New York Giants: Corey Webster
Today, we look at Peter Giunta's thoughts on Corey Webster.
Cornerback Corey Webster made news in March when he agreed to take a $3 million pay cut on his $7 million salary in order to remain a Giant going into the 2013 season. Secondary/cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta thinks Webster will be motivated to bounce back from a poor 2012.
"Definitely," Giunta said. "Finishing the way we did, everybody has a real sense of urgency this year to get back to playing the kind of football we did at the end of the 2011 season in that six-game stretch and playing that kind of defense."
The Giants finished 28th in total pass defense last season. Webster, taken in the second round of the 2005 draft, Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley and Aaron Ross should form the backbone of the cornerback corps this season. Terrell Thomas is rehabbing from his third ACL injury, a difficult situation from which to return to top competitive form.
Giunta also said Webster's broken hand, suffered early in the season, had an impact on his disappointing play later in the year.
"In his defense, he breaks his hand, and it set him back a little bit not being able to use his hands up in press coverage," Giunta said. "He struggled in the end when we didn’t have a lot of continuity back there. He did have a tough year for himself."
The Giants need to get better production from their cornerbacks, but the team isn’t making a wholesale change in personnel. Now it’s up to Webster and his position-mates to ensure that that faith isn’t misplaced.
The following week, the Redskins are tallying near 500 yards on them.
It's the inability to stretch together solid outings that's keeping the Giants from being a top defense.
"We're not consistent," Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Monday. "We've shown at times that we can be a good defense, but we're not a consistent defense. That's what we're striving for: to be a consistent defense. I think that if we can obviously pull together, which we will, and be more consistent with what we do, that we can finish strong."
Fewell, who has been the team's defensive coordinator since 2010, said some of the consistency issue stems from personnel changes. The Giants have a new starting corner this year in Prince Amukamara, and safety Stevie Brown, who is replacing the injured Kenny Phillips, is in his first year with the team. An injury to linebacker Jacquian Williams has also limited the team in what it can do with its packages.
Perhaps a bigger reason for the inconsistency, though, is the amount of big plays the Giants yield. For the season, the Giants have allowed nine touchdown passes of at least 25 yards. In their final two games before the byes, both losses, long touchdown passes swung the game.
In the 24-20 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 4, the Giants surrendered a 51-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace that gave Pittsburgh life in the fourth quarter. Last Sunday against Cincinnati, a coverage mistake by Stevie Brown, as well as Corey Webster not recognizing the error, left A.J. Green wide open for a 56-yard touchdown in the first quarter that the Giants never seemed to recover from.
"In this league you have to make plays, and players have to make plays, and we as coaches have to put them in position to make plays," Giants defensive backs coach Peter Giunta said. "It's a little frustrating for them and us that we've been in position and we haven't been making those plays."
Giunta also raised the issue of tackling, pointing out how the team had several opportunities to make the tackle but whiffed on Wallace's touchdown. The Giants had 12 overall missed tackles in that game, including a handful on backup running back Isaac Redman.
Safeties coach David Merritt said when players are preparing to make tackles they need to know where their help is, but can't become too reliant on that help because that leads to what he calls a "passive" type of tackling. He wants his players to visualize that they are the only thing standing between a score.
"Tackling is always an issue in the NFL, not only with the Giants but everybody has a lot of missed tackles," Merritt said. "Especially when you get into November and December, some of these guys don't really want to wrap up and get physical. That's one thing we preach more over the past couple of weeks is that you have to tackle in November and December in order to win football games."
It feels like a month since the Giants dropped their season opener to Dallas in disappointing fashion. The champs have had plenty of time to stew. Time to redeem themselves against Tampa Bay at MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Here's your What To Watch For on Sunday:
Hip Hop Hooray: Justin Tuck had said prior to the season opener that the Giants' pass rush always enjoyed playing Dallas and it often was "almost in a way kind of a 'Hip Hop Hooray' party for us."
That was before Tony Romo crashed the party. On Sunday, the Giants' pass rush has to get its Naughty (by) Nature going again against Tampa Bay or the championship defense will be in serious trouble. The Giants must get to Josh Freeman. Tuck said it was "alarming" that neither he, Jason Pierre-Paul nor Osi Umenyiora got a sack against Dallas. The Giants need a strong performance from their pass-rushing trio.
