Monday, October 21, 2013
Halftime: Giants less awful than Vikings
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Well, let's see. The New York Giants... let me check... yes, they lead the Minnesota Vikings 10-7 at the half here at MetLife Stadium. Eli Manning has ... right, has not thrown an interception. His touchdown pass to Rueben Randle surely could have been intercepted, or at least knocked away, had Vikings cornerback Chris Cook ever laid eyes on it. But Randle saw it first and made a great play to leap in the air and scoop it out from in front of Cook's face. That's the difference-making play in an awful game so far, and the Giants have their first halftime lead of the season.
Gonna go right to the bullet points, because my eyes hurt:
The Giants' opening drive took 9:36 off the clock with 17 completely uninspiring plays and resulted in a Josh Brown field goal when they failed to convert their fourth third-down attempt of the drive. They were sharp, if unexciting, on the previous three third downs, and an interesting game-plan issue revealed itself. They were using Peyton Hillis some and Michael Cox some at running back on early downs, but they don't seem to trust either in pass protection, so when they get to third down they either go empty backfield or, a couple of times, have lined up wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan back there. Imperfect solutions, to be sure, but Cox and Hillis are the fifth and sixth tailbacks they've had to try this year due to injuries, and perfect solutions are unavailable at the present time. I did think Cox looked good on a couple of inside runs early, and I am at a loss to explain why a slow-footed Hillis got the bulk of the second-quarter work.
After missing three straight games with a neck injury, center David Baas returned to the lineup but limped off with a knee injury during the first drive. Can't make this stuff up. Jim Cordle is back at center.
In the first five weeks of the season, three different Giants opponents were named their conference's Special Teams Player of the Week. Minnesota's Marcus Sherels continued the misery with an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter to put the Vikings ahead 7-3. The Giants have been so awful at so many things this year, but it's possible their coverage on punts has been their worst thing.
The thing the Giants do best is stop the run between the tackles, and Adrian Peterson's nine yards on eight carries in the first half are evidence that this aspect of the Giants' game is no joke. The Vikings need to get Peterson going if they're to come back and drop the Giants to 0-7, because new quarterback Josh Freeman looks very new and uncomfortable back there. He has not, however, been sacked. Coming in, the Giants as a team had five sacks for the season and only eight in their last 11 games.
Jared Allen's sack of Manning right before the end of the half was unlike any I've ever seen. He had his arms wrapped around the waist of Giants left tackle Will Beatty and yet still managed to grab Manning's jersey on the other side and hold on long enough to bring him down. Embarrassing for Beatty, incredible by Allen.
The Giants should win this game, which says a lot about how awful the Vikings are. But the Giants are pretty awful too. Let's settle in and see who's less awful in the second half.