shotgun with Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings. This is not the type of opponent you even want to waste a few snaps with Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa. I would also use the short passing game in lieu of the run. The Giants are not going to regularly be able to blast this line and Harris off of the ball.

The primary offensive focus should be the passing attack. The Jets will be without star CB Darrelle Revis (concussion) and likely without solid reserve CB Marcus Williams (knee – officially “doubtful”). Antonio Cromartie has struggled at times this year at corner while Buster Skrine has been serviceable as a nickel corner. A real difference maker has been SS Calvin Pryor, who is an intimidating presence against the pass and the run.

It appears the Giants are going to live or die with the Eli Manning to Odell Beckham connection. In the last two games, Manning has thrown to Beckham an astounding 30 times. Unfortunately, only 13 of those passes have been completed. That efficiency has to increase or more drives will stall. I’d like to say the Giants need more out of Rueben Randle, but that ship apparently has sailed. And based on comments from the coaches this week, Hakeem Nicks is still not familiar enough with the offense to make a real impact (unfortunately one of the real downsides on waiting for Victor Cruz for so long). Dwayne Harris’ production fell off from 6 catches for 82 yards against the Patriots to 2 catches for 28 yards against the Redskins. The Giants need more of the former. They also need to get the ball more in the hands of Vereen as a receiver (only 10 catches total in the last three games).

Last week, Kirk Cousins out-played Eli Manning. Manning has to be the better quarterback in the field on Sunday for the Giants to win.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The Jets are ranked 14th on offense (20th passing and 13th running). Their obvious focus is to run the ball (2nd in the NFL in rushing attempts), stay balanced, and keep pressure off of journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. While Fitzpatrick is only completing 58.5 percent of his passes, he has thrown 20 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He’s an up-and-down thrower, who can look sharp at times and downright horrible at other moments. The Jets lead the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage (73 percent).

Though they have had some injury issue, the Jets’ offensive line has done solid work this year as Chris Ivory has rushed for 766 yards (4.1 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. Even better, Jets’ quarterbacks have only been sacked an NFL-low 14 times all season – not a good sign for a Giants’ defense that is on pace for the franchise’s worst sack performance in memory. Obviously, the focal point has to be stopping the run – for all four quarters. The Giants’ run defense started off strong against Washington but wilted in the second half. The Jets surely noticed that and will look to wear the G-Men down.

If the Giants can stop the run, they could be in decent shape as the Jets really only have three consistent offensive play-makers: Ivory at running back and wideouts Brandon Marshall (71 catches for 931 yards and 9 touchdowns) and Eric Decker (51 catches for 700 yards and 8 touchdowns). The Jets’ next highest targets are running backs Bilal Powell (22 catches) and Ivory (19 catches). Jets’ tight ends have only six catches all year. The Giants desperately need Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) to play the entire game and handle Marshall while Prince Amukamara handles Decker. With Brandon Meriweather (knee) out, Craig Dahl will start alongside Landon Collins. One or both will be needed to cheat up more against the run.

The Giants have to stop the run. Period. They will surely miss LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/toe). J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casiallas have to pick up the slack. There will be a lot of pressure on Jasper Brinkley to perform but this is his kind of game – facing a run-based offense without a scary threat at tight end. The final question is can the Giants get any pressure on Fitzpatrick and force him into mistakes? The pass rush simply has been missing in action this year.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Jets are 16th in kickoff coverage and 29th in punt coverage. If the Giants can’t get Dwayne Harris going on punt returns this week, it ain’t happening and it will once again throw into question Tom Quinn’s coaching on setting up punt returns. In the three seasons before coming to the Giants, Harris was averaging 12.3 yards per punt return. With the Giants, he’s averaging 7.5. Jets punt returner Jeremy Kerley is averaging a respectable 9.3 yards per punt return.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on the Jets’ Offense: “They can open up and go from being a two-tight end running game to then going empty with three and four wide receivers and their running back. They do force you under the circumstances of their combinations of personnel to be able to adjust to them. They have weapons, they have some outstanding weapons. So you’re always in that position, because not only are they good, they’re big. Your match-ups are a big deal. Hopefully with DRC and with Prince, we can match-up better.”

THE FINAL WORD:
On paper, it looks like the Giants will be one dimensional offensively against the Jets with an inability to run the football. However, the injury issues at cornerback could be a problem for the Jets. If the Giants can increase their passer efficiency on Manning-to-Beckham passes, as well as get Vereen more involved in the passing game, the Giants may be able to hit some big plays against a very stingy defense that excels in the red zone. Defensively, the Giants must stop the run. The good news there is the Giants should match-up well with the Jets’ receiving targets. Both teams thrive on forcing turnovers (Giants 2nd in NFL, Jets 3rd in NFL). Ball security will be paramount. Eli needs to protect the football.

Keep in mind that while the Jets are 6-5, four of their wins have come against bad football teams (Dolphins twice, Jaguars, and Browns). They also beat the Colts early in the year when Indianapolis was really struggling and the Redskins. The Giants and Jets are two mediocre teams fighting for a playoff spot.

Nov 302015
 
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monty

Washington Redskins 20 – New York Giants 14

Overview

The eternal football debate when your team loses: did you simply lose to the better team on that day, or did you not match their intensity and beat yourself? The New York Giants insist the latter. They claim they slept walk through three quarters. But that simply could be a coping mechanism. We’ll never really know for sure.

Empirically, all we can go by is what we see on the tape. And it’s not good. The Giants got their butts whipped in the trenches. The Redskins out-rushed the Giants 105 yards to 33 yards. Eli Manning was sacked three times and officially hit eight more times while Kirk Cousins wasn’t sacked and only hit three times. Even though the Giants ran 67 offensive plays, they only held the ball 24 minutes while the Skins ran one fewer play and held it 36 minutes. New York lost the turnover battle 3-0. While none of those turnovers led to Redskins’ points, they did deprive New York of at least one red zone scoring opportunity in the third quarter.