Hot corner: Whether it is Prince Amukamara or Michael Coe, the Giants need better play at corner opposite Corey Webster. Webster has to play better than he did in the season opener, for that matter.
Amukamara hopes to return from a high ankle sprain and make his season debut Sunday. Coe has been battling a hamstring injury but says he is good to go. No matter who it is, the corners have to give the defensive line time to rush Freeman.
G.W.A.: Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have T-shirts that show the Giants receivers under the letters "G.W.A." -– Giants With Attitude.
Last week against Dallas, though, the Giants receivers were almost M.I.A. Cruz and Nicks were shut out of the end zone and Cruz dropped three passes. It’s been a tough week for Cruz, who lost his grandmother on Monday. He credits Lucy Molina with helping to raise him and teaching him how to salsa. He hopes to score on Sunday and have an emotional salsa touchdown celebration.
Nicks is still playing through some pain lingering from offseason foot surgery, but he hopes to move closer to his old form this weekend. Both Nicks and Cruz have to be the playmakers that they are for Eli Manning.
Push it: Tom Coughlin wants to see his offensive line get better push up front to jump start the running game.
The Giants rushed for 82 yards against Dallas, but 33 of those yards came on one Ahmad Bradshaw run. Rushing against Tampa Bay could be difficult since Greg Schiano's defense held Carolina to 10 yards of net rushing last Sunday.
Rookie David Wilson hopes to get a shot at redemption after fumbling last week.
Must win? After dropping the season opener, the Giants cannot afford to start 0-2. With the toughest schedule in the NFL, one that is downright brutal in the second half, the Giants have to take care of business and win as many home games as possible.
Tampa Bay may be 1-0 but it is still rebuilding. The Giants pretty much have to win this one, with a quick turnaround before Thursday night's game against Carolina. Michael Vick and the Eagles await after that.
Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 78 yards and a touchdown but 33 came on one run with under six minutes left. When the Giants had to establish the run in the first half, they managed 23 yards. They also failed to punch the ball in the end zone despite having first-and-goal at the 1 in the second quarter.
Making matters worse, Tom Coughlin was going to utilize exciting rookie David Wilson as evidenced by giving him the second carry of the night.
But Wilson fumbled on his second carry later that drive and Coughlin kept benched the rookie except for on kickoffs. Hopefully this won't affect his confidence. The O-line has to open more holes for Bradshaw.
Eli Manning got the Giants within seven points with 2:36 remaining but he still had one of his poorer games against Dallas with just 213 yards and one touchdown. The offensive line allowed him to be sacked three times as DeMarcus Ware got past David Diehl twice.
Victor Cruz only had six receptions for 58 yards and dropped a few balls. But he did appear to draw a pass interference in the end zone in the second quarter that wasn't called.
In the first half, the Giants stuffed DeMarco Murray for 20 yards. Linebacker Keith Rivers was very active until being slowed a bit by a hamstring issue. But Murray broke free for 111 yards in the second half and broke tackles in the process.
The Giants were repeatedly gashed by opposing running games in the first half of last season and they must stop the run in order to let their pass rush take over. With Chris Canty on the PUP list, the Giants can use Marvin Austin (back) on the field soon. And they have to work on tackling.
The Giants were able to get some pressure on Tony Romo but they only sacked him twice with the two sacks coming from Rocky Bernard and Linval Joseph. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul have to get sacks.
They almost certainly will not survive if the secondary can't cover. Kevin Ogletree burned the Giants for eight receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns. They also surrendered a touchdown on first and 30 to Miles Austin. Cornerback is a big concern with Michael Coe re-injuring his hamstring and Prince Amukamara still nursing a high ankle sprain. Even Corey Webster struggled a bit in this game. Michael Boley did have an interception return for 51 yards and just missed scoring a touchdown.
Lawrence Tynes converted a 22-yard field goal. Steve Weatherford punted four times for a net average of 44.5 yards and had one land inside the 20. More importantly, the dangerous Dez Bryant had two punt returns for zero yards.
Domenik Hixon returned to being the punt returner but only had one return for five yards. And David Wilson was the kick returner with 71 yards on three kickoff returns. Andre Brown handled two other kickoffs for 29 yards.
