Sunday, November 17, 2013
Halftime thoughts: No idea what to think
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I mean, the New York Giants should be leading this game by a considerable margin. They are not. They lead it 10-6 over Scott Tolzien's Green Bay Packers after a first half in which they possessed the ball for 19:59 of a possible 30:00. Nothing I've seen so far indicates that they should lose to a Packers team that isn't covering very well and isn't protecting its third-string quarterback and isn't opening holes for its running game, but ... in spite of it all, the Giants' lead is only four points and the Packers are getting the ball to start the second half.
Things looked very good for the Giants early. They took a 7-0 lead on their second possession, as Eli Manning found Rueben Randle open over the middle for a 26-yard touchdown catch. They held the Packers to three-and-outs on each of Green Bay's first two possessions. They went up 10-0 early in the second quarter on a 40-yard Josh Brown field goal and looked for all the world as though they'd run away with this game and win their fourth in a row.
Which they still might.
But that second quarter didn't continue to go well, did it? As they were going in for what looked like another touchdown, Manning threw his league-leading 17th interception of the season. It didn't appear to be his fault, as wide receiver Louis Murphy didn't do what he was supposed to do and the ball sailed into the hands of Packers cornerback Tramon Williams. Murphy was in the game because Hakeem Nicks appeared to get injured on a play where he got hit on a pass interference call, but after some teammates talked to him on the sideline, Nicks returned for the Giants' final possession of the half. He couldn't convert on third down, though, and the Giants punted it away with enough time for the Packers to move into position for a 57-yard field goal by Mason Crosby as time ran out.
So it's 10-6, as I said, and I really don't know what to make of it. At one point, I'd have told you Manning looked as comfortable under pressure as he has at any point this year, but then he started missing on throws, including one that could have been a Victor Cruz touchdown up the right sideline six plays before the interception. The Giants are doing a good job against the run, holding Packers running back Eddie Lacy to 14 yards so far on seven carries, but Tolzien has found some open receivers and begun to move the ball.
Giants running back Andre Brown looks fantastic again, with 40 yards on eight carries so far to go with a 12-yard reception, and Brandon Jacobs converted a couple of short fourth downs. So there's reason to believe the Giants can control the second half with the run game if they can hold the lead. But after a great first quarter, the second kind of shook your confidence that the Giants are good enough to put a game like this in their pocket. We shall see.