NFC East: Eli Manning

Giants' passing game grounded

November, 24, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There would be no repeat of Week 1 for the Giants' receivers.

After torching the Cowboys' secondary for 450 yards in the season opener, the Giants' passing game totaled just 174 yards in Sunday's 24-21 loss to Dallas at MetLife Stadium. The Giants' receivers pointed to the success of the running game, which ran for 202 yards, but the passing attack never got going and was often out of sync.

Receiver Victor Cruz made the costliest mistake of the game when he was stripped and Dallas returned the ball for a score, and receiver Hakeem Nicks was inactive for the first time all season.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsVictor Cruz hauled in just two catches for 27 yards.
"We didn't particularly throw the ball or have as much yardage as we would have thought with the passing game," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

Opposing offenses have had great success this year attacking Dallas through the air as the Cowboys entered Sunday's game ranked last in the NFL by allowing 313 passing yards per game. The Giants were privy to this information based on the last matchup with Dallas on Sept. 8, when Cruz, Nicks and Rueben Randle each went for more than 100 receiving yards in the Giants' 36-31 loss.

The Giants' running game had its way with Dallas' depleted defense, but the passing attack, once considered the strength of the team, couldn't get going as Manning and his receivers weren't on the same page. After catching five passes for 118 yards in the previous game, Cruz had just two for 27 yards. Randle led the team with three catches for 64 yards, but that was 37 less than he posted last time.

In a revealing sequence late in the second quarter, the Giants chose to run the ball on third-and-goal from the 10 rather than have Manning throw. The run was not enough and the Giants kicked a field goal.

"There were definitely voids and times where I was open. It was just different circumstances where Eli was sacked or Eli was moving other ways, things of that nature," Cruz said of Dallas' plan against him. "I don't think it was necessarily them doing a better job. I felt there were still voids and still routes open."

Cruz had the biggest blunder of the game when he fumbled after hauling in a 5-yard catch in the first quarter. As Cruz fought for an extra yard with two defenders draped over him, Orlando Scandrick pulled the ball out and it was recovered by Jeff Heath, who took it 50 yards to put the Cowboys up, 7-0.

It marked the third defensive touchdown the Cowboys scored against the Giants this season.

"I can't let those type of things happen," Cruz said. "I got to take better care of the football and know that they are doing that and they're going to try to come in there and strip it and take better care of it."

Leading up to the game, Nicks, who is bothered by an abdominal injury, said that he would play, which proved to be false confidence. The Giants certainly could have used him Sunday as Manning and Randle weren't always on the same page -- which has been an reoccurring issue -- and the Giants weren't able to get much from Jerrel Jernigan.

Louis Murphy did catch his first touchdown pass.

"All week things happen throughout our team, coaches make decisions," Cruz said of Nicks not playing. "I have no part in that so obviously when I come in and I don't see him I'm going to be surprised."

Rapid Reaction: Giants 26, 49ers 3

October, 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO –- Tom Coughlin said nobody gave the New York Giants a chance to win. But they left Candlestick with another victory over the favored San Francisco 49ers, 26-3 on Sunday.

What it means: The Giants wanted to see how they measured up to an NFC contender. When it was over, the Giants reminded everyone who the defending Super Bowl champions are and how good this team can be when it is motivated and healthy.

The Giants made a statement by dominating the Niners on their own turf. The defense came up with its best performance of the season, suffocating the Niners' offense. Eli Manning and the offensive line were sensational. The Giants moved the offense against perhaps the best defense in the NFL.

More importantly, this is the kind of win that can propel the Giants to a solid winning streak. The Giants have won two straight and will roll into two critical division games with a ton of momentum.

The ball hawk: The Giants got the sacks they wanted, but they also collected something even better –- three rare interceptions of Alex Smith.

Smith came into this game having thrown just one interception on the season. But Prince Amukamara picked off a pass in the first half and Antrel Rolle intercepted Smith twice in the third quarter, helping to set up two Giants field goals.

Rolle said last year that he often was not put in position to be the ball hawk that he wants to be. He certainly harassed Smith on Sunday.

No Vernon: Vernon Davis scored three touchdowns against the Giants in two games last season. On Sunday, he was invisible when the game was on the line. He made just two catches for 13 yards in the first three quarters.