The Giants were only down 7-3 at the half and the game clearly was there for the taking. But there were too many breakdowns defensively, most of them seem to be on the players more than the coaches such as missed tackles and bad coverage. The Giants were thin at corner to begin with.
One coaching move was Tom Coughlin benching David Wilson for fumbling but I can't blame him for that, especially if Wilson learns from this. The Giants, though, never could seem to get a handle on Kevin Ogletree and offensively, they had a hard time moving the ball on Dallas' defense until they fell behind big.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants' title defense got off to a sour start as the Dallas Cowboys exposed serious concerns and handed the defending champs a 24-17 loss.
What it means: The Giants clearly have some work to do. The running game was nonexistent for most of the game. Defensively, the Giants had trouble stopping the run and now are dangerously thin at cornerback. The pass rush could not get their hands on Tony Romo enough.
Dallas' offseason moves to improve the secondary paid off in this game as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were held in check. The Giants cut a 24-10 deficit to 24-17 on a late touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett. But the defense could not get a stop on a third-and-12 with 2:11 left, when Romo hit Kevin Ogletree, who killed the Giants.
If the Giants want to win the NFC East, they'll have to play much better than this. But then again, they did lose a lackluster season opener to the Redskins last year.
Giant concerns: Entering the game, the Giants might've had some concerns at left tackle and right cornerback. They started Sean Locklear at left tackle and Michael Coe at right corner. But it was right tackle David Diehl and left cornerback Corey Webster who struggled early in this game.
Diehl gave up two sacks to DeMarcus Ware in the first half. And Webster, who was shadowing Dez Bryant for most of the first half, gave up a 38-yard catch to Bryant that would help Dallas score a touchdown late in the first half. And early in the third quarter, Webster bit on a double move by Ogletree, who scored his second touchdown on a 40-yard catch.
Coe actually prevented Ogletree from catching a third touchdown in the third quarter, but he left the game with a hamstring injury after that and could miss next week's game. Coe started for Prince Amukamara, who is out with a high ankle sprain.
With Coe out, Miles Austin beat Justin Tryon and made a leaping catch on Tryon and Antrel Rolle before scoring -- a devastating 34-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a first-and-30 with under six minutes left that put the Cowboys up 24-10.
Where's the beef? The Giants couldn't run the ball and they had trouble stopping the run.
Without Brandon Jacobs, the Giants struggled badly to rush the ball. Ahmad Bradshaw had very little room to run until breaking a big run late in the game as the Giants' offensive line looked no better than it was last year, when Tom Coughlin's team finished dead last in the NFL in rushing.
Defensively, DeMarco Murray kept chipping away and began hitting for big runs, which is a concern with Chris Canty on the PUP list for at least the first six games.
Rookie mistake: It didn't take David Wilson long to get his first carry as he got the second Giants handoff of the game on the second drive.
But he fumbled his second pro carry after getting hit hard by Sean Lee. Lee recovered to stop the Giants at the Cowboys' 28-yard-line in the first quarter.
The Giants were concerned about Wilson's ball security coming out of Virginia Tech. He still has to earn the trust of the coaching staff, and this did not help.
But eventually the Giants will have to give him more touches because the running game really struggled in the first half and looked in dire need of a spark.
Wilson did start as the kickoff returner.
Welcome back, Hixon: With the Giants trailing 14-3 in the third quarter and the air sucked out of the stadium, Manning launched one of his up-for-grabs passes hoping his receiver would make a play. And Domenik Hixon did, hauling in a 39-yard catch between two Cowboys defenders to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Bradshaw that pulled the Giants within 14-10.
The last time we saw Hixon make a circus catch was in the back of the end zone against St. Louis in Week 2 last year -- the same play he tore his ACL for the second straight season.
What's next: Thanks to their Wednesday opener, the Giants have a mini-break before they play Tampa Bay on Sept. 16 at home. It will be a homecoming for Tampa head coach Greg Schiano, Rutgers' former coach, and Tampa's offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, the Giants' former quarterbacks coach. Running back D.J. Ware also returns after being released by the Giants last week.