In the end, at least on this particular day, the Washington Redskins were the better team. They played better on offense and defense.

As for the New York Giants, shame on them. Shame on the entire franchise for putting that product on the field in a game of this magnitude. Had the Giants won, they were almost a lock to win the NFC East and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Now they will have to scratch, claw, and pray to make it. Shame on them. They had claimed that the four heart-breaking losses earlier in the season have made them more mentally tough. Bullshit.

Quarterback

Thanks to General Manager Jerry Reese and the team’s unending injury situation year after year, this team lives or dies with its quarterback play. They can’t rely on a defense or running game – both of which are once again among the NFL’s worst. So when Eli Manning and the passing game is clicking, this team has a chance to win any game. If they are not clicking, a loss is inevitable. Manning did not play well on Sunday. The first interception was not on him. Even though the second was tipped into Dwayne Harris’ hands, that was a poor decision on the part of Manning. Fans are debating who was more to blame on the killer red zone interception in the third quarter – Manning or wideout Rueben Randle – but the ball was thrown behind Randle. At other moments, a somewhat rattled Manning threw the ball up for grabs before settling down in the 4th quarter and making some clutch throws, none better than his 4th-and-16 touchdown throw to Randle. He later added a 21-yard strike to Odell Beckham. But it was too little, too late. On a day when the Giants run-to-pass ratio was 13 to 54, the passing game simply did not produce. There were too many misfires and throws into traffic. The Giants’ first 10 drives ended in three interceptions and seven punts. The Giants were 3-of-15 (20 percent) on third down. Manning was also flagged with a delay-of-game penalty on the play before his first interception.

Running Backs

The Giants’ four running backs rushed for 32 yards against the 30th-ranked run defense in the NFL. New York only gained one rushing yard in the entire second half, and that was by wideout Dwayne Harris. Now to be fair, those stats are skewed because the Giants only rushed the ball 13 times despite having 67 offensive snaps (and only rushed the ball three times total in the second half). But the longest run of the day was only eight yards. Despite having six carries, Rashad Jennings only accrued 14 yards (2.3 yards per carry). Orleans Darkwa carried the ball twice for two yards and Andre Williams carried it twice for one yard. Shane Vereen had 15 yards on two carries, but his drop caused the first interception.

The stats are even more alarming when you consider that the Giants actually started the game running the ball well. They gained 24 yards on four carries on their initial possession. In other words, the Giants gained only nine rushing yards on 12 of their 13 offensive possessions.

Wide Receivers

Against an injury-depleted and suspect secondary, more was expected. Once again, Odell Beckham was the headliner with 9 catches for 142 yards and a sensational, one-handed, diving touchdown grab that cut the score to 20-14 with just under five minutes to play. But like against the Patriots, too many of Eli Manning’s throws to Beckham fell incomplete. Against New England, Beckham caught 4-of-12 targets thrown in his direction. Against Washington, Beckham caught 9-of-18 targets. That’s 17 incompletions to one receiver in two games. The Giants are trying to get the ball to Beckham more, but even though he is getting his 100+ yards, the passer-to-target efficiency isn’t there and drives are stalling. If we’re going to be honest, the Redskins’ cornerbacks did a nice job on Beckham most of the game.

With the Redskins rolling their coverage to Beckham, this was a golden opportunity for Rueben Randle to have a big game and he laid an egg. He had one catch in six targets. He didn’t come back for the football on one end zone shot and two plays later drifted backwards on his route, allowing the cornerback to come underneath and pick off the ball. Randle dropped a pass and seemed completely out of sync with Manning. Dwayne Harris also did not produce, catching 2-of-5 targets for 28 yards. Hakeem Nicks got his feet wet catching 1-of-2 passes thrown his way for 4 yards. In the end, Beckham caught 142 yards and the other four active receivers caught 72 yards on a day when Manning dropped back 54 times.

Tight Ends

Will Tye and Jerome Cunningham were the only two right ends active. Tye had a solid day, catching 6-of-8 targets for 74 yards. Tye caught three passes for 52 yards on the Giants’ second TD drive, including a 28 yarder on 4th-and-2. Cunningham was targeted four times, but only caught one pass for 2 yards. Cunningham (and RG Bobby Hart) completely whiffed on their defenders on a running play that lost four yards in the 3rd quarter.

Offensive Line

With both Weston Richburg (ankle) and Justin Pugh (concussion) out, the Giants made the unusual move of switching Geoff Schwartz to left guard, preferring to play John Jerry at right guard. Those plans had to be scrapped before intermission when the injury-prone Schwartz fractured his lower leg. Jerry then moved back to left guard and rookie Bobby Hart was inserted at right guard. It was pretty clear the coaches didn’t really trust the interior trio of Jerry, Dallas Reynolds, and Hart in terms of the ground game as the team only ran the ball three times in the second half, and all three of those runs were outside efforts. Yes, the Giants were down by three scores but they didn’t call any of their usual inside shotgun running plays to Vereen or Jennings. Pass protection also became an issue as Eli Manning was sacked three times, officially hit eight times, and was never really comfortable in the pocket. RT Marshall Newhouse had issues in particular with OLB Ryan Kerrigan, who had two sacks against him. Newhouse also gave up the third sack to DE Chris Baker on a stunt. John Jerry was flagged with holding when the Giants were moving the ball on their third possession, helping to stall a drive when the score was still 0-0. Ereck Flowers had some issues on a couple of outside pass rushes. Reynolds whiffed in pass protection on the end zone shot to Randle where Eli was forced to drift backwards. Given the circumstances, Hart performed better than expected.

Defensive Line

The defensive line was out-played up front. The run defense was decent in the first half, allowing the Skins’ running backs only 30 yards on 11 carries (2.7 yards per carry). But the Washington ground game picked up momentum in the second half, gaining 74 yards in 22 carries (3.4 yards per carry). That’s not stellar productivity for the Redskins, but it was enough to help control the clock and eliminate any chance of a comeback.