O-line: The Giants' offensive line felt as if it had something to prove after giving up six sacks and 12 official quarterback hits to the Niners defense in the NFC title game. This time, Manning's jersey was kept clean and Ahmad Bradshaw broke the 100-yard barrier for the second straight Sunday, this time against an elite run defense.

Salsa time: After all the back and forth about the salsa with Carlos Rogers last week, Rogers had to watch Victor Cruz do it at his expense in the first half.

Cruz caught a Manning bullet over the middle in the back of the end zone and delivered his patented salsa celebration. Rogers initially said he might mimic the salsa again if he made a play. But after finding out that Cruz dedicated the salsa to his late grandmother, Rogers said he wouldn't do it.

Diehl comes off bench: David Diehl was active for the first time since Sept. 16 when he injured his MCL against Tampa Bay.

He came in as the extra blocker. The Giants opted to keep Sean Locklear at right tackle and Will Beatty at left tackle with the offensive line doing well. Diehl had started all 142 regular-season games he played in for the Giants.

Special-teams miscues: The Giants had a field goal blocked near the end of the first half, but the Niners helped the Giants' cause with two missed field goals. David Akers missed from 43 and 52 yards.

What's next: The Giants get their first taste of Robert Griffin III next Sunday at home. At 0-2 in the division, the Giants need an NFC East victory.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- It started off ugly, but the New York Giants got their first win of the season in dramatic fashion, 41-34 over Tampa Bay, with another Eli Manning fourth-quarter comeback.

What it means: Down 27-13 early in the third quarter, the Giants came storming back. Manning threw two touchdown passes with less than seven minutes left to give the Giants a 34-27 lead. Josh Freeman came back and tied the game with 1:58 remaining, but Manning marched the Giants down the field for the win. Manning passed for a career-high 510 yards.

BuccaneersGiantsCruz tribute: Victor Cruz had a monster game as he bounced back from his three drops against Dallas. He had 11 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Nine of his catches came in the first half alone. He tied the score with an 80-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the fourth quarter, then did his first touchdown salsa of the season -- an emotional one in honor of his grandmother, Lucy Molina, who died Monday.

Hakeem Nicks also looked a lot like his old self, dominating Tampa Bay and Aqib Talib at times. Nicks limped a few times after being tackled awkwardly on his surgically repaired foot, but he finished with 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.

Miserable half: Manning had to overcome a tough first half against Tampa, throwing three picks, including one that was returned by Eric Wright for a 60-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Manning's interceptions all led to Tampa Bay touchdowns in the first half. His first interception went to linebacker Mason Foster, giving the Bucs the ball at the Giants' 28.

The second came when Brandon McDonald intercepted Manning as Cruz appeared to be held. McDonald returned the interception 40 yards to the Giants' 26, but a horse-collar penalty on the tackle by Andre Brown gave Tampa the ball at the Giants' 13.

Wright's interception came as Manning was looking to hit Cruz on a quick slant. He did not see Wright in front of him, who snatched the pass and then avoided three Giants before running down the right sideline for the touchdown to give Tampa a 24-13 lead.

Injuries galore: Already without CB Prince Amukamara (ankle) and LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), several key Giants went down with injuries in the first half.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw was knocked out of the game with a neck issue. RT David Diehl left the game in the first half with a knee injury. And WR Domenik Hixon suffered a concussion in the first half and was done for the game.

Diehl's injury forced the Giants to do some shuffling. They moved Sean Locklear from left tackle to right tackle and put Will Beatty back at his left tackle spot.

Beatty had a rough first half. He dropped a high-but-catchable touchdown pass as the extra tight end on one play. Diehl got hurt on the next play. Beatty had one of his two first-half false starts on a third-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 1 and the Giants had to eventually settle for a field goal.

Hot corner: Corey Webster struggled a bit in the first half for the second straight game as Vincent Jackson beat him a couple of times.

Michael Coe gave up a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jackson in the first half. Webster did redeem himself with an interception near the end of the third to help set up a Giants field goal that trimmed the deficit to 27-19.

Justin Tryon surrendered a 41-yard touchdown to Mike Williams that evened the game at 34-34 with 1:58 remaining.

Jayron Hosley started in place of Amukamara and moved to cover slot receivers on three-wide sets with Coe on the outside.