The New York Giants came into the 2012 season thinking they were pretty stacked at cornerback. But if Prince Amukamara doesn't recover from a mild high-ankle sprain in time for the team's regular-season opener against the Cowboys on Sept. 5, who starts opposite Corey Webster?
"I'm glad it is only an ankle sprain," defensive captain Justin Tuck said. "You get carted off, you start thinking the worst. (Prince) was playing well and making strides. I hope this doesn't set him back too much. He is definitely going to be a part of our success on defense, being that second corner opposite Corey. We are going to need him to get back in a hurry. Hopefully it isn't something that keeps him out for weeks."
Rookie third-round pick Jayron Hosley had a 77-yard pick-six against the Jets, but did not play in Friday night's 20-17 preseason loss to the Bears due to turf toe.
Reserve Bruce Johnson struggled in place of Amukamara. Johnson appeared to draw the ire of safety Kenny Phillips after apparently botching his zone coverage against Brandon Marshall, who caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler late in the first quarter.
"You gotta be ready at all times," Johnson said. "With me, I didn't think I played all that great. Just technical things, like on that first play I should've put my hands out a bit more. But like I said, I just gotta work on it.
"I'm just out here trying to compete and just get better and do whatever I can do to help this team. Whatever they see fit for me, I'll do whatever I can do."
Michael Coe and Justin Tryon are other candidates who could start if Amukamara does have to miss time.
"Michael Coe seemed to go in and play pretty well," coach Tom Coughlin said. "I didn't think they went after him. Can't really say much about the other guys."
Said Tuck, "I am confident in all of our guys. We got a lot of athletes back there and some of our safeties can drop down and play the nickel and things like that. Obviously Trel (Antrel Rolle) has done it and Will Hill is stepping up and doing it and we will get Hosley back. I think we will be fine there."
QB: Manning: No. 15 overall, No. 5 QB
RB: Ahmad Bradshaw: No. 28 RB
WR: Hakeem Nicks: No. 41 overall, No. 6 WR
WR: Victor Cruz: No. 156 overall, No. 23 WR
TE: Martellus Bennett: No. 32 TE
TE: Bear Pascoe: No. 39 TE
OT: Will Beatty: No. 32 OT
C: David Baas: No. 16 C
OG: Chris Snee: No. 192 overall, No. 9 OG
OG: David Diehl: No. 15 OG
OG: Sean Locklear: No. 33 OG
DE: Jason Pierre-Paul: No. 26 overall, No. 3 DE
DE: Justin Tuck: No. 58 overall, No. 8 DE
DE: Osi Umenyiora: No. 28 DE
DT: Chris Canty: No. 25 DT
DT: Linval Joseph: No. 30 DT
LB: Mathias Kiwanuka: No. 158 overall; No. 27 LB
LB: Michael Boley: No. 43 LB
CB: Corey Webster: No. 189 overall, No. 18 CB
S: Kenny Phillips: No. 11 S
S: Antrel Rolle: No. 16 S
K: Lawrence Tynes: No. 7 K
P: Steve Weatherford: No. 11 P
You can view the rankings here (Insider).
QUESTION: What do you think of these rankings for these Giants? Please let us know in the comments section below.
Here are some quick observations from the first practice:
-- Terrell Thomas started but was unable to finish practice after his back tightened up. The Giants say Thomas will be OK.
In his place, Michael Coe worked with the first team at cornerback opposite Corey Webster. Justin Tryon and Bruce Johnson were the second-team corners whilePrince Amukamara andAntwaun Molden were the third-team corners.
The Giants conducted their first practice under steamy conditions Friday.
-- Amukamara did show nice concentration on a bobbling interception off an overthrown deep ball by David Carr intended for Rueben Randle.
-- Randle had a nice training camp debut, making a few catches. During OTAs and minicamp, Randle showed ability to catch the ball across the middle and has nice hands and size.
-- Victor Cruz must feel at ease being in Albany again. He had a nice twisting catch that drew the loudest cheers from the crowd, which serenaded him with a “Cruuuz” chant.
-- The early pecking order at running back behind Ahmad Bradshaw is D.J. Ware, Andre Brown, Da’Rel Scott and David Wilson.