The bigger problem was the complete lack of a pass rush. Kirk Cousins was not sacked and only hit three times, two of those by defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins and Robert Ayers. Cousins rarely was under any duress and at times it must have seemed like training camp drills for him. Jay Bromley was flagged with a roughing-the-passer penalty when the Skins were attempting to run out the clock after New York’s first score in the 4th quarter.

Linebackers

The linebackers were fairly active with Devon Kennard (10 tackles), Jasper Brinkley (6 tackles, 1 TFL), and Jonathan Casillas (5 tackles, 1 pass defense) accruing 21 tackles. J.T. Thomas returned to action after missing a few games but did not show up on the stat sheet. A killer play in the game was the 45-yard screen pass to RB Matt Jones late in the first half that helped to set up the touchdown that put the Redskins up 17-0…both Kennard and Brinkley misread the play. Casillas also missed a tackle after a short throw on 3rd-and-22 that helped the Redskins get into more manageable field goal range.

Defensive Backs

Kirk Cousins completed 20-of-29 passes (69 percent) for 302 yards and a 114.4 quarterback rating (Eli’s QBR was 59.4 or half that). Aside from one huge play, the Redskins’ wide receivers did not do much damage. Pierre Garcon was held to 3 catches for 35 yards, Jamison Crowder 2 catches for 12 yards, Ryan Grant 1 catch for 19 yards, and Chris Thompson 1 catch for 9 yards. And Giants-killer DeSean Jackson only had two catches, one of which went for 3 yards. The problem? Jackson’s only other catch went for 63 yards and a touchdown when he badly beat CB Jayron Hosley (who was subbing for the injured Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) and S Brandon Meriweather. “It was a speed break out the huddle,” Jackson said. “We said we were going to hurry up and hike the ball. We kind of caught the defense off guard.” The next longest completion to a wide receiver was the 19 yarder to Jones. Rodgers-Cromartie dropped what should have been a 64-yard interception for a touchdown in the first quarter when the game was still 0-0.

Aside from Jackson, the real thorn was tight end Jordan Reed, who caught eight passes for 98 yards, including catches of 26, 20, and 20 yards. The first 20 yarder came on the Redskins’ second TD drive and the the second one came on 3rd-an-5 with 3:29 left on the clock and the Giants trailing by six points. Craig Dahl was beaten on both plays.

Special Teams

Not good enough. Jay Bromley did block a 51-yard field goal effort. And the Redskins longest kickoff return was 25 yards. But Jamison Crowder had two 12-yard punt returns. Dwayne Harris only gained 14 yards on four punt returns and 19 yards on one kickoff return. Harris’ decision to return the last Redskins’ punt inside the 5-yard line was a dumb decision that cost the Giants yards and a few precious seconds. He also muffed a punt that he recovered. Brad Wing had two punts result in touchbacks (though both had a chance to be downed at the 1-yard line) and three downed inside the 20. He averaged 50.4 yards per punt with a net of 41.

Coaching

Offensively, the Giants were hamstrung by the offensive line issues and not having an A-game from Manning his his targets. But this running back-by-committee approach is not working. Stick with one or two guys. The Giants had a nice rhythm running the ball on their first drive. Vereen had back-to-back runs for a total of 15 yards and he never ran the ball again. Dumb.

I hated the defensive play calls after the Giants cut the scored to 20-14. The Giants played it too conservatively, not coming after Cousins. Worse, despite not bringing extra rushers, they left Dahl all alone on Cousins’ go-to guy – Jordan Reed – on 3rd-and-5 with 3:29 left to play. He’s the guy you want to double in that situation. Dumb.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

Even though Joey couldn’t do the game review this week, I decided to keep this going in his honor. The choice was obvious: the entire New York Giants team. How in the world do you play so poorly with so much at stake? It’s one thing to lose. It’s another be trailing 20-0 in the 4th quarter to the Washington Redskins. The Giants didn’t score a single point on their first 10 offensive possessions. The defense didn’t force a turnover or register a sack. Shame on the players and coaches.

(New York Giants at Washington Redskins, November 29, 2015)
Nov 292015
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 29, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 14
The New York Giants lost a critical division game to the Washington Redskins, 20-14, on Sunday afternoon in Landover, Maryland. With the defeat, the Giants fell to 5-6 overall and 2-3 in the NFC East. The Giants are still tied with the Redskins for first place in the dismal NFC East with five games left to play. However, the Giants lost starting guard Geoff Schwartz for the season with a fractured lower leg.

The Giants’ offense was dismal, being shutout for three quarters against the NFL’s 22nd-ranked defense. New York’s first two drives quickly ended with interceptions off of tipped passes. In the Giants’ five other first-half drives, the team only gained four first downs and punted the ball away five times.

The Redskins could not convert the Giants’ two first-half interceptions into points as the defense forced a three-and-out and defensive tackle Jay Bromley blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt. However, Washington was still able to take a commanding 17-0 halftime advantage due to a 12-play, 56-yard field goal drive; a 63-yard deep strike from quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver DeSean Jackson after cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game with an ankle injury; and a 9-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a quarterback keeper on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line near the end of the first half.

The Giants had a chance to get back into the game early in the third quarter after the Redskins turned the ball over on downs at the New York 37-yard line. The Giants responded by driving 59 yards in eight plays down to the Washington 4-yard line. But on 3rd-and-goal, Manning’s pass was thrown behind wide receiver Rueben Randle and intercepted in the end zone.

The Giants went three-and-out on their next two possessions as the Redskins added a 33-yard field goal to go up 20-0 early in the 4th quarter. The Giants made things interesting late with two touchdown throws, including a 40-yard pass to Randle on 4th-and-16 with 10:10 remaining and a spectacular 21-yard, diving catch by wide receiver Odell Beckham with 4:57 remaining.

Nevertheless, the Giants’ defense could not get the ball back quickly after the latter score, allowing the Redskins to gain 37 yards and two first downs, taking 4:38 off of the clock. The Giants started their last drive at their own 20-yard with with only 19 seconds left.

