Football Scientist: Breaking down the Giants' breakdown -- TD No. 1

December, 21, 2010
12/21/10
7:22
PM ET
Any disaster usually isn't a matter of one fault -- it often boils down to a number of smaller issues combining to create a catastrophe.

That is the case with the Miracle of the New Meadowlands. As much credit as Philadelphia deserves for fighting for 60 minutes, a lot of why they were able to come back comes down to the Giants making one mistake after another.

This is the first of a four-part series that will identify the defensive breakdowns that caused each of the Eagles' 4th-quarter touchdowns.

Let's start with the 65-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek. Philadelphia was facing a 1st and 10 at their own 35-yard line down 31-10 with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter.

The Giants had four defensive linemen in the game but two of them, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, were standing up on the left side of the Giants' defense in an effort to confuse the Eagles as to whether they were rushing or dropping into coverage.

On the right side, Antrel Rolle was lined just outside of the tight end in a semi-sprinter's stance that also made it look as if he was going to blitz.

The idea was to throw the Eagles off by making them try to defend the blitz on both sides, but it didn't work. Umenyiora was half-leaning backwards at the snap, so his sell job was less than compelling. Even if he did rush, his stance would have made it hard to get a good jump at the snap and Philadelphia rightfully ignored his subterfuge.

In addition, the Eagles were perfectly set up to pick up the blitz that did come. Rolle did rush the passer and was joined on that side by Aaron Ross, who left his slot cornerback position to do a stunt blitz with Ross (a stunt blitz is where the blitzers stunt with one another -- in this case with Rolle stunting to the outside and Ross coming in behind him on the inside).

The goal in running this type of blitz is that the offense won't see part of it coming and will only block one of the two blitzers. That didn't happen, as LeSean McCoy was on that side of the backfield at the snap, saw the blitz and easily neutralized Ross' rush.

That wasn't the big problem on the play, however. What hurt the Giants the most is that this zone blitz ended up putting Tuck into deep middle coverage against Celek. Tuck is athletic but he simply isn't fast enough to do this. Celek got behind him on a seam route and Vick placed a perfect pass to him.

It should have ended in a 30-yard completion but the matchup issue was compounded by a terrible tackling effort by Kenny Phillips. Celek had run his seam route to the inside to keep him from running toward where Phillips was initially lined up. Phillips ran towards Celek but ended up over-running the play and could only manage an arm-tackle effort. Celek easily broke it, picked up two blocks and scored basically untouched.

To sum up: a poorly sold blitz by Umenyiora, an ill-advised coverage play-call with Tuck on Celek and a poor tackling effort by Phillips all combined to lead to an easy touchdown.


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