The Giants first-round pick was the last one to get some carries as it appears the rookie will have to work his way up. Wilson did have a nice leaping catch on a short pass from Ryan Perrilloux while Scott dropped a short pass.
-- The battle for the third wide receiver spot started with Hixon in with the first team opposite Cruz. Jerrel Jernigan and Ramses Barden were the second set of receivers and Randle came in after them. Jernigan caught some short passes and Barden also had a nice grab as he shielded off rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley.
-- Jernigan, Randle, Hixon, Hosley and wide receiver Brandon Collins fielded punt returns on the first day.
-- Here’s your order at linebacker so far. Michael Boley,Chase Blackburn and Mathias Kiwanuka lined up with the first team. Second team was Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich and Jacquian Williams. And Greg Jones, Jake Muasau and Spencer Paysinger rounded out the third team.
Note that Jones remains at outside linebacker and Muasau continues to get reps at middle linebacker with the third team. Muasau had a nice diving interception after a pass glanced off the outstretched arms of wide receiver David Douglas.
-- Boley got the first interception of camp, picking off a short pass from Eli Manning intended for Cruz.
As Giants cornerback Corey Webster prepares for his second Super Bowl, he proclaimed on Friday that he believes he's the top cornerback in the NFL. The cornerback made his claim after he was asked if it's hard to get attention with Revis in town and if him and fellow cornerback Aaron Ross like flying under the radar.
"It doesn't matter to me, it's not up to us. I think we keep on doing the job, keep on doing what the coaches ask of you, I think the attention will finally come," Webster said. "I think I'm great. I think I'm the best thing out there, I don't think I'm second to nobody. I think Ross feels the same way. My whole secondary feels like that. We don't have to talk about it. Just keep on going out there and getting better and better each week and that will help us be the type of player we want to be."
While most experts would say that Revis, the Jets' All-Pro corner, is the top cornerback in the NFL right now, Webster is confident in his abilities heading into one of the biggest games of his career. Recently, the cornerback has been playing some of his best football of the season.
Over the last five games, he and the rest of the secondary have held some of the league's top receivers in check, including Dez Bryant, Greg Jennings and Roddy White. Webster's play has been a big part of that as he's provided excellent coverage on the outside.
When one reporter told him that several of his teammates believe that he is the most underrated corner in the league and people don't realize he's as good as he is, Webster knew of one person who did.
"I realize it. That's all that counts to me," Webster said. "As long as my teammates (believe that), that's all that matters."
He added: "It makes me feel great that my teammates feel like that."
For Webster, returning to the Super Bowl will be a trip back to when he started to make a name for himself as a cornerback. He was removed as the starter during the 2007 season before eventually returning back to the starting lineup down the stretch. He played excellent in the playoffs, including a great performance against Randy Moss in the Super Bowl.
Four years later, he'll be back out on the field, along with Ross, trying to shut down the Patriots once again and try to win his second ring in four years.
"The learning experience coming with being in and winning the first Super Bowl, just like being in the national championship game in college, a lot of people haven't played in those big games," Webster said of the growth of him and Ross since the previous Super Bowl. "I think the more and more games you play like that, the more and more experience and more calm you get. I think we used that game to help us with this game. We've been there before and done it and I think everything is going to roll smooth for us this weekend."
The 49ers, built similarly to the Jets, fell into the same trap. They called passing plays on 58 percent of their snaps, including 24 of 35 plays after halftime. It was unusually high for the 49ers, especially since it was a one-possession game from start to finish -- a 20-17 Giants win in overtime.
Jim Harbaugh probably will be named NFL Coach of the Year, but this wasn’t his finest hour. In fact, the 49ers called pass plays on the first play in each of their last five possessions, eschewing a Ground & Pound attack that churned out 150 yards in the Candlestick muck. He played to the Giants’ strength, rushing the quarterback and defending the pass.
The 49ers were only 4-4 when they passed at least 55 percent of the time; it’s not their deal. Maybe Harbaugh, like a lot of Bay Area fans, got caught up on the Alex Smith bandwagon after his thrilling performance in the divisional round. Smith has improved, no doubt, but he’s no Joe Montana and he has only one weapon, tight end Vernon Davis.