Offensively, the Giants finished with 17 first downs, 299 net yards passing, and a pathetic 33 yards rushing against the NFL’s 30th-ranked run defense. Manning finished the game 26-of-51 for 321 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He was sacked three times and officially hit eight other times. Beckham caught 9-of-18 passes thrown in his direction for 142 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Will Tye caught 6 passes for 74 yards. No Giants’ running back gained more than 15 yards.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 18 first downs, 302 net yards passing, and 105 rushing yards. The defense did not force a turnover. Cousins completed 69 percent of his passes, was not sacked, and only hit three times.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Offensive guard Geoff Schwartz fractured his lower leg in the first half. His season is over. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie injured his ankle but returned to the game.

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

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham (Video)
  • WR Rueben Randle (Video)
  • DT Cullen Jenkins (Video)

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were TE Larry Donnell (neck), OC Weston Richburg (ankle), LG Justin Pugh (concussion), WR Geremy Davis, DE George Selvie, CB Leon McFadden, and S Cooper Taylor.

ARTICLES…

Nov 272015
 
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New York Giants Defense (September 24, 2015)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants at Washington Redskins, November 29, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
It’s been a roller coaster season filled with ups and downs, bad injury news, and four heart-breaking defeats. But through 10 games with six to play, the Giants find themselves in first place in the NFC East, with two of their primary challengers all but officially dead. As unthinkable as it seemed only a week ago, the Giants can virtually lock up a playoff spot before December if they beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

These circumstances make this contest one of the most important the Giants will play in 2015. But as important as the game is to the Giants, it’s Washington’s season. If the Redskins lose, like the Cowboys and Eagles, they are all but officially done. Expect playoff-type intensity from the Redskins at Sunday – a team that is 4-1 at home this year, including wins over two teams (the Eagles and Saints) that have beaten the Giants. The Giants need to match or surpass that intensity to win.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Larry Donnell (neck – out)
  • OC Weston Richburg (ankle – doubtful)
  • LG Justin Pugh (concussion – out)
  • RG Geoff Schwartz (ankle – probable)
  • LB J.T. Thomas (ankle – questionable)
  • LB Mark Herzlich (quad – out)
  • LB Uani ‘Unga (neck – probable)
  • DE Damontre Moore (hamstring – probable)
  • CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral – probable)
  • CB Leon McFadden (groin – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The Redskins are 22nd in overall defense (12th against the pass and 30th against the run). Those figures suggest the Giants should remain balanced. When the Giants defeated the Redskins at the Meadowlands back in September, the Giants passed the ball 32 times for 279 yards and ran it 31 times for 84 yards. But a few variables have changed since that first meeting. New York’s two best offensive linemen – center Weston Richburg and left guard Justin Pugh – are out. That will put a damper on an already moribund rushing game (26th in the NFL). A good running play is usually a well-choreographed affair where one breakdown can lead to failure. Take out two important cogs, especially two of the team’s best run blockers, and it’s not likely that the Giants will be able to generate much success against a defense that has struggled against the run lately.

The other factor that suggests more emphasis on the pass is that Redskins’ cornerback Chris Culliver tore his ACL and MCL in practice on Thanksgiving, making an already somewhat shaky secondary more vulnerable. That doesn’t mean the Giants should abandon the run, but I would emphasize the short-passing game early in lieu of the run – which is what Ben McAdoo often does anyways in some contests.

Washington only has 17 sacks on the season and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (4.5 sacks) remains their best pass rusher. The Redskins will line him on both sides so he will likely battle both starting offensive tackles. Inside linebacker Perry Riley is athletic and flashes at times. 3-4 right defensive end Jason Hatcher has been bothered by a knee issue. Bashaud Breeland is now Washington’s best corner, and he is up and down. The safeties are ordinary at best, and Dashon Goldson has been battling a slew of injuries. Eli Manning and his receivers should be able to do some damage against this group if the injury-depleted offensive line can give him time. Look for Washington to blitz up the middle to test Dallas Reynolds and John Jerry.

This game is too important to get too cute with. Put the ball in the hands of your best play-makers: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and Shane Vereen. The week off should have helped Rueben Randle too and I could see him having a big day against Washington as they roll their coverage towards Beckham. Eli has played very well against the Redskins in recent games.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Kirk Cousins is coming on, but to date, he has really struggled against the Giants. Cousins was named “NFC Offensive Player of the Week” against the Buccaneers and had a perfect 158.3 QB rating against the Saints. He’s completing 68 percent of his passes, and as Tom Coughlin pointed out, 80 percent in his last two home games. Cousins brought his team back from a 24-0 deficit against the Buccaneers – a warning for a New York defense that has demonstrated a startling inability to hold leads.

Former Eagle and Giants-killer DeSean Jackson missed the first Giants-Redskins game with a hamstring injury. He’s an explosive deep threat who can put points on the board quickly. Fellow wideout Pierre Garcon is a savvy playmaker as is tight end Jordan Reed (6 touchdowns). Reed plays more like a wide receiver than tight end and is a match-up problem. Diminutive Jamison Crowder has 43 catches as the slot receiver. The Redskins are far more talented at the skill positions than a lot of fans realize. The Giants could focus more on Garcon and Reed in the first game with Jackson out, but they won’t have that luxury this time around. The good news for the Giants is that Prince Amukamara is back, but the Redskins surely have noticed the issues free safety Landon Collins has had in recent weeks.

The Redskins started off the season running the ball very well, but have struggled more of late. That said, this is big offensive line with quality, physical running backs who are sure to test a Giants’ defensive line missing Johnathan Hankins inside. Hankins wasn’t really missed against the Patriots, but this is a different style of opponent. The Giants will need a strong game from Cullen Jenkins, Jay Bromley, and Markus Kuhn. Trent Williams is one of the better left tackles in football, but Jason Pierre-Paul has given him trouble at times and Williams is battling a knee injury.