What can Brown do for you: Brown gave the running game a much-needed spark as he ran hard and had 60 yards, including a 23-yard run. He scored the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining. Earlier, he converted a two-point conversion to tie the game at 27-27 with 6:48 remaining.

David Wilson was used as the secondary back with Brown becoming the feature back with Bradshaw out.

We'll have to see how the Giants use their backs in the next game if Bradshaw is unable to play.

What's next: There’s not much time to recover as the Giants immediately prepare for their Thursday night game at Carolina against Cam Newton.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- The New York Giants and New England Patriots got together for their first meaningful game since Super Bowl XLII and it was another classic. And Eli Manning got the better of Tom Brady again.

What it means: The Giants opened a brutal six-game stretch of their schedule by playing their best game of the season. The Giants allowed Brady to find Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown on a fourth-and-9 from the Giants' 14 to push the Patriots up 20-17. But Manning drove the Giants down for the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds remaining, hitting Jake Ballard on a 1-yard touchdown pass, a score that was helped by a pass interference call against New England on Victor Cruz at the Patriots' 1.

Fantastic Finish: The Giants have lived dangerously this season, so it was no surprised that their sixth straight game went down to the fourth quarter.

Down 13-10, Manning drove the Giants down for a go-ahead touchdown when he hit Mario Manningham on a 10-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone with 3:03 left. Manningham also drew a key pass interference on the drive for a gain of 35 yards.

But Brady marched the Patriots right down to the Giants' 14-yard-line and, on fourth down, he hit Gronkowski for a touchdown on Michael Boley with 1:36 left to push the Patriots up 20-17. Gronkowski gave Boley a slight shove to get free, but there was no flag.

But Manning did it again to the Patriots.

Terrible Tom: The Giants' defense, which has had difficulties this season against the run and no huddle, managed to get the better of Brady for 2½ quarters. Brady threw two interceptions and was hit as he was attempting a pass, resulting in a fumble that set up a Brandon Jacobs' touchdown in the third quarter. That put the Giants up 10-3.

The Giants did a good job of disguising their defense, changing things up and switching defenders on receivers. But it didn’t last as Brady started getting comfortable near the end of the third quarter and led the Patriots to 10 unanswered points early in the fourth.

Costly mistakes: With a second-and-goal at the Patriots’ 2-yard-line, the Giants were called for a delay of game. Two plays later on a third-and-5 at the Patriots’ 5-yard-line, a backpedaling Manning lofted a ball to the back left corner of the end zone that was intercepted by Kyle Arrington. Instead of getting at least a field goal to add to a 10-3 lead, the Giants gave the Pats the ball.

Defensive battle: The Giants and Patriots played to the first scoreless half in the NFL this season. While the Giants' defense played well, Brady didn't look comfortable. Part of it was due to the Giants' pass rush and Perry Fewell moving defenders around to give him different looks. But Brady also missed a wide open Aaron Hernandez in the end zone and the usually reliable Stephen Gostkowski missed a 27-yard field goal just before the end of the half.

The Giants were able to keep New England from hitting on big plays and they switched defenders on Brady's receivers often. Both teams combined to go 3-for-14 on third downs in the first half.

What's next: The Giants' torturous schedule continues as they travel to San Francisco, where the 49ers are no longer a treat to face. The Niners are 7-1 under Jim Harbaugh, and Frank Gore will be difficult for the Giants to stop.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Trick or treat? The Giants got a scare from winless Miami but woke up just in time to put away the Dolphins.

What it means: Simply put, the Giants won a game they absolutely needed as they now brace for a six-game stretch that includes New England, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay and Dallas.

For the fifth straight game, the Giants lived dangerously as the game was decided in the fourth quarter. And for the fourth time during that stretch, the Giants pulled it out as Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz across the middle for a 25-yard touchdown with 5:58 left. Cruz broke a tackle by Will Allen for the score.

The Giants defense, which had trouble with Matt Moore and Reggie Bush for just over the first half, shut down the Dolphins in the fourth. Entering this game, the Dolphins had been outscored, 49-25, by opponents in the fourth.

Easy Eli: Manning continued his solid play, completing passes to eight different Giants for a total of 349 yards and two touchdowns. Manning also received terrific protection at times from his offensive line.