Here’s an inside look at the Giants’ win, with help from ESPN Stats & Information:
MORE HARBAUGH: While we’re on the subject of the 49ers’ coach, we can’t let him off the hook for his play calling at the end of the first half. When he needed to be aggressive, he got conservative, going three-and-out and giving the ball back to the Giants with 1:36 on the clock.
The Giants capitalized. They went hurry-up and made a field goal as time expired, taking a 10-7 halftime lead -- huge points, as it turned out.
FIVE SECONDS TO GLORY: It may have been the slowest 40-yard sprint of Jacquian Williams' life, but it was the most memorable. Actually, it was only 35 yards, but it still wasn’t a great time.
To get into position for The Strip, his game-changing forced fumble on a punt return in overtime, Williams sprinted 35 yards, unimpeded. After a close examination of the game tape, our stopwatch says it took him 4.8 seconds -- hardly the kind of time that would turn heads at the NFL scouting combine.
But in this case, it was fast enough. Actually, Williams almost over-ran the play, but he reached back as Kyle Williams ran past him, barely getting his fingertips on the ball to knock it loose. That, of course, set up Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal.
THAT’S INCREDIBLE: Eli Manning set team postseason records for completions (32) and attempts (58), and he came within six attempts of tying Bernie Kosar's all-time league mark in the postseason. Without a doubt, Manning’s finest moment was his third-and-15 strike to Mario Manningham for a 17-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Tom Coughlin called it “an incredible football play.” It was. He showed awareness and patience, all in the span of about 10 seconds.
Out of a trips-left formation, Manning noticed Tramaine Brock -- the 49ers’ No. 4 cornerback -- had replaced the injured Tarell Brown. Brock was on Manningham, who ran a deep post. The 49ers made the correct call -- they rushed only three, dropping eight into coverage -- but Manning waited until a window opened.
Tight end Jake Ballard ran a crossing route, freezing safety Reggie Smith for a split second. That opened the window for Manning, who, under moderate pressure, fired a laser to Manningham.
Manning had his eyes on wide receiver Victor Cruz, who ran a right-to-left crossing route. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, Manning noticed that Cruz’s route was disrupted because he bumped into a teammate, Ballard. Manning held up, pulled the ball down and, simultaneously, noticed Pascoe breaking free on a shallow, left-to-right cross.
Touchdown -- the first in Pascoe’s NFL career.
MIDDLE MEN: Because of Manning’s arm strength and their speed at receiver, the Giants are a perimeter passing team, but they changed it up against the 49ers. Manning worked the middle, with 35 of his 58 pass attempts going between the numbers -- double his usual ratio.
Cruz was his main man in the first half, as he abused cornerback Carlos Rogers, but he started to draw double-teams in the second half. That really hurt the Giants on third down; at one point, they failed on seven straight third downs. But they adjusted, as Manning started working the ball to running back Ahmad Bradshaw and tight end Travis Beckum over the middle.
IRON MAN: Obviously, the Giants came into the game hell-bent on throwing the ball, probably a wise move against the 49ers’ tenacious run defense. They ended up calling pass plays on 64 out of 90 snaps, the kind of ratio that got Schottenheimer run out of town. Of course, it makes a difference when your triggerman is Manning, as opposed to Mark Sanchez.
Here’s another way to look at it: The 49ers’ pass rush had 64 shots at Manning and not once -- not once -- did he lose a fumble or throw an interception. That was rather remarkable, considering the soggy conditions. The 49ers treated him like a pinata, hitting him a total of 12 times, including six sacks.
He refused to let go; his team refused to let go.
SIMPLE, BUT EFFECTIVE: Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell didn’t do anything exotic with his game plan; he didn’t have to against the 49ers’ meat-and-potatoes offense.
As usual, Fewell put this game on his front four. In fact, the Giants rushed four or fewer on 28 of 33 drop backs, their highest ratio of the season. They registered only three sacks, which isn’t half-bad, but that number is deceiving.
On third-down passes, Smith was sacked or under duress on seven of 12 drop backs. That explains why the 49ers were an abysmal 1-for-13 on third down. That pressure, coupled with outstanding coverage by cornerbacks Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, choked the life out of the 49ers’ passing game.