The Giants need to stop the run and make the Redskins one-dimensional. That will help take away the play-action pass and put pressure on Cousins to perform against a Giants team that he has turned the ball over against in the last three games between these two teams.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Redskins have returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, one against the Giants in Week 3 and the other last week against the Panthers. The Giants have also struggled lately on punt return coverage, with long returns by the Saints and Patriots possibly costing the Giants both games. The Redskins’ kicker has 30 kickoffs resulting in touchbacks and Washington is 2nd in the NFL in kickoff coverage so kickoff returns may be tough this week. Dwayne Harris has yet to break one on a punt return. Keep in mind the Giants blocked a punt against Washington in Week 3.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on Kirk Cousins: “I think he’s much more confident. I think the rhythm with which he goes about his business, particularly in the play-action pass game, is outstanding.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants’ 97 wins versus Washington are the most for one team against another in pro football history. And the Giants are 5-0 against Washington in their last five contests. Much of that latter discrepancy has been due to the difference in play between Eli Manning and Kirk Cousins when these two teams have met. But don’t sleep on Washington. Cousins has a very talented group of targets who can present serious match-up issues for the Giants. This game is Washington’s season. Expect their best effort.

Nov 182015
 
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New England Patriots 27 – New York Giants 26

Overview

We missed it by THAT much! The keyboard is staring at me, mocking me in its own qwerty way. It knows I slapped it on Sunday afternoon, but it’s not sure why. It wasn’t a hard slap, just a “here we go again” 4th-quarter meltdown-turned-comeback-turned-meltdown slap that let it know “Hey pal, we’re in this together until the end.” Indeed for Tom Coughlin and his band of misfit toys, there was no happy ending this time against the undefeated New England Patriots as Stephen Gostkowski’s 54-yard please-go-wide left kick sailed inside the uprights. It was not a most-gripping victory for the home fans as our own Prince Akeem looked on in street clothes.

Up 20-10 after a 2nd half opening FG drive, the Giants’ defense forced a quick 3-and-out from Tom Brady and the world’s most dangerous group (NWE not NWA now hold that distinction). Four plays later, the Giants let the Patriots off the ropes by surrendering an 82-yard punt return to Danny Amendola that turned into a 3-play, 7-yard TD drive that seemed to wake up the groggy Pats’ offense and cut the home team’s lead to just 3. Eli Manning and company answered on a 45-yard FG drive that pushed the lead to 23-17, but it was the failure to find the end zone that would ultimately doom the G-Men’s chances to pull off a MetLife Miracle and upend the unbeaten Patriots for a second time. MLB Jasper Brinkley was having none of it and came up with a sack strip of Tom Brady to give Eli just 31 yards to put the game out of reach. As they did all afternoon, the Patriots answered the bell, sacking Manning on the drive’s first official play, pushing the ball back to the 44 yard line and forcing a quick 3-and-out when a score could have pushed this game out of reach.

After being bottled up most of the day by journeyman safety Craig Dahl, TE Rob Gronkowski, who was thwarted in Super Bowl 46, got his revenge with a 76-yard catch-and-run that pushed the Pats ahead 24-23. Another punch-less offensive effort by the Giants that force fed the ball to a blanketed Odell Beckham Jr. gave dimple chin the ball and the chance to put the game away. After driving his team 81 yards and seemingly taking a 30-23 lead, a holding call wiped out a LeGarrette Blount TD, Tom Brady did the unthinkable and threw an interception to CB Trumaine McBride at the 1-yard line and suddenly the Giants’ 4th quarter Eli Manning magic looked to be coming back to claim the Patriots. Twelve plays later, he did it; Eli pushed the lead to 29-24 with a 5-yard TD pass to Odell Beckham Jr., who had been held in check since a first quarter TD that ate up 87 yards. Only he didn’t. Replays showed that Beckham got two feet down but failed to make a “football move” in the end zone as CB Malcom Butler swatted the ball out of his hands.

A Josh Brown FG inched the Giants closer to the miracle with a 26-24 lead but clumsy play calling and execution left 1:46 for Tom Brady to pick his way down field. Rookie S Landon Collins then stepped in with the biggest non-play of the season, leaping high for a hurried Brady pass and seemingly ending the game with a clutch interception but it was not to be as the ball squirted out and gave #12 another chance to ruin the day. True to form, Brady came through this time against his nemesis and delivered the ball to the Giants’ 36-yard line. Gostkowski’s boot (he too is perfect on the season) ended the chance for the 2015 Giants to match their 2007 predecessor’s feat of ending the Patriots perfect season. So Mr. Lenovo laptop, you can blame me for the sudden jolt, but really your ire should lay with Tom Coughlin or Eli Manning, or Landon Collins or Odell Beckham or Tom Brady, anyone but me old friend.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterbacks

So the debate will rage, was Eli great or the goat for the clock mismanagement as the Giants drove to take the lead in the 4th quarter? His heady slide in bounds forced the Patriots to use their final timeout but the inexplicable timeout with 2:06 left and the clock winding down to the 2 minute warning will haunt this game as long as it’s discussed. The timeout seemed to pay off with a TD pass to Beckham, but after the review negated it, the Giants had one more play to run before getting to the 2-minute warning. With 2:01 left, Manning completely missed a wide open Beckham underneath for a sure TD and the ball sailed wide of WR Dwayne Harris. It may be a matter of seconds, but not stopping the clock with 2:06 left may have forced the Patriots to use their final timeout there or at least had the Giants with 1st-and-goal at the 5-yard line with 2 minutes left. At that point, you can safely run the ball even against the Pats 6 DL formation on 1st and 2nd down, forcing the Pats to spend their final timeout and then running the clock down before your 3rd down play. That would have reduced the final time for Brady to less than a minute, but as Coughlin said, he was playing for the TD and rightly so. I posit the argument because that’s what gets discussed ad nauseum but in reality this game was far too close to pin on any one thing.