Sloppy return: The Giants, who had won their post bye week game in the three previous years, came off this bye week playing sloppy football at the start.

They had five penalties in the first half, including two consecutive penalties that came when the Giants were at the Miami 12-yard-line in the first quarter. The Giants had to settle for a field goal on that drive. And on Miami’s first scoring drive, Aaron Ross was flagged for a pass interference penalty that put the Dolphins at the Giants’ 1. And then after stuffing Steve Slaton on a run, Linval Joseph was called for a personal foul and Slaton scored on the next run in the first quarter.

The Giants’ tackling woes continued as quarterback Matt Moore escaped a few and Reggie Bush also evaded two by Kenny Phillips and Aaron Ross on a 35-yard run that set up Miami’ second touchdown of the first half. Bush had another 28-yard run in which he was able to break a tackle in the third quarter.

And as if that wasn’t all bad enough, Manning was plagued by a few drops as Hakeem Nicks, Jake Ballard and Brandon Jacobs all dropped passes.

Welcome back: Justin Tuck returned after a month off from resting due to pain in his neck and a strained groin.

He rotated with Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and Dave Tollefson and played inside on some passing downs in which the Giants used four defensive ends up front.

Jacobs also returned from a two-game absence and heard some boos after he fumbled his first carry in the second quarter and dropped a short pass on the same drive. Jacobs voiced frustration with his role and amount of carries last week.

Jacobs and D.J. Ware spelled Ahmad Bradshaw, who went back to the locker room twice to have his foot examined in the second half. Bradshaw returned with 8:28 remaining in the game.

What’s next: It’s the elite showdown. Eli Manning versus Tom Brady. Back in August, Eli said he believes he is an elite quarterback in Brady’s class. Now the Giants travel to face the Patriots and Brady, starting a daunting six-game stretch.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 27, Bills 24

October, 16, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took six weeks but Ahmad Bradshaw finally got going and the New York Giants edged the Buffalo Bills for a much-needed win.

What it means: The Giants surrendered a fourth-quarter lead again for the second straight game, but this time Corey Webster made a big interception to stop a Buffalo go-ahead drive and Eli Manning and Bradshaw marched the Giants 76 yards with the help of two pass interference calls against the Bills. That game-winning drive ended with a Lawrence Tynes 23-yard field goal with 1:32 left.

The Giants were coming off a dismal home loss to Seattle and needed to go into the bye week with a victory. Their schedule becomes increasingly difficult in November, so this win is huge. The Giants still have plenty of work to do on defense, but they hope to get some injured players back after the bye.

Action Jackson: Fred Jackson came into the game ranked third in the NFL in rushing and he showed why early in the game when he busted an 80-yard touchdown run with five minutes to go in the first quarter.

Kenny Phillips missed a diving tackle at the line of scrimmage from behind and then Deon Grant took a poor angle and Jackson sprinted by untouched. Aaron Ross then tried to chase Jackson down from behind but Jackson made a slight move to his left and lost Ross.

The Giants have been gashed by LeSean McCoy, Beanie Wells, Marshawn Lynch and now Jackson in consecutive weeks. Jackson had 107 yards by halftime.

Big problems: The Giants' defense has tried to contain big plays this season. But Jackson’s 80-yard run wasn’t the only big play surrendered in the first quarter. Fitzpatrick hit Naaman Roosevelt for a 60-yard touchdown on the next possession after the Jackson run. The Giants' defense again had a breakdown in coverage and took poor angles to let Roosevelt catch a short pass and run it all the way in.

Ahmad for three: The Giants wanted to try to run the ball against a Buffalo defense that came into the game allowing an average of 138 rushing yards a game. Bradshaw scored three 1-yard touchdowns and registered his first 100-yard rushing game of the season with 104 yards.

Injury report: The Giants played without DE Justin Tuck (neck/groin), G Chris Snee (concussion) and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee).

Webster steps up: Webster battled with Stevie Johnson all day. He gave up one touchdown to Johnson in the fourth quarter but intercepted Fitzpatrick twice on passes intended for Johnson. The second interception came as Buffalo was driving deep into Giants territory. Webster picked off the pass at the Giants’ 4-yard line with 4:10 remaining.

What’s next: The Giants have a much-needed bye to get many of their injured players healthy. They face the Miami Dolphins at home on Oct. 30.