Smith completed only one pass to a wide receiver, a pedestrian corps that was overmatched by the Giants. The Giants had only two hiccups, twice leaving a safety in man-to-man coverage against the explosive Davis. The result was 73- and 28-yard touchdowns.
Aside from those breakdowns, the Giants were spot on.
Bradshaw has been dealing with a foot injury which caused him to miss four games earlier in the season.
This week, he’s also dealing with a sore back.
“It’s no big deal,” Bradshaw said. “Just a lot of tightness. It feels better now. It feels good. It’s nothing serious.”
Coach Tom Coughlin said Bradshaw came through practice well.
Bradshaw said he’s undergone further X-rays since he fractured a bone in his right foot on Oct. 30 against the Miami Dolphins, and has been taking Forteo, a medication which helps build new bone and ease pain.
The 28-year-old Bradshaw, who rushed for 63 yards on 14 carries in last Sunday’s wild-card victory over the Atlanta Falcons, said he’s anxious to play the Packers, who barely beat the Giants, 38-35, on Dec. 4.
“We’ve got a lot to prove, and we’ve got payback to give back to them,” he said.
Safety Deon Grant (quad), cornerback Aaron Ross (concussion), defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), running back D.J. Ware (concussion), cornerback Corey Webster (hamstring) and running back Da’Rel Scott (knee) are also listed as probable by the team.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich (ankle) is out. Herzlich has been out since injuring himself during the Nov. 28 loss in New Orleans.
Coach Tom Coughlin said Tuck’s shoulder is "sore," but the defensive end would not comment on any questions related to his injury. Tuck did not practice Friday. He has been banged up all season, and has also dealt with injuries to his neck, groin, toe and ankle.
Tight end Jake Ballard (knee), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) and Corey Webster (hamstring) are also listed as probable. Linebacker Mark Herzlich (ankle) is out.
Ballard, who has missed the last two games with a strained PCL and has been limited in practice this week, says he'll "absolutely" play vs. the Falcons. Coughlin said he's optimistic about Ballard's chances of playing after he ended the week on "an up note."
Webster, who appeared on the injury report for the first time on Thursday, was fine on Friday, Coughlin said.
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe Giants' secondary was scrutinized after this Dez Bryant touchdown.
Rolle understands that many are pointing the finger at him and cornerback Corey Webster for allowing Bryant's touchdown with a complete defensive breakdown on Sunday night during the Giants' 37-34 victory.
But the safety emphatically said during his weekly appearance on WFAN radio that he was in the right place on that play. And Rolle delivered a passionate rant on how television commentators can often lead fans wrong by placing the blame on a safety when the defense has as a lapse.
"There are fans out there, fans that really don't understand the ins and outs of football, really don't understand coverages and things of that nature," Rolle said. "So whenever there is a big play, and you being the safety, you are always the one to get blamed and get finger-pointed. You know what? It is wrong.
"The commentators don't know what coverage we are in," Rolle continued. "They don't know how we are playing our defense, they don't know that I am disguising and showing a Cover 2 but really supposed to drop down and play a Cover 3. So they don't know.
"And it drives me crazy because when I speak about this, I don't just speak on behalf of Antrel Rolle, I am speaking on behalf of people across the league," he added. "Commentators always want to point the finger as if they know what they are doing and they know what they are talking about. but in reality they don't know half of the time."
Rolle says something did go wrong on that Bryant play, but that he was doing exactly what he was supposed to do, which was disguise a Cover 2 but play Cover 3.
"I am never going to be the one to sit here and point fingers because there is no one without sin in our defense," he said. "I am not saying that I don't make mistakes, because I do. But I am saying that if there is a coverage and I am supposed to be in a certain area, best believe that I am going to be where I am supposed to be, like I was Sunday night, like I was against San Francisco, like I was against the Packers.
"When the commentator says, 'Oh well, Antrel Rolle got burned,' no, Antrel Rolle didn't get burned," Rolle continued. "Antrel Rolle was exactly where he was supposed to be. Know what the hell you are talking about at the end of the day. I know what I am doing. My coaches know what I am doing. But you know what, these people watching on TV, the only thing they know is what the commentators are telling them at the end of the day."
On the fourth-quarter play, Bryant ran past Webster, who appeared to let him go perhaps thinking the safety would pick up Bryant. Rolle came up and Bryant ran past both Giants, leaving both Giants looking at each other helplessly. The touchdown put the Cowboys up 34-22 with 5:41 left.