Late game confusion aside, Eli was again terrific against Tom, piling up 361 yards and two TDs and leading the Giants to six scoring drives, the first of which was a perfectly placed ball to Beckham who split coverage on his way to an 87-yard TD that evened the game at 7 on the Giants’ opening sortie. Manning consistently drove the team down the field but against Belichick’s vaunted umbrella defense that gets tighter to succeed against as you drive inside the 20, FGs were the rule and not TDs. Manning’s first-half 2-minute TD drive was vintage Eli. First was a perfect sideline pass to Rueben Randle, a dime to Harris to keep the drive alive and a seam to Will Tye to get the G-Men to the 1-yard line. The exclamation point was a perfectly-arced fade pass to Dwayne Harris to close out the first half and put the Giants ahead by 7. Manning’s non-TD pass to Beckham was again perfectly placed. But in a game of inches, the ball being slapped away was another in a long line of plays that had they gone the other way, see the Giants to victory. Eli contributed to the Giants’ rushing total with a 10-yard uh, jaunt we’ll call it on the Giants’ opening drive of the second half.

Running Backs

Not a lot of good here when your longest rush of the day comes from your 34-year old QB who’d probably rather watch another Nationwide commercial of his chicken parm-loving brother than take off running. Rashad Jennings “led” the group with 11 carries and 39 yards but the inside trap play that had become this groups bread-and-butter was simply stuffed all day by the Pats. Former Pat Shane Vereen predictably was bottled up by his previous employers, contributing only 26 total yards and really having no statistical impact on the proceedings aside from a 3rd-down conversion early in the 2nd quarter. Vereen’s presence out of the backfield was crucial however, as we will show later in a breakdown of his impact on the Patriots’ coverage schemes. Personal RB favorite Orleans Darkwa had two tough runs for 9 yards but was held to 6 on his other 3 totes.

Myles White, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Myles White – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

WR Odell Beckham Jr. started the day with a bang, knifing through the Patriots’ secondary for an 87-yard TD on the Giants’ second offensive snap. Tough sledding from there on out against Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler including Butler’s quite frankly mean slap away of a TD late in the 4th quarter that could have been the game clincher. Beckham was challenged physically all day by Butler and honestly lost the battle after an opening haymaker. OBJ finished with 104 yards on 4 catches but was targeted a team-high 12 times. Give Butler credit for clamping down on the dynamic sophomore playmaker. Dwayne Harris again came up big for Eli with 82 yards on 6 catches with a TD and consistently providing a safety valve underneath for his QB. Harris just missed a diving pass from Manning on the goal line on the Giants’ game tying drive late in the first half. It was another play and another few inches short of where this team wants to be, truly the story of the afternoon. Myles White contributed one catch but it was a 28-yard sideline beauty that had the Giants in position to score. White also appeared to be interfered with on a Manning pass into the end zone, but in a game that saw plenty of hand fighting in the secondary, it was an understandable no-call given how the game was officiated all day. Rueben Randle again chipped in with a crucial catch to spur a Giant scoring drive as the first half closed. Randle’s impact wasn’t FanDuel great (sorry Fantasy junkies) but his 51 yards on 3 catches was enough to keep the Giants toe to toe with the unbeaten Pats. As with everyone else though, there was a play Randle will want back – when he pushed off to negate a 11-yard gain which would have had the G-Men to the Pats’ 20 up by 6 points and driving. The ensuing play was DE Rob Ninkovich’s sack of Manning which effectively ended any scoring threat.

Tight Ends

Will Tye is starting to assert himself, but like many of the young Giants has some room to improve. Tye pulled down 5 balls for 56 yards but it was the just miss of a potential TD from Manning that will stick in the rookie’s craw as will a flat out drop from Manning as the Giants drove to close out the first half. Tye rebounded quickly to snag a Manning pass that covered 31 yards and got the Giants in possession of a 17-10 halftime lead. Tye’s edge blocking was better. The rookie TE is improving technique wise, keeping a wide base and keeping his feet under him to maintain good leverage in the running game.

Inside the Game

Exploiting a tendency. Notice on TE Will Tye’s 31-yard rumble down to the Patriot 1, Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo spotted a weakness two plays earlier on a formation that saw Beckham, Vereen and Tye on the play side. Knowing that Belichick is committed to shading or doubling an opponent’s best weapon(s), the Giants tried Beckham down the right sideline with Vereen coming out of the backfield to see what type of coverage they would get. Two plays later, that tendency to shade to Beckham and Vereen cost the Patriots down the field.

_tye1Note the formation, with Vereen offset on Beckham and Tye’s side.

_tye2Vereen and Beckham are essentially doubled down the field with intermediate coverage watching Vereen short and Beckham in the slant area with a FS over the top to keep Beckham from getting too deep. Note the keying from the FS and the split from the intermediate defender to react to either Vereen or Beckham. The result is TE Will Tye (circled) singled up in the seam.

_tye3Flip the formation and again Vereen is watched by middle coverage, Harris is drawing LB attention and Beckham is again spied by the deep safety play side leaving Tye (circled in the middle) one on one. The three blue circles are all shading to cover two Giant players, leaving Tye to exploit the match-up.

_tye4The giant hideous circle shows four Pat defenders who were accounting for Vereen, Harris and Beckham. And the adorable little circle is a deep safety who was guarding against Beckham deep and who left a huge hole for Tye and Manning to exploit en route to a 17-10 Giants’ halftime lead. Credit Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning for recognizing the intermediate, short and deep help to hem in Beckham and Vereen and deploying Tye into the hole it created. In a game of counter-punching, McAdoo and company won this battle against a Pats’ defense that has a history of taking out a team’s two biggest threats. (Remember…”This is still a Nicks and Cruz game” from SB 46 when Mario Manningham popped open?)