“I am not going to explain exactly what happened on that play but I can say that I was in the right spot and I was exactly where I was supposed to be,” Rolle said. “No one goes without sin on our defense. Just because I am the safety or Deon Grant or Kenny Phillips is a safety, it doesn’t mean that we are always supposed to be that deep. We have a million different coverages that we play. Sometimes we are going to disguise a Cover 2 and walk down to a Cover 3 like we did on that play.”
Rolle understands that the Giants defense has too many lapses each week and says that the defensive unit must clean up its act or else the team could be watching the playoffs for a third straight year.
He also vowed that the Giants will come out “ready” for the Redskins in Sunday. After the Giants lost the season opener in Washington, 28-14, Rolle told WFAN that the Giants were the better team and that “if we played them 100 times, they might win five.”
“I said 99,” Rolle said on Tuesday when reminded of his comment. “I don’t plan on losing to the Redskins. I am not guaranteeing a victory. I am very confident we will go out there and get the job done.”
Rolle also went out of his way to deliver shout-outs to Eli Manning and the offense for saving the defense so many times this season, the special teams and Jason Pierre-Paul, whom he called the MVP of the defense and someone that should be heading to the Pro Bowl.
“On all-around defensive linemen, I don’t see anyone playing at a higher level than him,” Rolle said. “This guy does so much for our football team that honestly, I don’t even think he realizes it. That guy, I laugh because I really don’t think he understands how good he is. He is so humbled and honored.”
Another pass was about to get entangled in “The Web.”
Matt Moore thought he saw a wide-open Brandon Marshall down field, but Webster ran in front of the Dolphins mercurial receiver and made his third interception of the season to seal the Giants’ 20-17 victory over Miami on Sunday afternoon.
“I was just trying to stay close to him in coverage and was able to make a play on the ball,” said Webster, who held Marshall to just four catches for 55 yards. “I just made sure to catch it and tuck it in.”
Marshall created controversy yet again earlier in the week when he “guaranteed” a Dolphins’ victory on Twitter, tweeting “when we win” not “if.”
“I’m not the biggest Tweeter so I had no idea,” Webster said. “I don’t tweet at all, so I didn’t read it.”
Of his coverage of Marshall, Webster said: “I just did the job the coaches asked me to do. I just wanted to go out there and stick Marshall, stay as close to him as possible. I think he’s a good, physical specimen and a great route runner so I just tried to stay close to him, and when I got the opportunity to make a play on the ball just knock it away and try to get my hands on it.”
In what turned to be arguably the play of the game early in the fourth, Webster and Marshall jostled for position as Marshall came away with an incredible 26-yard catch over the Giants cornerback. But the Dolphins wideout was questionably called for pass interference for pushing off on Webster, negating the play.
“It was a good call,” Webster said.
Marshall disagreed, but it didn’t matter.
The Giants defense played poorly in the first half, but turned it around after giving up touchdowns on the Dolphins’ first two drives.
“I think we showed the perseverance of this team, how we stick together, don’t let nobody get down on each other and we keep fighting,” Webster said. “Ultimately, we got the win.”
Said head coach Tom Coughlin: “He has drawn the tough assignments week in and week out and he once again did an outstanding job. Brandon Marshall is an outstanding, strong, physical wide receiver who can go up high for the ball. Corey battled in there and at key times in the games, he is able to come up with a big play.”
• Victor Cruz’s 25-yard touchdown catch with 6:06 remaining in the fourth gave the Giants their first lead of the afternoon and proved to be the difference.
Here’s how he made it: “It was actually just an inside seam that turned into a slant route basically because of the coverage they were playing,” Cruz said. “I slanted in, caught the ball, made a guy (Will Allen) miss and headed into the endzone.”
Cruz’s salsa touchdown dance capped off a seven-catch, 99-yard, one-score performance.
He said Miami was mostly playing a Cover-2 shell with safeties high and the wide nickel playing outside leverage, which allowed the Giants to attack the middle of the field.
• Lawrence Tynes hit his 134th consecutive point-after-touchdown, breaking the Giants’ all-time record.