Offensive Line

Just like the rest of this team, some good and some bad from this group. Playing without LG Justin Pugh and losing C Weston Richburg for a half, the group probably out-performed expectations. But the success running inside was completely thwarted by a well-prepared Patriots team. LG John Jerry and C Dallas Reynolds filled in capably, but there was an absence of any running game. LT Ereck Flowers gave up the second-biggest sack of the game with Giants driving in the 2nd quarter. DE Chandler Jones went low and outside, got perfect leverage on the 330lber and knocked the ball out of Manning’s hand to force a fumble, killing an excellent chance for points in the 2nd quarter. LG John Jerry did the job pass blocking, but the difference in quickness between his pulling and Pugh’s pulling may have been just enough to keep the Giants’ favorite running plays from working as planned. RT Marshall Newhouse gave up the sack to Ninkovich that killed a Giant drive that could have salted the game away or at least increased the 4th-quarter lead to 9 points at the least.

Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Line

Once again it seems the BBI review team has inspired another Giant to pick himself up by the Lederhosen, this time German import DT Markus Kuhn. Much maligned just about everywhere except 1925 Giants Drive in East Rutherford, the veteran DT came to play finally. Kuhn chipped in with 4 stops but it was his ability to finally hold up against double teams inside that spearheaded the defense to the tune of surrendering only 77 yards rushing on 23 carries. Kuhn’s Bavarian locks were flowing again on a fumble return caused by Brinkley’s sack and strip of Brady. Credit the return of JPP to the improved play inside. The constant double teams he faced allowed Kuhn and fellow DT Cullen Jenkins to see less traffic inside and hold the point-of-attack much better than they had in recent weeks. After coming out with a funky glove, JPP went back to the Martha Stewart oven mitt line and quickly swatted a Brady pass to make his kitchen ware work for him and forced an errant pass on the Patriots’ sickening game-winning drive. Overall a good effort by the DL, even putting enough pressure on Brady to force an errant throw that should have ended the game, and coming with 3 whole sacks in one game (though only 1 went to a DL).

Linebackers

Jasper Brinkley did his best to will his defense to victory with 12 tackles and a sack, but it wasn’t enough to keep the best offense in the NFL from ultimately winning this battle. Brinkley was again powerful inside getting good penetration on several runs to keep huge HB LeGarrette Blount in check. And it was #53’s throw down of Julian Edelman that broke the WR’s foot and took a key playmaker off of the field for 3 quarters. Brinkley’s 4th-quarter sack and strip of Brady was all the veteran could do to hand his team the game but it was not to be. Devon Kennard again played well on the edge, ending a screen play Antonio Pierce style late in the first quarter and piling up 6 stops overall. Jonathan Casillas was active with 7 stops but was late covering on Brady’s 4th-down pass and game-saving completion by – you guessed it – just inches. He also took a terrible angle on the game’s final offensive snap allowing WR Danny Amendola the space to cut inside and make it into field goal territory.

Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Trumaine McBride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Backs

It’s tough to knock these guys considering the opponent and how well they played for 3 quarters, but Tom Brady exploded for 200 yards in the second half and ultimately won the game through the air. S Landon Collins’ rocky season continued as the rookie failed to seal the game with an interception-turned-drop on the Pats’ final drive. He also failed to play with inside leverage against TE Scott Chandler on the Pats’ first TD of the game. This group simply couldn’t get stops on 3rd and 4th down on the game’s alpha and omega drives and it cost them dearly. Credit S Craig Dahl with playing Gronkowski as well as he could for 3 quarters until the All Pro ultimately burned him for a 76-yard TD catch-and-run. Dahl was aggressive all day long, separating Chandler from the ball deep inside G-Men territory and hopping on Tom Brady for a sack that forced a Patriots FG. Dahl just missed on Gronkowski’s long TD which again put a bad ending on an otherwise strong game from the once and former Giant. Jayron Hosley filled in solidly at times, knocking away a 2nd-down Brady pass as the first half wound down and knifing inside to drag down Gronkowski to force a FG in the first. It was Hosley though who completely whiffed on a Brandon LaFell’s 54-yard catch that put the Pats in scoring range. CB Trumaine McBride was flagged for a pass interference penalty in the end zone but redeemed himself on the Pats’ next foray, picking off Brady and preventing a potential 31-23 deficit that became a 26-24 Giant lead.

Special Teams

Penalties on returns and Amendola’s 82-yard escape on a punt return brought the once-maligned group back to the fore of the “where did it go wrong?” discussion. Josh Brown was perfect again, hitting all four FGs and both XPs. P Brad Wing was in no way to blame for Amendola’s long punt return, it was a perfectly-placed sideline shot that Amendola simply made a great play on. Harris averaged a modest 19 yards on 2 kick returns and a solid 10-yard average on 4 punt returns. Kick coverage was again good, but that punt coverage, oy vey.

Coaching

Against the league’s best offense, the Giants played a strong 3 quarters but finally caved in in the 4th. Steve Spagnuolo’s charges kept Brady in check with a combination of man and zone coverages that focused on shutting down do-everything TE Rob Gronkwoski. Holding this offense to 4 punts and a respectable 27 points is an accomplishment that seemed impossible coming into this game but again it wasn’t quite enough when you rely on a rookie safety and two 10-year plus vets as your deep patrol. As much as it would be nice to give tons of credit to Spags and his defense for 3.5 quarters, the failure to stop another game-clinching drive undid all of the good will. The result wasn’t satisfying, but again the effort and fight was, as his 32-ranked defense gave the Patriots all they could handle for 3.5 quarters.

Ben McAdoo’s offense was good, but not good enough. McAdoo’s gang notched 6 scoring drives, but only scored 2 TDs in a game decided by one point. McAdoo again kept to the running game despite its ineffectiveness and it provided Eli with enough balance to power to another 300-yard plus day. Inches here and inches there and we’re celebrating an improbable win, so I won’t kill any of the coordinators for this one. They both had their groups ready to play.

Cram it in your Cramhole Award

In a game full of lead changes, big plays and ultimately a depressing ending, I just can’t give out the award to anyone on that field on Sunday. Love him or hate him, Tom Coughlin and his guys were ready despite the 4th-quarter head-scratchers again. It’s been covered relentlessly since it happened and it may have no place in a silly football redux, but I really want to cram this award in ISIS’ or ISIL’s faces and then down their collective throats for the horrific attacks in Paris last week. It’s not often that world events creep into the reviews but this was a doozy, and on a day that we were all a little deflated, keep in mind that we were peacefully watching a football game between millionaires that didn’t go our way. It sucked to be sure, but as I age and keep getting fatter (get in mah belly ISIS), I have a hard time cramming things like football when a band of misguided nitwits seek to murder innocents. So ISIS, ISIL, jerkfaces of the highest order, cram it in your suicide-vest-laden cramholes.

(New England Patriots at New York Giants, November 15, 2015)
Nov 152015
 
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Jasper Brinkley, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Jasper Brinkley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 27 – NEW YORK GIANTS 26
The New York Giants lost another heart-breaker today by falling to the New England Patriots on a 54-yard field goal with six seconds to play. This came after replay officials overturned a touchdown pass to Odell Beckham with two minutes left in the game. The Giants settled for the field goal instead of the touchdown. On the Patriots’ game-winning possession, safety Landon Collins dropped a sure interception and New England also converted on 4th-and-10 to keep the drive alive.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

“We lost the game,” said Beckham. “I lost us the game with the play down in the end zone, a play that should have been made. You can’t leave it up to the officials to get anything right. You’ve got to make the play yourself and it was just a case of playing the play longer than the opponent.”

The Giants have led in the 4th quarter in four of their five losses this year – four losses by a combined nine points. In the last three weeks, the Giants have lost two games on 50-yard or longer field goals in the waning seconds. With the defeat, the Giants fell to 5-5 overall, but still remain in first place in the NFC East. They have a bye coming up next weekend.

New England received the football to start the game and promptly drove 80 yards in 14 plays to take a 7-0 lead on quarterback Tom Brady’s 1-yard touchdown throw to tight end Scott Chandler. The Giants quickly tied the game on their second offensive snap when quarterback Eli Manning hit Beckham for an 87-yard touchdown pass.

After both teams went three-and-out, the Patriots regained the lead with a 10-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter. The Giants then threatened by driving from their own 20-yard line to the Patriots’ 16, but on 1st-and-10, Manning was sacked by defensive end Chandler Jones, causing a fumble that was recovered by New England. The Giants’ defense forced another three-and-out and the Giants then responded with 9-play, 35-yard drive that ended with game-tying, 37-yard field goal.

The Patriots were forced to punt the ball away on the ensuing possession. With only 1:09 on the clock, the Giants marched 74 yards in seven plays and 56 seconds to take a 17-10 halftime advantage when Manning found wide receiver Dwayne Harris for a 1-yard touchdown. Big plays on the drive included 31-yard passes each to wide receiver Rueben Randle and tight end Will Tye.

The Giants received the football to start the second half and managed to put together a lengthy, 10-play, 60-yard effort that resulted in a 38-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown and a 20-10 lead. After both teams went three-and-out, then came a pivotal moment in the game. Punter Brad Wing’s punt was fielded by returner Danny Amendola at the New England 11-yard line. Gunner Dwayne Harris thought Amendola had signaled for a fair catch and ran by the returner, who was then off on an 82-yard punt return that gave the Patriots’ offense the ball at the Giants’ 7-yard line. Three plays later, New England cut the score to 20-17 when running back LeGarrette Blount rushed for a 1-yard touchdown.

The Giants extended their advantage to 23-17 on the ensuing possession by moving the ball 45 yards in nine plays to set up a successful 53-yard field goal by Brown. The Giants then blew an opportunity to increase their lead after linebacker Jasper Brinkley sacked and forced Brady to fumble. Defensive Markus Kuhn recovered the loose ball and returned it eight yards to the Patriots’ 31-yard line. However, a sack took the Giants out of field goal range and they were forced to punt. Three plays later, Brady hit tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 76-yard scoring play. The Patriots were now up 24-23 with 11:33 to play.

Trumaine McBride, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Trumaine McBride – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Giants went three-and-out. It looked like New England was about to put the game away by driving from their own 19-yard line to the New York 5-yard line. But on 2nd-and-goal, Brady was intercepted by cornerback Trumaine McBride at the 1-yard line, and the pick was returned two yards to the 3-yard line with 6:01 to play.

The Giants moved the ball 86 yards in 15 plays. On 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line, with 2:06 left in the game, Manning hit Beckham for an apparent touchdown, but cornerback Malcom Butler knocked the ball out of Beckham’s hands after the receiver came down with the catch in the end zone. Replay officials overturned the touchdown. After an incomplete pass, Manning was sacked and Brown kicked his fourth field goal of the game – a 29 yarder – for the 26-24 lead with 1:47 to play.

Brady and the Patriots started their final, game-winning possession at their own 20-yard line. On the first play, Collins dropped what should have been the game-winning interception. After two more incomplete passes, Brady found Amendola for 12 yards on 4th-and-10. Brady completed four of his next six passes for 32 yards to set up the 54-yard field goal with six seconds to play.

Offensively, Manning finished 24-of-44 for 361 yards, 2 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. His leading receivers were Harris (6 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown), Tye (5 catches for 56 yards), and Beckham (four catches for 104 yards and a touchdown). The Giants only rushed for 80 yards, with running back Rashad Jennings the leading carrier with 39 yards on 11 carries.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 406 total net yards (77 rushing and 329 passing). The Giants forced two turnovers (1 interception and 1 fumble recovery). Brinkley led the team with 12 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. Safety Craig Dahl and defensive end Robert Ayers also had sacks.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at NFL.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Center Weston Richburg was carted off of the field in the 3rd quarter with a high ankle sprain. No word yet on the severity of the injury, but Richburg was in a walking boot after the game. Safety Landon Collins is also being evaluated for a possible concussion.

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), LG Justin Pugh (illness), TE Larry Donnell (neck), LB J.T. Thomas (ankle), LB Uani ‘Unga (neck), CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), and CB Leon McFadden (groin).